Can’t Get Past the Gatekeeper? Get Them Onside Instead

Is there anything more intimidating to a cold caller than a truly formidable gatekeeper? Not when your sales training has stressed your first objective is to “get past the gatekeeper” so you can start the real sales process. But what if the challenge is all in your mind?

The gatekeeper is only an adversary when you make them one. And if your main purpose is to bypass them as quickly as possible, it’s no wonder you’re scared. Because that is a daunting task. Why would someone who doesn’t know you have to put any trust in you?

Getting past the gatekeeper shouldn't be the objective. Winning them over should be.

Getting that all-important opportunity to speak to a decision-maker has to start with changing your mindset. The gatekeeper is not your enemy. In fact, you can turn all gatekeepers into your biggest ally in the sales process with a little nurturing.

Want to get the gatekeeper on your side? Win them over

If you want to engage the gatekeeper in a meaningful relationship, you’re going to need to turn on the charm. We don’t suggest flirting. In fact, definitely don’t flirt. But showing the gatekeeper a little professional love is definitely the way forward. Here are our top tips to win over the person standing between you and your prospective new client.

Your first chance is your last chance

You only get one chance to make a first impression. It’s a cliche for a reason. It’s absolutely true. So, the first time you’re reaching out to a prospect and you encounter the gatekeeper, don’t mess up the opportunity. Or you won’t be getting another one.


Find out what it means to me. Rather, them. Nobody likes to be treated as if they are nothing but an inconvenience. And the gatekeeper is far from an inconvenience in their work environment. If they have the job of screening phone calls or emails, it’s because they garner respect and their opinion is valued by the decision-makers you want to talk to. Don’t give them a reason to have a negative one of you.

What’s in a name?

A lot, actually. Think not of them as “the gatekeeper”, but as a person. Take down their name, and use it. Fostering personal connections with people means getting personal. Feel-good hormones, like dopamine and serotonin, are released into your brain when you hear your name said aloud. Don’t overdo it, though. That’s just creepy.

Be prepared

Always be prepared before picking up the phone to reach out to a sales propsect.

Preparation is everything. Don’t be put on the spot and flounder. Know who you want to talk to, what you want to talk about, their job title, your common connections and why they should want to take your call before you dial.

If you don’t believe in you, why will they?

To be authentic in B2B sales, you need to genuinely believe that you can help the person you’re trying to talk to. Believe in yourself, believe in your product and believe you’re trying to benefit everyone, not just your sales figures.

Be nice

Seems obvious, but if you treat the gatekeeper like they are nothing but a barrier to get around, they will feel this energy. If you approach them with a friendly, warm, conversational tone, they will feel this energy. You can hear a smile. And you can hear a fake smile. So be friendly for real.

Shake it off

Telemarketing isn’t for wimps. You need thick skin. Seriously thick skin. Be patient, be persistent, keep your cool in the face of frustration and always, always be polite no matter what.

Hold your nerve

The number one rule of getting past the gatekeeper is, don’t act like you want to get past the gatekeeper. They will smell your fear. Be assertive and confident, keep a level tone of voice, steady but human, warm and courteous but purposeful. Also, definitely be a little presumptuous. It’s fine to act as though you’re on first-name terms with your target contact. “Hi Steve, this is Ed Walters. Is Janet available today please?”, sounds a lot more assertive than, “Could I possibly talk to Janet Philips if you don’t mind thanks every so much please.”

Do not ever sell to the gatekeeper

By all means, we encourage all salespeople to be upfront and honest about their intentions. This is because, in a B2B situation, it’s quite literally the decision maker’s job to listen to and consider opportunities that will benefit their business. You are valid, you deserve to be heard. But, not by the gatekeeper. Never EVER sell to the gatekeeper. If the question is, “What’s it regarding?” the answer should not be your sales pitch. We repeat, do not pitch the gatekeeper.

Have a hook

If you have something to follow up on and refer to, this really helps. Like a previous meeting, previous outreach or just demonstrating you’ve done your research. Establishing credibility is a telemarketing essential.

“We met at a trade show and I’m following up on a discussion.”

“I’m following up on an email.”

“I understand Janet handles your outreach strategy and think we could help.”

Engage and involve

Engage and involve the gatekeeper in conversation. Ask their opinion. And value it.

Don’t we all love to feel important? Like our opinion and input are valid and valued? The fastest way to a gatekeeper’s heart is not false flattery or wasting their time being overly friendly. It’s making them feel valued. Ask your gatekeeper about what they know, what they think or their opinion.

“Is there a particular time of day you think is best to catch Richard?”

“In your opinion, is Janet the right person to talk to about your telecoms services?”

“Who do you think I should be speaking to about your outreach marketing budget?”

