Veterinary Practice Gatekeepers control the Keys to the Kingdom
Why veterinary practice gatekeepers deserve your respect and how to call on them successfully.
If the gatekeeper is standing between you and your target prospect, don’t let that be a barrier. Connect with them on two levels: provide context of who they are talking to and what value or solution you can offer their organization. Emphasize why it’s beneficial for everyone involved if they allow access through the gates – use potential pain points, brand recognition, and relevant facts about how this meeting could benefit all parties involved.
Average salespeople look at the gatekeeper as just that, a gatekeeper. Top performers, on the other hand, look at the person who picked up the phone (or greeted them at the front desk) as a VIP who deserves as much respect as one of the key decision-makers. In other words, the great ones look at the gatekeeper as a target prospect. And in many of the clinics and hospitals you call on (especially the smaller ones), that gatekeeper may actually be the target prospect (or perhaps the spouse/partner of one of the key decision makers).
At our company, PRECISE Selling, we use software to record the calls of many of our clients’ inbound sales teams. This helps us better coach them as we can deliver specific tips to salespeople on what to say and how to say it. Many of the unsuccessful calls we listen to often start with the salesperson saying something like this once the phone is picked up:
“Hello, I’m trying to get in contact with Dr. Joe Smith. Is he in today?”
This sales rep might as well say, “Hello, I know you aren’t very important, so I have no reason to be nice to you. Do me a favor and get me over to somebody who actually has the power to make my commission check fatter.”
Treat the gatekeeper poorly, and you can be assured they won’t help you. Instead, begin your call/visit by asking the gatekeeper for help. With a subtle tweak, you will be a lot more successful. Instead, say:
“Hello, my name is ________ with ________, and I was hoping you could help me?”
We have found that it is hard for gatekeepers (or any human for that matter) to be a jerk to somebody who warmly asks for help. Also, be conscientious of the tone of your voice, and don’t forget to smile when asking. People will do more to help you based on your attitude and enthusiasm than anything else.
If the gatekeeper doesn’t understand who you are, who you should talk to, or why the target prospect will want to talk to you, take a step back and educate the gatekeeper by sharing either a little bit about the value you provide, the pain that your company solves or some examples of other named clients you serve.
Below are some examples of things you can say after your initial greeting.
Value You Provide
Actually, let me take a step back and let you know why I am calling/visiting. The reason for my call is that we help veterinary hospitals like yours to:
Value Point 1
Value Point 2
Value Point 3
I don’t know if you want to improve those areas and that is why I am calling. Do you know if Dr. Joe is the right person to speak with, or would you recommend somebody else here at the hospital?
Actually, let me take a step back and let you know why I am calling/visiting. The reason for my call is that we work with a lot of veterinary clinics, and they often have challenges with:
Pain Point 1
Pain Point 2
Pain Point 3
I don’t know if you are facing some of those same issues, and that is why I am calling/visiting. Do you know if Dr. Joe is the right person to speak with, or would you recommend somebody else here at the clinic?
Let me take a step back and let you know why I am calling. The reason for my call is that we worked with (Name-Drop Client) and helped them to (Technical Improvement). This ultimately helped them to (Business Improvement).
I don’t know if we can help you in the same way, and that is why I was calling/visiting. Do you know if Dr. Joe is the right person to speak with, or would you recommend somebody else here at the clinic?
Another way to effectively engage a gatekeeper and maximize your time is by asking the same types of questions you would pose when speaking with a target prospect. This could include inquiries related to their current environment, challenges they’re facing or pain points that need resolving. Doing so allows you to start building rapport right away while demonstrating your knowledge in the field!
- Well, maybe you know the answer to this:
Pain Question 1
Pain Question 2
Pain Question 3
Current Environment Questions
- Well, maybe you know the answer to this:
Who are you currently using today?
How long have you been with them?
How is everything going?
What are some things you like about what they provide?
What are some things that you think could be better?
If you could change one thing about their product/service, what would it be?
When was the last time you considered other options in this area?
(Sizing Question) How many _____ do you currently have?
If the gatekeeper answers your questions but perhaps doesn’t know all the answers (which happens often), you can follow up with another request to speak to the target prospect (Dr. Joe).
Well, that is why it might make sense for me to speak with Dr. Joe as we help to solve that issue, and we could likely have a productive conversation. Do you think he would be opposed to discussing it with me?
Change the way you look at the gatekeeper by changing your perspective. Look at them as an ally to get you closer to being able to serve the client – not as an obstacle. Treat the gatekeeper as great as you would treat the ultimate decision-makers, and you will have made a friend who is happy when you call/visit. And don’t be surprised when that new friend also gives you the keys to the prospect’s kingdom.
As Founder of PRECISE Selling, Brian Sullivan, CSP helps improve sales, customer service, negotiations, leadership, and presentation skills through seminars and Internet training programs. Go to youtube.com/c/BrianSullivanPRECISE and subscribe to his weekly video tips to help you become your company’s Top Sales Performer.
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