The day of an executive is limited and gatekeepers exist to filter out all the bullshit which comes in. However, can gatekeepers counterproductive for a business? How can leaders properly train their outer office staff to avoid the rejection of interesting and profitable partnerships, products, and opportunities?
I called over a hundred prospects during the past weeks. What I learned is quick but powerful. I realized that some gatekeepers can – with a lack of thinking – reject promising business opportunities with instructed tenacity.
Imagine the following: a caller is asking a gatekeeper to put himself through to the CEO to present a promising opportunity to his boss. Let’s assume this business opportunity is worth gold. Now we have different scenarios. In one, the gatekeeper was instructed to block any (and I literally mean ANY) call immediately. The caller will usually have no chance to get through (unless he’s a good liar). However, the blocking of cold callers is not the issue here. The issue is the blocking of promising business opportunities. A good gatekeeper can still block the call but – if he grasps the opportunity – request further information to report the promising opportunity to his boss. The best gatekeeper will recognize once in a lifetime opportunities and will either put the cold caller through or schedule a call for a later time.
Think about your gatekeeper. Did you use your authority and instructed him to block any call? Does your authority and behavior let your gatekeeper reject anything without firing up his or her brain first?
Here is what you should do as a leader:
Assuming you employ a smart and valuable gatekeeper. Give him or her the task and the freedom to evaluate incoming opportunities before rejecting them. Give them a time slot of your week where they can schedule promising follow-up calls with promising opportunities. Give them the responsibility to immediately report any promising business opportunities via email.
Your task as a leader is to make your gatekeeper think. Don’t instruct them to handle all incoming request the same – no matter what. Give them freedom and the mission to filter and evaluate the good opportunities while filtering out the bad stuff.