We know our way around a gatekeeper

At Smartlead, we encounter more than our fair share of gatekeepers. Except, we don’t really think of them like that. We consider them trusted employees whose job it is to prioritise their executives’ time and diaries. And they do a brilliant job. We know this, and we respect it. The answer to finding a way to speak to key decision-makers is never about how to get past the “gatekeeper”, but about how to position yourself as someone the gatekeeper thinks is worthy of making time for. Someone they could pass on to their boss without it impacting their personal reputation.

If you’re still facing issues getting through to decision-makers, maybe your outreach strategy needs an overhaul. If you engage a skilled telemarketing partner to handle your outreach for you, the chances are you’ll never have to handle a gatekeeper again! Want to hear more? We’d love to chat. Give us a call – we promise we’ll take it.

We’ve been doing some research lately to gain a deeper understanding of the major lead generation challenges facing Managed Service Providers. And we’ve heard the same things over and over.

“We only get prospects with break-fix requirements, not long-term contracts.”

“We’ve worked with a marketing service before and it didn’t work – the leads were dead ends.”

“We’ve found outbound marketing and sales don’t generate business for us, we need people to come to us.”

Reading between the lines, what we’re hearing is resignation born of frustration. We’ve noticed, MSPs, that you seem tired of lead generation. And you’re all asking one overriding question:

“Why’s it so hard to see results from a lead gen campaign for managed service providers?”

The answer to this question is, simply, because you aren’t doing it right. Yet.

Increased competition for It Managed Services means MSPs need to work harder to win new business.

How do you do it right then? Well, we’d be happy to tell you. But to find the right way to tackle MSP lead generation, you first need to understand the reasons behind the major challenges and barriers to success in generating leads for the IT service sector.

These challenges tend to be broken down into the following areas:

Challenge 1: The planets must align

To emerge from an outbound lead gen campaign triumphant, with a qualified prospect who’s likely to convert to a client, you need to combat odds akin to winning the lottery. This is because you’ll need to find this prospect at a time when they’re ready to make the switch. The thing is, most of your potential prospects are probably happily serviced elsewhere. That means you’ll have to find them when either they are facing service issues and are unhappy, when they are scaling up or when they have a contract up for renewal soon.

Challenge 2: You need to be prepared for the long game

Even if you’ve been handed a juicy, qualified lead that doesn’t mean they will convert overnight. Why? Because changing MSP is a high-cost, high-risk decision. The logistics involved in changing MSP can lead to business and service interruptions. Also, there’s not only the financial investment but the time investment to consider. So the process can take years. But, to make up for it, once you’ve got them, you should have them on board for years.

Challenge 3: The market is competitive

MSP startups just keep popping up out of nowhere, don’t they? The ever-increasing demand placed on businesses to protect their information assets and businesses from cyber-attacks means there’s an ever-increasing demand for MSPs. Where there’s increasing demand, there’s increasing supply. So you’ll find yourself as part of a crowd that keeps growing larger – how do you make sure you stand out? According to computer weekly, even the most upbeat of MSPs are wary of increased competition.

Lead generation challenges for MSPs include standing out from the crowd in a competitive market

Now you know the issues, how do you combat them?

To discover the workaround for MSP business development challenges, you need to kind of reverse engineer the above problems. So, let’s reverse engineer each one. In reverse order. Since we’re reversing.

MSP Lead Generation Solution 3: Blowing the competition out of the water

Right then, you’re up against the competition. Lots of competition. And the question was, how do you stand out from the crowd? You need to figure out what it is that your prospects want to see. How do you portray yourself as their perfect fit?

The truth is, you don’t need to stand out in the way you think. Your prospects don’t care about your list of USPs. They don’t care about your sales pitch. Nor do they give a real jot what makes you different, or better. I’m sorry to say, they aren’t interested in you at all. They’re interested in themselves.

So that’s your solution. You need to stop talking about what you do. And start talking about what your prospects do, what they can’t do, and what they want to do. Then, you will discover what your relevant USPs are – they are how you can show your prospect how you can help them solve their pain points and attain their goals. Genius.

MSP Lead Generation Solution 2: Shortening the sales cycle

You wanted to know how to tackle the long sales cycle problem. The first conclusion is that we must shorten the sales cycle, create urgency, and put pressure on the client… Nope. You can’t shorten the sales cycle, because you don’t have any leverage or control over the decision-making process or external factors. The answer is not shortening the sales cycle, it’s understanding your sales cycle. The real answer is ABM – Always Be Marketing.

When we hear “we’re too busy for any new business right now” as an objection to carrying out a lead generation campaign we want to cry for future you.

Through analysing your current customers you will probably note none of them converted in a day. They have come from marketing efforts past. You need to always, always be marketing for your customers of tomorrow. Design a sales pipeline where you have a variety of prospects at various stages of the buying process, and it doesn’t matter how long the sales cycle takes.

