Gatekeepers Are Not The Enemy

It may seem like the gatekeeper’s primary job is to keep you out. But they can be your ally if­ you learn how to enlist their help. Knowing best practices for communicating and working with gatekeepers can make the difference between getting in touch with a decision-maker and getting sent straight to voicemail.

Winning The Prospecting Lottery

The odds of reaching a decision-maker on your first attempt can be lower than hitting the winning lottery numbers.

Chances are good that you will either 1) End up leaving a voicemail, or 2) Speak to someone who will politely inform you that the decision-maker is unavailable but will take a message for them – or put you directly into their voicemail.

If your knee-jerk reaction is to opt for going directly to voicemail, slow down. By rushing past the gatekeeper, you may be missing a prime opportunity to improve your odds of getting in front of your prospect.

Don’t Shoot The Gatekeeper!

Maybe it seems like the gatekeeper’s primary job is to keep you out. But they can also be your ally if­ you learn how to enlist their help.

We have to recognize that the gatekeeper plays an important role in an organization by helping the executive focus on priorities and mitigate distractions.

And that is not always a fun job.

Imagine how many times a day they have to listen to someone try to see or speak with their boss.

Most messages are destined to end up in the “non-essential” pile on your prospect’s desk. If you want to see the decision-maker, you need to have a better strategy.

5 Keys For Working With Gatekeepers:

Set Yourself Apart

Screening calls is probably not the gatekeeper’s only responsibility. However, your first order of business is to pull their attention away from their other duties and give them a good reason to listen to you.

Differentiate yourself by communicating authentic interest in them. Show them that they are not just a means to an end. By the way, this is a great place to incorporate some improv skills.

Show Value

The gatekeeper’s job is to filter out things or people that are not of direct interest or importance to the decision-maker. So if what you offer is perceived as insignificant or not in alignment with strategic objectives, you are easy to dismiss.

Think about how you can communicate your solution to the gatekeeper in a way that helps them understand why it’s of the utmost importance that your prospect connects with you.

Talk The Talk

The ability to sound or look like a company insider can greatly affect how much weight the gatekeeper gives you and your message. Wherever possible in your conversation, talk the talk, know the team, and mention insights and challenges

If the gatekeeper thinks there is any chance that you may be someone the decision-maker wants to or needs to see, they will probably err on the side of making sure he or she gets your information.

Know What You Want

Without any instruction, your message or material is likely to be handed to the decision-maker with little if any explanation, i.e., “Some guy dropped this off” or “This woman left a message.”

Decide what you want the gatekeeper to do or say and give them very clear instructions. Then break it down into a tier of desired outcomes.

For example:

  • Securing an appointment.
  • Passing along specific information, as well as a recommendation.
  • Providing an alternative way to contact the decision-maker.
  • Sharing an insight into the decision-maker’s availability or needs.

Give Them Responsibility

By enlisting the gatekeeper’s help and soliciting their opinion or advice, you are involving them in the outcome. And the ideal outcome for them is that you make them look good for “finding” you and recognizing your potential value to the company.

If a gatekeeper has helped you out in any way, be sure and keep them in the loop as you make progress. For example, say: “Thanks for your help and if you don’t mind, I’m going to let you know when I do get a hold of her.” This will give the gatekeeper a stake in the results.

Download the FREE Improvised Sales Intelligence™️ Book of Play by Gina Trimarco to gain the tools, tactics, and techniques to become a more effective and agile communicator in spontaneous sales conversations.

About the author

Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen is the president of Performance Sales and Training , an international speaker…

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