Turn Gatekeepers Into Escorts (Plus: Sales Team Meeting Idea)

Today’s blog is by Jill Myrick, CEO of Meeting to Win and an expert in building winning sales meetings.


Imagine… those currently keeping you from bringing solutions to decision makers actually setting up the meeting for you to do just that.  Seem like a dream?  It’s not…To do this, sales reps need to think differently about their gatekeepers. First of all, let’s define gatekeeper for the sake of this discussion.  A GATEKEEPER is anyone who is preventing or hindering you from working with a decision maker.  These people often take the form of a:

  1. receptionist,
  2. executive assistant,
  3. RFP committee,
  4. manager in charge of finding a vendor and so on.

To think differently about gatekeepers, consider the important job they do.  RFP committiees are doing the legwork of gathering information to help their company solve a problem or get a result. Executive Assistants are limiting the interruptions of a senior leader focused on his or her company’s key priorities.  An IT Director is using his or her expertise to compare requirements with capabilities before involving decision makers in the business decisions. 

 To salespeople who want access to those decision makers, gatekeepers can be seen as nuisances instead of part of an important part of the selling process.  If you are currently being hindered by gatekeepers, here is something to try.

  1. Consider their specific job and the business reasons they may be keeping you from the decision makers.
  2. Respect their position and the insider information a good relationship is sure to provide.
  3. Now, how can you address their needs in a way that will motivate them to escort you and your ideas to the decision makers?   Determine what criteria the gatekeeper needs to satisfy to move you to the decision makers.
  4. Then, share your desire to meet with those making and impacted by the buying decisions.  Let the gatekeeper know why (it’s got to be for their benefit, not yours) and ask how you can work together to get them comfortable and motivated to bring this solution to decision makers.  Figure out how to help them do their job and ultimately make them look great.
  5. Now you are working together and you are actually helping them succeed in their gatekeeper role.

Gatekeepers do serve a purpose and are not always easy to deal with.  They sometimes abuse their power, make poor decisions and often don’t seem to have the company’s best interest in mind.  Teach them how to bring great solutions to their company by partnering with them instead of trying to run them over.  You’ll be more efficient and enjoy the process more. 

Sales Team Meeting Idea:At your next sales team meeting, ask each team member to identify the gatekeepers in each of their pipeline opportunities.  Figure out the important role they play in the overall decision process.  Then, figure out how each rep can help them do their gatekeeper job more effectively so the deal can move forward to the real decision makers. At the end of your meeting, each rep should have a clear gatekeeper strategy for one deal in their pipeline.