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How to Get Past the Gatekeeper Series – 5 Ways Tone Is Your Tool

Tone sets a mood and a mood sets an atmosphere. Tone does not simply reflect having a bad attitude. Tone can help create a diverse array of positive attitudes through pitch and inflection that you can use to your advantage. A positive and confident tone helps not merely in one’s personal life but also in his or her work life. A poised tone, especially in the work life of a sales development representative (SDR), is an essential tool when it comes to getting past gatekeepers since they cannot see but only hear you.

While not a formal work title but a common role, gatekeepers are company employees who screen calls to protect the time of other decision-makers within the same company. Typically, gatekeepers are receptionists and administrative assistants, but technically almost anyone within a company can be a gatekeeper if they are answering the phone and are not the designated decision-maker you are intending to speak with. Sometimes experienced gatekeepers are perceived as difficult obstructions or bottlenecks since they are constantly screening calls. But you can use your tone of voice to gain leverage with a gatekeeper. Read on to learn some ways to use your tone as tool to your advantage to get past them.

  1. Project Confidence
    The wonderful thing about sounding confident is that you do not actually have to be or feel confident to sound confident. Speak with self-conviction and authority. Sound important; demand respect. People who typically talk with authority include podcast hosts, radio announcers, news casters, and voice actors of the ilk of Pat Carroll, who voiced Ursula in The Little Mermaid, or Phil Hartman whose range of tone helped him voice many characters on The Simpsons.

    It is important to not confuse a confident tone with a tone that could come across as being condescending. Confidence does not equate to projecting superiority. Gatekeepers will react adversely to both a timid and condescending tone. Arrogant tones tend to sound more nasal, and the speaker has the trill of disdain. The goal is to have a gatekeeper transfer you over to the decision-maker without hesitation and without too many inquiries. Both a timid and condescending tone will elicit a defense mode from the gatekeeper and keep you from reaching the decision-maker.

  2. Sound Familiar
    Another way to help damper the defense modes of a gatekeeper through tone alone is to speak like you already know the decision-maker and have already spoken to either them. Do not ask for “Mr. Alan DeZiconmahcor” or for “Alan.” Ask for Al. Do not say “Please” or “May I,” since both phrases can suggest unfamiliarity or timidness. Be friendly and sound assumptive like you have spoken to the decision-maker prior to this moment and fully intend to again.

  3. Be Confused
    People tend to want to help lost or confused others. On the off-hand chance you do not actually know for whom to ask, frame it in the context of needing help. This immediately tasks the gatekeeper into providing you with a solution versus prematurely revealing your goal and identity as an outbound SDR.

  4. Match Tone
    Matching tone means talking fast to fast talkers and slow to slow ones. If the gatekeeper sound serious, you sound serious. If they sound jovial, you sound jovial.

    A time when you wouldn’t match his/her tone would be if he/she sounds mad or impatient. Soothe individuals who sound short or cranky by speaking lowly and slowly. Remembering to be patient as these types of tones are stress indicators, and their stress is something you want to help alleviate not add to. That is the true power of tone – knowing how to interpret non-visual communication cues can help your success at outbound sales development.

  5. Smile When Speaking
    Gatekeepers and decision makers legitimately can hear you smile. It helps make your tone friendlier, warmer, and positive. Not unlike when seeing a smile, hearing a smile has a very similar effect.

These are five ways that demonstrate how tone is the most critical tool for an SDR to have control over in their toolbox. The correct tone of voice: upbeat, confident, and friendly can get an outbound SDR anywhere.

If you’re looking to grow your sales through outbound calling and lead management, trust Concept to be your partner in sales development.

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