A gatekeeper is a sales term for a person or contact that a sales representative needs to gain access to in order to reach their actual decision-maker or target within an organisation. The gatekeeper is almost always a lower-level staff member who is responsible for filtering appropriate requests, managing the flow of information, and generally serving as the first line of defence for the customer.
A gatekeeper is a special type of customer that must be handled differently than with your usual sales approach. They will want to be sure they are not wasting the decision maker’s time and they may be hesitant to put the customer in contact with someone they are not certain will be a good fit.
The goal of working with a gatekeeper is to establish a relationship, show them you have professional knowledge of their company’s goals, needs and challenges, be friendly, courteous and never aggressive. This will help you gain the gatekeeper’s trust, which is key in gaining access to the decision maker.
To properly handle a gatekeeper, it is important to understand the role they play in the sales cycle. The gatekeeper will act as a barrier between the customer and the decision maker. They do not want to bother the decision maker with an inappropriate sales pitch; they will filter out any unwanted calls or emails and only allow items of value through that could potentially benefit the customer.
When working with a gatekeeper, it is important to be professional, knowledgeable and confident. The gatekeeper is the first person you need to impress in order to get the attention of the decision maker. Start by introducing yourself and your company, then explain what you do and why you are contacting them. This will give you an opportunity to “pitch” your product or service and get the gatekeeper interested.
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Once you’ve captured the gatekeeper’s attention, it is important to focus on building the relationship. Ask questions about their needs, goals, and challenges so you can understand how you can use your product or service to help them accomplish those. Always be polite, friendly and professional during this process. Showing genuine interest will help to build relationships between you, the gatekeeper and the customer.
At this point, the gatekeeper may be comfortable introducing you to the decision maker. Make sure to thank the gatekeeper for their time and assistance. Before making contact with the decision maker, review your pitch and make sure it is relevant and valuable to the customer.
It is also important to keep in mind that the gatekeeper may not always be the right person to introduce you to the decision maker. If the gatekeeper does not feel comfortable making the introduction, they may ask you to refer them to someone higher up in the company. Pay attention to the gatekeeper’s feedback and always be prepared to introduce yourself to the decision maker if necessary.
Having the right attitude and approach when working with a gatekeeper is key to getting past them and to the decision maker. Always maintain professionalism, be friendly and courteous, understand the customer’s needs and challenges, and never be aggressive. Making these connections can be the difference between you reaching the decision maker or not.