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The Gatekeeper in Sales Still Holds the Key
Blog / Sales Management / Aug 18, 2018 / Posted by Lisa Magnuson / 5175

The Gatekeeper in Sales Still Holds the Key


Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have a gatekeeper. What is a gatekeeper in sales? A gatekeeper (at the risk of using an outdated term) is the person designated to keep a protective barrier or ‘screen’ around important or ultra-busy people.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 traditional gatekeepers might include executive assistants, departmental administration or even the multitasking receptionist.

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

Stepping back for a moment, what is your biggest challenge as a seller today? Most salespeople or business owners who sell would certainly say having access to executive sponsors. Sometimes it feels as if it’s literally impossible to secure a meeting with some prospective clients. Sure, we can easily access their contact data and all the other information about them readily available on LinkedIn and other social media sites, but it’s really difficult to get them to respond.

While the rule of ‘3’ can still be somewhat effective; that is, contacting prospects in 3 different ways, at 3 different times, with 3 different approaches, it is not a failsafe strategy to secure an appointment. If the situation is dire, and we all have a few of those from time to time, embracing the gatekeeper can be your hidden strategy to successfully unlock the code. Why?

There are 3 reasons why gatekeepers still rock:

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

Does it get any better than 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 prospect. At this critical stage, the benefit lies in the fact that 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. The other unique thing about gatekeepers is that they tend to be more stable than other contacts that change jobs or change companies on a regular basis. Conversely, even if they do change employers, and if they remain in your territory or sphere of influence, your relationship can and should transition right along with them.

Top Line Tips by Lisa Magnuson

© 2018 Top Line Sales – All Rights Reserved.
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 just a matter of adding them to our target list or relationship plan to begin the cultivation process. Ring the Bell: In order to ‘Ring the bell’ with top line account wins, you must access your executive sponsor. Many times, the only way to accomplish this is through the gatekeeper.

Executive Sponsors
Invest in your executive selling efforts by giving your sellers the book that is guaranteed to enhance their sales performance.  The TOP Seller Advantage: Powerful Strategies to Build Long-Term Executive Relationships 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 at


About Author

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

Author's Publications on Amazon

This eBook reveals a proven strategic approach you can use with your current customers to increase your sales and create a long-term positive relationship.
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Are you looking for an edge to land that big contract or keep your largest customers secure? Discover proven techniques from sales leadership veteran, Lisa D. Magnuson, to cultivate executive relationships that will pay big dividends. Pair this with exclusive C-suite executive contributions that provide…
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This invaluable Playbook was designed for modern sales leaders who want to win big. Based on extensive research and interviews with 41 Sales VPs from various industries, it contains 16 key ‘Plays’ to exponentially grow revenues and drive leadership success.
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