Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


How Do You Get Past The Gatekeeper?

Of Harridans and warrior women ...



When I started out in consultancy, over 13 years ago, the first thing I did was go on a sales training course and it was there that I was introduced to that most daunting of beings, the gatekeeper ...

This person had a fearsome range of weapons all designed to keep me from reaching my next client, the busy MD. We were taken through a series of tricks all designed to outwit this person and avoid getting speared on her portcullis.

"The whole procedure was depicted as siege warfare and the gatekeeper as a warrior woman defending her lord!"

It felt really uncomfortable! Previously, as the CEO of a busy hospital, my own PA, Beth, had been excellent at fielding unwanted sales calls as politely and tactfully as possible.

I can only remember one time when she was fooled by a pushy salesman. The chap happened to have the same name as a senior CEO in the NHS, so he opened with "Good morning, it's Mark Nickleby here; is Jacky in? I need to talk to her!" and was put straight through to me.

God was I cross! Did he make a sale? Not then and not ever! He phoned again 6 months later with the same opener, but Beth has a long memory and that time maybe the image of a warrior was justified.

Returning to my initial sales training. My favourite example of a trick that was seriously suggested was to write a 2 page letter to the MD and conveniently 'forget' to include the second page in the envelope.

The theory was the secretary would notice this and she would phone you up and ask where the second page was. Somehow that would encourage her to engage in conversation with you and develop rapport. I'll leave you to decide if that would work or not as I never tried it.

Now the better sales trainers - and those involved in professional telemarketing - will tell you that this is no way to behave, however I googled 'gatekeeper' when preparing this blog post and the images were mainly of fearsome women being obstructive!

The first sites to come up were all sales training companies who gave instruction in how to build rapport and what language to use to turn this Harridan into a pussy cat and obligingly put your call through. Still siege warfare, just waged with more sophisticated weapons.

"There is a better way. Don't go to war in the first place!"

Use your network to get yourself introduced directly to your prospect by someone who already knows him/her. If you've briefed this person properly he will check that your prospect really has a need for your services. What's more, he will have told him enough good things about you to make him want to meet you.

Then your contact can facilitate the best way of introducing you to each other. Now you can phone up and say "Good morning Beth, It's Penny Dropped here, is Jacky in? We arranged to talk today" and peace will reign.

So my Referral Tip this week is to get to know the people who know your type of prospects. Build your relationships so that when you ask to be introduced to prospects they are motivated and equipped to help you. Brief them well.

"As always, ensure that you are willing and able to reciprocate too!"

Would you like to learn about working with referral partners who can facilitate introductions to people who are right for your products and services? Call me on 07970 638857 and let's arrange to meet up so you can find out more.

Until next time ...


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07970 638857