Don't Avoid Getting Past the Gatekeeper in Sales

gatekeeper at desk

It’s not always easy to gain access to a prospective business’ decision-​maker. Caller ID, email filters, and getting past the gatekeeper in sales can make it tricky for sales reps to speak with the person in charge. So, reps need to be savvy about identifying who can help (and who can hinder) their sales efforts. “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?”

Derum provides readers with great answers to these questions in her article. She also points out how sales reps can identify the different types of prospects and whether or not that particular prospect type can help push the sale along. The first type she highlights is the dreaded gatekeeper.

Why Getting Past the Gatekeeper in Sales Isn't Always in Your Best Interest

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

Ask the Gatekeeper Meaningful Questions

Get on the gatekeeper's good side by not sidestepping them. Instead, you should be focusing on engaging with him or her. So many people dread talking to them and are only focused on getting past the gatekeeper in sales. It will be a nice change of pace for them when a sales rep wants to talk with them instead of being annoyed by them. 

Show your genuine interest in the business by asking the gatekeeper thoughtful questions that will open 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 sales reps to do a little research on the gatekeeper first, if that is possible. You need to check out the gatekeeper’s profile on the business’ website or their individual LinkedIn profile. In most cases, the gatekeeper can give you some more insight into the decision-​maker, their pain points and how best to approach them. You can't get that kind of insider knowledge from any other source. Don't be one of those sales reps who lets this kind of opportunity slide.

This tip, along Derum’s others, can help you better navigate the web of people you will be encountering before you even reach the gatekeeper. As she suggests, do not avoid these people and focus on getting past the gatekeeper in sales. Instead, learn to identify these valuable resources. Then, you should engage these people in order to gain more insight into the decision-​makers who will ultimately decide the fate of 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.