Four Ways to Get Past the Gatekeeper

Getting screened out by the receptionist or gatekeeper is still one of the biggest causes of phone aversion. Questions like, “Will he know who’s calling?” or “Will he know what this call is about?” or “Has she spoken to you before?” are enough to keep any inside sales rep up at night, and the sad thing is it doesn’t have to be this way! If you follow the basic philosophy provided below and then adapt and use any of the scripts provided, you can instantly increase your transfer rate to the decision maker.

The basic philosophy on getting gatekeepers to put you through is this: Stop trying to hide, trick or fool the gatekeeper into thinking that you already know or have spoken to the prospect before. And this means stop just giving your first name or not providing your company name, and most of all, STOP pitching the gatekeeper. The rule is this:

Gatekeepers just need to know your full name and your company name so they can let the decision maker know who’s on the line. In most cases, that’s it. Use the following proven techniques to fly by them and be connected directly with the decision maker the majority of the time:

Technique #1: Please, please, please. I’ve written about this technique before, but it remains the absolutely most effective and easiest one to use to increase your chances of being put through up to 65 – 75% of the time (I still use this every single day and it WORKS!). Here’s how it goes:

Receptionist answers: “Thanks for calling the ABC Company, how can I help you?

You: “Hi, this is _______ _______ with (your company name), can I please speak with ________, please?”

That’s it. Simple, easy and very effective. The key is to say this with a warm smile in your voice, and make sure you use “please” twice and use the instructional statement: “can I please speak with…” The other key is that you give your full name and your full company name as well (even if it doesn’t mean anything to them).

Technique #2: If you don’t know the name of the contact you need to speak with, use the “I need a little help, please,” technique. Try:

Receptionist answers: “Thanks for calling the ABC Company, how can I help you?

You: “Hi, this is _______ _______ with (Your company name), I need a little bit of help please.”

[It’s crucial that you WAIT for the person to ask how they can help you…]

“I need to speak with the best person who handles (your product or service), who would that be, please?”

Over 50% of the time, if you’ve asked this nicely enough and waited for their response, the receptionist will route you to the right department. When you get there, simply use the previous opening again, and you’ll most likely be connected with the right contact.

The key here is to: 1 – Be polite and put a smile in your voice, 2 – Use please, and 3 – Make sure and WAIT for the person to respond BEFORE you ask for the right person. This works, if you follow the above 3 steps.

Technique #3: If you don’t know the name of the contact, an alternative is to ask to be put through to a department instead, and then use the technique above. This is a great way to completely bypass the gatekeeper and so avoid all screening. Use this:

Receptionist answers: “Thanks for calling the ABC Company, how can I help you?

You: “Hi, could you please connect me with the marketing department, please?”

Again, be assumptive and use that powerful word, “Please.”

Technique #4: If you get screened further, you absolutely MUST know exactly how to respond. Use any of the following techniques:

If the receptionist asks: “Is he expecting your call?”

You answer: “I don’t have an appointment, but could you please tell him that _______ _______ is holding please?”

If the receptionist asks: “Will he know what this call is about?”

You answer: “Not specifically, but please tell him it’s about (his lead tracking), I’ll be happy to hold on, please.”

(The key to the above answer is that you ARE NOT going to pitch the receptionist, and you ARE going to use please and use an instructional statement.)

If the receptionist asks: “Have you spoken to him before?”

You answer: “Not about his lead tracking, but could you please let him know that ________ _________, with __________ is holding please?”

Don’t mistake how simple these techniques seem – they are powerful and they work IF you deliver them warmly and exactly as stated. Just remember, a gatekeeper’s main goal isn’t to screen you out, but rather to pass on accurate information on who is calling from what company, regarding what. Will you run into some gatekeepers who are harder to get through? Of course. And will these techniques work all the time? Of course not. But if you use them consistently, you’ll find that they will work about 70% of the companies you call into. And I’ll bet that’s a lot better than how your current techniques are working now, isn’t it?

Five New Ways of Handling the “Just Email Me Something”

While the method of this stall has changed throughout the years: it went from, “Just put a brochure in the mail, and I’ll look at it,” to “Why don’t you fax something to me, and I’ll look it over,” to now it’s, “Just email me your information, and I’ll look it over,” unfortunately, it all still means the same thing: your prospect either doesn’t want to take the time to be pitched, or they don’t need what you’re selling.

