Getting past the gatekeeper

Something many salespeople often forget is that the gatekeeper is not the enemy, nor even an obstacle. If you think of them this way, it can easily come through in your voice and demeanor. Now, there are some salespeople who can hide this sentiment, but I’ve found it takes less energy to just see them as human beings. One consequence of this shift in perception is that it takes less effort to get past or even disarm their resistance, because you aren’t trying to fight them anymore.

Now, some of us have taken the adversarial approach for so long that it’s hard to make that shift. That’s to be expected, to some extent. Once we’ve done something for a long enough time, we become conditioned to think and act that way, but habits can be broken, and new habits can be formed. Now, until you have broken this habit, one very easy way to get past the gatekeeper is to call before she gets there. Odds are, the decision-maker is there earlier, and if he isn’t you’ve just scored a quick path to the decision-maker’s voicemail without having to be met with the suspicion and apprehension that so often comes from the gatekeeper. However, while this can be effective for making meaningful contact (especially if you can leave an intriguing message), in the long run you don’t want to keep the gatekeeper out of the loop. Why?

The gatekeeper’s job, among all other duties is to protect the prospect from people, places and things that will waste his time or cause problems. Because of this, they are often influential, and sometimes very much so. Either way, you’re better off getting them on your side, which is easier to do if you bear in mind that:

1. The gatekeeper is human.

2. The gatekeeper does not want to look bad. This is the main reason why they’ll offer so much resistance to salespeople. Would you want to be the one who connected a call that wasted a CEO’s time and ticked him off?

3. They’re busy.

4. They’re important to the decision-maker’s productivity, so treat them as such. People are generally nicer to people who treat them with respect.

Give this a try for a week, and track your results. You can even do practice calls to companies which you probably won’t do business with, but might be a good fit for your other clients. If they prove to be such, offer an introduction. You’ll become more valuable to your client and intrigue the prospect at the same time.


See also: Voicemail is your friend