"Build rapport with the Gatekeeper."
Easier said than done, right? Thanks goodness we got your back.
Get the Gatekeeper's name. Make a point to appear interested in their name. In all honesty you should be interested in their name. They'll be the person you'll have to go through every time you call this client. So have some forethought.
You might meet their initial greeting with, "I'm sorry, I missed your name."
Write their name down and don't forget it.
Is there anything unique about their name? If their name is "Unique," fight the urge to make a pun on their name. Pun's aren't funny. Not ever! If their name is unique, or you happen to know something about the name's origin, ask an innocent question.
For example, the Gatekeeper says their name is, "Siobhan." Oh my! You just happen to be Irish and that is clearly an Irish name. You might respond with, "My mother's name is Siobhan. I don't usually run across people with that name these days. Are you Irish too?"
Is she is Irish, you just scored! In fact, you score when you get the Gatekeeper thinking of anything other than shutting you down and disconnecting the phone.
The conversation can still go in a lot of directions. A yes or a no would be great! That means the Gatekeeper is answering your questions and that gives you a small advantage. If you get the brush off, you need to work harder at building rapport.
Don't stammer or stutter. Call Siobhan by her name and ask for her advice.
Try the following:
"Siobhan, I could really use your advice. I know [CLIENT NAME] is really busy. A mutual friend of ours recommended I contact him/her regarding [SERVICE OR PRODUCT]. I was told he/she was looking into [SERVICE OR PRODUCT] for his/her company. Is there a way to arrange a 2-3 minute call or meeting with [CLIENT NAME]?"
Why did we ask the question like this?
Firstly, you insinuate you have a friendly connection with the person through a mutual friend. Secondly, you plant the idea the client is actively seeking the service or product you're offering. Lastly, you're not asking to be connected right away and you're not asking for too much.
The Gatekeeper is going to weigh the scenario quickly in their mind. The thought process might go something like this:
- the caller and the client might know each other so I don't want to sound disrespectful
- if the boss is looking into their product or service I don't want to hinder their access to information
- I don't have to bother the boss right now, I can play it safe and ask permission or schedule something
Depending on the Gatekeeper's relationship with their boss, they are more than likely going to take the path of least resistance. You must offer a least resistance path that will likely get you some kind of speaking opportunity.
If you crafted your greetings properly, only in rare circumstances will the Gatekeeper refuse to connect you with their boss. If that happens you have two choices; 1: cross the potential client off your list and move on, or 2: escalate your tactics!
The following tactic should be employed if the pay-off is big!