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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So you’ve got an effective lead generation strategy. And a healthy influx of leads cascading into your sales funnel. Nice work. Now what?

It’s time to nurture those fledgling prospects. Tenderly develop their relationship with your business until the point where they are ready to convert from prospect to client. Gently guide your leads on a journey that keeps them steadily progressing through this sales funnel of yours. 

But how?

What is lead nurturing?

Photo by on Unsplash

In short, it’s relationship-building. Lead nurturing is maturing and fortifying a lead to a sales-ready state, ripe for conversion. MarketingSherpa research shows that 73% of B2B leads are not sales-ready. But sales teams still keep receiving thousands of unqualified leads that they have to try and convert, which can be like trying to push treacle uphill. It’s demoralising trying to engage with unprepared prospects. Especially when the salespeople are equally unprepared, without any real insight or objective reasoning behind trying to talk to the lead, other than trying to flog something.

Why is lead nurturing so important?

Businesses that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.

Forrester Research

It’s so important because, unlike an actual physical funnel, your metaphorical funnel has to rely on more than gravity drawing its contents through it. With your metaphorical funnel, YOU have to be the force that draws the prospects through. Otherwise, they may simply dematerialise, fall out the non-existent side, or travel upwards and out the top. Whatever. There are no rules of physics that apply in a metaphorical funnel scenario. It’s an imaginary construct.

So how do you nurture leads through this sales funnel, with the best possible chance of them emerging from the bottom as revenue? 

You need a lead nurturing strategy, not just tactics and tricks. Many online guides will tell you it’s all about email. And we aren’t saying it’s not all about email. A drip email marketing campaign, done right, is definitely a lead nurturing strategy you should be using. But a multi-channel, integrated lead nurturing approach is really where it’s at. You need to be everywhere.

Lead nurturing best practice

Taking note of these lead nurturing principles will yield substantial results for your sales pipeline:

Time is of the essence in lead nurturing

Don’t lose out on opportunities because you are too slow to respond to prospects. Reach out within the hour wherever possible. Be hyper-responsive.

Get personal

Gone are the days when stock responses are enough to engage a prospect. As buyers, we all expect and appreciate a personalised experience. And with access to more data and automation than ever, there’s no excuse for not delivering it.

Value comes before the sale

Trust is the most important element of customer relationship management – right from the outset. There’s no better way to build trust, authority and engagement than offering value to your prospects long before they pay you a penny. In this regard, content is king. Relevant, interesting, useful content that helps your prospects soothe their pain points is a critical aspect of lead nurturing. Whether it’s problem-solving solutions in targeted email campaigns, directing prospects to your blog or providing free webinars or white papers – how can you be of use and value to your prospects today? Create opportunities for them to buy into you, which could just lead them to buy from you.

Commit to the long haul

50% of your prospects are ready to buy now. 50% aren’t. Lead nurturing is an ongoing process, and it takes planning, commitment and consistency. Connect with your leads through multiple channels.

Don’t let your hard-won leads go cold. And if you aren’t sure how best to nurture them to maturity, we’d love to help. Read more about our appointment setting service.

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