Get Past the Gatekeeper? Why?
In the world of sales, one character has forever held a mythic, intimidating, larger-than-life stature.
Their mere presence strikes fear in sales reps everywhere. Epic tomes have been written about grappling with this foreboding figure. Sales trainers have given countless seminars (and made millions of dollars) offering similar advice.
Encounter him or her on the street, and you wouldn’t feel threatened in the least. Yet salespeople have forever schemed how to get around, over, under or past this person.
You know who we’re talking about: “The Gatekeeper.”
Virtually every organization (unless very small) has gatekeepers. They’re its initial point of contact for outsiders. Call or visit, and this is the first person you encounter.
Larger organizations have different layers of gatekeepers. The initial gatekeeper often passes the inquiry to another person, a gatekeeper who works for (or with) a decisionmaker or authority figure within the organization.
Gatekeepers typically have very non-threatening titles: receptionist. Secretary. Administrative assistant. Who would be scared by these?
Well, apparently most salespeople, who expend unholy amounts of energy finding ways to sidestep them.
Why? Because the gatekeeper is viewed as an obstacle. They’re a (figuratively speaking) 250-pound linebacker preventing access to a first down, i.e. a conversation with a decisionmaker who the salesperson knows is dying to buy their product or service, if only they could just speak directly with them!
How do we know the gatekeeper is a wall to be scaled, a rock to be climbed, a hurdle to be leapt? Uh, we just do. It’s what salespeople have been taught forever. Ask any sales trainer. Pick up a sales book, and you’ll find it in the first three chapters.
This belief falls in the category of “conventional wisdom.” I’ve long taken issue with conventional wisdom. Rarely is it wise. Additionally, following the crowd (or convention) often takes you off a cliff with all the other lemmings.
Call me unconventional, but here goes: Traditional sales training about gatekeepers is all wrong. It couldn’t be more misguided. Keep following its directives, and watch your sales continue to falter.
Rather, you should strive to engage the gatekeeper. Create an ally. Make them want to help you. It’s not that difficult. In my upcoming posts, I’ll explain how.
No, the gatekeeper isn’t an obstacle to be pushed aside. They’re human beings, after all. Think about that cold mindset, of viewing them as an inanimate object.
Would you want to be treated this way? Ah, now you’re getting the picture.