The Gatekeeper, The Influencer & Others You Shouldn't Avoid

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It’s not always easy to gain access to a business’ decision-maker. Caller ID, email filters, and gatekeeper assistants can make it tricky to speak with the person in charge. So, reps need to be savvy about identifying who can help (and who can hinder). “But how do you spot an influencer from a stop-gap or a champion from a blocker?” asks Katharine Derum in an article for HubSpot. “And how do you engage these individuals once you have identified them?”

She luckily answers her own questions in the article, pointing out how reps can identify the different types of prospects and whether or not they can help push the sale along. The first type she highlights is the gatekeeper.

The Gatekeeper

Gatekeepers are notorious for safeguarding access to the ultimate decision-maker(s). Typically, a gatekeeper is an executive assistant, but if you aren’t sure of the title, just ask. While it may be tempting, try not to work around the gatekeeper; working up a rapport with this person is definitely in your best interest. Here's a tip to build their trust:

Ask meaningful questions

Get on their good side by not sidestepping the gatekeeper but instead, engaging with him or her. Show your genuine interest in the business by asking thoughtful questions that will open up a dialogue. As Derum explains, “By talking directly to the individual instead of immediately asking to be passed off to leadership and expressing genuine interest in getting to know their organization and challenges, you can gain valuable insight that can help you make the sale down the line.” She encourages reps to do a little research first, if possible. Check out the gatekeeper’s profile on the business’s website or on LinkedIn. In most cases, the gatekeeper can give you some more insight into the decision-maker, their pain points and how best to approach them.

This tip, along Derum’s others, can help you better navigate the web of people you’ll encounter before the gatekeeper. As she suggests, don’t avoid these people. Instead, learn to identify them, then engage them to gain even more insight that can help you make the sale.

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel and Media Sales Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.
Jessica Helinski

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