How To Make the Gatekeeper Your Ally

BY Jessica Helinski
Featured image for “How To Make the Gatekeeper Your Ally”

The gatekeeper. That elusive figure who wields so much control over who gets to reach the decision-​maker. Anyone can be a gatekeeper, from the secretary answering the phone to the assistant who sets appointments. “As sales representatives, we may tend to have a somewhat adversarial frame of mind when it comes to gatekeepers,” notes professional training business Baker Communications, Inc. (BCI) in a blog post. “They can be seen as obstacles barring our path to the people we really want to contact.” But, BCI urges reps to reframe their thoughts in regards to gatekeepers. Yes, this first contact attempt can be frustrating. But, by considering them as helpful allies rather than roadblocks, your efforts can be more fruitful.

BCI gives five tips for interacting with a gatekeeper. The first is to not be sneaky or adversarial. Remember, the gatekeeper can be your ally, but not if you make a bad impression. Be honest and genuine about why you’d like to speak with the decision-​maker. Don’t obfuscate your purpose; upfront honesty is the best course of action if you want his or her assistance.

Next, get to know the gatekeeper. A good relationship with this person can be a huge benefit. “Sales representatives who introduce themselves to the gatekeeper first and take some time to get friendly with them are far more likely to eventually meet with the decision-​maker,” BCI explains.

Also, offer up details during your conversation. Let the gatekeeper know how you can provide value to the boss and why your product or service is needed. The ensuing conversation could even lead to the gatekeeper providing some insider insight.

Read BCI’s post for the other tips, and keep them in mind the next time you encounter a gatekeeper. Changing how you view him or her boosts your chances of direct access to who's in charge. As BCI points out, “even though the Gatekeeper may seem like a small cog in the corporate machine, if we don’t build trust with them first, we’ll never get the chance to build it with the decision-maker.”