MSP Lead Generation Solution 1: Be in the right place at the right time

Lead generation for MSPs means taking up residence in the mind of your prospects. That's the only way you'll be there at the right time.

Working backwards on this issue, the problem is with needing to find a way to be in the right place at the right time. We can’t offer you a crystal ball. So the solution isn’t finding a way to contact a prospect at the right time. The answer is lead nurturing.

Being in the right place at the right time means being in their minds when they need you. The answer to this is committing to lead nurturing and demand generation campaigns. Through lead nurturing, you ensure you take up residence in a little tiny area of your prospects’ minds. When the time is right, they’ll know where you are. And they’ll be catapulted right to the end of the buying process, too.

Engage a lead generation partner who can make a difference in your sales process

If you’re struggling to source qualified leads that will enable you to achieve the growth you deserve, we can help. Start the conversation with us.

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When it comes to carrying out a telemarketing campaign, the choice often comes down to whether to outsource or DIY. We’re here to help you figure out why outsourcing your telemarketing would be better than doing it in-house.

We don’t have to convince you about the power of B2B telemarketing. The average ROI for B2B telemarketing can reach astronomical percentages. This is because, generally, if your business is looking at some big account wins, you need to get on the phone and talk to people. Let’s be honest, your chances of landing a big-ticket deal with just a few emails aren’t great.

Telemarketing delivers £11 of revenue for every £1 spent.

B2B sales has always been, and will always be, about human interactions. Yes, sure, content is king and digital is everything. But we still believe telemarketing is the gold standard in lead generation and lead nurturing, particularly when it’s integrated with other channels. Great data, great content, an email campaign and a telemarketing campaign? Ooph! That’s what we’re talking about!

So, as we said. We don’t need to convince you about the power of telemarketing. The question here is why should you opt for outsourced telesales over in-house? Here are four big reasons.

Opportunity cost

Let’s talk microeconomics for a moment. Promise it won’t be boring. Opportunity cost is the value of what could have been, and how much you lose out on. If your salespeople are investing time in lead generation, and this time is covered by their annual salary, then your cost per lead generated may be lower than if you outsource. But then there’s the balance. Bear in mind the average number of calls it takes to connect with a prospect – 18. That’s a lot of dead time for your sales team. And a huge opportunity cost – what could have been achieved if that time had been spent cultivating an already qualified prospect instead?

When you outsource to a telemarketing expert, your sales team get to jump into the process at the point where the gatekeeper has been circumvented. Decision-making status has been qualified. Pain points and needs have been identified. And your brand has been aligned with them.

Telemarketers aren’t salespeople; Salespeople aren’t telemarketers

B2B telemarketing is a skilled profession. Telemarketers need a relaxed, confident and consultative manner. And strong skills in persuasion, negotiation and communication. They need resilience and creativity. But above all, they need to be able to engage in intelligent conversation and LISTEN.

Many, many people fall foul of the biggest telesales mistake: trying too hard to sell. Telemarketing is not about sales. It’s not about launching into a sales pitch. It’s always, always about discovery. So the skill lies in the subtle ways of getting a prospect to open up to you about what’s going on with them, where they are, where they want to be, and what’s standing in their way. Then, and only then, is it time to talk about how you could help.

Cold calling stresses sales people out
Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

The thing about salespeople is they are usually brilliant at the last part. The selling your business part. The negotiating, the closing. It’s the delicate lead-up to this that many energetic, effervescent salespeople can find a bit… frustrating. Why not ease those frustrations by giving them leads that are at a mature stage of the sales lifecycle?

Streamline your overheads

That’s right. Streamline your overheads – by spending on an outsourced telemarketing campaign. Hear us out.

You’ve got an employee – or a team of employees – who take care of telemarketing for you. You pay their salary. Also, their employer’s NIC contributions, bonuses, medical benefits or any perks like cars, phones and laptops. Don’t forget their pension or holiday pay. Then there’s office space, furniture, equipment, software licences, and more desks for your managed IT services. I mean, if you want to get pernickety, there’s even tea, coffee, loo roll. The cost per employee goes beyond payroll.

What about the upfront costs? Will you pay a recruitment agency fee? Then there’s the time taken for the recruitment process – what does that actually cost? And onboarding. Also, training!

When you have a permanent employee, you need to pay them all the time. They are a constant overhead.

On the other hand, outsourcing to a telemarketing business means you can work on a campaign by campaign basis. You pay for what you need when you need it. Maybe you’re basing your campaign around a specific event, or you work on a cyclical basis. Or maybe you want to run a constant telemarketing campaign on a rolling basis. It doesn’t matter – the point is that when you’re outsourcing to a telemarketing partner, you have flexibility.

