What To Say To Get Past the Gatekeeper

Cold Calling Phone

You did it. You made the cold call, and someone answered. The gatekeeper.

Now this person holds the key to the gate. That gate opens the opportunity to talk to the decision maker.

But what do you say to the gatekeeper, the receptionist, the executive assistant, to get through the door?

Gatekeepers have a very specific job; it’s to screen us.

It’s almost like we’re on the battleground, and we’re on one side and they’re on the other. We’re trying to get through, and they’re trying to keep us from getting through. First, we need to learn how to dance instead of how to fight.

How you dance with gatekeepers has a lot to do with what you say and what you don’t say. The information you leave out is just as important as the information you share.

What you should not say:

“Uh, hi. Yes, I was calling for Mr. Smith. This is Amanda from Southwestern Consulting.”

You don’t want to say that. Why? Because nobody calls him Mr. Smith, it’s too formal. And as soon as I say Southwestern Consulting, she knows it’s a sales call. So we don’t want to say things like that.

What you should say:

It’s a little bit more mysterious. You want to say, “Hi, is Tim in?”

Now, she may come back, or he may come back and say, “Well, yes. May I tell him what company you are with?”

“Oh, I’m just so sorry. I was actually told that he could answer a couple of questions I have. He’s the sales manager over there, is that right?”

“It is.”

“Okay, great. Is he in?”

Now, you see, it’s not that I’m completely evading the question. Because I didn’t tell her what company I’m with, but I did give her a little more information about why I’m calling.

Tim is someone who can answer a question that I have. Now, the question that I have has to do with something that I’m selling, but only Tim needs to know that, not the gatekeeper.

How do we answer their questions without seeming rude, and at the same time not giving away too much information?

Now, the next question they may ask is something like,

“Well, are they expecting your call?”

And what is your response to that? “Actually I’m not sure. I was just trying to catch him here today. Is this the best day to reach him? Or does he have a cell phone I could try and reach him on?”

Again, we’re evading it just enough that we can get a little bit more information.

Now, another question these gatekeepers may ask is, “Are they informed of who you are? Do they know you?”

I suggest replying with, “I’m not completely sure. In fact, let me tell you want I’m doing here. I’m actually trying to get in touch with several different VP of sales here in the national area. I work with a company that is trying to put on this blank, blank and blank.”

It doesn’t have to be in that exact format, but you just want to say, “Well actually, I’m not sure. Let me tell you what I’m doing. I’ve been talking to all the VP of sales here in the national area. That’s how I heard about Tim.”

You give them a little bit of information, but you don’t want to tell them you are calling from xyz company or what it’s regarding.

You don’t want to give up too information about who you are.

It’s all about what you do say, and what you don’t say when it comes to working with gatekeepers.


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