THE Key To Successful Business-To Business Sales – Getting TO The Gatekeeper

To be successful in business-t0-business sales you have to open a lot of doors. The hardest door to open in the Voluntary Benefits arena is always your car door. Back when I first started in the business, more than once, I pulled into a parking lot, turned off my ignition, and sat in my car for several minutes…..chickened out, restarted my car and then pulled out of the parking lot.  I’m not sure why so many agents struggle with this crazy malady we have named “call reluctance.”

Stern Gatekeeper

The reality is that there are two kinds of sales people in this world:

  1. Those that struggle with call reluctance.

  2. Those that lie about it.

The other day one of the sales leaders on my team was talking about working with a new agent. He meant to say that the new agent had done a great job and gotten him past the gatekeeper to the Decision Maker.  Instead he made a Freudian slip. A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother……(A little Walt Disney’s World Famous Jungle Cruise” humor for you courtesy of my daughter Brittny.) What he said instead was, “She got me TO the gatekeeper.”

After he and I shared a laugh at the absurdity of his statement, it dawned on me that just getting TO the gatekeeper is half the battle in business-to-business sales. To be successful in this industry, we are going to have to get past the gatekeeper, present to the Decision Maker, and close the deal. But just showing up is a huge start. I can’t tell you the number of great-potential, high-caliber, smart people I have seen fail out of this business because they just didn’t show up.  To paraphrase the late, great Zig Ziglar, “You will beat half your competition just by showing up.”  You will also keep yourself in the game.

10 Tips To Get TO The Gatekeeper


      1. Wale up employed. – Prepare a list of where you are going the night before. If you wake up with a plan your chances of executing it go up dramatically.
      2. Make it a game. – How many cards can you pick up before noon?
      3. Make friends. – Even if you don’t set an appointment all day, how many friends did you make?
      4. Lighten up Frances. – This is not brain surgery…. Nobody’s life lies in the balance if you don’t have success today.
      5. Go for no. –  Just read the book already! It will change your mindset. I promise!! (Just click the cover to learn more.)
      6. Know your numbers. – How may attempts does it take to set an appointment? How many appointments do you need to get a Decision Maker to agree to move forward.
      7. Monetize your attempts. – Divide your average commission per sale by the number of prospecting calls it takes you to make that sale. Understand that every attempt pays exactly the same. If your number comes in anything less than $10 I’d be shocked. If I told you that today I was going to pay you $10 for every business card you picked up, how many would you get?  The answer is all of them!!!
      8. Believe! –  You are there to help the Decision Maker and their employees. They need what you have. There is no reason to go in and beg for business. They are lucky you showed up today! Now act like it!!!
      9. Track you time. – Many sales people fool themselves about how hard they are really working. Track your time this week and see exactly how much time you actually spend fully engaged in the sales process.  Warning: It’s not going to be pretty.
      10. Partner up with someone. – It is easy to blow off prospecting when you are only responsible for yourself. The snooze alarm keeps getting reset… Dishes have to be done…. Laundry needs folding. The next thing you know it’s almost noon and you can’t possibly cold call during lunch because most of the Decision Makers will be at lunch….. Sound familiar?  If you have someone who is meeting you at Starbucks at 7:00 a.m., you tend to get up and go.

Conclusion: I’d love to get past the gatekeeper much more frequently than I do. But as long as I get TO the gatekeeper 100 times a week, I like my chances!!!

Question: What other techniques have you used to overcome call reluctance? Just hit reply to this email right now to let me know or leave a comment in the box below.

Tim Martin

    Tim has spent the last 22 years in the VB sales world. During that time he has recruited and trained over 2,000 agents to get people to do what they should, but wouldn't do if we didn't come along. In addition to his leadership rolls at the two largest VB carriers on the planet, Tim has worked with outside organizations through consulting and sales coaching. His energetic and humorous key note addresses have also inspired and electrified audiences throughout the United States. Currently Tim is also working on his first book "Success Is Voluntary."

    Tim and the lovely Dizzy D reside in Peoria, Arizona. They have been married for 29 years and are the proud parent of two gorgeous grown young women, Brittny 27 and Victoria 25.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    4 thoughts on “THE Key To Successful Business-To Business Sales – Getting TO The Gatekeeper

    1. You hit the nail on the head with this article, Mr Martin. I can’t count the number of times I’ve arrived in the bright sunlight only to have the dark clouds of doubt convince me that the stars weren’t aligned this day. My first attempt is ALWAYS my worst attempt. I have learned, to “go for the NO” now and is working for me. Thanks!

      • Thanks John! You are correct in the first attempt is always the hardest… It’s like running in cement. But it does get better!!!!