There is a lot of literature and tips to getting past a gatekeeper and for getting to the decision maker. We want to add to that conversation. Perhaps what we share here will help you.

1. Identify the Decision Maker

Once you've identified the department and the people with decision making authority, keep in mind that there are likely other companies and people trying to reach that very same person. So, you'll need to find ways where you can stand out.

Remember - the decision maker doesn't know you or care about you. They are first and foremost concerned about their own issues. You need to earn the right to speak with them and the best way to do that is to put their needs above your own. That means you need to be generous and add value to them in a contextually relevant way.

One very effective way is what I call the tops-down and the bottoms-up method. Here's how it works:

  1. Contact several people within the decision maker's organization. Build a relationship with them. This is the bottom-up step.
  2. Next, try to get a referral from some of the people within the decisoin maker's organization. Your chances go up significantly if you are referred by someone within the decison maker's circle of influence.

2. Persistence and Personalization

Not much needs to be said here except you need to be consistent and definitely be persistent in your attempts. But, don't be so bold as to offend anybody. The personalization piece is important - people like to hear their own names. So, use the name of whomever you are speaking with on the phone - do it liberally. When you use someone's name, you build a positive association between you and that person, increasing your likelihood of getting to the decision maker.

The most critical thing to remember here, as in all things: what can you do to help the organization and the decision maker? How can you add value to them? Remember, it's not about you - it's completely about them.

3. Multiple Touchpoints

The advent of social selling has made contacting the decision maker using multiple touchpoints possible. Here's what I tell my folks:

  • Contact the decision maker, over several days apart, at least 4 different ways.

This means using the Phone, Linkedin, Twitter and other ways. Doing so gives you some flexibility and also ensures that you are using all the available communication channels to reach the decision maker.

Like we said, there's much that has already been said about getting to the decision maker and getting past the gatekeeper. Take what we say here and add it to your sales development repertoire. And, close those deals!

And below is a webinar transcript where you can learn some great tips for getting past a gatekeeper.

click to go to ultimate sales training guide

How to Get Past the Gatekeeper and to a Decision Maker

Amanda: Thank you for that introduction. In the next 14 minutes, you're going to learn three strategies on how to get past the gatekeeper, how to get that impossible appointment. Because sometimes the only thing holding you back from almost influential people on the planet is a secretary, and these strategies have been proven by my father who got 50 of the Fortune 500 as clients himself using these cold calling techniques.

He also went into Hollywood and got nine out of the 11 executives of every major studio in Hollywood on the phone in one week, and then Silver Screen played Warner Brothers. So this is just such a small piece of what we teach overall, how to double sales. So at the end, we're going to provide you with the cold calling script that my father used, as well as three more additional free training programs for you because you're here exclusively at Inside Sales. Without further ado, I give you our late great founder, my father, the ultimate sales machine, Chet Holmes.

Chet: So your tonality actually has five times more impact than the words that you use. Not consciously, but subconsciously, the prospect's subconscious picks up every subtle nuance of your tonality. Understand that to have authority, you end on the down note. So, "Good evening. Is this Jeffrey Hall?" "Good evening. Is this Jeffrey Hall?" You see the difference? When you go up like this at the end, you sound like a salesperson. The one that kills me is, "Is this Jeffrey Hall?" "Yeah." "How are you doing today?" I tell my salespeople, "Don't ask people how they're doing today because you sound like a salesperson." I never say to anybody, and when I was cold calling and trying to get Michael Glyzer on the telephone, when he got to the phone, I got, "How are you doing today?" "Yeah, Michael. Hi, this is Chet Holmes," right to business.

I want him to feel the authority of that thing in the first five seconds. So all of you sales people, will you please stop saying, "How are you doing today?" Just drop it from your vocabulary. That's bad as, "Thank you for your business or thank you for your time." Ending on the up note tells them you're a salesperson. Practice sounding like a newscaster. They are trained to have authority. "Mr. Jones, you dance [SP]." It's all about the one with the most control. He lost control. He tried to have control but he lost control very early on. So first rule, you must always lead. By the way, that's in selling. If you are following, you will never close.

I learned that in the furniture store days. If you're following that client around and they're leading, you're following them, you're never going to make a sale. So it was like a contest to see where you could go. "Dining room sets are right this way," and you take over and now you're leading. It was like this big contest because the trainer there told me, "If you're following, you're never going to close," and he was right. So, "Hello, is Bill Smith there?" Gatekeeper, "Who's calling?" "This is Bart Jones." Gatekeeper, "What is this call in reference to?" "I'm calling to talk about my product." "I see." Who's in charge of this conversation? Gatekeeper, totally the gatekeeper, right?

Okay, so, "Hello, this is Bart Jones. Is Bill Smith in?" So what Adam did is he gave his name. He already took away the first question that the gatekeeper can ask, understand? "Who's calling?" So she can't ask, "Who's calling?" I should have said. "No, I'm sorry, he's not in." "Who am I speaking to?" "His assistant." Did I ask her position? No, I asked her name, "Who is this? What's your name?" "Shirley." "Great, Shirley. When will Bill be in?" "He'll be back Tuesday of next week." So is leading this conversation? Totally, completely in charge.

So now let's show you, let's get a little tougher, a little tougher, a little tougher, taking to the impossible gatekeeper and show you every single way. "Hello, this is Bart Jones. Is Bill Smith in?" "May I ask what this call is in reference to, Mr. Jones?" She just tried to take control. You must take it back. "Who is this?" "His assistant." What's your next question? "What's your name?" "Shirley." Before we go on, let's talk some concepts. I'm just showing you she tried to take control and you take it right back. You have to be in charge of every conversation or you will never get around that gatekeeper. Never pitch the gatekeeper unless all of us fail, which I will explain.

