Step 1 | Identify the type of screen you’re facing

There are two types of screens: The investigation screen and the blind screen.
Then there’s the blind screen — the gatekeeper hardly asks you anything at all apart from your name. If your name is not instantly recognizable, you’re done.

Rep: “Is Andy Beavon available, please?”
Gatekeeper: “No, he’s not in at the moment. Who’s calling?”
Rep: “This is Lisa Brown from ABC.”
Gatekeeper: “I’m sorry, Lisa, Andy is out at the moment. Can I take a message?”

This type of gatekeeper usually has a more subdued and business-like personality. They’ll often come across as impatient — they have no time and want you to just go away.

Step 2 | How to Get Past Each Screen

It’s important to quickly recognize the type of screen you’re facing, because they each call for the exact opposite technique. To negotiate each type of screen, you want to defy the expectations of what the gatekeeper wants, expects, and is trained to handle.

For the investigation screen, remember, that this gatekeeper seems to have a lot of time, a pleasant personality and is the chatty type.
To negotiate this screen, you want to reflect the attitude of the blind screen gatekeeper: Serious, business-like, and time-conscious. When you’re asked a question, respond with a quick, almost curt answer — as if you expect to be put through. Don’t offer more information than you are asked for.

However, don’t be rude or obnoxious. The words you use should be courteous and respectful. Don’t volunteer who you are with.
When you project importance, you force the gatekeeper to make a quick decision. They can either ask you more questions, and risk annoying a VIP, or simply put you through and leave it to the decision maker.

The latter option is always less of a risk.

The same principle applies to the blind screen. This gatekeeper has no time and does not want to chat. So, take on the persona of someone who is very pleasant and likes to talk. Once again, the gatekeeper is forced to make a quick decision: They can spend their time talking to you, put you on hold, or hang up. Don’t offer more information than you are asked for.

To double your chances of reaching the decision maker, first recognize which type of screen you’re up against. Then take the exact opposite approach of what they’re accustomed to.

Death question: “What is this regarding?” A lot of gatekeepers are taught to ask some version of this question. But remember, they probably don’t care about the answer unless it sets off any red flags. There is a canned response you should use to answer this question every single time, and it is: “Just let him/her know it’s regarding [your own name].”

You might be surprised that this would work, but it does, pretty much all the time. The trick is finding keywords in the language the gatekeeper uses – in this case, the keyword is “regarding” – and using it in the response. Instead of connecting you right away, the receptionist might follow up with:

Receptionist: And he’ll know who James Smith is?
James Smith: I’m sure if you mention James Smith, it’ll be fine.

This will almost always put you through because you adequately answered the receptionist’s question.

Step 3 | Get a Referral

Who knows someone you want to talk to that you already do business with. Facebook, LinkedIn etc. is a good resource for who the decision maker knows that you already have a relationship with. Have your connection send a referral email. Keep a template of a referral email written and offer to send to the referrer. That alone will get you a ton more referrals more quickly. Here is what a referral email looks like. Copy or edit this anyway you like but don’t lose the essence of the message.

How have things been with you? Hope all has been well on your end.
A friend of mine, {Contact.Name}, is working with a company right now that, given your role, I thought you’d want to be aware of. Their Five Pawns handles the best premium e-liquid in the world and we’ve been extremely impressed by what they do and how well it sells. I thought it may be something you’d want to look into, so I’m introducing the two of you here. So, {!Receiving_User.FirstName}, {!Contact.Name}; {!Contact.Name}, {!Receiving_User.FirstName}.

Please let me know if I can help either of you further. Otherwise, I’ll let you guys handle it from here. Hope all is well, {!Receiving_User.FirstName}.

Final Tips

The Research Approach:
Tell the gatekeeper you are conducting research for a project you are working on and would like to get the decision-maker’s opinion on a hot topic. (Sucralose, Pricing, FDA etc.)

Be Intriguing
Another tip I share is to be intriguing when leaving a voicemail. Don’t give the prospect too much information on a voicemail or when leaving a message. Keep it brief, saying something like: I have something you might be interested in, give me a call back” or “I saw something and thought of you. Take a look at the email I sent.” It piques their