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Sales Solutions
Getting through the Gatekeeper vol 2, issue #14
August 15, 2004

All of us know the frustration of being blocked, screened, or weeded out by the ubiquitous "gatekeeper" - that individual charged with guarding and protecting the Big Executive you need to get to. Despite our best efforts at convincing this individual why we should be among the privileged few to be let through, more often than not we are unsuccessful at doing so. What's a salesperson to do in such a case?

Assuming you've been unsuccessful at selling this individual on the benefits to her/him of letting you through to Mr./Ms. Big executive, try approaching a more senior individual in the company - the President/CEO if it's a small to mid-sized company, an EVP if it's a much larger one. This approach - to a "C- level" individual - must stress the benefits that are important to him or her (see the this issue, Selling to the Executive Level). If you make a convincing enough case, you will likely be referred down to the appropriate individual (who may or may not be the person you were trying to get to initially). Such a referral will virtually guarantee you a response from the right person (note: this is a strategy with which many successful salespeople initiate their approaches to an organization).

If, however, this too fails, try another indirect route: call on someone else inside the company - anywhere - with whom you have a relationship, or a connection. This could be someone from your alumni organization, networking club, industry association, or any of the many social networking organizations mentioned in this sales tip. If you don't have any connections in the organization, develop some. Your goal is to create a friend, or even better, an ally, someone who, for whatever reason, decides after speaking with you that he or she wants to help. It's this individual who will confirm who the right person in the organization is, and help you gain access to that person.


Action Item

Make a list of the top 20 accounts you want to get into over the next 12 months. Thoroughly research each, knowing what are the critical challenges they face and goals they're trying to achieve. Then craft an approach for a senior executive at each, designed to convey your understanding of their challenges and goals, and how you and your company are uniquely positioned to help them deal with/achieve them. Then make those calls. Simultaneously, start making other connections at these same companies through one or more of the above means. Develop these relationships to the point where you feel comfortable asking for directions on where you need to go in the organization, as well as in assistance getting there. Following this approach diligently will open many doors that would other wise remain closed, doors that your competitors - relying on the traditional frontal assault alone - will never get through.

Good Selling!

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