The gatekeepers in sales are the people who, if you’re in the business of selling something, stand between you and the person who issues the order.
That’s not to say you should view them as a barrier, they’re more like a filter. You could be talking about a manager’s personal assistant, a purchasing or procurement department, or even a receptionist.
Gatekeepers are not enemies
Many sales people see them as the enemy. That’s a mistake. Top business consultant Stephen J. Harvill tells the story of TC, a financial services wholesaler. The top seller in his company, TC’s routine was to get to know all the people who work for his clients who could possibly make it easier for him to get access to the boss.
Look after the gatekeepers
He makes sure he remembers all their birthdays, what their kids are up to, where they’re going on holiday, that kind of thing. He keeps simple records at his office and scrolls through them regularly to make sure he never forgets to send a birthday greeting or a get-well-soon message.
When faced with one really tough challenge, TC decided he’d treat the key people to a pizza lunch once a week. He negotiated a bulk rate with a local restaurant and had them deliver pizza every Wednesday.
Needless to say, this caught on, TC’s lunches became legendary and the pizza place buzzed with new customers too. Sometimes, TC orders an extra pizza and drops in to eat with the staff.
It costs a few dollars a month but the business TC has gained makes it money well spent.
All it takes is to turn the picture around and, where you saw obstacles to your selling efforts before, now you can see a whole team of supporters who are rooting for you on the inside.