Gatekeepers – Friend or Foe?

Mr. Tim Connor
February 13, 2013 — 1,121 views  
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Over the years - If I have heard one complaint from salespeople more than any other, regardless of their industry it’s – I can’t get past the “Gatekeeper”.

Well, if you want to call yourself a sales professional and you can’t get past these people maybe you should consider a career as a shoe salesperson!

Yes, I’m being a bit irreverent here, but consider – you make a living trying to persuade others that your products or services will benefit them in some way and you can’t even sell yourself past a few minor hurdles or this single challenge. So I ask you again – if you can’t sell these folks that you have a valuable message to share with the appropriate decision maker and to guide you to the appropriate person in the organization and you are stopped dead in your tracks – how do you ever expect to sell them if you are lucky enough to get past this roadblock.

I could go on for pages with strategies, approaches or tactics to get these people on your side and not to have them be consistent barriers to your sales process, but let me stick to the main point here – do you see these people as friends or foes or the enemy?  This is the first and most important step in eliminating this block to a successful sales outcome.

Let’s consider a few basics here;

-          One of the gatekeeper’s roles (in some cases) is to screen visitors.

-          This is one of their minor responsibilities.

-          They are typically good hard working people.

-          They are trained (again in some cases) to be friendly and accommodating).

-          Your job is to get to decision makers.

-          The process of selling has many hurdles – this is just one of them and in some cases the first one. 

-          Selling is not about selling stuff but the ability influence and persuade.

-          Your attitudes as a salesperson are your biggest strength or your biggest challenge.

-           The mindset you bring to the next sales call (whether in person or on the phone) is your single biggest asset or weakness.

So, I ask you what do you think is the biggest issue when it comes to getting past gatekeepers?

If you said your attitudes, expectations or beliefs you would be right.  If you said anything else – well think about it!

If you go into the next sales call fretting or overly focused on how difficult it is to deal with these people who seem to stand in your way I would suggest that this may be why you continue to have this problem.  If you see them as a foe – they will fulfill your expectations.  However, if you choose to see them as a friend, advocate or guide you will be amazed at how helpful these people can be on your behalf.

Yes, you have to have an effective approach to deal with this obstacle and yes, you need to have the confidence and skill to get past them, but you will never accomplish this as long as you believe they are standing in your way.

Over the years I have made thousands of cold calls on company CEO’s and Presidents of small, medium and large organizations and I can tell you that my percentage of getting past the gatekeepers is over 90 percent.  Why? 

- I respected them and their roles and responsibilities.  

- I used humor to disarm tension.

- I believed they could help save me time in the sales process.

-  I created an open and honest dialog.

- I knew I would never get to sell this organization unless I had the skill and confidence 

   to get past these people.

- I never took no for an acceptable answer to seeing or talking with my person of


- I took control of the conversation early in a respectful and professional way.

- I did some homework before making the call.

- I treated them as an equal.

- I developed strategies and approaches to get them in my corner.

But most of all I didn’t see them as a roadblock, but a potential advocate and partner.

Let me wrap this up with a simple question – How do you view these folks when making a sales call?  This may be your problem.

Mr. Tim Connor

Connor Resource Group

Global renowned sales and management speaker and trainer and best selling author of over 80 books including several international best sellers.