Superhero Tactics to Get Past the Gatekeeper

Don't let The Gatekeeper hold you back from achieving your sales goals! Seize your chance to unleash your inner sales superhero, conquer the gatekeeper and take your sales superpowers to new heights!

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Joe: Matt, allow me to introduce the super villain we’re going up against today. The Gatekeeper. It’s an enigmatic Sentinel stand in between you and B2B success. This vigilant figure stationed at the crossroads of access information and progress can be your formidable ally or a cunning adversary, but fear not because our webinar is here to help to equip you with supercharged sales tactics that will help you bypass the gatekeepers barriers and gain access to invaluable resources.

So just very briefly, Matt, for our brand new B2B superheroes, who do we mean when we’re referring to the gatekeeper?

Matt: When we refer to a gatekeeper, we’re actually talking about two personas. One you’ll face as a sale development rep when you’re cold calling and the other you’ll face as an account executive when you’re trying to close a deal.

So, the first and most traditional sense when we think of a gatekeeper is that of a admin executive assistant, someone who’s in charge for managing The direct line and email of a senior executive at the other type of gatekeeper. The one you’d face when you’re an account executive trying to close a deal is someone who I would call is a relationship gatekeeper, meaning that you may be working with certain individuals within a deal.

However, you know that you need to get to the chief revenue officer or the VP of marketing and they are not allowing you. to access that individual, keeping you at a certain level within the organization.

Joe: So, they’re defending their seniors from salespeople, such as us ringing up, trying to get them, get into contact with them.

That’s what they’re doing, correct? So, what are some common challenges that, SDRs or whoever will face when dealing with gate, gatekeepers and what can we do to overcome them?

Matt: I think we need to go back to the reason why admins and executive. assistance even exists in the first place.

And that is their job is to optimize the day to day barrage of tasks and activities that the executive is going to have, right? And so that’s everything from fielding inbound calls, managing appointments, and really trying to remove as many distractions as possible. And so, in sales, we’re often told to call to the top or call to the executive level.

And so one of the key things that a good admin will do is limit the number of calls that they. An executive is getting. So that’s, I think, first and foremost. And then they are also trying to decide which people are relevant for that executive to speak with.

Joe: But before we get on a call, before we get through to the gatekeeper, is there any preparation that we can do?

What sort of things do we need to do to prepare for that call?

Matt: Yeah, great question. Hopefully as an SDR. We all have access to applications that will find contact information. So, email, phone number but also to your point, like we need to do our research, right? Like we should have done some amount of research on the business.

Some amount of research on the individual and oftentimes on LinkedIn sales navigator, for example, you can actually find who the admin executive assistant is, right? And so, you can find, for example, how long they’ve been there, maybe where they went to college. Maybe if they posted recently, you can learn about their, I don’t know if their kids baseball match, whatever it might be.

Just so you have something to talk about and be relatable on the phone. I started my sales career way back in 2003, way before kind of modern sales cadences were even a thing. And I was literally given a Excel document with phone numbers to call. And I remember pretty much with every single admin, they’ll always going to ask, what’s your name?

What company are you with? And do you have an appointment? And that is, nine times out of ten what they’re going to ask you. So being prepared to address those in a very confident, non-confrontational way. One where you’re respectful. And again, the whole goal here is to not view these gatekeepers as adversaries per se.

But really treat them as your, potentially your sidekick and helping to navigate the organization.

Joe: So what you’re saying then is, it is important to like, it could be something as simple as getting onto LinkedIn, seeing that, yes, this person’s done this thing that would accomplish this thing, but if they mentioned they really like surfing, for example, you approach them with something about surfing, is that correct?

Matt: Yeah, be relatable. Be polite. Don’t lie. I would say the other I had a prior company when I had a executive assistant. She’d always laugh because the biggest giveaway that any cold caller could do is use your full name. And so, if someone said, hi, this is blah blah blah from XYZ company. Is Matthew Marino there?

She would know immediately that I’ve not spoken to that individual. No one calls me Matthew, let alone uses my full name. But use the contact’s first name. And don’t bring a level of stress or anxiety to the call, right? Just sound calm, confident, make your ask. And hopefully they’ll pass you through.

They likely won’t, so don’t get discouraged. There’s other ways to get around the gatekeeper, but when you do call in and get into the gatekeeper just remember, just be human, don’t be a jerk.

Joe: 100%. I do want to come back to that. The question of, avoiding the gatekeeper altogether.

But you mentioned in having some stuff like prepare to be confident in, in, in what you’re saying and know what to say. Is it feasible then to have sort of a selection of prewritten answers for when you’re going to come up against those objections? So, is that something that we could be using?

