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Tips for dealing with gatekeepers


Guest articles > Tips for dealing with gatekeepers


by: Niall Devitt


Tip Number One: Mix up your approach

There are many conflicting opinions out there on the subject of how best to deal with gatekeepers. Even the foremost sales trainers rarely agree on how best to approach the subject. This suggests there are many effective techniques but there is no single right answer so you have got to be prepared to mix it up.

Tip Number Two: Never tell fibs to get past gatekeepers.

There is one approach however that I would like to advise against. Some so- called experts openly suggests that you use tactics such as saying that you are returning a call etc. In other words, they suggest that you lie, plain and simple. If I know one thing about selling is that it is no place in for lies no matter how white. Dishonestly in sales kills trust and building trust is a key task if one is develop relationships with prospects. This approach is stupid on so many levels not to mind non-professional. Steer well clear of any form of deceit when it comes selling.

Tip Number Three: Expect to be put through on every call

Something that I have noticed over the years is that not all sales people have an issue with gatekeepers. What is peculiar is that often these are sellers that are on the very same team that includes other sales people who do encounter as many problems getting past gatekeepers. This suggests that your frame of mind when calling plays a much bigger role that we may think. In other words some sellers expect to encounter problems so by default their tone and language invite objections.

Tip Number Four: When calling be confidant not apologetic

In describing their tone, language and tempo, a listener would use adjectives such as unconfident, tense, apologetic and desperate. If on the other hand one listened to a salesperson that does not expect to encounter problems, words such as confident, relaxed, friendly and direct could be used to describe their approach. In my opinion, this is a critical realisation that needs to be made to become successful.

Tip Number Five: Try to sound like the boss

Another factor that we sometimes fail to take into account is the mindset of the gatekeeper. More often the person at the other end of the line has been instructed not to put through sales calls. So for those first few introductory seconds, the gatekeeper is trying to work out if this is a sales call or not. Questions like “what’s this in connection with” or “Is he expecting your call” are asked. Have you noticed however that senior management rarely get the same treatment when calling? This is because they manage to sound important, speak slower and divulge little about the purpose of their call. Gatekeepers won’t risk probing someone that sounds important but rather they just put them through.

Tip Number Six: Find out the name of the person you need to talk to before you make the call

Try where possible to know the name of the person that you need to talk to and ask for them by first name. In other words say something like “Hi, Can you put me through to John in IT, thank you” Notice the difference between this and a more typical approach such as “ Hello, I’m sorry to disturb you but would it be possible to speak to your head of IT please?”

Tip Number Seven: Remember you don’t need to sell the gatekeeper

If asked what it is in connection with, remember that you are not trying to sell the receptionist so you don’t need to give a detailed answer “ Its in relation to your current IT security arrangements, thanks” rather than “ I was wondering if I could give John a demonstration of our new IT security software packages, Their very keenly priced and I really believe he would be interested in having a look for himself”

Tip Number Eight: Send some info in advance

Ok, so it’s highly unlikely that they are going to read it but that’s not really that important. The reason you send the info in the first place is to give you the salesperson a reason for calling, in others words it allows you an easy answer to the gatekeepers “what’s this in connection to?” “ I following up on the information I send over, thank you”

Tip Number Nine: Try not to sound like a salesperson

Remember the gatekeeper is probably under instruction to not put through sales calls so if you manage not to sound like a salesperson, there is a good chance you will be put through so sounding like a non-seller in this instance can be effective at actually getting through.

Tip Number Ten: Make an audio recording of yourself

Record your approach and listen. If you were the gatekeeper would you let this person on the recording through? Change the words, tone, pace until your happy with the way it sounds and flows. Ask others for their opinion. You might feel silly at first but it will be worth the effort in the long run.


Niall Devitt is a training consultant and business mentor. With over a decade of experience working as senior sales manager and trainer for some of Ireland’s top companies his expertise lies in creating and implementing performance driven sales programmes. Niall is regularly asked to contribute business articles and his advice has been published through the Irish National Press and broadcast on Radio. Visit his blog on business know-how at

Contributor: Niall Devitt

Published here on: 19-Aug-07

Classification: Sales


MSWord: Tips for dealing with gatekeepers.doc

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