You Need To Know This About Today’s Gatekeeper

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

If you still view gatekeepers as annoying, low-level, annoying pawns whose mission in life is to do nothing but waste your time, cost you money and make your life miserable, then I have news for you.

The fact is that today’s modern gatekeeper (GK) is an educated, highly trained, sophisticated and sales savvy professional, who often has power and authority. Misunderstanding, and worst yet, UNDERESTIMATING these modern-day guardians of the gold will cost you much more than the tough screens you face will.

Here are three important things you need to realize and keep in mind about today’s gatekeepers (GK).

#1 – Today’s GK is Smart
In the past, the GK may have been someone whose job it was to simply answer the telephone and do some rudimentary typing, or the stereotypical “Gal Friday.” However, most GKs today are collage educated skilled professionals. Also, the modern GK usually has worked with the company for a long time and held other positions. Many GKs began their careers in customer service or making outgoing telephone cold calls.

In addition, the modern GK has often dealt with so many sales people, that they have become familiar with and can see right through all of the slip shod approaches and tricks. Technically, the modern GK has more cold calling experience than the sales people who call. One high-level GK can receive dozens of calls for each decision maker (DM) they in a department, which can often be many. A sharp GK may deal with 50 or 100 calls a day or even more.

#2 – Today’s GK Has Some Authority
Understand that sometimes, the GK you are speaking to on your initial cold call, could actually be the first-level DM in the sales process. When considering a large purchase, often a busy DM will assign the beginning legwork to his or her personal assistant who is often the GK.

The GK’s job is to narrow down the list of potential suppliers by gathering information, investigating the company’s history and evaluating the company’s sales practices and such. Even if the GK has no direct authority, a negative or positive report from the GK to the DM can make or break the sale.

Therefore, although the main DM may decide if they will do business with you are not; often the GK decides if you can even get to that point.

#3 – Today’s GKs are Public Relations People
Modern business understands that image is everything and that anyone can be a potential customer. Therefore, businesses today try to avoid alienating or dismissing anyone. Today’s GKs act as PR people protecting the image of their DM and company.

Years ago, the sales person would face a harsh, direct, even rude wall of resistance when trying to reach the DM. Today’s GK however, erects a subtle, often invisible barrier that is far more deadly. The most sophisticated screen does not appear to be a screen at all. In fact, a skilled GK can conceal a screen so well that the sales person actually believes the GK is trying to help him or her reach the DM.

In short, do not underestimate or take for granted today’s GK. Understand them. Respect them.

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Digital Art at

450 sales questions free report


Originally published: 18 July, 2012

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