Catalytic Management Consulting
Accelerating Growth, Driving Performance

Getting Past the Gatekeeper in Sales Calls

“Gatekeepers are just that – keepers of the gate to the decision makers. And they have often been given explicit instructions NOT to allow any sales people or anyone they don’t know through the phone maze,” points out Shelley F. Hall, Principal, Managing Director of Catalytic Management LLC (Boston, MA). Bottom line, you have to accept the gatekeeper’s role. Furthermore, you need to realize that when the gatekeeper refuses to let you speak to the decision maker, Hall says two things are happening:

1. The gatekeeper is doing his or her job and doing it well. You should later applaud their efforts.

2. Your prospect is not the decision maker…it’s the gatekeeper.

Meet with the Gatekeeper

When you encounter a gatekeeper, you can repeatedly call but the results are not likely to change. You still won’t get through to the decision maker. As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” While being nice to the gatekeeper is a good start, it’s not a good enough reason for them to risk their boss’ wrath. Hall offers these tips:

  • Get creative and for awhile at least focus your attention on the gatekeeper. If the gatekeeper believes that you really have something of value to share with their boss, you are more likely to get to that decision maker.
  • Be honest with the gatekeeper. Tell them you know that their job is to make sure the Big Cheese doesn’t waste his/her time, so you would like to ask if you could meet with the gatekeeper for 15 minutes. Explain that you would like to tell the gatekeeper what you want to discuss with the boss and tell them all about your great services.
  • If the gatekeeper sees value in what you have to offer, ask them to arrange a meeting with the boss. TIP: Remember, the gatekeeper must have a truly good reason to fail at their job and let you through.

Bypass the Gatekeeper

Here’s another strategy, says Hall, for reaching the decision maker:

  • Bypass the gatekeeper all together and get a referral from someone who knows the decision maker. The most effective way to reach a prospect is through a direct referral from a current client or service provider to the prospect.
  • Use LinkedIn to find people you know who also know the prospect. Call them and ask if they would be comfortable calling Ms. Prospect and suggesting that meeting with you will be valuable.
  • When you call the decision maker, now you can tell the gatekeeper that Ms. Prospect is expecting your call.

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