Because in another book out, it's like, "Warm yourself up to the gatekeeper. Win the gatekeeper over. Send the gatekeeper flowers." I'm like, "I don't have three months to get Mike Glyzer on the phone. I want to get him on the first try." So I'm showing you how you get these guys, if you can blow past the gatekeeper, that's the preferable modus operandi. Gate around that gatekeeper in one or two phone calls or one phone call where you're just very clever. I've done it thousands of times. Then if all else fails, I'll show you how you win over the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper will water down whatever you're saying.

You do a masterful pitch to that gatekeeper and when she gets to the boss and you did 20 minutes, she will do 20 seconds. Am I right? Too easy for the boss to say no to the gatekeeper and she sure isn't going to argue with him. The gatekeeper will pass you off to someone else. Has that ever happened to anybody here? The gatekeeper may have the power to say no, but not the power to say yes. You always want to talk to the person who can say yes. That's for any kind of sales at any kind of time. So you want to complicate the issues, you want to be vague, you want to be authoritative the whole time, never lie. Never lie.

That will just come back to bite you, but just from an integrity standpoint, never lie. It doesn't mean you can't mislead here or there, but you never lie. So she says, "What is this call in reference to?" "Tell him I'm with XYZ Company, Shirley." "One moment, please." Did I ask her? I told her. I just told her what to do. If your authority is right, "Hi, this is Bart Johnson and I'm calling for Bill Smith." "What is this call in reference to?" "Just tell him I'm with Chet Holmes International." "Okay. Hold on one Moment please." It doesn't sound like I'm giving her any other option, does it?

It sounds like I expect that he will know who I am, which is why by the way, you always want to send a direct mail piece so that you can confidently say, "He knows what this is in reference to." You should. Just tell him Chet Holmes is calling because your letter was signed Chet Holmes. It happens to be in the garbage right now, but you can dream, can't you? So let's make it more and more difficult. "Mr. Jones?" "Yes?" "He wants to know what this call is in reference to." So I already gave her my name, I already gave her my company name, so now we go to the contest. Let's see how many times you can send the gatekeeper back to the boss without giving her any information whatsoever.

So I'm going to start over. Here's number one. "Is Bart Jones in? This is Bill Smith." "What is this in reference to?" "Just tell him Bill Smith." So now you don't even give your company name because you did send in that letter and it did have your name on it, so he should remember you. "Just tell him it's Bill Smith." "Hold on one moment please." She comes back, "I'm sorry. He doesn't know your name. Can you tell me what this is about?" Am I going to tell her? Heck, no, and I take back control. "Who is this?" "This is Shirley." "Okay. Are you his regular assistant?" Let's get more information. So now I'm going to start getting information.

Because one time I got the highest ranking HR guy at Merrill Lynch on the telephone because I called him three different times, I got three different names. So by the third name, I called him one time. So I call in, his name is Lee, "Is Lee in? This is Chet Holmes." "No, he's not." "Who's this?" "This is Betty." "Oh Betty, you're his regular assistant?" "No, I'm not." I said, "Who's his regular assistant?" It's as if, "I thought you were." This is all on tonality. "That would be Nancy." "Okay, great." So I call up and I go, "Hey, Nancy." "No." "Betty?" "No." "Who is this?" "This is Rebecca." "Rebecca, I thought . . . " "Because I'm the relief receptionist."

So another time call in, I go, "Nancy?" "No." "Betty?" "No." "Rebecca?" "Yes." "How are you doing? It's Chet. Is Lee in?" "Hold on one moment please." "Lee, it's Chet." "Who's Chet?" "I don't know. It sounds like he knows you. He knew who I was. He knows who all the other people are here. It sounds like he knows you." This guy came to the phone. Then I dropped into, "Hey, Lee. Chet Holmes." Okay, but what happens is you're going to learn this training and then you're going to get on the phone and you're going to try to do some of this stuff and then I'm going to come back and work with you a week later. After you watch this training, I will come back a week later and the conversation will be almost identical to what you just heard.

I've done this a hundred times. I'll say, "Did you watch the video?" "Yeah." "How many times?" Because you need to see this thing. If you're cold calling, you're trying to get top executives on the phone, two, three hours, watch the video at lunch time. The edited version of this by the way will be like 35 minutes. No workshops or anything. Very quick. Watch it at lunch, then watch it in the evening. If you do that five days in a row, by the end of the week, you will be the master of getting people on the telephone, especially if you're doing it while you're trying it, you understand?

Amanda: There you have it, the three strategies to get past the gatekeeper. One, tonality, two, the one with the most control wins, and three, never pitch the gatekeeper. So just for you, we're giving you even more bonuses, including the sales script that Chet used, as well as the sales script that all of our clients, thousands of clients around the world use to get anyone on the phone. That's the first of three videos that you're going to get.

The second video is going to cover the seven-step sales process to close more deals and dominate your market. Make sure you watch out for number seven. Lastly, the one thing that super star salespeople spend 40% of their time on, and the question is, "Are you doing it?" So you can redeem that gift at Again, that's Just write in your name and e-mail and we'll give it to you, compliments of us. Thank you Inside Sales. Thank you Ken Krogue for inviting me. This is a lot of fun. Go out there and make some deal.

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