Getting Past the Irrepressible Gatekeeper – There is Money to be Made!

The Gatekeeper

As a sales professional in B2B sales the first significant milestone in the sales process is getting past the Gatekeeper. This might not be an easy process, but the truth is you have limited sales possibilities until you master getting past, or in some cases around this individual.  Let’s spend some time discussing some tips on how to get you past the gatekeeper.


Working with the Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper’s role is simply to screen calls and visitors.  As you know the calls are screened to allow his/her boss to be efficient and focused. You and I both know that one of the items that will make increase efficiency and effectiveness is your product or service!

Chances are you may have received some training in how to do this, or have been doing it long enough that you have your own techniques, but this general refresher cannot harm you.

Here are some tips in regard to getting past the gatekeeper, keeping in mind that sometimes getting past the gatekeeper is simply getting around the gatekeeper.

Getting past the Gatekeeper:

  • Befriend the Gatekeeper – A vast majority of Gatekeepers are helpful professionals.  They are doing their job.  They should be treated well.  Be personable but not phony.  You may find an ally here.
  • Do not send anything in writing – Many Gatekeepers will ask you to send information.  What do you think happens to this information once sent?  Advise that the information you send is based on the needs of the account.  Let the Gatekeeper know that you need to talk with that buyer to discuss what is needed.
  • Keep it vague – Remain vague, as you do not want the Gatekeeper making decisions as to the worth of your product or service.
  • Don’t settle for another contact – Chances are you will never talk to the decision maker after electing to talk to a surrogate.
  • Always use the buyer’s first name – Familiarity is important.  Use the first name if you know that his/her first name is used.
  • Call back when the gatekeeper says to call – This is important even if you don’t get through.  Remind the Gatekeeper of this when you call.
  • Agree to early appointments – Offer for an early appointment (telephone or in person).
  • Drop Names – This can give credibility. “I work with ABC Company across the street.
  • Use Referrals – Referrals build credibility if appropriate.  “John Johnson of ABC Company next door requested I call Mr. Jones, and I am doing it.”
  • Practice all Scenarios and be prepared for each call – Be prepared knowing your responses to the common objections.  It is projected that the gatekeeper knows 3-4 objections, and readily uses at least 2 objections.  Anticipate the objections.
  • Follow-Up is a must – You must track the conversations with notes and follow-up.  Don’t miss an opportunity.
  • Never show frustration – Your 10th call should have the same tone as your first.  Display no rudeness or sarcasm
  • Never pose as someone you are not – You are a sales professional, not the IRS, Police, or a relative.

Another Approach – Getting Around the Gatekeeper

Sometimes you cannot convince the Gatekeeper of the importance of your visit.  If that is so, you might need to be resourceful.  I am not a total advocate of all of these, yet you may need to try some different measures.

  • Call during the lunch hour – There is a good possibility that the Gatekeeper will be out and you will talk to a ‘stand-in’ who is easier with information.
  • Call Early or Late - This may get you through to the buyer without interference from the gatekeeper.  Many buyers are in the office as early at 7:00A.
  • ‘Misdirection’ - Call one number different than your buyer (Gatekeepers number 445-5858 so dial 445-5857) When you get the wrong number, say which number you dialed and who you want to speak to. In many cases they will connect you to the buyer, as it will look as if the call is from another department, not the outside.
  • Ask the Operator for accounts receivable or the mailroom - They are not trained to screen calls.  Once you get that department, tell the person on the phone that you want to speak to ‘John Buyer’, and they will try to connect you.  Same principle as above.
  • Always ask for the extension – When you do get someone to attempt to connect you make sure to ask for the extension “so you do not have to bother anyone again!”  This should be a habit.
  • Listen well to the voicemail message - Note the return date, any alternative contacts, and remember you don’t have to leave a message.

You can make it to the buyer but need to be creative and professional. There is no way to be successful until you hone these skills.  Keep good notes and always know the name of person that you are talking to.  Remember the Gatekeeper is a person who desires respect for his/her position.

Be Memorable

Imagine being in a job where people who are supposed to be professionals treat you rudely and with dispatch when you are doing your job?  That is a reality in the Gatekeeper’s role.  Make a positive impression and be personable. They will remember you.  Your treatment of the person in this role will make the difference.  If it does not work, you still must accomplish your mission, and will have to consider Getting Around the Gatekeeper.

Someone will get through at some point, and your hope is for it to be you. Know the techniques and give it your best shot.  Remember that it is your first milestone in this important customer relationship.

