Sales glossaryGatekeeper

What is a gatekeeper in sales?

Busy? Here's the short answer:

A "Gatekeeper" is a person, often an administrative assistant or similar, who controls access to higher-level executives in a company. In sales, getting on good terms with gatekeepers can help reach decision-makers and move the sales process forward.

What is a Gatekeeper?

In the context of sales, a "Gatekeeper" refers to a person within an organization who controls access to higher-level executives and decision-makers. Gatekeepers are often administrative assistants or individuals in similar roles who act as a barrier between sales professionals and key decision-makers. They play a crucial role in managing and prioritizing communication and can significantly impact the success of a salesperson's efforts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Gatekeepers control access to higher-level executives in a company.
  • Building a positive relationship with gatekeepers is essential for reaching decision-makers.
  • Understanding gatekeepers' roles and needs can help sales professionals navigate the sales process more effectively.

Why Gatekeepers Matter in Sales

Gatekeepers serve as the first line of defense for executives, protecting their time and attention from unsolicited or irrelevant inquiries. As a result, getting past the gatekeeper and establishing a positive relationship with them is crucial for sales professionals aiming to reach decision-makers.

1. Granting Access to Decision-Makers

Establishing rapport with gatekeepers can open the door to meaningful interactions with higher-level executives. When gatekeepers view a salesperson as respectful, knowledgeable, and trustworthy, they are more likely to facilitate access to decision-makers. On the other hand, a gatekeeper who perceives a salesperson as pushy or disrespectful may block their access altogether.

2. Gathering Valuable Insights

Gatekeepers possess valuable insights into the company's internal dynamics and decision-making processes. Building a good relationship with them allows sales professionals to gain information about the company's needs, pain points, and buying processes. This knowledge can inform the sales approach and increase the chances of success.

3. Improving Sales Efficiency

Navigating the sales process without understanding the gatekeeper's role can be time-consuming and inefficient. By engaging with gatekeepers effectively, sales professionals can streamline their efforts and focus on prospects with higher conversion potential.

Tips for Engaging with Gatekeepers

Effectively engaging with gatekeepers requires a thoughtful and respectful approach. Here are some tips for building positive relationships with gatekeepers:

1. Be Polite and Professional

The key to getting on good terms with gatekeepers is to be polite, respectful, and professional. Use their names, express gratitude for their assistance, and avoid pushy or aggressive behavior.

2. Understand Their Role

Take the time to understand the gatekeeper's role within the organization. Recognize that they are tasked with managing executives' schedules and priorities. Understanding their responsibilities can help you tailor your communication accordingly.

3. Provide Value

Show the gatekeeper that you offer something valuable to their organization. Share insights, resources, or industry trends that may benefit their executives. Demonstrating value can enhance your credibility and make the gatekeeper more willing to facilitate access.

Real-Life Example of Engaging with a Gatekeeper

Let's consider a real-life example to illustrate how engaging with a gatekeeper can lead to sales success:

Sales Professional: Sarah

Prospect Company: XYZ Enterprises

Gatekeeper: Emily (Administrative Assistant to the CEO)

Sarah wants to reach the CEO of XYZ Enterprises to pitch her software solution. However, she knows that getting through to the CEO directly is challenging due to the company's strict gatekeeping protocols. Instead of trying to bypass Emily, Sarah decides to engage with her positively.

She begins by introducing herself to Emily and expressing her admiration for the company's recent achievements. Sarah takes the time to understand Emily's responsibilities and challenges in managing the CEO's busy schedule.

Recognizing that Emily values time-saving solutions, Sarah shares a helpful industry report on optimizing executive time. She also offers a brief overview of her software's potential benefits for XYZ Enterprises.

Impressed by Sarah's professionalism and valuable insights, Emily decides to schedule a short introductory call between Sarah and the CEO.

As a result of her positive engagement with Emily, Sarah gains access to the CEO and has the opportunity to present her software solution directly. This engagement with the gatekeeper proves instrumental in moving the sales process forward and establishing a meaningful connection with the decision-maker.


Q: How can I overcome gatekeeper resistance?

A: Building trust and demonstrating respect are key to overcoming gatekeeper resistance. Avoid being pushy or aggressive and focus on providing value and relevance to the gatekeeper and their organization.

Q: Can gatekeepers influence purchase decisions?

A: While gatekeepers typically don't make the final purchase decision, they can influence it by recommending or blocking access to higher-level executives. Building a positive relationship with gatekeepers can increase the likelihood of getting your pitch in front of decision-makers.

Q: How can I stay on the gatekeeper's good side?

A: Stay on the gatekeeper's good side by consistently showing respect, being polite, and providing value. Avoid bombarding them with excessive follow-ups and respect their time and priorities.

In conclusion, gatekeepers play a pivotal role in sales by controlling access to decision-makers. Establishing positive relationships with gatekeepers is essential for reaching higher-level executives and moving the sales process forward. By understanding their roles, being respectful, and providing value, sales professionals can successfully engage with gatekeepers and enhance their chances of sales success.

Related terms...

Decision Maker

The decision maker is the individual with the authority to make final purchasing choices and decisions within an organization. Identifying and engaging with the decision maker is crucial, as they have the ability to approve or reject a purchase.

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Demand generation

Demand Generation is the marketing strategies and activities aimed at creating demand (awareness and interest) for a product or service among potential customers.

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A Demo is a presentation of a product or service offered by a salesperson, often an Account Executive, to help a prospect better understand how the product and meet their specific needs and solve their problems.

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All terms

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