Matt: Yeah, definitely. Because you will certainly if you’re calling into a landline to an executive, you are almost always going to interface with a gatekeeper. And have a series of scripts relevant to your business that you’re likely going to encounter. And it probably will be like maybe three or four.

And then continue to refine that. And with modern call recording, call coaching software, the benefit of most calling organizations is you can compare your gatekeeper interactions amongst other people on your team and learn, Hey, what are the tactics, the expressions that seem to be resonating?

For example, a gatekeeper in SaaS is likely going to be much different than a gatekeeper in, say the healthcare industry or financial services. They’re gonna have certain hot buttons that may be pressured to do things a little bit differently.

Joe: Of course, it goes back to personalizing and tailoring that approach then, doesn’t it?

I alluded to the fact that I wanted to come on to this, but are there any ways that we can adopt a flash like superpowers and elude the gatekeeper together? Can we zip straight past them? What are those tactics?

Matt: I think the benefit is nowadays there are so many other paths and avenues to get to the gate, get to the contact besides going directly to the gatekeeper, right?

Again, it used to be like back when I was doing this 20 years ago, there was only like you had a. A direct landline going to navigate a phone tree, but using tools you can find potentially the gate of the execs mobile number, right? So call their cell phone number.

You can contact them over LinkedIn, right? Very few admins that come across manage the execs LinkedIn account. And so, sending an email, for example, is a great way of, of getting in touch with them as well as from within LinkedIn, you can see your team link. So, you can look at. All the individuals within your company who might have some affiliation with the individual you’re trying to contact.

And so, getting that referral kind of network connection can also help spark the desire to take a call with you.

Joe: A hundred percent. Just to speak to that point, the importance of having somebody, some sort of social proof Oh, I know that guy. I did a few, I’ve done a series of podcasts and webinars with, Mike Manzi and he recommended someone to me. Oh this, this other guest is pretty good. So, I went and said, Hey guest name I’m Joe. I’ve just done some stuff with Mike Manzi. He said, you might be a good fit for us. And immediately I got a yes. It was like, yeah let’s hook it up.

Let’s make it work. So, I think that’s super powerful.

Matt: Yeah. Absolutely. Name dropping can be another tool in your tool belt to sparks.

Joe: You said tool belt, you meant utility belt, didn’t you? Utility belt!

Matt: Utility belt! I’m thinking of Batman and his Batman throwing stuff,

Joe: Yeah, that’s the one.

Excellent. Obviously, we don’t want to irritate the gatekeeper, we don’t want to Hulk Out or anything. How do you manage the balance between persistent and yet maintaining a level of respect?

Matt: Part of it comes from reading the situation and by the tone of potential, the language that they’re using. But a lot of it just comes down to being polite professionally consistent. And again, each SDR is going to have their own cadence and structure with what they know. But typically, this would look like, maybe it’s…

Gosh, three phone calls and four emails over a two or three week period, right? Usually something like that is appropriate, and if you still can’t get through and finding another avenue like LinkedIn or some sort of network, it’s a better option.

Joe: And I suppose so what could come from that something in the slightly dovetails into what we were just discussing there.

Obviously, you don’t want to end up pitching. to the gatekeeper. So, what would be a good first step? Would you say? Maybe if not a permission based opener, then the reason for the call when we get through to the gatekeeper, because obviously you don’t want to say, Hey, Joe from Lead Forensics, this is software that tells you which B2B visitors are on your website.

They’re not really gonna. That’s not too relevant to the gatekeeper necessarily. So what? What are some good solutions? Huh. Reasons for calling, would you say? What are good calls to action?

Matt: I think you highlighted a really good point. And that is you don’t want to pitch to the admin because they don’t care.

And oftentimes I would just keep it as brief as possible. So, for example, if I, if you were the gatekeeper and I was trying to get SalesKen. I’m calling regarding an appointment, and you just keep it brief because they’re going to ask how you have an appointment and you can say, no, I’m calling regarding an appointment.

Again, it’s you’re implying that you’re going to eventually have a meeting with the exact but, if that line doesn’t work for you. Still have, a couple again, keep it like no more than a couple sentences of the value that you anticipate you’ll be able to bring that individual or their business or have a couple names that you can drop that provides some level of familiarity, confidence.

Joe: A hundred percent. So keep it concise and keep it direct is what you’re

Matt: saying. Yeah. Keep it size, keep it brief, but the longer that you try to pitch or talk, or it will reveal too much. And I’m just going to say, yeah, see you later.

Joe: I actually, I was doing a bit of looking around for gatekeeper resources and advice and stuff.

