Gatekeepers are not the Enemy: 12 Ideas for Getting Past the Gatekeeper (Complimentary Blog)

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Taming the Window Witch

Don’t try to get past them; engage them and build rapport. They are not your enemy; they are doing their job of reducing demands on the Decision-Makers.

The gatekeeper has a wealth of knowledge about the practice, the physicians and the staff. Include them when you are profiling by asking simple, open questions.

Know their name and call them by name!!! Seems simple, but Hospice Liaisons are often so focused on getting in front of the physician that they forget that everyone in the practice is important. Also, you never know when they might have a family member or friend who might benefit from hospice services. Write their name down!

“Good afternoon, I’m Judy from Excel Hospice. Your name is?”

The gatekeeper is an equal member of the practice. Remember to use words like “your practice” rather than “the doctors’ practice.” Show them respect; say please and thank-you.

The gatekeeper IS NOT THE DECISION-MAKER but they can connect you with the Decision-Makers. When they ask: “Can I tell him/her what it’s regarding?”, don’t present your hospice services, just briefly describe the purpose. It is a waste of time and you will irritate the gatekeeper because they don’t make referrals. Many sales resources clearly state: “DO NOT SELL TO THE GATEKEEPER.”

“I wanted to quickly introduce myself to your office manager so I can make an appointment with him/her to learn more about the practice and how our hospice can be a resource to the practice and to patients/families.”

Engage gatekeepers; don’t try to sneak past them. They are not your friend, so don’t get too personal, but do gently build rapport with them. Engaging them professionally with respect will help them want to help you.

The gatekeeper will respond to your demeanor: if you are nervous or adversarial, it will show in your behavior and interaction. This will influence how the gatekeeper perceives you and your hospice. Smile, be confident and approach him or her with a relaxed, energetic manner.

Plan your approach - don’t use a script. Think through what approaches you might take depending on the responses that could arise. Plan for objections but be flexible with the conversation.

With the family’s permission, bring a copy of their thank-you note for your hospice's services and share it with the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper never sees what our team does, so you are the messenger. You could also share your program’s family satisfaction results.

If possible, bring a copy of the patient’s obituary to illustrate the human side of our patients and the care we provide.

“As you know we provided care for Mrs. Smith, and I wanted to share her obituary with you and the practice. I’m not sure if you are aware that she was a WWII Veteran. She had lost some her medals, and we were able to replace them for her."

Back to “Thank You”. Write a personal note to thank the gatekeeper for their time, information, or connecting you with the office manager. Be sure to use your hospice's letterhead.

“Sarah, I enjoyed meeting you yesterday, and I appreciate you introducing me to Fred, your office manager. I look forward to seeing you again next week when I meet with Fred. Thank
you.” - Judy, Excel Hospice Liaison

These ideas are a starting place. Your personal style and experiences will help you develop the most successful approach for engaging gatekeepers - not trying to get past them.

Resource: VSL SALES DRIVEN, July 2008

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