Can’t Get Past the Gatekeeper? Get Them Onside Instead

by 28 Jul 2022Hints & Tips, Sales Strategy

Are you struggling to get past the gatekeeper? What if your mindset is the problem. Can you win the gatekeeper over instead?

Is there anything more intimidating to a cold caller than a truly formidable gatekeeper? Not when your sales training has stressed your first objective is to “get past the gatekeeper” so you can start the real sales process. But what if the challenge is all in your mind?

The gatekeeper is only an adversary when you make them one. And if your main purpose is to bypass them as quickly as possible, it’s no wonder you’re scared. Because that is a daunting task. Why would someone who doesn’t know you have to put any trust in you?

Getting past the gatekeeper shouldn't be the objective. Winning them over should be.

Getting that all-important opportunity to speak to a decision-maker has to start with changing your mindset. The gatekeeper is not your enemy. In fact, you can turn all gatekeepers into your biggest ally in the sales process with a little nurturing.

Want to get the gatekeeper on your side? Win them over

If you want to engage the gatekeeper in a meaningful relationship, you’re going to need to turn on the charm. We don’t suggest flirting. In fact, definitely don’t flirt. But showing the gatekeeper a little professional love is definitely the way forward. Here are our top tips to win over the person standing between you and your prospective new client.

Your first chance is your last chance

You only get one chance to make a first impression. It’s a cliche for a reason. It’s absolutely true. So, the first time you’re reaching out to a prospect and you encounter the gatekeeper, don’t mess up the opportunity. Or you won’t be getting another one.


Find out what it means to me. Rather, them. Nobody likes to be treated as if they are nothing but an inconvenience. And the gatekeeper is far from an inconvenience in their work environment. If they have the job of screening phone calls or emails, it’s because they garner respect and their opinion is valued by the decision-makers you want to talk to. Don’t give them a reason to have a negative one of you.

What’s in a name?

A lot, actually. Think not of them as “the gatekeeper”, but as a person. Take down their name, and use it. Fostering personal connections with people means getting personal. Feel-good hormones, like dopamine and serotonin, are released into your brain when you hear your name said aloud. Don’t overdo it, though. That’s just creepy.

Be prepared

Always be prepared before picking up the phone to reach out to a sales propsect.

Preparation is everything. Don’t be put on the spot and flounder. Know who you want to talk to, what you want to talk about, their job title, your common connections and why they should want to take your call before you dial.

If you don’t believe in you, why will they?

To be authentic in B2B sales, you need to genuinely believe that you can help the person you’re trying to talk to. Believe in yourself, believe in your product and believe you’re trying to benefit everyone, not just your sales figures.

Be nice

Seems obvious, but if you treat the gatekeeper like they are nothing but a barrier to get around, they will feel this energy. If you approach them with a friendly, warm, conversational tone, they will feel this energy. You can hear a smile. And you can hear a fake smile. So be friendly for real.

Shake it off

Telemarketing isn’t for wimps. You need thick skin. Seriously thick skin. Be patient, be persistent, keep your cool in the face of frustration and always, always be polite no matter what.

Hold your nerve

The number one rule of getting past the gatekeeper is, don’t act like you want to get past the gatekeeper. They will smell your fear. Be assertive and confident, keep a level tone of voice, steady but human, warm and courteous but purposeful. Also, definitely be a little presumptuous. It’s fine to act as though you’re on first-name terms with your target contact. “Hi Steve, this is Ed Walters. Is Janet available today please?”, sounds a lot more assertive than, “Could I possibly talk to Janet Philips if you don’t mind thanks every so much please.”

Do not ever sell to the gatekeeper

By all means, we encourage all salespeople to be upfront and honest about their intentions. This is because, in a B2B situation, it’s quite literally the decision maker’s job to listen to and consider opportunities that will benefit their business. You are valid, you deserve to be heard. But, not by the gatekeeper. Never EVER sell to the gatekeeper. If the question is, “What’s it regarding?” the answer should not be your sales pitch. We repeat, do not pitch the gatekeeper.

Have a hook

If you have something to follow up on and refer to, this really helps. Like a previous meeting, previous outreach or just demonstrating you’ve done your research. Establishing credibility is a telemarketing essential.

“We met at a trade show and I’m following up on a discussion.”

“I’m following up on an email.”

“I understand Janet handles your outreach strategy and think we could help.”

Engage and involve

Engage and involve the gatekeeper in conversation. Ask their opinion. And value it.

Don’t we all love to feel important? Like our opinion and input are valid and valued? The fastest way to a gatekeeper’s heart is not false flattery or wasting their time being overly friendly. It’s making them feel valued. Ask your gatekeeper about what they know, what they think or their opinion.

“Is there a particular time of day you think is best to catch Richard?”

“In your opinion, is Janet the right person to talk to about your telecoms services?”

“Who do you think I should be speaking to about your outreach marketing budget?”

We know our way around a gatekeeper

At Smartlead, we encounter more than our fair share of gatekeepers. Except, we don’t really think of them like that. We consider them trusted employees whose job it is to prioritise their executives’ time and diaries. And they do a brilliant job. We know this, and we respect it. The answer to finding a way to speak to key decision-makers is never about how to get past the “gatekeeper”, but about how to position yourself as someone the gatekeeper thinks is worthy of making time for. Someone they could pass on to their boss without it impacting their personal reputation.

If you’re still facing issues getting through to decision-makers, maybe your outreach strategy needs an overhaul. If you engage a skilled telemarketing partner to handle your outreach for you, the chances are you’ll never have to handle a gatekeeper again! Want to hear more? We’d love to chat. Give us a call – we promise we’ll take it.

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