Updated: Feb 11, 2021
Before I picked up my SDR job, I was an intern for a financial advisor. One of the first lessons he taught me was to not let ANY sales calls through to him. If I knew the call wasn't from a client and sounded like a sales call, I'd lie and come up with some excuse to get them off the phone. Now, the roles have reversed and I'm the one who's trying to breakthrough.
Here are some tips and best practices I've learned to help get through that gatekeeper:
Be respectful. Something I hated when I got calls as an intern from salesmen was when they were rude and didn't care to hide it. Something I do when I encounter a gatekeeper is to repeat their name in my first sentence. For example, if I call a prospect and a secretary picks up and says, "Thank you for calling ABC inc. this is Sam", I would follow up and say "Good morning/afternoon Sam how's it going, is so-and-so in the office?". This approach is much warmer than just straight up asking for the prospect without acknowledging the gatekeeper. One of Dale Carnegie's tactics to make people like you in his famous book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is, "Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.", I've found this to be true.
Once I run through the introduction, the next step usually is the gatekeeper asking who I am and why I am calling. Here, I never mention my company name. I only mention I am calling from a company when it's absolutely my last resort. In an ideal situation, I say something along the lines of, "This is Justin, I recently connected with so-and-so and was just reaching out to learn more about the company and what they do specifically". This would have worked for me back in my interning days and it seems to be working for me now. As a gatekeeper, you want to only let clients or potential clients through to their superiors and this approach would put me in the latter category. By saying this, I've been able to break through at a higher rate than the traditional route.
In summary, be respectful and be interested in what the prospect and company do. You never want to lie, but I am not being deceitful in any way using this approach. I am genuinely interested in what the prospect does as I want to quickly qualify them and see if they are a good fit for what I have to offer. Getting through the gatekeeper is hard, but try out this approach and experiment for yourself to see what yields the best results.