Gate-Keepers are the Key to Your Sales Success

Achieving success in sales is all about knowing who actually wields the hammer when it comes to making buying decisions. In some cases it is the purchasing manager, but in essence he or she may only be following purchasing specifications handed down from someone higher up the food chain. So if you are going to really show the true value your product or service offers, you need to be communicating with the person, who wrote the purchasing specification, or maybe you even need to be looking a little higher up the ladder and be communicating with the person, who handed the budget to the person who wrote the purchasing specifications.

As you can see, if you truly want to show the real value your product or service offers and not just compete on price and specification requirements, you should know that you need to reach as high up the corporate ladder as possible. So if you truly want to become a very successful sales professional, who deserves their expense account, someone who can show true value and maintain great margins, you must communicate with the person, who truly wields the hammer and can identify with the value you offer. That is basic selling 101 and should just make sense to any great sales professional.

The Challenge

The challenge though, is that, as you try to communicate with people higher and higher up the corporate ladder. The people you are trying to reach out to, have attended all the same sales courses you have, passed them with flying colours, and so they know all your tactics and have trained their trusted assistant to block your access at every turn. Your challenge is to figure out how to get past these crucial gatekeepers, so that you can get to the right person to show them the value you can bring.

Getting past the Gate Keeper

I know this is going to sound like basic sales 101 stuff, but the question here is not whether you know this, my question is, do you do this every time you communicate with a gatekeeper? There is one word we like to hear more than any other word. That word is our name. When calling to speak to any prospect, it is crucial that you get the name of the gatekeeper, before even trying to speak to the prospect. This is usually very easy to do. The main receptionist will gladly give you the gatekeeper’s name, before connecting you. By simply knowing the gatekeepers name, you are setting the tone for a more friendly conversation. When the call goes through to the gatekeeper, you can address him or her by name, thereby setting the stage for a pleasant one on one conversation.

Make the Gatekeeper feel important

It is crucial that you make the gatekeeper feel important, because they are. The senior person in the organisation, who appointed the gatekeeper, obviously has incredible faith in them and their ability to screen all the people, who get to see them. The best results I have achieved happen when I don’t even ask to speak with or meet the senior person at all. I simply speak to the gatekeeper as though they are the responsible person themselves. I say to them I would like to work with them regarding an appointment, report, study etc. depending on what I am trying to achieve with my call.

In short, when you are talking to the senior persons trusted assistant, you are indirectly communicating with the senior person themselves. You are effectively placing the gatekeeper in a position, where they feel more important and valued. The gatekeeper has been placed in that position because they deserve to be there. The senior person trusts their judgement and as such so should you. I simply ask them to use their judgement to assess whether I am making a reasonable request. In almost every case the gatekeeper sees the value I bring and they try to support me to meet with the senior person. My experience has shown me that working with gatekeepers in this inclusive fashion, instead of trying to run over them or trying to manoeuvre around them, yields far better results.  

Treat everyone with Dignity and Respect

In a nutshell treat everyone, from the main receptionist, to the gatekeeper and the senior person themselves with respect and know your true value proposition. This makes communicating your value proposition, so that everyone really understands it far easier. You can never get someone to see the value you bring, unless you are 100 % clear on the actual value you offer. I know this must sound crazy, but it astounds me to see how few sales people actually know the real value they offer and more importantly how to communicate this to their prospects and customers. Have you invested enough time to completely understand the value you bring?

Simple Ideas that work

  • You can use a few other simple ideas to support you, to build connection with the gatekeeper. Things like:
  • Hand written creative cards, thanking the gatekeeper for their valuable time, are quite effective at building connection.
  • Sending the gatekeeper their favourite flowers or plant shows them that they are important and valued.
  • Investing effort to find out what the gatekeepers favourite book is and then sending it, to them carefully wrapped in beautiful wrapping paper, shows the gatekeeper they matter.

Gatekeepers can be made to feel really important, if you drop by just to see them, to say thank you, not to see the senior person that time.

Discovering someone’s favourite flower, plant or book they love, takes a little extra effort, but it shows that you view them as valuable and worth the effort, needed to find these things out about them.

Always respect the gatekeeper’s power, treat them with dignity and acknowledge them wherever possible. An authentic “Thank You” goes a very long way towards building connection with people. Little things do not only mean a lot, they mean everything. Cast your line out and extend your network to include everyone, who can ultimately give you access to the person who wields the hammer and you will become a real sales champion. Access to every decision maker is only one gatekeeper away.

Andrew Horton

Andrew Horton

andrew horton



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