Getting Past the Gatekeeper (in Sales): 10 Pro Tips & Tactics

Shawn Casemore • No Comment
Posted: March 6, 2023

If you are in sales, you will eventually find yourself stuck getting past the gatekeeper.

Whether you have been in sales for a while or just getting started, you’ll eventually get blocked by a gatekeeper. The good news is that there are methods to get past the gatekeeper and keep your sale moving forward.

What is a Gatekeeper (in Sales)?

getting past the gatekeeper
A gatekeeper in business is an individual or individuals who see themselves as someone assigned to protect your buyer’s time.

Gatekeepers are often an unassigned role and can include positions such as:

  • Assistants
  • Secretaries
  • Employees


The key with any gatekeeper is to recognize that it’s a “power position.” Gatekeepers often enjoy the power and control they have to keep out “unwanted guests.” As a result of their role, they are also often highly appreciated by the individuals they protect.

For this reason, you must treat gatekeepers with respect.

Upsetting them or giving them the wrong impression about you or your company can lead to their sharing these insights with the buyer, making your job to connect with the prospect even more difficult.

Getting Past the Gatekeeper: Top 10 Tips (with Scripts)

scripts for getting past the gatekeeper in sales
So how do you pass the gatekeeper in sales?

Fortunately, there are several tactics you can use to move past gatekeepers. Let’s look at some of the most compelling examples of how to apply them.

1. Build a Relationship

Gatekeepers in business are human beings, meaning they enjoy social interactions.

Therefore, investing the time to get to know a gatekeeper increases your chances of building a relationship with trust, and the opportunity to learn intimate details about your buyer, their schedule, and their likes and dislikes.

To build a relationship, ask questions of the gatekeeper to demonstrate genuine interest.

Example Script for Relationship Building

“Hi John, it’s great to meet you. How long have you been working at XYZ company? How do you enjoy your role?”

2. Appeal to Their Self-Interest

According to Psychology Today, speaking about oneself and self-disclosure is gratifying.

When it comes to a sales gatekeeper, getting them to talk about themselves is a way to appeal to their self-interest. The more they speak about themselves, the more likely they will be interested in speaking with you.

building rapport with the gatekeeper

Similar to building a relationship, when appealing to the self-interest of your gatekeeper, ask questions that get the individual speaking about themselves.

Example Script to Encourage Self Disclosure

“Hi Susan, I saw your recent post on LinkedIn and wasn’t aware you were involved with the XYZ charity. I’ve been a donor for several years myself. Why did you first get involved with the organization?”

3. Go Around the Gatekeeper

You can always go around the gatekeeper if you need help getting past them. There are several methods to do this, which can include:

  • Determine the cell phone or extension of your buyer and call them directly.
  • Use LinkedIn or other social platforms to send them a direct message.
  • Send courier packages or direct mail with “confidential” marked on the package.

Example Scripts for Going Around the Gatekeeper

“Hi, Frank. I wanted to connect with you directly due to the sensitivity of the information I wanted to share.”

OR

“Hi Frank, there are some ideas I wanted to share; however, they are somewhat confidential. For this reason, I wanted to reach out directly.”

4. Get a Direct Referral

One of the best methods for getting past gatekeepers is to get a direct referral. There are several ways to do this:

  • Use LinkedIn to identify a shared connection, then ask for that connection for an introduction.
  • Ask an existing customer or client who is a likely peer of your buyer if they know them. If they do, ask for an introduction by email.
  • Ask an existing customer or client who is a peer of your buyer to mention their name when speaking with the buyer.

Example Script for Getting a Direct Referral

“Bob, I noticed you are connected with John at XYZ company on LinkedIn. I’ve been trying to reach John and wanted to ask if you’d be willing to make an introduction.”

5. Use Confident Language

The language you use significantly impacts how the gatekeeper perceives you.

use confident language when communicating with the gatekeeperIf you seem unsure of yourself or leave the impression that you don’t know the buyer, then chances are the gatekeeper will recognize you don’t know the buyer, and they’ll block you.

