Raw truth about “Getting Past The Gatekeeper”

in On Marketing To Small Businesses

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]?”

Dear Reader,

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.

  1. It focuses your attention on staff, not the decision maker you need to see.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 juliacassidy May 31, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Great article. I believe any one working or with experience in telemarketing will feel himself/herself identified with this article. In my opinion, this is not the best activity and unfortunately it is easier to fail than to succeed when it comes to attract the customers', on the other end, attention. Most of the times all you get are insults and even if you are restless or if you know that it is not a personal matter, it will still let you down. I agree with @Josh Margolis, however, the truth is that respect and treating the gatekeeper as an ally is not always possible and if it is, it is not always successful in the end.

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2 Josh Margolis May 19, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I agree with you that most “get past the gatekeeper” advice is deceitful, but you're solution only goes half way. Why not embrace the gatekeeper as an ally? Treat this person with respect, recite your one minute informercial and ask for help.

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3 moses July 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I would love to see some case studies on the topic of gatekeeper mindset transformation

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4 Anonymous August 8, 2005 at 5:08 pm

Thanks all … I’ll crack open the archives and pull out some interesting case studies for you. Keep an eye out for the postings.

Michael

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5 Anonymous August 8, 2005 at 10:08 pm

Thanks all … I’ll crack open the archives and pull out some interesting case studies for you. Keep an eye out for the postings.
Michael

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6 Anonymous August 8, 2005 at 2:08 pm

ditto

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7 Anonymous August 8, 2005 at 7:08 pm

ditto

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8 Anonymous August 5, 2005 at 9:08 pm

Case Studies Please!! smile

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9 Anonymous August 5, 2005 at 9:08 pm

I’ll 2nd the request for case studies.

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10 Anonymous August 6, 2005 at 2:08 am

I’ll 2nd the request for case studies.

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11 Anonymous August 6, 2005 at 2:08 am

Case Studies Please!!

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