7 Tips for Getting Past the Gatekeeper


In sales, access is everything.

If you can’t get in front of the decision makers who can buy your product or service, you will never be a top-tiered sales person. Harshly put, those is sales who can’t reach decision makers usually don’t last long in the industry.

One of the greatest skills a salesperson can possess is a knack for befriending and getting past the gatekeeper. All top sales people possess this quality, especially those who are skilled at building long terms relationships.

Below are 7 tips to befriending the gatekeeper so he or she will WANT to get you in front of your target audience:

1. Smile

People who smile a lot appear friendlier and are considered more likeable. It’s a proven fact. Leading with a smile is the best way to disarm even the most stone-cold secretary. It’s hard to stay mad at someone when they’re smiling at you, even if they’re interrupting your day.

2. Remember their name

In his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says a person’s name is the most important word to them. As a salesperson, if you remember someone’s name, especially those at the lower levels of the org chart, you have separated yourself from 90% of the sales people who call on that company. Whether you put it into your CRM or have a different note taking system, make sure to write down and remember the name of the person at the front desk at every company you call on.

3. Ask for help

By nature, most people like to help others. My favorite way of engaging a receptionist at a business is to introduce myself, get their name, and then say, “I’m hoping you could help me out today.” As long as you do the first couple things right (and smile, or course), most people will genuinely be receptive to what you have to say.

4. Clearly state your purpose

The fastest way to get screened out is to be unprepared and sound like a nervous rambler. These gatekeepers see it all, and they can usually determine within 10 seconds of you opening your mouth if you are worth her boss’ time or not. Have the purpose of your visit scripted and practiced, and when the opportunity presents itself, deliver it confidently.

5. Sell them first

The late Jim Rohn used to say, “You never know who’s in the audience.” When you’re making your first visit into a business, you never know who’s who, nor do you know the potential influence everyone has. We’ve all heard the famous stories of the janitors who are best friends with CEOs of companies, so you must assume that everyone you encounter in the company has some level of decision-making power. When it comes to the gatekeeper, you don’t need to give them granular details on your product initially, but they should know what you have, how it may fit, and why it’s imperative she gets you in front of the top leaders.

6. Send a Thank You

Hand written thank you notes are really a lost art. It has become so easy to send an email or a social media message to someone, which is how most people follow up nowadays. Often times, they send the message before they’ve even left the parking lot of the company. Get some nice stationary and send thank you notes, especially to the people who get you in front of the key decision makers. Believe me, you’ll be one of the only sales people who does.

7. Keep in Touch

Make sure to keep in touch with the gatekeepers who help you, especially if you are in a specialized industry where people move around a lot. In medical sales, it’s not uncommon in a particular specialty to have hospital or office staff move to different facilities in the same town or area. Keeping connected with these people will make them feel appreciated, and it can also help you in the future. You can’t have enough friends in this world.

If you commit to following these 7 tips and acting on them, you will find yourself in a lot more meetings with the key decision makers you’re trying to meet with. Additionally, you’ll watch your sales results climb as well.

Please feel free to provide comments and/or your personal experience on this topic in the comments below.

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

About Bret Barrie

Husband & Father | Sales & Leadership Expert | Baseball Enthusiast
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