And I did see there was one webinar that I was watching, and they said, oh, so here’s some objections you might come up against. And there was one that really stuck out with me that I really liked. And I want to get your thoughts on it. Actually, Matt, it was so they’re doing like a role play.

So, they call up, say “Oh, I’m trying to get a meeting with such and such person. The person is, Oh I don’t think he’s actually in today. So, then the person goes, Oh, damn I’m an SDR. I’m trying to do my job trying to get an appointment with this guy. If you’re in my position, what would you do?

Have you ever used anything like that? Has that ever been, has that ever been successful for you?

Matt: Okay, so where the admin will say he’s not in today. Sure. Yeah, I think you could just ask like… When he’s expected back,

Joe: I was like, that’s quite a simple one, really. But it was like, just switching it around, right?

If you’re in my shoes, how would you work this out?

Matt: That could work as well. And hey, at the end of the day, I think it’s important to remember that we’re all people here. That they’re fielding this every day we’re trying to get through, they’re trying to block. And so you never know, right?

Based on someone’s temperament, you know how much. They woke up in a good side of the bed, how sharing information they’re going to be with you.

Joe: A hundred percent. Just on that, talking about perhaps your weight, they’ve woken up and something’s not gone their car’s broken down, their coffee machine stopped working, something like that.

What is the sort of superhero mindset that we need to adopt when we’re talking to gatekeepers?

Matt: As if you’re doing a bunch of cold calls, it’s a hard job to do, right? And finding the way to show up with positive energy, with confidence, and I get it I’ve done this job, it’s tough, and that’s likely going to be different for each individual.

Maybe it’s working out in the morning, maybe it’s having a lot of caffeine, maybe it’s listening to heavy, hardcore rap music, maybe it’s whatever your thing is. to get into that zone. And like any good SDR will tell you the best thing you can do is call block, right? So, you want to make sure that you’re doing, two or three times a day where you’re doing all your cold calls in one session and getting through that.

And as, Sales professionals, again, having a good call recording application that we can then go back and listen to so that we remember to adopt the mindset of continuous improvement so that when we do get stumped it’s not the first or last time that’s going to happen, but we can improve upon it.

So that when it happens again uh, I think that that would be the first thing. And then secondly and then more for the account executive side of things, once we’re actually in a deal. You may be working with kind of mid-level managers, maybe even individual contributors, and they may be withholding the senior people who would ultimately need to approve a deal.

So, in that instance, the gatekeeper is actually an individual who you’re working with and who you are actually corresponding with. And so it’s slightly different type of motion, right? Whereas an SDR is trying to book a meeting. With an AE, sometimes when you’re in a deal, the group, the buying group that you’re working with is going to withhold that senior exec.

And for me, like one of the biggest giveaways is the real decision maker will never tell you I’m the only decision maker. If you hear that, like your spidey- senses need to go up, you should be suspicious. Like the real decision maker knows that they need to get consensus. And so, it’s usually these lower persona gatekeepers who say that they’re the only ones that needs to review.

Joe: And then would that be, I’m going to, I want to try and apply something that I learned in a previous webinar in that instance, then could attack to be, I was talking about negotiations a few weeks ago and the guest came up with this idea of what he called going Eagle to Eagle.

So, you say. Okay. If you need to get through to the decision maker, if I go to my boss, can he get in touch with your boss or your superior and then they connect and discuss the thing? Would that be an application for it?

Matt: Yeah, that certainly could be. That’s a great recommendation. And ultimately, like with any sales process.

You want to develop a pattern of micro commit where you give a little bit and then in return, they give you something back. And so, I think that’s a great example of that. But what I’ve found out, it’s just, if you’re finding that’s happening where they’re withholding other members of the team, other members of the buying committee, just call it out and ask why.

Because if that’s really happening midway through your sales process. It’s a sign that either they don’t like you, they don’t trust you or your business. And there’s something that they feel will damage their relationship with whatever it is you’re trying to get to. It can also be a big red flag that, hey, this individual might, they simply might just be price shopping.

There’s no need to bring in their CFO or their VP if they’re just price shopping. Or we’ve seen this a lot recently, which is the current state of the market. There’s a lot of businesses right now who are talking to salespeople, but they’re not actively in a purchase decision process, they’re simply researching.

They’re researching for what could be a solution for them in Q1 of next year. A hundred percent.

Joe: I’m really pleased that you brought up red flags there, Matt, because that actually does lead very nicely into my next question. What are those red flags? What are those mistakes? What are those things where, like you say, Spidey senses should be going off?

What’s the kryptonite, if you like? I’m throwing in as many superhero references as I can. What are those red flags that salespeople should avoid when communicating with gatekeepers?