Never give up!  Thanks for reading.  We look forward to your comments. You can reach me at

Your Guide to Finding Prospects in a Seminar!

Prospecting with a Seminar

If you are in B2B, and work in a type of business where sourcing prospects is necessary and essential, then it is always a challenge to find the qualified prospects.  It is even more difficult when you are Black. Prospecting is always a challenge, and you have become accustomed to dealing with it.


I think one of the best ways of finding prospects that are willing and able is to bring the prospects to you.  Now, that is not as simple as it sounds.  It also means that you need to have a “hook”.  This hook will real them in so that you can spend social time with them.  In many cases, that is all you need to win them over.

I think that devising a strategy is important.  I am going to talk about a strategy that will work if used effectively.  This strategy will not totally replace telephone prospecting; yet will work if you know the names of buyers and some of their concerns or interest.

As was discussed in Black Sales Journal 2/21, Networking for the Black Sales Professional, networking is a powerful way to bring in prospects.  Today I want to focus on seminars, when done as networking, and the benefits of doing it correctly.

Sometimes you need some help to pull the prospect in.  This ‘hook’ can be a speaker, some libations, some valuable late-breaking information, or all of these items.  The hook is seldom if ever free, yet with some light analysis, you can determine a payback point, even if you don’t want to use quantitative analysis.

A Simple Example

Lets start with an example of a meeting that I’ve done before.  You want to get prospects of like nature together to sell them ‘widgets’.  They are all involved in the business of transportation services, and would all make good clients for your product.  They are from the same geographic area, and have many of the same concerns.

You engage a local expert, politician, or activist to speak to the group regarding changes in legislation, or regulation.  The cost will most likely be free, and the group can hear the expert talk on these issues at no charge.  Now, where you score is registration, where you get as much useful information as you can from each invitee, but also from casual interaction during the cocktail or social (this sounds better) hour.  Where you, as the vendor of your product or service gets an opportunity to speak to as many of the business owners as you can regarding your services, and who you would like to sell to them.

The Positive Results:

  • A database of serious prospects to sell to.
  • The movement of many ‘suspects’ to prospect.  Keeping in mind that you always knew they were there, you lock them in when you “touch” them.
  • Notoriety as the person that got valuable information into their hands.
  • They appreciate a professional showing interest and forethought about their industry
  • You benefit from the efficiency of having them all together in the same place for the solicitation effort.

The Challenges:

  • Making sure that you ‘touch’ each prospect.
  • Building your rapport while working the crowd
  • Financial issues – Those cocktails are not free
  • Doing solid follow-up

There are challenges in everything that we do, and these are surmountable.

Make It Even Better

Using the same example above, you team with another sales professional in an industry that complements, not competes with yours.  Technology gives us an opportunity to consistently teach, train, and explain. The other sales professional markets a technology product for the transportation industry, and you provide a service to the transportation industry.  By teaming up as sales professionals you are able to do the following:

  • Share prospect bases, in turn broadening your reach and increasing the penetration for the other sales professional as well.
  • Split expenses which creates efficiency.
  • More effectively cover the crowd

In this process, your objective is to meet as many prospects as you possibly can.  This objective can be realized easily if done correctly.  Costs generated by these activities should be monitored to determine:

  • The cost per event in total
  • The cost per prospect for the event
  • The number of converted prospects (prospects to customers)
  • The average amount of revenue generated in say 6 months to a year from the activity
  • The total amount of revenue generated by the activity

Sharing the information about these metrics with the other sales professional allows you to determine effectiveness.  These can be done for any range of products.  Finding an individual who sells a complementary product is simple and splitting costs is efficient.

A Couple of Tips

These events can definitely be revenue generating, yet a couple of sales tips will help you:

  • It does neither you, nor another sales professional any good to have prospects standing in a corner sipping your liquor while they converse.  As a matter of fact, it will only cost you money.  With this in mind, I would suggest that you, depending on the size of your group, have ample company personnel (inside sales assistants, sales managers, etc) to help you in corralling all of the prospects you can touch.
  • Many of these people may know each other as they are in the same industry.  They will tend to gather and talk about industry issues.   A scheme or game where they have to mingle would be good.  Consider having them get a token from any meeting sponsor that is there.  It would make them eligible for a good door prize.  This can go a long way to keeping them moving and mixing.

A big key is to make sure that you keep a good database for your use, or to share with the other sales professional(s) in attendance.  You will be amazed as to how quickly the night will go while you are making sure you meet everyone.  Remember, it is your social hour; you deserve to meet them all.

Good Hunting.  We enjoy your Comments. You can reach me at