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Getting Past Gatekeepers

If you’re using B2B telemarketing as a marketing channel for your business, you’re likely to have come across an issue that threatens to derail your efforts. 

In almost every case, on every call, you will reach a switchboard, assistant or some other person that stands between you and the person with whom you’d like to speak. In the world of outbound calling, these individuals are known as ‘Gatekeepers’. And, this is a bridge you need to cross before you reach your target decision-making prospect. Gatekeepers stand in the way of you and your business target

Whilst not all gatekeepers are the same, many zealously guard their boss and the senior management team with whom you’d like to speak.

Ultimately, if you want to be successful and deliver qualified leads from your calls, you will need to find a way to overcome this hurdle. No technique in the world will work every time, and you may not succeed if the gatekeeper is particularly difficult. However, in this blog, we outline a couple of techniques to help you.

Embedded Commands

Senior PAs and other gatekeepers value their job. Therefore, they won’t just put everyone through to their boss. They certainly won’t just wave you on through if you sound junior and uncertain. So, the first thing you need to do is to be clear and concise and sound professional, senior and authoritative. A high-pitched squeaky voice that trembles won’t cut it. Be very clear about your approach. Plan what you are going to say and say it with conviction. And, try the technique below called an ‘embedded command’. Note. It’s is not meant to be said as a question. It is supposed to sound like an instruction!

  • You: John Smith, please.
  • GK: Who’s calling?
  • You: Yes, it’s Jonathan, thanks/thank you
  • GK: And can I take your surname, Jonathan
  • You: Yes, of course. Would you tell John, it’s Jonathan Smith on the line, thanks.
  • GK: And which company are you calling from?
  • You: Yes, Would you tell him, I’m calling from GSA, thank you.

Some gatekeepers will put you through at this point since you will sound important and authoritative if the above is said correctly. The words ‘would you’ convey an instruction and the words ‘thank you’ suggest that you’re finished talking with them so now ‘put me through’. 

If the gatekeeper persists, as some will inevitably do, we recommend one of two further techniques. Either ‘blind them with science’ or use a strong ‘reference point’.

Blind Them With Science

Note. This will very much depend on your business but the aim is to say something that you can justify and explain that the gatekeeper is unlikely to fully understand. It must sound relevant and important. And, make sure that you have a fallback if the first attempt doesn’t work. You need to hold your nerve.

  • GK: And what’s your call regarding?
  • You: Of course, it’s with regard to lead channel optimisation, thanks.
  • GK: I’m sorry, I don’t understand. What do you mean? 
  • You: It’s to do with revenue maximisation from John’s customer database. 

Remember, you need to know your stuff and hold your nerve or this won’t work. You need to be able to substantiate what you are saying if asked by either the gatekeeper or the decision-maker when the gatekeeper puts you through.

Reference Point

Another option is to use some kind of reference point. This could be called a name drop or something current that is topical and of interest e.g. new legislation.

  • GK: And what’s it regarding?
  • You: Of course, it’s with regard to work we’ve done with (name competitor or client in their industry) on channel optimisation, thanks.
  • GK: I’m sorry, I don’t understand.
  • You: I’m sorry, it’s to do with John’s revenue maximisation from his customer database. Thank you. 

The above can be varied to suit. Tough gatekeepers don’t let go. However, our aim here is to improve your ratios. As we said earlier, it won’t work all the time. However, if you improve your decision maker conversations by even 5% per month, what would that do for your business development?

If you want to talk about our telemarketing services today, get in touch with GSA and learn how we can help you!


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