Secretary, personal assistant, office manager, receptionist, gate-keeper. Call them by any name they all do the same function. Regulate the flow of information and visitors to the decision maker in the organization. It is their responsibility to see that the decision maker is unfettered and free to concentrate on his/her work. To make sure the decision maker's valuable time isn't taken up by needless interruptions. Gatekeepers are a necessary evil in everyday business.
Getting past the gatekeeper can be challenging but not impossible.
First you must pre-qualify the information that you already have regarding the decision maker (name, title).
Ask the assistant "who is the person handling the insurance matters for the company". Or. " Who is in charge of the specific services/product you are providing (insurance, graphics, Printing)? The person who answers the phone will probably be able to tell you who the decision maker is even if they don't allow you to speak with him/her.
So let's say for example that you are calling Mr. Ravi Sharma at Ratan Body Shop. But instead of getting Ravi, you get his assistant. His assistant's job like any good assistant is to govern which calls require Ravi's immediate attention and which will receive a phone call at a later date.
Here is an example of what a conversation might sound like.
Salesman : Hello, is Mr. Ravi in?
Gatekeeper : Who is this?
Salesman : This is Paramjit Singh calling for ALL-IN Insurance Services. I'm trying to reach the person in charge of accepting proposals for the employee Insurance policies for thecompany. I was told that it was Mr. Ravi.
Gatekeeper : Yes, Mr. Ravi is the person who handles the insurance but he is tied up right now can I take a message?
Salesman : Can I make an appointment at a later date?
Gatekeeper : Yes Can you make it at 1000 hours on the next Friday.
Salesman : Sure I will thank you
There are some points worth considering here.
First, always try to get the Gatekeeper on your side. You don't get anywhere by making an enemy out of the person who probably has as much info on the company as the owner/Managing Director.
Second, be straight forward with the Gatekeeper . If you are coy or evasive with him/her, the assistant will pick up on it. You want this person on your side so be direct and simply tell him/her the purpose of the call.
Third always ask for the decision maker’s E-mail ID. If you get a particularly Gatekeeper on the phone, the chance that the decision maker will in fact receive an unbiased message from you decreases. So be sure to leave a message.
Next, be sure to send some information to the decision maker which helps to insure that they know who you are and what you can do for them. If you still haven't received a return phone call from the prospect then you may want to send a voice or e-mail to his attention.
If you don't have an e-mail for the prospect from the Gatekeeper then be sure to go on-line to the company's website. There may be a link to the person's e-mail address or fax number.