Matt: Yeah. And so, the red flag, the kryptonite that would get thrown from the gatekeeper. I would say, yeah, so the first one is if you’re in the deal and they say, I’m the only decision maker, you only need to work with me.

That’s the biggest red flag, right? We all know that unless you’re selling a super small transactional service, like less than five or 10, 000 a year, every purchase is going to be reviewed and decided on by some type of, and so I think that would be the first one. The other one is if you interact, if you’re an SDR and you’re cold calling and the gatekeeper lies to you, I’ve seen this happen a couple of times where they’re either, they either lie or they use profanity or something like that.

It can also be a red flag for the type of culture or the type of boss that they have. And you really want to do a deal with a company where, they treat their individuals, and they foster this culture that’s just brash and rude. Just as we are trying to and create as many opportunities as possible.

There’s no harm in disqualifying it if it’s not going to be, a good long term fit for your business. And I think the other kind of last, I don’t know if this is this is kryptonite or more of a multiverse play, but I think we need to, we often forget that if we’re prospecting into really large organizations.

We don’t always have to we’re always told you need to go to the top, go to the CEO’s office, et cetera, but that’s not always appropriate or even relevant, right? If I’ve got someone from my team trying to sell into the. Small business. AWS sales team in Canada. I don’t need them to try to cold call the Andy Jassy’s office at Amazon and see if he will buy into our solution, right?

It’s just it’s so below their radar. And so, I think we need to remember that for sales professionals, we’re looking for the most senior person who has the budget to buy our solution. Hey, we can get above that. Great. But if not, oftentimes that’s okay. And so don’t be afraid to call lower than we need to especially within larger organizations.

Joe: Yeah. I imagine, probably a bit busy to take your call, those guys, I imagine. But I. I do want to ask you, I’m asking as much as I possibly can at the minute about AI because it’s a topic that absolutely fascinates me. Is there any application for AI tools when getting past the gatekeeper at all? Perhaps for recording calls?

Matt: Certainly. And the plug for a company like SalesKen or any other call recording company is one of the best things we can do again as sales professionals. Listen to our calls, listen to our other team members calls. But in the past, again, call recording technology is certainly not new.

But with the advent of AI and large language models, now very quickly in a day or a week, you can search for example, calls that you’ve interacted with a gatekeeper, calls that your colleagues have interacted with. Listen to those, but where we’re seeing AI going, what SalesKen is doing and a few others, is actually listening to the conversation in real time, and then, let’s say you’re making the call via SalesLoft or ring central or some major dialler.

I actually recommend to prompt you for what to say based off what you and the recipient is saying. And so that’s where we’re certainly seeing that direction with the A.I. being very fast and actually scripting in real time relevant words for the salesperson to say.

Joe: So, I guess that would pick up on the, as you say, the language you use, but would it also pick on like tonality and say, Oh, you’re coming across a little aggressive there, or you’re not assertive enough.

Matt: Yeah, our models measure assertiveness, confidence, politeness, and all of those things are relevant for having a good sales call. I think where the exciting thing we’re going to see within AI and natural language processing. are a greater detection in emotions.

And right now, that’s hard. That’s hard to do but give it a year and we’ll be there. Much if Peter Parker or Batman were to say the same thing, Batman and Spider Man are different personas, right? So how they say those words, Batman’s going to do in this really low voice, probably pretty serious.

Spider Man can be a bit more jovial. Anyway, those are all indications of the emotion those individuals are going through.

Joe: Oh, fantastic, Matt. I hugely appreciate you leading into our superhero themes. I’m going for it. Matt, you’ve offered up some incredible value and insight to our audience here, so thank you.

If I could just ask you for one final top tip that everybody watching this could take away from this conversation today, what is the one key thing they need to remember about getting past the gatekeeper?

Matt: Yeah, I think that the one thing that we’ve touched on this already, it’s just to be respectful, be polite, don’t be a jerk. And then the one other key component that I don’t believe we spoke about was don’t forget to be multi-threaded, right? If you feel like you’re, if you’re prospecting into Amazon, right?

There are a lot of potential execs for you to try to contact. So, if you can’t get through, you’re getting stuck at a certain contact. There’s a myriad of others to go after. And the same thing if you’re an AE working a deal and you’re, your contact is not letting you get through, it’s an indication that you’re not nearly as multi-threaded and working different personas.

Joe: Fantastic. Matt, thank you so much for sharing your B2B superpowers with us today. Remember to keep an eye on Lead Forensics socials for news of our upcoming B2B superpower webinars, and we’ll see you again very soon. Matt, thank you so much for joining us.

Matt: You bet. It’s been great.