How to Successfully Deal with the Gatekeeper

Many sales reps don’t know how to deal successfully with the gatekeeper. If things like: “Will he know what this call is regarding?” keep you up at night, then you need to watch this video and use the proven techniques in it.

And if you’re a sales manager, you need to send this out to all of the reps on your team!

Top Ten Characteristics of Top Sales Producers (Part Eight)

In Top Characteristic Part Eight, we’re going back to cold calling and qualifying to reveal an important skill all top producers possess:

Top Characteristic Part Eight: Treat all gatekeepers with courtesy and respect.

If you have to make cold or warm calls to prospects, then you probably have to deal with your share of gatekeepers. These can be receptionists, office managers, assistants, etc. No matter what role they have, whoever stands between you and your prospect is someone you have to deal with first.

Most sales people struggle to effectively deal with and get past these so called “gatekeepers.” And the majority of the time, the problems they have they bring on themselves. The reason is because most sales reps treat these people as obstacles to get past by using tricks or by acting authoritatively or by being downright rude. And you can imagine how that goes.

In addition, many sales people simply don’t understand some basic rules in regards to how to speak to gatekeepers, and so they create their own problems by giving incomplete information which just triggers the gatekeepers to do their job and keep them away from the decision maker.

Here is a common mistake:

Rep: “Oh hi, is Mr. Jones in?”

Gatekeeper: “Can I tell him who’s calling?”

Rep: “This is Bob.”

Gatekeeper: “Bob who?”

Rep: “Bob Smith.”

Gatekeeper: “With what company?

Rep: “The XYZ company.”

Gatekeeper: “Will he know what this call is regarding?”

Rep: “Ah, it’s about his (whatever the rep is selling…)”

Gatekeeper: “Has he spoken to you before?”

Rep: “Ah, no……”

Once a sales rep gets into that kind of dialogue with a gatekeeper, they will rarely win. Over and over again they will get turned away.

The way to fix all this is easy: Always give your first and last name and the company you’re calling from right away. And this is crucial: always end with an instructional statement like: “Is Bob available please.”

And by the way that’s crucial, too: always be polite and use please – two or three times.

Here’s an effective opening:

Rep: “Hi could I speak with Bob please?

Gatekeeper: “Can I tell him who’s calling?”

Rep: “Yes please, please tell him that (your first and last name) with (your company name) is holding please.”

If you do this right and with a smile in your voice, you’ll avoid 80% of the screening that you get now. Guaranteed.

In addition, if you don’t know a contact’s name, use the “I need a little bit of help, please,” technique. But always wait for them to respond before you ask for it:

Rep: “Hi, I need a little bit of help please.”

[Now pause long enough the gatekeeper to respond]

Gatekeeper: “What do you need?”

Rep: “I need to speak with the person who handles your _________. Who would that be, please?”

This is very effective if again you say it with a smile in your voice.

Last technique: Speaking of a smile, always put a BIG smile on your face right before your prospect (or gatekeeper) picks up the phone. It does wonders for how you project your attitude and opening line.

And, don’t be afraid of building a little bit of rapport with the gatekeeper as well. Ask them if they’re happy it’s Friday, or how Monday is going, or if they’re glad it’s hump day. Ask about the weather. Anything to be personable and to show them that you value them as people rather than just an obstacle to get around.

The bottom line is that top producers know how to interact with gatekeepers and know how to gain their trust and get them on their side. By using the techniques above, you can now begin doing that as well.

Top Ten Characteristics of Top Sales Producers (Part Seven)

How many times do you ask for the sale during a close? Once? Twice? The number of times you should be asking might surprise you…

Top Characteristic Part Seven: Be prepared to ask for the sale five times – or more!

Most sales reps I listen to (while reviewing their closing and presentation calls), ask for the sale once. If they are get a stall or objection, they generally go away in defeat. It’s rare that I hear someone ask for the sale more than three times. Think about that for yourself. How many times do you ask for the sale before you give up?

Years ago I was taught that the close doesn’t even begin until the prospect has said no at least five times! I was taught that in order to win the sale, I needed to show enthusiasm and confidence, and that I needed to be persistent and show that I believed in the reason the prospect should buy more than he/she believed that she shouldn’t.

