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There are individuals in your freight sales career who are so important that you must maintain a great relationship with. It’s not the CEO, or the chairman. It’s those who assist us with the little things.
Gatekeepers falls into this category. When you’re placing freight sales calls, the first person you speak to on the other end is the gatekeeper – usually a secretary, personal assistant or receptionist. It’s this person that allows you (or not) to speak with your shipping decision maker. Although they typically don’t have the power to make decisions about shipping, they do have the power to cut you off mid-sentence before you’ve even mentioned ‘freight’.
It’s important, therefore, to learn how to communicate effectively with gatekeepers so they eventually allow you to speak with the company’s shipping decision maker on every call.
Make The Gatekeeper Feel Important
We all like to feel important, and people who make us feel important usually get treated better. So, if you make the gatekeeper feel important, it’s more likely that they’ll be willing to assist you. Be respectful in how you speak to them. Listen to them. Ask them their name along with any other applicable questions. By being personable, friendly and positive, you engage them, and it’ll be more likely that they’ll be friendly in return.
It’s also important that you compliment them when it’s warranted. Not only should you show sensitivity and that you appreciate what they’re doing, it’s a great way to build rapport – and for them to remember you when you call again. Make sure, however, that you’re sincere. An insincere compliment can do a lot of damage.
Don’t Sell To The Gatekeeper
Although your desire is to engage the gatekeeper, remember that you’re not there to win THEIR business. So don’t pitch to them. By attempting to sell to them (even if you don’t realize it) you’ll almost certainly put them off, and worse, make them unwilling to assist you. After all, part of their job is to screen sales calls, so you won’t be advancing your cause.
Ask The Gatekeeper To Assist You
If you’re having challenges getting through to the shipping decision maker, ask the gatekeeper for assistance. This not only shows your respect for the gatekeeper, but also shows them how serious you are about speaking to the decision maker. Once you’ve started engaging with the gatekeeper, ask them when the best time to call is, or, can you be put through to the decision maker’s voicemail to leave a message.
It’s important to remember that we’re all different and we all react to situations differently. By learning how to engage effectively with gatekeepers, you’ll see that your probabilities of speaking quickly to shipping decision makers increases substantially.