My #1 most requested sales prospecting problem !
Now we all have an image in our minds what gatekeepers look like, does this come close? Do you already feel your confidence ebbing away?
As a pimply 16 year old, I recall being out with my pals trying to get into pubs but all attempts being worse than useless! In my efforts to look older, I developed an uncontrollable stutter, managed to look 12, shrank to 4ft tall, reversed the entire puberty process with vocal chords contracted so much I could sing “I’m walking in the air” so high only dogs could hear it.
A strange thing happened though. Faced with the total shame of going home as feeble failures, we tried again at a different pub. Second time round still hopeless but this time we changed a few elements of our approach and by the fourth place, viola! Confidence, bravado, a bit of fun trying and the camouflage had worked.
So now to Gatekeepers (Gatekeepers are people too). Their job is to smoothly filter calls to the right people, maintaining efficiency by 'dealing' with 1st level enquiries. For salespeople this sounds like “Send literature”, “Leave your number and if Ms. Cook would like to speak with you, she will call you back”, “I'll put you into their voicemail…” and so on.
Perhaps in the past you've taken a call from a salesperson on behalf of a colleague and 'protected' them by being less than clear about their whereabouts? Think back, how did you know they were in sales as I bet they didn't mention it? Traditional salespeople sound pretty similar, easy to identify by the loud enthusiastic "Hi" or perhaps they've used the wrong name, sound a bit 'needy'? I know I have caught the odd call or two thereby introducing another layer of gatekeepers to contend with in order to be successful.
Do we really have to just put up with this or could we do better? Check your call statistics or 'cookbook' (you do keep those right?) and see if you are getting knocked back more than a third of the time, if that's the case there's definitely some work you can do to improve your results.
When tackling real examples with clients, there’s stacks of things we cover to improve success from tonality, vocabulary to 'rescuing'. At the heart of the issue though, sounding like a salesperson just triggers all the shutters to come down, defenses designed to prevent you making progress and keep the client in control.
There's no reason to fail or give up - Improve your call hit rate by avoiding rejection
How about trying to learn a few tricks from teenagers then? Try a bit of camouflage? If you were a Gatekeeper, if one of these 'styles' called which would you think is the salesman & which would you feel you would be happy to let through?
Lets face it, traditional salespeople are easy to spot! But seniority, technical people, family and friends are far more likely to be put through. Why not visualise yourself as one and sound just like them? My colleague in Canada reported a 9 out of 10 'put through' rate just by changing his tonality to a no-nonsence authoritative style. So here are a few proven tips that will increase your hit rates : -
- Remember your sales goals, its important you get through to prospects and talk to them. DON'T GIVE UP
- Don’t say or sound like a salesperson, visualise yourself as someone who would normally expect to be put through
- Be confident and PRACTICE before you start your calls in earnest
- Relax, there is NOTHING to lose as you don't have a prospect on your hands .....
- Don’t be afraid to let yourself be 'rescued' by a gatekeeper. Be confused, don't 'understand' and they will come to your rescue and help you out
- Expect to be knocked back a few times, it happens!
- Start to build your confidence on accounts that are not critical to your business, approach these when you have built up your selling ‘muscle’