Because we do the hiring of the telemarketing professionals, we absorb all the overheads associated with their employment for you. Leaving you able to benefit from their skills and experience and amazing training. You’re welcome.

Salespeople hate cold calling

There. We said it. No matter what they say in their interview, we guarantee you, they don’t love it. It’s tough. Cold calling can be soul-destroying – when you don’t have the right resources.

63% of salespeople say cold calling is what they dislike most about their jobs.

For salespeople, cold calling is a means to an end. They need to do it to get the leads they need to progress through to the bit they really want to be doing. It’s a chore.

100% of telemarketers went into telemarketing because they KNEW the job was all about cold calling. They aren’t doing it to get through to the next stage. They are fully invested in it. And that’s because our telemarketers have all the right resources to be successful and enjoy their role in the sales process.

Not only do our telemarketers benefit from extensive training, but we also have everything you need to run a successful telemarketing campaign. Like the right data! We can’t stress any more vehemently how critical the right data is.

Smartlead telemarketers provide dedicated B2B telemarketing in the UK.

Also, the right research behind the campaigns we run and the people we talk to. Our telemarketers are always prepared and full to the brim of knowledge before dialling. Simultaneously, they know about the business they are representing, the techniques required for success, and the rationale behind why they are speaking to the contact they are about to call.

There are so many reasons to outsource your telemarketing function

We could go on all day. But we think there’s enough food for thought here. If you know telemarketing is for you, but you aren’t quite decided on whether to outsource or DIY, drop us a note or pick up the phone on 0121 461 4660.

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Sometimes, businesses in need of lead generation help shy away from telemarketing because of misconceptions. Ensure you don’t make the same mistake by reading our myth-busting guide to modern B2B telemarketing.

The whole reason Smartlead Marketing exists in the first place is to provide a fresh, sophisticated approach to telemarketing. B2B telemarketing is a whole different animal from crowded call centres full of inexperienced temps. The truth is, if your business wants to enter new markets, build strategic relationships and harness growth opportunities then you can’t afford to ignore telemarketing as an opportunity.

So, with that said, we think it’s time to dispel the top three telemarketing myths for good.

THE MYTH: Telemarketing is a numbers game.

THE REALITY: It’s a research game.

Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash
Photo by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

Great telemarketing isn’t about indiscriminately hammering out call after call. Nor is it about maximising the volume of leads that are generated. This is because when it comes to converting leads, quantity alone isn’t enough. Quality is the real determining factor when it comes to lead generation success.

Before you pick up the phone with a potential lead, you need your rationale and reasoning as to why they would want to talk to you. And you need to be able to demonstrate this in a way that enables the prospect to see this clearly, too. You want the person at the end of the phone to feel reassured. And that they are speaking with a professional who can help them, not someone who’s trying to hit their target. The only way to achieve this is by knowing who you’re contacting, why, and what their goals and pain points are.

THE MYTH: It’s a salesperson’s job to do cold calling.

THE REALITY: Your salespeople are far better at converting business.

Telemarketers headset

The value of a seasoned salesperson is in building relationships and closing business. To close business, your salespeople need to spend time talking to decision-makers who have a qualified, defined need for your product or service. In short, your salespeople should be there to make the very most out of a viable opportunity.

When your sales team are spending the majority of their time generating prospects, they don’t get to flex their sales skills at all. Because lead generation is NOT about selling. It’s about identifying needs and generating interest and engagement.

THE MYTH: Telemarketers are pushy.

THE REALITY: B2B telemarketing specialists are absolute professionals.

The reasoning behind this myth is that we’ve all experienced a pushy cold caller bothering us when we least expect it. But the difference between a low-skill, high-volume call centre churning out cold calls and a professional B2B telemarketing specialist is like night and day.

B2B telemarketing experts are, for one, contacting relevant contacts about issues that are relevant to their jobs. People at work should expect to have conversations about work. Particularly when the telemarketer is knowledgeable, well-researched and an empathetic listener.

Find out for yourself what to expect from a fresh approach to telemarketing

Happy business owner having a great telemarketing call.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Whatever your product or service, telesales is merely the beginning of your sales process. The purpose of the telesales function is a fact-finding mission. It’s about speaking to people about their business, their goals, their challenges and what they need to help them achieve them. Then it’s about intelligently aligning your brand with those needs, and setting up the building blocks of the sales process. With a reputable telemarketing firm, there’s no hard sell. Nor is there the risk of reputational damage. Best of all, there’s less frustration for your salespeople – who can take a qualified lead and work their magic with it.

We’d love to help you crush more telemarketing myths by getting you to find out for yourself how we can transform your sales process. Call us to find out more.

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