15/03/2017 - 14:28

Getting past the gatekeeper

15/03/2017 - 14:28


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OPINION: Sometimes you need a creative approach to get your message through.

Bashing through the wall is not the only way to get to the decision maker. Photo: Stockphoto

OPINION: Sometimes you need a creative approach to get your message through.

The gatekeeper is the only person in a company whose job it is to turn you away, interrogate you, and tell you why you can’t rather than how you can.

What the gatekeeper needs to understand is that the person in front of them could also be a customer or be best friends with your biggest one. Many of them fend people off – many more of them offend people off.

It is up to the gatekeeper to understand that she or he represents the entire company, and that ‘friendly and helpful’ are always the order of the day.

What salespeople need to understand is that they have no birthright to see someone or be seen.

Gatekeepers have heard it all before – every line, every tactic.

It’s up to the salesperson to be creative, and innovative. Humour plays an important part in this. The old sales adage ‘If you can make ‘em laugh, you can make ‘em buy,’ still applies today.

There is no single, sure-fire way to get around the gatekeeper, but if you are a student of creativity, there is always a way – just not the same way each time.

Here are two philosophies to think about and strategies to try.

The first look is at your approach. Try to see a bigger picture. Why go to the gatekeeper at all? If you stand out in the parking lot or the hallway and ask anybody else in the entire company, they’ll take you where you want to go. The gatekeeper is the only person whose job it is to tell you ‘no’. So, ask yourself, what are your alternatives to the gatekeeper and the cold call?

If you must go to the gatekeeper, be intriguing. Let’s say you want to sell a mobile phone. You walk in, have phone in your hand, and say to the secretary, ‘I’d like to give your boss a call on this special phone. Would you give it to him please?’ Now, the secretary doesn’t even know your name, but you just told her what to do. At least half (the people you approach using this method) will do it automatically. The other half will put you through on the normal ringer.

Are you the least bit intriguing or creative in your approach?

Gatekeeper sales tactics and realities

• If you ask ‘who is in charge of…’ they will immediately be on guard.

• If you don’t know the person’s name you’re calling on, they will immediately be on guard.

• If you ask them if they can do something for you, their answer will determine your fate. If they say ‘yes’, you can get to the next step.

• Disarm, don’t try to charm. Ask a question that forces the secretary to go to the boss for the answer – or at least go to someone else. Questions like: ‘Who is in charge of making sure that all employees are happy and stay on the job longer?’ Or: ‘I’d like to speak to the person who is in charge of your company’s image.’

Best approach

Ask for someone in sales. There will be no screen. Then ask the salesperson for help or to direct you to the person whom you wanted to see.

Note well: Your name and whom you represent are the least important aspect of the presentation. They don’t care about you. They don’t care if you drop dead in their office. They only care about getting their needs met.

The key is to engage. If you walk in and give the gatekeeper your name and business card, how have you engaged anyone so far? You’ve only annoyed the gatekeeper, and put them on guard.

Get creative, get funny, get engaging – get in. Otherwise you’ll be asked to get out.


Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development. © 2017 All rights reserved. Don’t reproduce this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


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