As we know, administrators, clerks and secretaries are the “gatekeepers” of business. And when pitching a well-established business, the gatekeeper is usually experienced at screening cold calls and recognizing sales professionals who attempt to reach the decisions makers without an appointment. This is part of their job and will have been briefed by the decision maker to make sure they do what they can to avoid situations where interruptions occur for them. Sales guru Justin Cobb advises the sales professional to treat the gatekeeper as an important player in the negotiation process, rather than an obstacle to tackle, as it’s their best bet at making a positive first impression. Justin Cobb shares with us his advice for ensuring better success in talking with gatekeepers and eventually contacting decision makers, which we can use in everyday life when booking an appointment, or in business when closing a sale.
When interacting with gatekeepers Justin cobb is naturally very respectful and shows concern and interest in the person, whether he is requesting an extension of time from the head host at a conference he is leading, or looking to speak with a potential client to discuss a partnership. Both of these examples require the negotiator to approach the gatekeeper with a sincere attitude, where they build rapport based on trust and honesty, as this will encourage a positive impression when the gatekeeper discusses your case with the decision maker. Justin Cobb says, “Get past gatekeepers by including them, be polite and treat them with respect as the impression you make with them will affect how they portray their experience with you to the decision maker whom you are ultimately trying to impress” he explains. “Tho this doesn’t mean put on an act, you will only earn respect of the gatekeeper when you are being honest. Realize that they are a crucial variable to achieving your win, they are a very important piece of the puzzle and are more than just receptionists. You will benefit from realizing you are more worthy than them, and you should converse in friendly chat with them until you find some common ground which you can use to build a genuine and honest rapport with them.”
In business trying to simply blow by the decision maker, makes you appear suspicious and trying to go under the gatekeepers responsibilities. If you talk down to an assistant, they’re not going to connect you through to the boss and this can blow your entire chances. Justin Cobb recommends making the situation work most conveniently for them, for example you could say, “How about I come back and have a quick sit down with you and the boss, how does 1pm work for you?” This creates a conversation and puts them in a position where they feel respected and valuable, and also feel the need to connect you to the decisionmaker at a time that also suits you.