Either way, this stall sets up one of the most frustrating parts of sales – the chase. Think about it: how many times have you sent off your information and, when you’ve been fortunate enough to “catch” the prospect again, you’ve heard: “I haven’t looked at it” or “We’re not interested at this time”? Probably a lot, right?

The way to avoid this is to earn the right to ask a few key qualifying (or disqualifying, as I like to call them) questions so you can save both of you a lot of time and effort later on (to say nothing of saving yourself a lot of disappointment as well).

The solution, as always, is to be prepared for this brush off with a good script that fits your personality and product or service. Take the time now to adapt and customize one or more of the responses below so you are prepared the next time your prospect uses this stall.

Response One:

“I’ll be happy to do that, but once you see the material, you’ll probably have more questions than answers…so let’s do this first: I’ll ask you just a couple of quick questions to see if this is even a fit for you at this time, and then, if it is, I’ll send you some targeted information – sound fair?

[If Yes – ask any appropriate of the questions below]

“First, would you be the right contact for handling (XYZ)?”

OR

“I know I called you out of the blue, but if you found that you could (give a benefit of your product or service), what might your timeframe be for considering making a decision on it?”

OR

“How are you currently handling (XYZ), and what might motivate you to consider making a change?”

OR

“How open are you to seriously considering making a change (or making a move on) XYZ in the next one or two months?”
Now note about this rebuttal I put in the question: “sound fair?” at the beginning. You can leave that out if your prospect is in a rush or if you can tell you’ve caught him/her at a bad time – you’ll need to decide on a case by case basis.

Response Two:

“You bet I can – what’s your email address?”

[Take it down and then email them your information!]

“O.K., I just sent it. Now while you open that up, let me ask you a quick question:

“How do you get involved in ordering/handling/working with the XYZ?”

OR

“From a needs standpoint, how motivated is (your company/department/are you) to change/fix/replace/buy XYZ right now?”

OR

“What would you need to see in the information I just sent you for you to become interested in learning more about what we do?”

Response Three:

“I’d be more than happy to do that – where would you like me to email that?”

[Take it down and then email them your brochure.]

“O.K., it’s on the way to you. What I’d like to do right now is take just two minutes to get an idea of what’s important to you, and then I can direct you to that part of the information when you get around to it. Let me ask you:

“How do you get involved in ordering/handling/working with the XYZ?”

OR

“From a needs standpoint, how motivated is (your company/department/are you) to change/fix/replace/buy XYZ right now?”

OR

“What would you need to see in the information I just sent you for you to become seriously interested in making a change in how you’re handling XYZ now?”

Response Four:

“I have a better idea: rather than send you something you may not be really interested in, I’ll save you the time of going through it – or deleting it! – by asking you just a couple of quick questions now to see if there’s really a need. If there is, then I’ll have my assistant email you something:

“Are you the best person to talk to about changing/replacing/ordering the (XYZ)?”

OR

“I know I called you out of the blue, but if you found that you could (give a benefit of your product or service), what might your timeframe be for considering making a decision on it?”

OR

“How are you currently handling (XYZ), and what might motivate you to consider making a change?”

OR

“How open are you to seriously considering making a change (or making a move on) XYZ in the next one to two months?”

Response Five:

“Be happy to do that – where do you want me to email that to?”

[Then]

“And while you have me on the phone, let me briefly ask you just a couple of quick questions which will determine whether or not it makes sense for me to follow up on information I’ll send you. For example:

“How likely are you (or your company/department) to be in the market to make a change in (the way you handle XYZ) if you found a better alternative?”

OR

“If you like what you see in the information, what would the next step for us be?”

OR

“What would realistically stand in the way of us doing business together in the next few weeks if you saw some value in the information?”
There you have it – five new ways to handle the age old brush off – “Just mail/fax/email me some information.” As will all new scripts, take some time to adapt them to fit your product or service, and to fit your personality and style. Once you do develop an effective way of delivering this information, then commit to practicing, drilling and rehearsing it until it becomes automatic for you.

