Stop Being Afraid of the Gatekeeper

One of the reasons people stop making cold calls is fear of the gatekeeper. Gatekeepers seem to wield extraordinary power over the minds of cold callers.

Gatekeepers are receptionists and part of their job is to stop others from wasting the time of the person who is paying their wage. Unfortunately, salespeople often view gatekeepers in such a one dimensional way that they end up giving away all their power to them.

Recently, one of my clients, who is a very powerful and successful man in his own right expressed how fearful he was of gatekeepers. I asked him why and he couldn’t logically explain it.

He seemed to believe that the gatekeeper held all the power rather, than seeing the receptionist as a person who is simply employed to perform a job and who has no vested interest in keeping him from speaking to a decision maker.

When asked to rethink the situation and to remember that he was the CEO of a successful company, he realised that he had been giving away his power to a gatekeeper. Giving away our power occurs when we allow others to make us feel less than who we really are. When we allow anyone, including a gatekeeper to change the way we feel we are also giving away our power.

Gatekeepers are not our enemies. In fact, it would serve us to befriend them and treat them with respect. Whenever I come across an unfriendly gatekeeper who seems hell bent on being as abrupt as possible, I choose to engage them in conversation.

Asking questions helps to keep the conversation going and allows you to be in control of the conversation. Depending on the type of organisation you are calling and the nature of the call, it is wise to engage in research before phoning, so that you can ask relevant questions.

‘I see from your website that you don’t offer… Is that something you have tried or… ?’ or ‘Do you know anyone else who might be interested in… ?’

With a rude or abrupt gatekeeper, the trick is to ensure that you never succumb to their emotional tone. I describe it as ‘not falling into the pit with them.’ I even asked one such gatekeeper once if everything was actually alright because she sounded like she was angry. That certainly diffused the situation and her tone changed immediately.

Always treat gatekeepers as if they are your best friend. Use their Christian name whenever possible. Use humour to diffuse any tension and always ensure you treat them with the utmost respect.

If you continue to see receptionists as your adversary they will live up to that reputation. It is more prudent to view them as a potential advocate and even a silent business partner. Don’t be afraid of gatekeepers. They are not in this world to sabotage your business success. Start changing your perception about these hard working, often underpaid, yet highly important individuals as sources of information and the key holder to the gate you want opened.