Some sellers fail miserably when trying to gain access to a company
executive. Unfortunately, rather than taking the time to develop
a strategy, they smile and dial, hoping their canned pitch will
be enough to get an appointment. This strategy doesn’t get many
sellers past today’s sophisticated executive gatekeepers, and many
aren’t willing to give a seller a second chance. It’s imperative
for sellers to take full advantage of what could be their golden
opportunity to gain access to a key contact.
Research the Issues
You know you must do your research before you even think about contacting
a new prospect. Your goal is to create an opening statement that
will grab the executive’s attention. However, don’t overlook doing
the same for the gatekeeper who is more likely to answer.
In doing your research, one of the key things to look for is something
that will cause the gatekeeper to say, “Mr. Executive needs
to speak with this person!” To accomplish this, learn more
about the company as a whole and the executive’s area of responsibility
by performing more effective research.
- Identify compelling business issues that the executive, or
his competitors, may be facing and that you have solved for other
- Determine business priorities the executive may have in common
with other clients you work with
- Look for business opinions the executive has expressed that
are in line with your company
- Seek out people you might both know; someone you can reference
or who might offer you a referral to the executive
Use this information to create a powerful opening statement that
will differentiate your message to both the executive and the gatekeeper.
- The business issue or priority you suspect
- Financial results you can provide
- A reference or referral that adds credibility
The Gatekeeper is the Executive
Once your research is complete, and you begin to establish contact
with a company, you will likely encounter one of two types of gatekeepers
to the executive: an executive assistant or receptionist, who has
been charged with the responsibility of keeping people from wasting
the executive’s time.
When confronting these gatekeepers, make it apparent that you’ve
done your research by using your well devised and differentiating
opening statement – exactly as if you were speaking directly with
the executive himself.
An executive assistant is often very knowledgeable and will understand
the importance of your message if you have hit on an issue or priority
the executive – or the organization – cares about. Ask for the assistant’s
help in identifying the right person to speak with. If the executive
is the right person, ask for their help in setting an appointment.
The assistant will grant you an appointment – if he or she feels
it will be of value to the executive based on the priorities the
executive is focused on. Or, the assistant may refer you to another
contact in the organization with those priorities. Either way, you’re
in the door!
The receptionist may also be able to refer you to the appropriate
contacts after hearing your opening statement, provide the executive’s
email address, or give you insights into the best times to reach
the executive. You may choose to seek out the receptionist to gather
this information while also gaining access to other contacts.
As you gain access, follow up to thank gatekeepers for their assistance.
Be friendly and appreciative each time you speak with the receptionist.
As you navigate the organization either at the executive’s or the
assistant’s recommendation, update both on your progress and next
steps to build your relationship.
Treat both types of gatekeepers with respect and professionalism
and the assistant and receptionist will facilitate, rather than
block, your entrance to the executive and the organization.