Featured: Befriend the Gatekeeper

Discussion in 'Self Improvement and Being Successful' started by Nazreen, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. Nazreen

    Nazreen
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    Since I've been in customer service for a long time, I will talk about one of the most important things that we have to take note of when doing calls or going door-to-door in doing business - "Befriend the Gatekeeper!".

    The gatekeeper can be the personal assistant or secretary, counter staff, Admin or HR staff, or they can be the housewife or even the house maid. These people decide our fate whether we can get to the customer or not because they hold the "key to the gate", so to speak. Also, it's important to note that these gatekeepers might also know a lot about the company especially if they've been in the company for quite some time.

    The first thing we need to remember is not to view the "Gatekeeper" as an immovable and impenetrable barrier or obstacle but to consider them as a future ally or friend. If you get them on your side, you will be getting a very valuable asset because the gate will be opened for you.

    So, "How do we befriend the gatekeeper?", you might ask. I'll give you a hint, "How do you befriend anyone for that matter?"... it's the same whoever they are. The same rules apply to anyone you want to become your friend.. like saying hello and being nice. I'll give you another hint, "What do friends do when you have a problem?". The answer to this is, "Friends help each other out!".

    Let's take for example the Admin or HR staff. How can we help them out? Since I've known quite a few Admin or HR staff, I know that most of the time, they have problems coming up with programmes for their employees. Sometimes, they might even have a quota per year. So if you can help them out in this by preparing talks to their employees, they'll be more than happy to oblige.

    The quote below might also help in befriending the gatekeeper.

    "Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer."
     
  2. Fergal

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    Excellent post Nazreen, I've added it to the Featured Threads in this section.

    Gatekeepers are extremely important contacts for any sales person. I've often played the role of gatekeeper myself. When I put a proposal to the decision maker, this person will generally ask what was my personal impression of the salesperson. The answer to this question will almost always sway the decision maker in deciding on whether to pursue the proposal further or not.

    Even though we may not do it deliberately we come across much more positive when describing a person we like as opposed to a person we don't like. This will also have an impact on whether or not the decision maker decides to speak to the sales person.

    So be nice to gatekeepers, treat them with the respect they deserve and it will pay dividends.
     
  3. Zantetsken

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    I can see how this is important and how it could help you, but I don't think you would have enough time to really "become friends" with the "gatekeeper". That said, I think a certain level of trust or obligation to help each other out would be missing. But Fergal's story shows how even making a brief, friendly first impression can determine the outcome.
     
  4. Nazreen

    Nazreen
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    I have a very good mentor who helped me a lot when I was just starting out as a Financial Adviser. As a Financial Adviser, he is very successful because he puts priority on his customers needs and not on earning a commission. Over time, his customers and contacts also became his good friends. Even when calling on the phone or meeting customers, he would never get angry even if the customer doesn't sign up with him. He would just say, "At least I gained a friend".

    If you're just after the sale and commission, then I guess you won't have time to really become friends with the gatekeepers. You'll also just be in a hurry and want to get past the gatekeeper to get to the customer. But with this, most gatekeepers will be see right through you and not let you get past them.
     
  5. Kay

    Kay
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    Having been a gatekeeper myself in the past when I was in my early twenties but at a lowlier level than Fergal mentioned (a receptionist job), I can tell you that Nazreen is absolutely right. I don't feel it's a waste of time by any means to make time for a gatekeeper.

    I remember being appalled by how some sales people would treat me. They would take out their anger on me if the person wasn't available or be very abrupt on the phone. I found a lot of sales people had a very abrasive streak in them. Common courtesies were non-existent like "please" and "thank you". Some you just hated to see walk through the door.

    What they didn't know though was I was well liked. I had a reputation for being someone that could be confided in and depended on for an honest answer. Many times I was discreetly asked my opinion by managers and directors on clients, interviewees, sales people and staff.

    You see, people drop their guard when they're waiting to speak to someone they deem important - not just the girl sitting in front of them they pass the time with. It's amazing how fake some can be! The transformation right in front of your eyes from them being this unpleasant person into Mr. Friendly when the esteemed person greeted them was almost laughable at times. Even after all those years, I still think those moments were when I saw many business people at their most authentic selves and they didn't even know it.

    I'll be honest. I was more accommodating to the sales people that treated me like a human being than the ones who didn't. The lesson is this: you never know who you're talking to nor the influence they may have. That girl could be the MD's niece. But even if she isn't, you should still be nice for the sake of being nice and not behave as if you're above someone. Treat them the way you'd like to be treated yourself.
     
  6. Nazreen

    Nazreen
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    Aside from getting access to the gate when we befriend the gatekeeper, we might also get valuable information from them about their business. The gatekeeper might also give us some advice on how to approach their bosses. With this information, we'll have a better chance of persuading the client and making a successful sale.

    I agree with you Kay when you said: "Treat them the way you'd like to be treated yourself". I think that most of us have been gatekeepers in one way or another. I've also experienced sales people who are in a hurry and just want to get past me. So because they treated me as a nobody, I also treated them as a nobody and inconsequential. If they treat me as a foe, then I'll also treat them as a foe. And finally, if they treat me as a friend then I'll also treat them as a friend.
     
  7. Fergal

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    Very good point Nazreen. Having worked in companies both large and small I've often been impressed at how the receptionist is the one person in the organisation who appears to know everything that is going on.

    It is also useful to remember this if you are an employee. If you are are friendly with the receptionist you will often be surprised at the valuable info they can give you about what is going on in the business.
     
  8. djschwab

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    I try to put myself in their position when I'm talking to them. They are not going to put you through to someone if you aren't offering something that may be of value. You have to provide the right information to give them a good reason to help you out. You just can't expect them to cooperate.
     
  9. youbetcha1018

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    This is true. If you want your message to reach the person that you want to speak with, you have to befriend with the gatekeeper. They are the key to the decision maker.:)
     
  10. Fergal

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    That's why it can be extremely useful to have a short elevator pitch prepared to explain what you do to the gatekeeper, in a quick user-friendly format.
     
  11. Nazreen

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    That's the first time I've heard of the term elevator pitch. I guess it's not a common word here in our part of the world. Guess, I've improved my vocabulary once again with the help of BAF. :)

    From the short description above, it should still follow that this be delivered in a friendly manner and even though it's supposed to be quick, I still believe that you shouldn't look like you just want to get it over as quickly as possible.
     
  12. scifi

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    Hey Nazreen! You have said exactly right!!!
    There are lot of advantages in getting friendly to gatekeeper especially if you are living in a hostel that too of a college..!!!!:D
    It is very often that we go out for fun but comes back late to college due to some or other reasons, then only one person can save us " GATEKEEPER" ...Hey definitely one should befriend Gatekeepers everywhere because they are the tickets to your freedom to outside world without causing any havoc!!!!!
     
  13. Fergal

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    Excellent, always great to see a different angle on a serious discussion :)
     
  14. Kay

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    You're right there Nazreen. Nor do you want it to sound mechanical either when you give it. The thing to remember too is the receptionist may have a dozen incoming calls flashing and awaiting an answer - she wants to hear something clear and concise as well. :)
     

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