To Get Past More Gatekeepers, Just Get In The Gate

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

old fence and privateThe Gatekeeper; that secretary, receptionist or otherwise, frontline person whose job, it seems, is to make your life as a professional sales person, miserable.

Yes, a good gatekeeper (GK) can indeed cause havoc and prevent you from getting to the decision maker (DM). Of course, there are ways to get past these “guardians of the gold,” and you can find many of those techniques here at MTD Sales Training.

However, the following is more of an idea, a way of thinking about getting AROUND GKs rather than getting past them.

Stopped at the Gate
The primary reason the GK halts you at the gate is that the person you are attempting to contact is someone that needs a GK to help manage his or her time. The DM you are trying to reach get calls from sales people constantly and therefore needs someone to screen the calls.

When you call and ask for the DM, the GK knows what to do. In such cases where you do not even have a name for the DM, and you are trying to reach someone in a DM position, the GK also springs into position.

However, does every person and every department have a GK to prevent calls from getting through? Of course not. In fact, for some departments and with some personnel, the set up is the reverse; they WANT to speak to ANYONE and EVERYONE who calls, like sales and customer service people. There is usually no screening for these calls.

A Different Gate
So, am I saying that you should call and pretend to be a potential customer to get into the company? NO. What I am saying is that you need to look for a different door. Depending on the type of prospect you call on, this can be a wide variety of other possible contacts or departments.

Here is one example:

Who’s Who?
First, find a name of anyone in the company in almost any department. This is quite easy to do on LinkedIn, Facebook or virtually anywhere on the internet. Now that you have the name of someone in any department, make a call.

Your objective is simply to get into the company, to get past the initial gate. Once you are into the telephone system, it becomes much easier to obtain information from other employees in the company and even to get them to pass you through to the DM.

For example, let us say your objective is to reach the Human Resources Director. However, you have the name of a person in the accounting department. You call and ask for that person:

GK: “ABC Development…may I help you?”

Sales Person: “Yes, Sharon Ames in accounting.”

GK: “Hold please…”
(Since Sharon in accounting does not get sales calls and many of the company’s customers often contact Sharon, there is no screen. The GK puts you through.)

Accounting: “Accounting, this is Sharon.”

Sales Person: “Yes, Sharon…I’m sorry. I am trying to reach Steve Williams, in HR?”

“Sharon…I’m sorry. I have the wrong department. I’m trying to reach…uh…uh…the HR Director…what’s the name?”

Accounting: “You mean, Steve Williams?”

Sales Person: “Yes, yes…can you connect me?”

Pick a Door, Any Door
Of course, that is just a generic example of the many ways this can play out. The key though, is just getting in the door—any door.

Remember that the people you will speak to are not trained gatekeepers! Often these other employees are ready and willing to help you, especially those who are not in a position to make buying decisions.

So to get past more gatekeepers, just get in the gate.

Happy Selling


Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Sales Blog | Image courtesy of Simon Howden at

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Originally published: 12 July, 2012