Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Getting in touch with an intended prospect can be challenging, even if they don’t have a gatekeeper, but they are there for a purpose. How should salespeople navigate the person that holds the keys to their next sale?  

Occasionally a gatekeeper – generally an executive assistant or office manager – sits between you and the person you are trying to connect with. Even if you feel well-armed with a winning sales pitch and a reliable contact list, a gatekeeper can prevent you from actually connecting with the decision-maker.

The gatekeeper’s job is to ensure that the calls and sometimes even the emails going through to the decision makers are appropriate, timely, and deserve their attention. Given that decision makers are typically very busy, the gatekeeper is often cautious and limits the calls that go through to them. However, leveraging the gatekeeper as a tool can help a salesperson get in contact with the person or people who have buying power.

Here are a few simple tips to follow to help navigate around the gatekeeper while also gaining valuable information from them.

Connect with the Gatekeeper

Connect with the gatekeeper

Remember, the gatekeeper is a wealth of knowledge, but you will need to build rapport to gain information. Given that they are the key to getting to the decision maker, they are screening many calls a day, so salespeople need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Here’s a few ideas on how to approach this:

1. Gather a couple of key details about the gatekeeper. With the help of social media platforms like LinkedIn, learn a few facts about who you are speaking with to connect with them on a personal level.

2. In addition to using social media to find out about the gatekeeper and the buyer, use it to find out information about the company. Mentioning something timely that was posted on social channels or on their website shows a vested interest in building a relationship and not just making a sale.

3. Treat the gatekeeper with the same respect as you would your targeted prospect. Good old-fashioned manners go a long way.

You will be surprised the positive results that can occur by making a connection with the gatekeeper.

Have a Gatekeeper Script

Have a gatekeeper script

Just as you have a script ready for the decision maker, you must also have one documented for the gatekeeper. This should be short and sweet and no more than 30 seconds. The message needs to sound natural and be something that can be customized as you go. There is nothing worse than sounding like you are reading a piece of paper.

A gatekeeper will be able to spot a rehearsed script from a mile away. However, you still want to have a message planned to stay on track. Salespeople can get caught up on details and deliver more information than needed. Remember, the purpose of this portion of the call is only to get you through to the decision maker, so make a connection with the gatekeeper, and then work to get through to the intended target.

Know Who You Are Asking For

Know who you are asking for

One tactic salespeople use to get past the gatekeeper is to sound like they have already connected with the decision maker. Even if it gets you past the gatekeeper, it can start the entire relationship on a negative note. Sometimes, the person you originally thought was the best contact is someone else within the company who would be better suited for your pitch.

If you’re not getting past the gatekeeper for your original intended target, it’s a great opportunity to leverage the gatekeeper to guide you in the right direction and to the right person. Start with a discovery question such as, “If (original prospect’s name) is not available, is there anyone else I could get in contact with that is in charge of (x, y, and z)?”

If that does not get you anywhere, you could try asking a couple of your qualifying questions, such as:

  • What is the purchase approval process like?
  • How have decisions like this been made previously?
  • Who else is involved in this process?
  • Do you already have someone providing XYZ service/product?

They may not know the answers to these questions depending on who the gatekeeper is, but it could help point you in the right direction if you find yourself at a standstill.

Save Your Pitch

Save your sales pitch for your prospect, not the gatekeeper. Remember, the gatekeeper does not usually have the buying power or the ability to greenlight a purchase. Do not waste their time (and yours) by diving into unnecessary details about your product or service. If you cannot speak with the prospect immediately, ask the gatekeeper if they can schedule a day and time to talk to the decision-maker.

Again, the gatekeeper works closely with those that hold the power. Use them to your benefit. Ask questions and start conversations that lead you to find out more information, such as confirming an email address, the prospect’s schedule, or a better time to call.

Be Genuine: The most important thing when it comes to the gatekeeper is that they should be seen as an ally. Do not dismiss them, but instead treat them with respect, which will give you the best chance of getting through to the decision maker.

Do not forget, the gatekeeper holds an immense amount of power when it comes to who gets through to the decision maker and who does not. Use them appropriately as a tool in the sales process to get through to the correct decision maker. Appreciate their role within the organization, and they will show consideration to your needs in return.

Looking for sales help? MPI can help construct a winning script, target your message, refine the delivery, and evaluate success to deliver buyer qualified leads. Contact us to learn more.