5 Things I learned from Stan Billue

Stan Billue, AKA, “Mr. Fantastic,” is a legend in the world of inside sales and telemarketing. A high school dropout and self-described failure at sales and life, Stan made one of the most dramatic turnarounds ever heard of. He did this by getting a mentor, committing to master sales and deciding to do whatever it took to be the best. And he did. Stan went on to become a top sales producer, international telemarketing sales trainer and consultant, and he’s mentored and trained more millionaire sales professionals than anyone I’ve ever met – including making me one, too.

In February this year (2015), Stan sent me an email letting me know of some terrible news: he had just received results from his internist that showed he has advanced pancreatic and liver cancer, and that he’s been given 3 to 6 short months to live. I’m in touch with Stan often, and as you might expect he has good days and bad days, good hours and not so good hours. He’s really living in the moment right now, and we wish him all the best.

In talking to him early during his diagnosis, I asked if there was a way I could help him, and asked if he would be willing to do one last webinar, and he graciously agreed. Because of his health, we recorded it and you can see it here. Stan gives some great tips from a lifetime of inside sales, and I highly recommend you watch and absorb it.

In today’s ezine, I wanted to list 5 things I learned from Stan that helped me become the absolute top of my profession. I hope you, too, find them useful:

1) In 1985, a financial services firm I worked for flew Stan in for a two-hour keynote in a swank Beverly Hills hotel. All the reps from 5 branch offices crammed into the meeting room, and Stan delivered one of his signature speeches that was packed with gold. The one thing I remember the most was when he gave the following advice on what it takes to separate yourself from the majority of mediocre sales reps to become the best:

He said, “If you’re willing to do the things that most sales reps will never do, then soon you’ll be able to enjoy the things that most sales reps will never be able to have or do.”

I took that advice to heart and vowed, then and there, to do the things that I knew I wasn’t doing (and that I knew 80% of the sales reps in the office weren’t doing), and within 90 days I was the top rep out of 25 in my office. Nine months later, I was the top rep out of all 5 branch offices. I’ve never looked back since…

2) Stan said that you could become an expert at any subject in the world, and that people would pay you for your knowledge in 1 year if you just committed to studying and learning a subject for one hour a day.

Boy is that still true today. I decided that I would study the craft and skill of sales for several hours a day (and more on the weekend), and I did become an expert that people pay a lot of money to. And it’s the same for anything you want to be today in your life: a real estate professional; an iPhonography expert; a therapist, the list goes on and on. If you’re willing to commit to something, you can become an expert and be highly paid doing what you love.

3) Record your sales presentations. Stan said there was just one thing you needed to do to double your income in 90 days – record, listen and critique your calls every day. I thought he was exaggerating, but I was willing to try it and guess what? I did double my income in 90 days! This is still the advice I pass on today, and I spend about 45% of my time as an inside sales consultant listening to and correcting sales team’s skills and techniques by listening to their calls. If you aren’t doing this now, no problem. Just start doing it and you, too, will make unbelievable strides in your career.

4) Learn to listen. While this may sound like a no brainer, it’s truly shocking at how bad I was at it. And, by the way, how bad 95% of sales people that I listen to are as well. Once I made a commitment to using my mute button, though, and as I listened to my recordings to see where I talked over someone or where I needed to improve, that’s when sales began to get easy and enjoyable for me.

5) Commit to lifelong learning in your chosen field or career. This is true in any professional field, but it’s amazing how sales people think they know it all and are resistant to investing the time, money and energy needed to get better. Stan said that if you were willing to become a sponge and were willing to continually improve yourself and your skills, then soon you would be one of the highest paid sales professionals in your industry.

And when you do become one of the best, you will enjoy the best homes, the best cars, the finer vacations and the peace of mind that most sales reps will never enjoy. And it will be yours for life. I’ve found this to be true in my life, and I can’t tell you how much it’s worth it. So many sales people struggle through life and wonder what’s wrong, while a select few enjoy the riches available to them through a career in sales. You can too – “If you’re willing to do the things that most sales reps will never do…”

I will never forget the things that Stan taught me years ago, nor the things he taught me just last week during his farewell webinar. Stan still has a ton of solid sales tips that are relevant, effective and very powerful. If you’d like to hear him discuss these things, or invest in his sales material, you can do so here.