Now please don’t misunderstand me here. I can just hear some of you complaining that you don’t want to be a telemarketer, you don’t want to be an obnoxious sales person, don’t want to be unprofessional or pushy. Good, because I don’t want you to be either.

But what I’m talking about is something completely different. Let me explain:

To start with, you must be working with a qualified prospect. One who has a legitimate interest in your product or service, has a need, is a decision maker, has the budget, etc. This is the first step. If you don’t have any of these things and you begin closing five times or more, then guess what? You’re going to become a pushy sales person.

But if you do have all these qualifiers in place, then you can feel confident that you’re dealing with someone who can and will benefit from your product or service. And if that’s true, then it’s up to you to present value, overcome stalls and objections, and ask for the sale five or six or even seven times or more.

You have to remember that many times a prospect is on the fence, and the only way to push them off it (and onto your side), is to be persistent and overwhelm any doubt or hesitation they have with your belief, confidence and enthusiasm. Here’s how you do it:

First, you have to have solid and proven rebuttals to all of the common stalls or objections you’re going to get. You must know these responses inside and out so you’re not put off when you get them. So many sales reps act like a deer caught in a headlight when they get an objection. Many give up as soon as they do.

You can (and must) avoid that defeated feeling be being prepared with a rebuttal that not only addresses the concern, but that then leads you back into building value. In other words, you need a way back into your pitch. You can use something as simple as:

“I totally understand how you feel – it does seem that way at first, but actually the way it works is that…”

And then continue to build value or discuss a benefit and give them a further reason to buy! And once you’ve answered the objection, you must confirm your answer with: “Do you see how that works?” (In other words, use a tie-down.)

And if you get a yes, then you ask for the order: “Then here’s what I recommend we do…”

And BOOM! You’ve just asked for the sale again! And when you then get another objection or stall, you answer it, confirm your answer and ask for the sale again!

This is the long lost art of closing the sale. You must be prepared to keep pitching, keep building value, and keep asking for sale – five, six seven or even ten times.

Now again, for any of you rolling your eyes, you obviously need to be in tuned with each prospect and if someone is getting upset or really isn’t going buy or commit right then, then you back off. Of course you can still try getting back into the close with something like:

“You know ________, I love to learn: do you mind telling me why?”

Keep trying to reopen the sale.

If you are willing to do what the other sales reps are not going to do, then I recommend you get your favorite ten or fifteen closes together to handle the five to eight common objections you always get (see Top Characteristic Number Two). Then you’ll memorize them and be ready to deliver them automatically and perfectly.

Once you do, you’ll then be able to persevere and ask for the sale over and over again. And when you do, something amazing will begin to happen: You’ll begin closing more deals. You’ll begin closing prospects who you would have given up on before. Your confidence will go up. Your weekly checks will go up.

And before you know it, you’ll have arrived.

You’ll suddenly be in the top 20% of your company, and as you revise your pitch and get better and better, you’ll move into the top 5%.

And then the top 1%.

And once you’re at the top, you’ll wonder how you ever did it any other way.

6 Things NEVER to Say During Your Sales Presentation

I’ve been listening to sales rep pitch their products and services for over 25 years now, and there are still words, phrases and techniques that send shivers down my spine. And I’ll tell you now they send shivers down the spines of their prospects and clients, too.

Let’s face it – when selling over the phone, all you have is your voice, and the way you deliver your presentation – the words you use, the inflection, pacing and timing you use – has a huge impact on the way you are perceived by your prospects. Unfortunately, many sales reps project an image of being unprepared, unsure, rushed and sometimes even scared.

Your prospects sense this immediately. They know from your first few sentences whether they are dealing with a confident sales pro, or with someone who isn’t very sure of what they’re selling and who is uncomfortable with the sales process. And like sharks, these prospects will attack and blow you off with all the stalls, resistance and objections you get now.

If you want to project an image of professional competency, then make sure and avoid using any of the following statements or words:

What NOT to say when cold calling or prospecting:

1) Stop opening your calls with, “How are you?” I’ve written about this before, but 99% of sales reps are still telegraphing themselves as unwanted sales persons by starting out their conversations this way. How do YOU feel when someone you don’t know calls you and uses this worn out line? Probably like hanging up on them– which is exactly how your prospects feel as well. So stop it!

