Please The Gatekeeper, Please The Boss

gatekeeper image
Please the gatekeeper and you will gain access to the boss.

There are always going to be times in business when you have to deal with gatekeepers, those that are preventing your sales teams from reaching the decision maker. A lot of sales people see these individuals as annoying or disruptive, a person to be cast aside unceremoniously. However, what sale agents don’t realise is that gatekeepers can be the most important people to influence.

What Is A Gatekeeper

Lots of small business owners aren’t sure what a gatekeeper is. The definition of the gatekeeper is the person (or element) that blocks you from speaking to a person of interest, normally the decision maker. The gatekeeper is usually someone who assists the decision maker, like their secretary or assistant. Therefore, their job is to receive all the incoming messages (via phone, email and post) and filter out those that aren’t important.

Getting yourself on the list of importance is therefore critical to your sales approach. So why are most young sales agents not willing to woo the gatekeeper?

Being Nice Impresses The Boss

Experienced sale agents have learnt the hard way with this. One in particular found himself in front of a particularly big client and was told that he was the only sales agent allowed to present because he had been so nice to the secretary.

The truth is, the gatekeeper is one of the most trusted people in target organisations. They see all the messages that come through, are assigned special tasks and are often given confidential information. This makes their opinion valuable to your target. So if you pick up the phone and are rude to the gatekeeper, then that image of you will be passed on to the potential client. However, if you demonstrate respect and understanding of the gatekeeper’s role, you will be given positive praise from the gatekeeper to their boss.

One of the best ways you can do this is to say you will be sending a note of appreciation to their boss and then doing so. Also, you should ask whether the gatekeeper should be included in all email correspondence and finally, be sure to tell the gatekeeper that you are impressed by their professionalism.

Personal Experiences

It is also important that you consider everyone you speak to as a potential decision maker. Too many times I’ve picked up the phone to a sales call to the request of being put through to me. When this happens, I always screen to see who it is that is calling and ascertain their purpose. This often pushes the sales agent to state where they are from – but more often than not to conceal the true purpose of the call.

I don’t intentionally mislead the sales agent when they call; all I am doing is screening them. It is the sales agent themselves who has made the judgement that I am the gatekeeper and not the decision maker.

When I ask them for clarification or their reason for calling, they are often rude. Now in my mind, I am thinking that if this business is willing to be rude to a member of my staff when they think I am not listening, what are they willing to do when none of my staff are around? Instantly I know that I don’t want to do business with that company.

In contrast, those that are polite, honest and forthcoming, they tend to be given some time. Even if I don’t have the need for their services right now – that doesn’t mean I might not in the future but speaking to businesses allows me to do early research to see who might be a good fit.


While outbound marketing is terribly ineffective and costly, some businesses still use it. During this process, you are likely to come across a gatekeeper. You may think they are insignificant, but the gatekeeper is just as important as the decision maker. They are an influencer and a resource that you can use to get better results from your online sales path.

How do you woo a gatekeeper? What are your tips for talking to a gatekeeper?

Let us know in the comments.