First of all, we have to remember that a gatekeeper is not there to hate you. They are there to do their job, and a part of that job might include fielding calls, so it's really NOT personal!
Secondly, you have to remember that you too are only human, so if you're great, it's because you’re great. Not because you have a great script or because you're mimicking someone else. If you haven't yet found what makes you great, then read on.
To help you I have put together five things that I would suggest you do to build a better rapport with the gatekeeper. By practising these five things, you will find that the conversations you have with gatekeepers become far more relaxed and also more comfortable for you.
Before I introduce you to the 5 points I have to share, I'm going to tell you a story about a man and his dogs;
Ivan Pavlov, a Russian Scientist, experimented on dog's salivation reactions to food in the early 1900s. He had an idea that dogs would respond to things like food through a pre-wired response system. i.e. they did not need to learn to react to food. The reaction he measured was the dogs' salivation. Dogs will salivate to food when they see it because it’s an inbuilt unconditional response linked to survival. However, Pavlov then discovered that any other stimulus that was not the food such as a bell that was rung to tell the dogs that food was coming also became a stimulus. When a bell was rung repeatedly before giving the dogs food, the bell ringing became the associated stimulus. So the dogs would salivate before they even saw their food. They salivated when they heard the bell ring. The act of salivating is called a conditioned response to an unnatural trigger or a conditioned trigger where the conditioned trigger here was now the bell.
So how does that story relate to cold calling and building rapport with the gatekeeper? Well if you imagine how many salespeople were using scripts and being trained to use the same approach when they made a cold call, you can see how the gatekeepers became conditioned to certain phrases. Sentences such as "Hello my name is ..., and I'm calling from...please can I speak to..." became an almost generic approach to cold calls. So gatekeepers' knew the call was from a cold caller before the salesperson could progress beyond these words.
The gatekeepers became so accustomed to hearing the same and similar sentences on the phone that the phrases they heard became triggers. The triggered response these phrases would trigger from gatekeepers would often be in the form of a question such as "is this a sales call?' That response can put the fear of God into most cold callers because the cold callers are equally conditioned to that response. The cold caller will know that when they hear a gatekeeper asking this question, depending on the cold callers' answer, the most likely counter response they will hear from the gatekeeper will be ‘I'm afraid Mr/Mrs... won't take a sales call"! The salespersons only option, they feel, would be to avoid answering the previous question "Is this a sales call" with a "yes". Hence the cold caller tries to avoid answering the questions, and the gatekeeper's back is up. Oh dear, all hope of rapport is now pretty much lost!
This conditioned response is what has caused much of the fear in cold callers today. As human beings, we naturally fear rejection
, and this fear drives the communication style described above.
My 5 suggestions below will help you to pre-eliminate these triggered responses and remain in control of building rapport with the gatekeeper.
1. Do the 5 things I suggested in my last video. That's the first thing.
2. Ditch the script.
Now some of you will be mortified when I say this but let me tell you. You are not alone. I did this once with a telecommunications group, and after feeling the wrath of the sales manager, they realised that it worked. It worked because their salespeople felt more empowered to do their job. Also, they engaged better with the customer because they were able to act like themselves and not like robots. They could reflect empathy and engage better with the customer. Hence they then ditched the reinstated script which I originally tore up! Scripts are also sometimes full of jargon, and you really cannot get anywhere with jargon acting as a barrier.
3. Find your FRESH.
FRESH is a word that describes a unique approach. One that is different and in my opinion it should be unique to you. To find your fresh, you have to think about what it takes for someone to like you. How do you want the other person in our case the gatekeeper to perceive you? Then put your own words against a word like FRESH. My word is fresh. My FRESH; PS My F.R.E.S.H
Fearless of approaching people
Dive down into yourself. Ask your friends and family why they love you. What makes you so great to be around and then find your own FRESH.
To empathise by definition means to “understand and share the feelings of another”.
5. Be Honest.
I can't express enough how important it is to be straight with the person you are speaking. Much like point 4, if you start to lie, an experienced gatekeeper will sense it, AND YOU WILL LOSE ANY CHANCE OF WINNING THEM OVER. Too many salespeople call in and try to disguise why they are calling or even from where they are calling. I've heard salespeople mention the name of reputable companies as a cloak beneath which to hide their real identity. It's crazy. The customer will find out at some point, and if you are doing this or have been asked to do this or are even the training culprit, then please STOP. You insult the person receiving the call, and that will certainly not gain you any brownie points.
In summary, remember that gatekeepers are as human as you. You also never know how much of an influencing role the gatekeeper might have with the decision maker. So never assume anything. Just because they have answered the phone, it doesn't mean that you are not speaking to a part of the decision-making unit. Follow the points I have given you, and you will find you have a nice natural conversation. And always stop and ask yourself;
"Would you listen to you?" if your answer is not yes "change it up."