Instead, use a better opening line that immediately differentiates you from all the other sales reps calling your prospects. Use something that connects with them instead, that focuses them on the call and that forces them to think and interact with you.

A few of my favorites are: “How’s your Tuesday going so far?” and “Has it started/stopped snowing there yet?” and “Can you hear me O.K.?”

2) Take the word, “individual” out of your vocabulary when speaking, emailing or otherwise addressing a prospect, as in, “I know you’re a busy individual…” The word individual is an institutional, cold phrase that doesn’t belong in a sales conversation.

Think about it: When was the last time someone you didn’t know called you and referred to you or your wife as “individuals”? How’d that make you feel? Did it give you the warm and fuzziness or did you make you think you were about to be committed?

The language you use must help you create a natural, conversational tone, and words like, “busy individual” or “busy professional”, etc, do just the opposite.

3) “Things of that nature.” I cringe as I even write those words…. Whenever I hear a sales rep end a sentence with “Things of that nature,” I’m pretty sure they have no idea of what they’re talking about. That phrase is most often used by mediocre sales reps to hide or cover up the truth that they don’t know all the details of what they’re talking about. Or, it is used to as lazy way to bridge into other qualifying questions.

If you are using it now, please consider using something else, or better, explain a few of those “things” and then use a tie down to see how that landed…

What NOT to say when closing a sale:

1) “Can you transfer me to (the decision maker)?” Most presentations end with the stall: “Well, I need to run this by my boss/partner/manager/corporate, etc.” Unfortunately, this usually comes as a surprise to many sales reps who failed to qualify for this upfront. Some sales reps then think they can just bulldoze through the stall by demanding to talk to the decision maker right then and there.

While I applaud you for your tenacity, asking to blatantly go above the person’s head you’re speaking to or have just pitched, immediately alienates them. Often times this person is some kind of sales influencer and alienating them is NOT what you want to do.

Instead you should use different techniques, one of which being: “So, John, when you consult with your manager, is this something that you’re sold on and will recommend to them?” (If yes, then): “Great, how can I help you sell them on this?” (Only if they can’t think of anything): “Would it help if I spoke to them and went over this just like I did with you?”

That’s the way to get permission and to finally earn the right to speak to the decision maker.

2) “I don’t know about that – let me get back to you.” It’s O.K. that you don’t have an answer for something, but what’s important is that you convey that in a confident manner. Try any of the following:

“That’s a great question and we have several ways of handling that. Let me ask you a couple of questions regarding your particular situation, and then I’ll be able to get the best solution for you…” OR

“That’s a good question for my technical support team. Let me see what they would propose and get back with you.” OR

“We have a whole department that deals with that, and I’ll check with them to give you the best solution.”
Each of these responses helps you delay answering until you get the right answer, but they paint the picture of a bigger, more competent company structure which helps to give you credibility.

3) “When should I call you back?” Why would you want to put the crucial follow up of your sale in the hands of your customer? Asking this question means handing over control of the sale to the prospect which means you lose control. That’s bad. Here are better ways of keeping control and getting a commitment for a follow up call:

“How long will that take?” Then: “O.K. I’ve got my calendar open and that would put us to Tuesday of next week. Are you looking at your calendar? Great. How does 2:45pm look for you?” OR

“(Prospect Name) you’re probably as busy as I am, so let’s go ahead and schedule a follow up call to access progress. I can do this same time (tomorrow, Friday, next week), does that work for you?” OR

“It’s going to take me (a day, two days, a week, etc.) to get this started on my end, how about I give you a call around Friday at this time to see if there’s anything else you need? Does 2:15pm work for you again?”

The key here is to get a commitment. All top producers remain in control of the selling process and know when the next call in the sales cycle is – and so do their prospects!

So there you have six things to stay away from during your next sales call. As you use these techniques, you’ll find yourself developing better rapport, getting more information and staying in control of your selling situations. Heck, it’s starting to sound like you’re a top producer already!