Gatekeepers As Friends

In the sales process, the approach is everything.  The goal of the sales process is to get in front of  the person who can say, “Yes.”  This is often the owner or an executive of a business.  If the decision maker is not in the relevant conversation, then it is pure wasted effort to share your value proposition and ask for an order.

Often times, there is a gatekeeper which assesses your value proposition and influences the true decision maker.  Instead of seeing the gatekeeper as a threat, think about how to make them a friend.  Making friends creates opportunities.  Friendship is also a two-way street.  It means that each person in the relationship is seeking to benefit the other.

Common gatekeepers are:

  • Administrative Assistants
  • Office Managers
  • Managers
  • End Users

The decision maker often has an owner’s mindset.  They are thinking about things like:

“How do I grow my sales?”

“How do I increase productivity?”

“What new opportunities exist for my product?”

“Where can I find talent?”

These are not the questions the gatekeeper necessarily cares about.  They care about questions like:

“How can my work be easier?”

“How do I get recognition?”

“How do I get rewarded?”

If you are not addressing the unspoken questions of the gatekeeper and merely talking in the language of the decision maker, you lose.  You are not giving the person what they truly want.  Here are some approaches to help frame the discussion with a gatekeeper:

  • Speak in terms of them, not you.  “Cheryl, I believe that having this new program will help you have a lot less headaches.”  Or “Jim, you will have a clear leadership role among your peers by implementing this system.”
  • Bring thoughtful and apt gifts which would be highly valued.  Take $50 and think creatively to win the meeting with the decision maker by creating a memorable gift experience with the gatekeeper.  It is an investment and it is making friends.
  • If the gatekeeper has children, make a personal connection and bring children’s books that are personally signed.

It takes thinking about the other person and what they truly care about.  Thinking before acting will be much more strategic.

The goal with a gatekeeper is to have them bring you to a meeting where you can talk in terms of the value proposition to the decision maker.  Give each person in the sales process what they want.  It’s the best way to get what you want.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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