Tips for Getting Through Gatekeepers

So, you want to get past more gatekeepers, huh?

Salespeople all over the world want to know the secret to getting past more gatekeepers. This one technique seemingly holds the key to success in sales, as if getting directly to the decision maker is all it takes to be successful.

Whilst this may be a little optimistic, improving your effectiveness with gatekeepers will enable you to speak with more decision makers, and this can never be a bad thing in sales.

But how do you get past gatekeepers?

First put yourself in their position. Did you know that the average gatekeeper takes over 300 calls per day? How many of those do you think are from salespeople like you?

As a result, their natural tendency is to say no. They are conditioned to get you off the phone as quickly as possible without offending… and sometimes the second condition is optional as I am sure you already know!

However, there are certain techniques that definitely work when looking to get around gatekeepers and speak to the decision maker. These may seem simple, but these were the responses from a survey I conducted with one group of frustrated salespeople. How many of these do you forget to use?

Ask Their Name

A person’s name is so important to them, but we often treat gatekeepers as is they are insignificant, only wanting to speak to Mr Smith in Development to tell him the great things our widget does versus the competition. Instead of being rude and ignoring the person on the other end of the phone, get their name and use it. Be polite, make a not of their name (in your CRM or however you track your sales) and be prepared to use it next time you call. You will stand out from the other people who are trying to bash their way through.

Make Someone Smile

I’m not suggesting you use your best joke as soon as the gatekeeper picks up the phone, but find a way to brighten someone’s day. Likeability is a key element of influence, and making someone smile will instantly get them on your side. Pay a compliment, notice their accent or remark on how happy they sound. You might be the only salesperson to get that gatekeeper to smile all day, and that will be something they remember.

Don’t Be Slick

If you are too perfect, you might sound a little too slick, and humans have an inherent distrust of something that seems a little too good to be true. Instead, don’t feel the need to be perfect. If you stumble over a few words, tell the gatekeeper someone must have switched out your normal coffee for decaffeinated. People like dealing with people, so be personable. And if you make a little mistake, just roll with it.


There will often be things going on in the background of your call that can help you build rapport with a gatekeeper. Do they have the same radio station playing in the background as you? Is their hold music the same as your doorbell? Is there something interesting happening that you can remark on? Don’t feel that the start of your call is always about you speaking as fast as possible. If there is something interesting going on, use it to break the ice.

Ask For Help

Instead of trying to command and control everything, why not hand over control of the call to the other person. Ask them for help finding the right person to talk with. Saying to them “if you were in my shoes, what would you do?” presupposes that the gatekeeper knows who you need to speak with, and if they are in a helpful mood, they may help you get around a lot of hurdles.