Gatekeepers are probably the No. 1 source of insomnia among sales professionals.
A gatekeeper is anyone who keeps you from executing your sales strategy and getting where you want to go. Some salespeople try to go around or over gatekeepers. Outstanding salespeople learn how to work with them.
Here’s a six-step process that will help you get past gatekeepers:
- Assess the risk and opportunity.Ask yourself what you can gain or lose if you challenge the gatekeeper. On the plus side is the opportunity to see a decision-maker and open a new account. The negatives include the possibility of making the gatekeeper angry and losing the business. Remember, the gatekeeper wants to block you. Take it personally. Be persistent. Often you can wear down a block and get to the decision-maker.
- Understand the gatekeeper’s motivation.Some gatekeepers feel they are doing their job when they protect a decision-maker’s time by blocking salespeople. A few gatekeepers are control freaks who may feel threatened by your contact with higher ranking executives. Some feel that you might make a bad impression on a decision-maker and hurt their reputation within the company. Other gatekeepers prefer the status quo, staying with a present supplier. The most difficult gatekeepers are the ones who don’t understand the value you bring, so they refuse to put you in front of a decision-maker.
- Assume you can’t be blocked.Gatekeepers may be insecure about their role, their position and their strength within the organization. When confronted by a secure and positive salesperson, they may be reluctant to set up a block. The key is for a salesperson to communicate, “I can’t be blocked. I sell value. I sell solutions and nobody can put me in a box.” When you’re positive and assertive, it’s difficult for others to block you.
- Involve the gatekeeper in the process.Try inviting the gatekeeper to review the presentation you’ll be making to the decision-maker. By participating in the process, some gatekeepers go from opponent to advocate. Solicit their insight and advice. Share with them the process you’ve gone through, and ask for their insights regarding your strategy with the decision-maker.
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