My strategy for getting a name from gatekeepers

3 replies
I sell copywriting, but more along the lines of case studies and brochures than direct marketing. My target prospect is marketing managers, directors and VPs of marketing at small to medium sized telecom companies. Companies that do not use agencies and have too much work to do everything in-house. Here is the script I use to start the call with a gatekeeper when I do not have a name. I'm not saying it's the best script, but it's one that has worked for me.

If they ask some variation on "How can I transfer your call?" I'll say marketing.

If they say anything else, I respond, "Hi, I'm hoping you can help me out." Then I pause for half a second to see if the GK responds. Whether they respond or not I always say, "I'm a freelance writer and I write marketing materials for companies in the X industry. Who would be the best person to speak with?" Then I shut up.

I get a lot of my numbers from trade show exhibitor lists. The industry I target is large, so there's two or three really big ones (thousands of exhibitors) and at least a dozen smaller shows. If the gatekeeper ask what the call is regarding, I say "I noticed your company purchased booth space at the upcoming XYZ Widgets Exhibition, so I'm calling to see if you need a writer to create <insert types of projects>."

Sometimes the gatekeeper won't know who has that responsibility or they have to look it up. In that case, I apologize for putting them on the spot and say:

"It's usually someone connected with marketing or communications."

Unless the business prohibits the gatekeeper from giving out names or transferring without one, 9 times out of 10 I'll get an answer. They'll either give me the name and either transfer me or tell me I can eliminate the company as a prospect because they have an agency or do everything in-house. Even if I get voice mail, at least I have a name to start off with for the next call.

Hope this helps a few people who are struggling.

Here's a bonus tip: If you get to talk to the decision maker and they tell you anything that doesn't totally eliminate them as a prospect, send them a hand written thank you card. Thank them for taking the time to speak with you, mention a relevant point or two from your conversation, and drop a couple of business cards in the envelope.

I had a prospect who remembered me after two years of no contact because I sent him the card. I wouldn't recommend falling down on your follow up like I did in that case, but I think it shows how powerful this strategy is. Anything that gets you to stick in their mind in a good way.
#gatekeepers #strategy
  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Yep, there's no reason why this straightforward method shouldn't work.

    Asking the gatekeeper for help is a great way to disarm the conversation and stop that attacker-defender situation from forming.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    I heard another Warrior explain it this way, "The two roles of the secretaary are to protect, and to assist".

    She wants to do a good job at both of them, and she is triggered by one of them at all times.

    If you sense she is defensive, ask her for help and tell her "Cindy, you would probably be able to help me out here ..."

    Her mind jumps away from defense for a second and says "Help? Cindy? Thats what Cindy does best! Cindy Good Helper"

    Its like throwing a frisbee around a playful dog...their attention shifts right into help mode.

    Some dogs wont budge...but most will chase the frisbee.
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  • Profile picture of the author hayfj2
    It's amazing what you can find with the advanced search on Linkedin, these days too. You can get some very useful information including the names of key individuals within organisation. A good first step before picking up the phone.

    Hope that helps


    P.S. You can also "follow" the persons activity on various groups, so you can have a reason to make some light conversatio too when you first speak to them.
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