C-suite prospects—those decision makers who hold the keys to your biggest sales—are notoriously difficult to get a hold of. Every salesperson knows the frustration of calling a CEO prospect, only to be blocked by an assistant or office manager who demands to “take a message.”

These gatekeepers can be the bane of your existence—or, you can learn how to get those high-level prospects on the phone, every time.

Luckily, there are a few inside secrets to getting through to C-suite decision makers so you can start closing bigger deals to crush your sales goals. Follow these three simple steps to avoid pesky gatekeepers and get more C-suite prospects on the phone than ever before:

1. Make your calls at night and on the weekends

Most business executives are the first ones at the office in the morning, and the last to leave at night. And they’re definitely checking their phones on Saturdays and Sundays. But guess who’s not? The gatekeepers.

Administrative assistants typically work from 9 to 5, and never on the weekends. So if you pick up the phone to dial your C-suite prospect at 8:30 am or 5:30 pm, you’ve suddenly got a direct line to the executive you want to reach.

It might sound overly simplistic, but making your calls at night and on the weekends is one of the most effective strategies for reaching your ideal high-level prospects.

To learn more about this insider tip, watch this video:

2. Don’t let the gatekeeper push you around

Let’s face it: Sometimes, it’s impossible to avoid the gatekeeper. If this happens to you, don’t panic—and whatever you do, don’t let the gatekeeper get the upper hand. Speak in a firm, authoritative tone and make it seem like the C-suite prospect has been expecting your call.

The last thing a gatekeeper wants to do is block an important call from getting through to the boss. Leverage this. When you stick your ground with gatekeepers, you’re much more likely to get through to your C-suite prospect for a successful sales phone call.

3. Answer the gatekeeper’s questions like a pro

When you’re calling on the CEO or VP of a Fortune 500 company, there’s no room for slip-ups when you’re getting grilled by a gatekeeper. Practice responding to the typical questions gatekeepers ask, such as “May I ask what this call is regarding?” and “Can you please tell me where you’re calling from?” If you can answer these questions with confidence—and just the right amount of vagueness—then you’re on your way to your high-level prospect’s direct line.

The less information you give away to gatekeepers when they ask you questions, the more likely they are to put you through to the boss. And when you master this strategy, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to sell to C-suite prospects at huge companies.

Have you ever used one of these strategies for getting C-suite prospects on the phone? Share your experiences in the comments. For more great tips to transform the way you sell, check out this free 9-Day Sales Intensive.


Marc Wayshak is the founder of Sales Strategy Academy, best-selling author of Game Plan Selling, and a regular contributor for Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford and a BA from Harvard University.