“You shall not pass!!” roared Gandalf at the snarling, monstrous Balrog, raising his arms high and driving his sword and staff into the ground. The theater absolutely erupted in cheers.

Sales folks, on the other hand, really felt for the Balrog.

They too know the frustration of someone telling them that they cannot pass.

If not in those very words, then at least in spirit.

The dreaded gatekeeper is the bane of the salesperson’s existence. They’re the folks you have to convince before you can get to the actual decision makers.

We understand the need for gatekeepers, of course. Most decision makers are already incredibly busy. Without a filter in place, there’s no way they’d be able to attend everything.

But sometimes, gatekeepers don’t understand the business needs well enough to see how you could help the company. This happens mostly when gatekeepers are either not experienced enough in the company, or are administrative personnel whose focus isn’t on the more technical problems.

So do you just give up and fall into the endless abyss like the Balrog? No. Here are some of my preferred methods to handle gatekeepers.

  1. Get to know them - If you treat the gatekeeper as an obstruction and nothing more, you are unlikely to find an ally. You don’t have to be their best friend, but talking to them with respect goes a long way to building trust. 
  2. Do your research - If you can show the gatekeeper that you know about the company and its business, they are more likely to believe that you actually bring value to the table.
  3. Use social media - Alternatively, you could sideline the gatekeeper altogether by connecting with the decision maker directly on social media and building a rapport with them.
  4. Get a referral - If the gatekeeper is proving to be particularly unhelpful, you could look for a referral to ease your way. Common connections on social platforms are particularly good for this.
  5. Be honest - Don’t try to hide the fact that this is a cold call. Be honest about the purpose of your call if you want to build long-term trust.
  6. Be confident - If you don’t sound sure about the value of your call, how do you expect the gatekeeper to feel? 

Do these tips guarantee success? Nah. Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. But they will tip the scales in your favor. 

And you will definitely maybe not fall into a giant pit while a strange old man with a stick yells at you, so there’s that.

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