Beyond the Gatekeeper: The Game of Getting Your Foot in the Door

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During coaching sessions, I often listen to financial advisers discuss their frustrations about how long it takes to get their foot in the door while trying to build up their pipeline.

Take for instance Darrell, a financial adviser who recently started prospecting business owners. I asked Darrell how prospecting to his new target market was going. He replied, “I have become frustrated at not being able to get through to these potential clients.  The person answering the phone seems to think they know what my contact wants and answers for them with a reply of, ‘No, thank you. He/she would not be interested,’ which is very aggravating! I keep hitting a wall which is holding me back from growing my business!”

This is a common challenge when prospecting business owners. I informed Darrell that it was the job of the “gatekeeper” to screen the calls, so not to take any rejection personally. And that it was important to play the game of giving the “gatekeeper” enough information, but not too much information.

I suggested following:

  1. Be sure to ask for the prospect using their first name; it promotes the assumption that you have a relationship with them already.
  2. Announce who you are, what firm you are with and your reason for calling—and do this without a pause. Offering this information leaves few questions for the gatekeeper to ask and they are more likely to put the call through as a result.

We also talked about framing the conversation—a process to create structure into the initial conversation. We then mapped out some “objection resolutions models” so that he could prepare for any possible objections he might hear. By the end of the session, he felt more prepared with these techniques and confident that he could utilize them successfully.

The following week, I asked Darrell how it worked. I could tell that the anxiety and frustration he had had the previous week was gone. Darrell went on to tell me that the first couple of times were a little shaky, he stumbled with his pace, but then remembered to be conversational and not to pause.

He said, “I think it was a combination of a lot of things. I had a system for what I was going to say, giving them just enough information. I think they seemed to believe they had enough information to give to their boss. And, it must have been intriguing enough to make the business owner want to speak with me as well,” he stated. “But the one thing that really made the difference was putting it all together by thinking of this as a game. That to me was the key to getting beyond the gatekeeper; and, just playing the game over-and-over again.”

After sharing Darrell’s success story with other financial advisors in my various group coaching sessions, they too began using the techniques outlined above and found success! If you would like a complimentary copy of a white paper I’ve written, Creating Your Own Great Script, simply email me at

Daniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions Inc.
St. Paul, Minn.

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