A reader asks: “Michael, how can I get past the gatekeeper when I cold call? It seems like I always get stuck with the assistant. I feel like I’m banging my head up against a wall, day-in and day-out, trying to get through to the people who can buy my [widget]?”
Imagine the look on my face after eating the most sour food on the Planet Earth … I mean face scrunched-and-puckered sour … and you have my reaction to your question. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why you asked it. Even empathize with your situation. But if you want to grow your organization, you have to recognize that…
The ‘get past the gatekeeper’ question — yes, just the question itself!!! — is damaging to your profits and long-term success.
Why is it damaging?
Questions focus attention … and the gatekeeper question is triple-negative.
- It focuses your attention on staff, not the decision maker you need to see.
- Embedded in the question is the nagging idea that you should beg to see the big-shot, not the other way around. That your time is not to be valued as highly as the big-shot. And that you are an unwelcome pest, not a sought-out and in-demand guest.
- The answers offered by “the experts” are even more damaging than the question. Have you ever read or listened to “get past the gatekeeper” advice? It’s centered on deceit and trickery as the solution. Call before the gatekeeper is in. Act like you already know the big-shot. Sound incredulous when challenged to intimidate your way in. BS, all of it. If you have a good offer you do NOT need to trick the prospect into learning about it. You just need to learn how to market effectively!
Let me offer a far better question, one that few businesses ask and even fewer answer:
How can I make what I offer so irresistable, motivated decision makers seek me out?
Successfully answer this question and … before your very eyes … the gatekeeper will miraculously transform into a friendly faciliator whose job it is to get you to agree to meet with the big-shot. If you are good at what you do, have real value to offer said big-shot … that’s exactly the way it should be.
If there is interest in this topic, I’ll post some client case studies where we “turned the table” on traditional cold-calling, beg-for-business bull. Let me know in the comments. (Update: It’s on … keep an eye on the blog over the next couple of weeks as I dig out stimulating case studies.)