Over and over I hear people say they can’t get through the gatekeepers. Well, I can’t either so let’s all give up. Seriously, let’s talk about some ideas to help overcome gate keepers.First, if you know what you’re facing, why not prepare for it? I doubt if most sales people have prepared standard answers for gate keepers. So, begin by preparing answers for gatekeepers.Salesperson: “Hello, may I speak with Bill Smith?”Gatekeeper: “May I tell him who is calling and what it’s regarding?”Now, you give a planned response, well thought out beforehand.“It’s Tom Black from ABC, is he in?”Now, I’m back in control because I ask the question. A lot of gatekeepers will put you through.Most people say too much and talk themselves out of getting through. The less the better. Everything you say can and will be used against you.So, you get a great gatekeeper and she answers “He is in but what’s it about?”“ABC Company makes widgets, we work with over 1,000 companies like yours. May I speak to him?”Again, it’s brief, tells very little and puts me back in control.Now, she says, “I’ll see if he’ll take your call” and she comes back on the phone and says “He’s not interested.” My response is “Fine, thank you very much.” I hang up and call someone else. No, you can’t win everyone but I believe every “No” is a part of a “Yes”, and the more no’s you get, the more yes’ you will also get.However, if the gatekeeper says “Bill Smith isn’t in or he’s in a meeting” the gatekeeper becomes my ally. “When do you expect him back?” Whatever the gatekeeper says, the next question is “Are you his assistant?”Answer “yes”, the next question is “What’s your name?”Answer “Mary”, I write that down for the future.Next question, “Do you keep his calendar?” Answer “No”, next question“When should I call him back?” Answer “I don’t know, he comes and goes”Next question, “Does he come in early or stay late?” or “Does he go to lunch early or late?”Answer “He’s here at 7:00 AM every morning.”“Alright, thank you Mary, I’ll try back later.”Now, I know when to call and his assistant’s name. I moved closer to a yesWhat about voice mail? Well, I’ve heard a lot of different theories. Here’s my method. I leave a brief message the first time and I don’t ask them to call me back unless they know me or have requested information from my company. I don’t expect them to call me back. If they did, I’d probably be busy and just frustrate them.After I’ve called a few more times over a week or so, I leave a second message. “It’s Tom Black still trying to catch you. I’ll call back later.” Voice mail is just another obstacle and the best answer is persistence and determination. My further advice, call an unreasonable number of times.After I get voicemail a few times, I go through the main switch board, get a live person and ask if Bill Smith has an assistant. Then, “can you connect me to her?” The point is now I’ve got a gatekeeper and you already know how to deal with them.There are no tricks and no easy way to get decision makers on the phone. However, know this – every salesperson faces the same obstacles. Also, there are two kinds of people, those who look for an excuse and those who find a way. Other ideas? E-mail me at Tom@tomblackcenter.com.