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Talk to Gatekeepers with Authority

Gatekeepers are a persistent and annoying reality in Sales. Unfortunately, many sales pros make their interactions with gatekeepers more difficult by using their voice ineffectively. To get a gatekeeper to open the gate, you've got to sound as important as the person you're trying to reach.

Here are four simple rules to follow:

  • Rule #1: Express authority in every word. You are not trying to wheedle, cajole, or convince. You're calling on important business, so you need to sound as if you're the boss's social equal.
  • Rule #2: Speak from your chest. Many sales professionals talk so that the sound resonates in the throat or (worse) whines in the nose. Powerful people always speak from the center.
  • Rule #3: Use statements not questions. "Please put me through to Warbucks" is more likely to motivate a gatekeeper than "Can I please speak with Ms. Warbucks?"
  • Rule #4: Never up-tilt your sentence endings. If you end a sentence -- even a statement -- with a rise in your voice, it ends up sounding wimpy and weak.
Needless to say, you also need a a good reason for the gatekeeper to put you through. But if you've got the right tonality in your voice, you're halfway there. On the other hand, if you sound like a supplicant, well..., you're probably not going to get through, no matter what words come out of your mouth.

The above advice is adapted from a conversation with Wendy Weiss, aka "The Queen of Cold Calling".