By: Daniel C. Finley

Beyond the Gatekeeper

During coaching sessions, I often listen to financial advisors discuss their frustrations about how long it takes to get their foot in the door while trying to build up their pipeline.

Take for instance, my client Darrell- a financial advisor, who had recently started prospecting business owners. During our coaching check-in, I asked Darrell how prospecting to his new target market was going. He replied with “well, I have become frustrated at not being able to get through to these potential clients.  The person answering the phone seems to think they know what my contact wants and answers for them with a reply of “No, thank you he/she would not be interested” which is very aggravating!  I keep hitting a wall which is holding me back from growing my business!”

This is a common challenge when prospecting business owners. I informed Darrell that it was the job of the “gatekeeper” to screen the calls so not to take any rejection personally. And, that it was important to play the game of giving the “gatekeeper” enough information but NOT too much information.

So I coached Darrell to do the following:

  1. Be sure to ask for the prospect using their first name, it promotes the assumption that you have a relationship with them already. 
  • Announce who you are, what firm you are with and your reason for calling; and do this without a pause.  Offering this information leaves few questions for the gatekeeper to ask and they are more likely to put the call through as a result.

I also referred him to a white paper I had previously written called “Creating Your Own Great Scripts” which maps out a step-by-step process for cold calling. I knew that it would not only help Darrell gather the additional information he needed once he got through to business owners, but it would help him get beyond that initial “gatekeeper” as knowing what to say to the target market is irrelevant if you never get to speak to him/her.

We also talked about Framing the Conversation-a process to create structure into the initial conversation. We then mapped out some “Objection Resolutions Models” so that he could prepare for any possible objections that he might hear.By the end of the session, he felt more prepared with these techniques and confident that he could utilize them successfully.

The following week, I couldn’t help but be curious about what had happened. “So, how did it work? Did you get beyond the gatekeeper?” I asked waiting in anticipation. “The strangest thing happened…” Darrell paused in deep thought “I did exactly what we scripted and role played from the “Creating Your Own Great Script. And, I was shocked at how pleasant these gatekeepers were!” I could feel him grinning from ear to ear as he continued. “They just thanked me and said “one moment please”. Then they would usually put me through to the business owner.”

“Congratulations!” I exclaimed. “Did you set any appointments?” “Yes, I actually did” he proudly announced.

I could tell that the anxiety and frustration Darrell had had the previous week was gone. He went on to tell me that the first couple of times were a little shaky. He stumbled with his pace but then remembered to be conversational and not to pause.

“So, what do you think did it for you?” I asked in anticipation. “Why did it work so well?”

“I think it was a combination of a lot of things; I had a system for what I was going to say, giving them just enough information. I think they seemed to believe they had enough information to give to their boss. And, it must have been intriguing enough to make the business owner want to speak with me as well” he stated, “But, the one thing that really made the difference was putting it all together by thinking of this as a game. That to me was the key to getting beyond the gatekeeper; and, just playing the game over-and-over again.”

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