How to get pass the gatekeeper.

It’s no secret that most high-level executives have someone preventing just anyone off the street from setting up a meeting. Otherwise, how would they get anything done? Whether it’s a secretary, receptionist, or even a spouse or partner, these gatekeepers shield the decision-maker from unwelcome distractions and act as a screen to only allow qualified individuals to meet with the decision-maker. Thus, they have a tremendous influence, and it is crucial to develop strong relationships with them in addition to the decision-maker themselves.

Because of the gatekeeper’s function, salespeople will often encounter difficulty getting past these individuals to meet with someone who could purchase our product or service. But gatekeepers are bombarded with a myriad of salespeople throughout the day. To them, you could just be another distraction the decision-maker doesn’t need to hear. So what’s the solution? 

  1. Establish trust with the gatekeeper: Creating a connection based on prior research of the company, their values, mission, and even pain points and challenges can show the gatekeeper that you are there not to solve your problems, but their problems. 

  2. Use social media: Use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with and message the decision-maker (or even the gatekeeper.) For example, engage with a post or send a brief message to show that you support and respect the individual and know what’s important to them. 

  3. Use your network to gain a referral: Referrals remain one of the best-performing tactics to gain a meeting with decision-makers. Because the individual already knows, likes, and trusts the person referring to you, you’re far less likely to be ignored.

  4. Be persistent: Regardless of which strategy you use, will it work every time? Probably not. But salespeople are persistent people, and this challenge is no exception. Continually try to get that meeting, and you’ll land it eventually!

  5. Be honest and straightforward: As I said, gatekeepers encounter many salespeople throughout the day. Of course, all of them have the goal to sell their product or service to the company. But the whole point of the gatekeeper is to prevent unwelcome distractions, so lying or using other negative tactics will likely not work very well because their job is to prevent those exact people from coming in. 

  6. Use your knowledge to your advantage: Whether it’s about the company, their products or services, or even the gatekeeper and decision-maker themselves, the more you know, the better. People do business with those familiar with their organization because that knowledge indicates you’ve taken the time to understand what they need to be successful. So try to incorporate verbiage that shows this in your interactions with the gatekeeper, whether virtual or in-person!

  7. Practice makes perfect: Just like the famed “elevator pitch” we all had to rehearse in college, practicing what you’re going to say to the gatekeeper will work wonders for your success. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one! Practicing before your interaction with the gatekeeper will also reveal any gaps in your information about the company.

  8. Be assertive: Find the perfect balance between being passive and being aggressive, and stick to it. Try recording what you’re going to say before approaching the gatekeeper, or consider pitching to yourself in the mirror to observe your tone and facial expressions. Coming across as a friendly and helpful person who knows how they can help the decision-maker (and therefore the company as a whole) will make securing a meeting infinitely easier.

  9. Introduce yourself on LinkedIn before cold calling: If you prefer cold-calling to other prospecting methods, this strategy will make your success rate skyrocket. Simply introduce yourself on LinkedIn to the gatekeeper in two or three sentences, and then follow up with your call. The gatekeeper will already be familiar with you and thus have a small degree of trust that allows you to open the conversation further.

  10. Be kind: Regardless of their position, you never know how connected that gatekeeper is to the decision-maker. While the gatekeeper might not be directly able to purchase from you, they can easily be the deciding factor in whether or not the decision-maker agrees to work with you. If you’re rude or dismissive towards the gatekeeper, that knowledge can quickly be shared with those who can dismiss you for it. The takeaway? Be nice to everyone.

The gatekeeper serves a pivotal role in many companies. Without them, executives and decision-makers would not have the time to perform the roles and responsibilities they need. So be patient and persistent in your efforts. As you continue to create a relationship with the gatekeeper, you’ll be more likely to secure that meeting that lands you your next sale.

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