10 tips: Getting past the Gatekeeper

10 tips: Getting past the Gatekeeper

Human Interaction (either a face-to-face meeting or a telephone call) is a vital part of B2B sales. Yet getting past the Gatekeeper that protects senior management is often the biggest obstacle to making an appointment.

It can be especially challenging to reach C-level (CEO, CFO, CMO, etc.) and their Boardroom colleagues. So here are my top 10 Tips for navigating around the Receptionist, PA and intermediate managers…

1. Bin the script, build a plan

Gatekeepers are adept at hearing a scripted tone in your voice, which always sounds like a sales call. Instead, plan how you will approach them and what you might say depending upon the range of responses you could get.

2. If you have a contact name, be confident

Give the impression you are known to the contact. Adopt a firm but polite tone. It will give the impression of someone senior who they ought to help not hinder.

3. Avoid using your company name

By not using your company name you can give the impression it’s a personal call.

4. Use a senior job title

Senior people, Directors or C-levels, are often transferred without being questioned by the gatekeeper.

5. Limit your answers, and don’t fill in the gaps

Limit your answers to a simple Yes or No if possible. Asking questions expectantly, or feeling the need to talk if there is a pause in the conversation, are giveaways that it’s a cold call.

6. Avoid closed questions

Don’t ask closed questions. Open questions require more than one-word answers and enable you to build a brief relationship with the gatekeeper.

7. Get the gatekeeper on your side

Never be rude to a gatekeeper. If they persist in not letting you through, simply ask “If you were me, how would you approach Mr XYZ? What’s the best way to get an audience?”

8. Don’t pitch the gatekeeper

No matter what happens, don’t pitch the gatekeeper. They are not the decision-maker, they don’t have the authority to say “Yes” but can easily say “No”. Furthermore, they may take it upon themselves to ‘sell’ your proposition to the target executive. They will never do as good a job as you and may ruin the likelihood of you ever getting a chance.

9. Ask for the assistant

If you cannot get through to C-level, ask for a manager or assistant further down the chain of command. Use LinkedIn to get their name. Start at the bottom and get transferred up.

10. Call the wrong number

If all else fails, change some of the last digits to the switchboard number. You may be able to get through to someone. Then apologise and ask to be transferred to the person you want.


For more information on getting past the gatekeeper and reaching C-level executives, please read my post titled ‘Don’t parachute into the Boardroom’.


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