Example Scripts for Using Confident Language

“Good morning. Can I speak with John, please?”

OR

“Is John available? I need to speak to him for a moment?”

6. Drop a Recognizable Name

In some instances, using the name of a recognized mutual connection can move you past the gatekeeper. In this instance, use the name of someone else who works in the same company, such as another executive or employee.

Warning, however, do not use this name if you are unfamiliar with the other person, as the gatekeeper might follow up on your mention.

Example Script for Name Dropping

“Hi Susan, I was speaking with Bob in Engineering, and he suggested I should reach out to speak with Frank. Is he available for five minutes?”

7. Know Your Buyer

A good gatekeeper knows the buyer you are trying to reach.

Not being familiar with your buyer, nuances of their roles such as travel or time away from the office, needing to pronounce their name more precisely, or unfamiliar with their position within the company (or what the company does) all raise a red flag.

Do some research before contacting your buyer, including reviewing their LinkedIn profile, googling their name, or reviewing the company’s website.

Example Script for Knowing Your Buyer

“Morning. Jo-anne is probably traveling today, but I thought I’d try to reach her at the office. Is she available?”

8. Call a Different Department

If a gatekeeper remains a barrier, you might try calling another department within the company.

There is a risk that you will be redirected back to the gatekeeper; however, introducing a sense of urgency in reaching your buyer can help get you a direct connection.

Example Scripts for Calling Other Departments

“Hello, I was trying to reach Arun as I have an urgent message for him, but it appears I dialed the wrong extension. Can you connect me?”

OR

“I have a confidential message to share with Arun, but must I have the wrong extension? Can you connect me?”

9. Call Outside of Gatekeeper Hours

how to get past the C-suite gatekeeper
Gatekeepers often work regular hours, such as 8 to 4 or 9 to 5. However, your buyer is likely to be in a higher position, such as Director, Vice President, Owner, or C-Suite, have more responsibility and work longer hours.

As a result, you can often reach buyers directly if you connect with them early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Example Scripts for Calling During Off-Hours

“Hi John, I was just heading out the door and wanted to give you a quick call….”

OR

“John, I forgot to call you yesterday to update you on the XYZ. Can you discuss this? It should only take five minutes.”

10. Be Persistent

The most important strategy for moving past the gatekeeper is to be persistent. Don’t let one failed attempt to reach your buyer dissuade you from continuing to try and connect.

The key is to change up your approaches rather than continuously use the same method, such as repeatedly calling or emailing.

Example Scripts for Showing Persistence

“Hi Susan, I was trying to reach Bob again this morning as I didn’t hear back after my message from yesterday, and we must speak.”

OR

“Good morning Susan; how are you today? It’s Kevin calling again. Would John be in this morning? Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to connect.”

Your Sales Edge: Build Rapport With the Gatekeeper

If you are in sales, invariably, you will encounter gatekeepers. Using the “getting past the gatekeeper” scripts mentioned above will increase your chances of reaching your buyer directly.

build rapport with the gatekeeper

Additional Best Practices for How to Get Past the Gatekeeper:

  • Prepare for each attempt so that you are confident and ready for anything the gatekeeper throws at you.
  • If your first request is unsuccessful, keep notes handy with additional scripts or questions.
  • Track your progress in your CRM software to quickly refer to other dates you’ve attempted outreach.
  • Stand up if you are nervous, as it can keep blood flowing to your brain and allow you to remain focused on the call.

The most crucial point to remember is that your objective is to develop rapport with the gatekeeper to get through to the decision-maker.

Remember, you are here to help your buyer. Any gatekeeper standing in your way is another step in the sales process.

Stay calm, use the scripts and methods above, and you’ll increase your chances of getting past the gatekeeper.

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© Shawn Casemore 2023. All Rights Reserved.

getting past the gatekeeper

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