A Confession Of A Gatekeeper

Gone are the days when businesses could afford to sit and wait for customers to arrive at their doorstep and buy their stuff. These days you need to go out there and get them. If an opportunity doesn’t present itself sooner enough, what do you to? You go and create one yourself.

Don’t expect it to be an easy ride. Why not? There’re many good sales people around, and they all want the same thing – a big piece of the pie, more customers and more profits. If you’re a sales person, you may think you have a brilliant idea, fantastic products and services. And next? How do you stand out from the crowd? How do you find your customers?

If advertising and marketing campaigns don’t do you justice, you may want to try out something more direct and proactive – cold calling (telemarketing) or door knocking (door-to-door sales). That’s not a bad idea. But, beware! What you’ll likely face is a big Great Wall of China in front of you – gatekeepers! Who are they? They can be someone who answers your phone call or the door first. You surely want to please these people and make good lasting impressions when you turn up abruptly; however, you don’t want to appear too eager or desperate in your approach, or you’ll scare them off and end up having your call hung up or the door slammed right in your face. All in all, you are a sale person but you don’t want to sound like a sales person too much, or your sales pitch will soon fall on deaf ears, be forgotten in no time.

In my day job, I get to wear different hats. On any given day, I’m one of those gatekeepers who screens unsolicited phone calls and strangers/visitors in the office. My position as office manager is to decide who gets the opportunities and who doesn’t. It’s not all fun and games but someone has to do it.

It’s no surprise that over the years the number of offers I’ve turned down outweighs the number of offers I’ve accepted. After all I’m here to protect my company interest. Not all invitations are welcome unfortunately. From my perspectives, those who didn’t get the nod from me were someone who:

  • Were very ambiguous about the nature of the call when asked.
  • Called from overseas and weren’t familiar with our industry or geography.
  • Didn’t introduce themselves properly, their name, the company they were representing.
  • Were very persistent and overbearing in their approach, didn’t take No for an answer. Even sounded rude or behaved aggressively when I said I’m not interested.
  • Products and services weren’t relevant to our industry or suited our needs at that time.

On a positive note, one person that got the nod from me was a sales executive from an office supplies company. Here’s the reason why:

  • He was polite and professional to deal with. On his first visit, he took time to explain his products and services well and how they could save us time and money. Before I closed the door, he left me with their product catalogue and his business card for the future reference. I remember I said No to him on two occasions. But on his third visit, it also came a time when I was sick and tired of getting office supplies (including reams of copy paper) myself from downstairs, so I decided to give him a try and order online. Since then, he’d come back visiting me in person, bringing along their new product catalogues or some free samples to try. It wasn’t always about business, sometimes we’d just have a quick catch up over coffee talking about life in general. He not only won my business but also friendship.

There you go, a confession of a gatekeeper – no more Mr Nice guy or Yes man. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing what makes gatekeepers tick, before you have a chance to get your foot in the door. Agree?

Good luck!

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