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Get to Know the Gatekeeper


Get to Know the GatekeeperMost of us aren’t lucky enough to have gatekeepers or executive assistants any longer.  Even during a resurgent economy, dedicated admins seems to have gone the way of fax machines.  However, if you’re calling on an executive, then you may be in luck.

What is a gatekeeper?  A gatekeeper (even this has become an outdated term) is the person designated to keep a protective barrier or ‘screen’ around important or ultra-busy people. Their role is to only let those through the gate who actually have the combination to the lock, are on the ‘list’, or possess other pre-approved credentials.  Common titles or job descriptions for gatekeepers might include executive assistants, departmental administration or even the multi-tasking receptionist.

Sales People Report that One of Their Top Challenges is Accessing C-Suite Executives

According to a recent study by The Whale Hunters (, 49% of respondents said that ‘getting in to the executive level’ was in their top 3 challenges.  Sometimes it feels as if it’s literally impossible to secure a meeting with busy senior leaders.

Embracing the gatekeeper can be your hidden strategy to successfully unlock the code.  Why?  There are 3 reasons why gatekeepers rock;

  1. They generally answer their phone.
  2. They understand the priorities of those whom they support.
  3. They are normally authorized to make appointments or at least have access to key executive’s calendars.

Does it get any better that that???  Not really.  If you are professional, and have done all your required homework and treat the gatekeeper as you would any other important contact, then you will gain their trust.  In other words, you must do your pre-call planning to approach the gatekeeper in much the same way you would approach your best prospect.  Remember, the gatekeeper holds all the keys you need to finally secure this often elusive appointment.

Gatekeepers are also a great source of valuable ‘inside’ information, and should be seriously cultivated over time just as you would your best contacts.  With so many ‘pluses’ going for them, why wouldn’t we seek these indispensable people out?  If they really do hold the keys to the kingdom, then it is prudent to add them to your target list or relationship plan to begin the cultivation process.

Closing thought: What a departure from just a few years ago, when the lead sales strategy was to avoid or circumvent these gatekeepers at all costs. Times have changed and so has the value of the gatekeeper – in short, they rock!

Learn More about Executive Engagement:
The TOP Seller Advantage: Powerful Strategies to Build Long-Term Executive Relationships by Lisa D. Magnuson includes proven strategies to ensure sellers develop long lasting executive access. The C-suite executive perspectives at the end of each chapter reveal exactly how senior leaders view sales encounters and what would cause them to keep the door open for follow up meetings. Check it out on

Lisa Magnuson is an expert in corporate strategic sales and TOP Line Account™ revenue building. As a respected sales consultant and author, Lisa works with clients to build successful strategic sales programs that drive revenue from large new accounts and enable growth from existing high value customers. Learn more at


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