© 2007 David Peterson
There is no one
scarier to an average sales representative than the dreaded
gatekeeper. This is the one person in an organization that can
shut down sales calls before you can even spit out your
opening sentence. The gatekeeper can shut down the call and
can make you feel miserable in less than 3 seconds.
Why do average
sales reps get so choked up on this person in the
organization? You don't typically hear professional sales
representatives saying "...oh she was a bi*&h, she
wouldn't let me pass..."
Here is what
professional sales reps realize about gatekeepers:
sales reps realize that the main function of a gatekeeper is
to just control the access to the particular person they
are trying to reach.
sales reps realize that gatekeepers are just people like you
and I. They have good days and bad days, they get paid to do
a job, and they are pressed for time.
sales reps realize that the organization's gatekeeper might
be the first line of sales defense but they also personally
know everyone in the organization and they know everyone's
role in the organization. The gatekeeper is probably not the
boss but they always know who is in charge of the department
that you need.
professional sales reps realize that gatekeepers know what
is happening in their organization and often times depending
on the size of the organization they are in an influencing
Contrast the above
statements with that of an average sales rep's opinion
reps think that the gatekeepers are used to keep every salesperson
and every product they represent away from their boss.
reps think that the gatekeeper is hired into that role
because they are spiteful people who will not typically
listen to them or anyone else.
reps think that in order to succeed you need to blow right
past the gatekeeper to get to the boss.
sales rep thinks that since the gatekeepers
are not influential people they have no need for them.
Anyone can blow
right past the gatekeeper. The question is... should you blow
The answer is
No - never blow past the
The reason is even
if you do get past that first line of the sales defense the
decision maker will know you just blew right past a valued
employee. If you are that dishonest by hiding your true
intentions they how can the decision maker trust you in the
discovered through my years of experience would be to use the
gatekeeper's knowledge of the organization to help you.
Let's work through
a few examples. First the average sales rep trying to blow past
Now I agree both
of the examples worked to get
past the gatekeeper. In example #1 the average rep is acting
like they already have a business relationship with Bob. In
example #2 the average sales rep is acting like there is an
emergency in the business and they need to speak with the
decision maker quickly.
Both move past the gatekeeper but neither
advances the sales process. The sales process is open, probe,
pitch, and close. Where do you think the average rep is at in
this moment in time? He has barely had a chance to begin his
Let's look at our second set of examples from
the professional sales rep trying to get past the gatekeeper.
The two examples
above from the professional sales reps demonstrate that the
gatekeeper can actually be your professional ally. In example
#1 the Executive Assistant is going to place a call from her
office to production. You have just become very important to
Bill in production. You are not calling him, one of the executives
is calling him on your behalf. Plus even more important you
didn't waste Bob's time since he is not really part of the
#2 you don't know if the company needs your product. Start
asking about the person's company. They will tell you.
Professional sales reps understand that people like to talk
about themselves and their business. It's natural for them to
tell you what you need to know.
Notice in example
#2 we may not want to move past the gatekeeper. There is a
pretty good chance that they really don't need your product.
Kate may not be the final authority but she will give you a
good idea about your chances.
not scary people. They are people just like you and I, trying
to do their job in the best possible manner. If you treat the
gatekeeper as a respected member of their organization you
will have a better chance of moving the sale process forward vs.
just blowing past them for the sake of getting to the next
Look at it this
way... Really isn't the next person a gatekeeper as well?
Been There - Done That
Peterson's Search Engine Optimization Guide
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