Stan, thanks for time, effort and commitment you’ve invested in your life to helping sales professionals become superstars. I, for one, am grateful.

Eighteen New Ways to Handle “I’m Not Interested”

Regardless of what kind of prospecting you’re doing – whether you’re calling back in-bound leads who have contacted you, or old accounts who haven’t purchased in a while, or just straight cold calls – you’re still going to get a good dose of the blow off objection: “I’m not interested.” While I’ve provided many different ways of handling this in the past, here are eighteen new, customized responses for each of the lead categories from above. Here they are:

For “warm” leads who have filled out an online form or reached out to you in some other way:

“I’m not interested”

Response one:

“That’s perfectly O.K., _________, you’ve probably forgotten that you (filled in a form, requested info, etc.) so I don’t expect you to be interested in what you must think is a cold call. But just to remind you – on (date/time) you (visited our website/dropped by our booth/filled out a form, etc.) do you remember that?”

[If Yes]

“What did you need at that time?”

Response two:

“No problem _________, I also forget half the things I request info on. Just to remind you, we (what you do), and on (date/time) you (visited our website/dropped by our booth/filled out a form, etc.) do you remember that?”

[If Yes]

“Do you remember what prompted you to reach out to us at that time?”

Response three:

“That’s fine, quick question though: When you filled out (our online form, etc.) has anyone else from our office contacted you about it yet?”

[If No]

“I see. Well I do apologize for that. Just out of curiosity, did you get that handled yet or are you still looking?”

For inactive accounts or people you’ve not spoken to in a while:

“I’m not interested”

Response one:

“That’s fine _________, and I’m simply calling to update your account information for our records. Quick question: Are you still the right contact person who handles ordering the ________ for your company?”

Response two:

“Oh that’s O.K., I’m not calling to sell you anything today. Just want to make sure you still know we’re here in case you do need something down the road. By the way, do you guys still carry/use/order ________?”

Response three:

“I get that all the time, and just know that the only reason I’m calling is to introduce myself as your contact should you ever need to check pricing or availability on an item. Quick question: are you the right contact for _________?”

Response four:

“No problem _________. I’ll simply email you my contact information in case you ever do need anything, and then I’ll get out of your hair. By the way, would you be the best person to email this to, or is there someone else who is handling ________ now?”

Response five:

“That’s no problem at all – quick question: is it that you don’t need anything just now, or do you even order/carry/use ________ anymore at all?”

[“We do order, we just don’t need any now.”]

“Great. When you are in the market again, could I be one of the vendors/suppliers/sources you go to for a quote?”

For cold calling or prospecting calls:

“I’m not interested”

Response one:

“Quick question: Does that mean you’re not interested at this moment, but in a few months things could change, and I should keep in touch?”

Response two:

“Who else at your company do you think might have a need for something like this?”

Response three:

“I’m with you – quick question though: are you the right contact for this, or is there another department (or person) I should check with?”

Response four:

“When should I check back with you?”

[If given a date]

“Great. So I can be more prepared for that, quick question: are you the right contact for this?” (Then add other qualifying questions)

Response five:

“If you were to be interested, what is the typical (volume, amount, frequency, etc.) that you normally order/use/need?”

[If they tell you]

“And who do you normally get that from?”

Response six:

“When was the last time you were interested in something like this?”

Response seven:

“And what would have to change for you to be more open to something like this in the future?”

Response eight:

“Should I lose your number or put you on a 6-month follow up call?” (Say with a BIG smile!)

[If call back in 6 months]

“Great. What should I keep an eye out for in between then?”

Response nine:

“The next time you are interested in (your product), could I get back with you and see if we can help?”

[If yes]

“When should I follow back up with you?”

Response ten:

“Thanks for letting me know up front. If I were to get back with you in the future, what would I have to have to get you to be more open to something like this?

So there you have it. Eighteen more ways of handling the “I’m not interested” objection. Make sure to customize these to fit your product or service and to fit your personality. Once you find one that feels right, and that gets your prospects to open up, then stick with it and practice it over and over again. Remember: practice of the right responses will always make perfect.