What is a Gatekeeper in marketing: definition and tips

Gatekeepers may sound like a nuisance, but they hold an integral part in keeping decision-makers from wasting their time on every call or offer that comes looking for them. It’s in your best interest to treat them with respect if you want to get in with their boss.

What is a gatekeeper in marketing?

A gatekeeper, most commonly a secretary, an executive assistant, or an associate to the decision-maker, is a person who can grant or block access to key decision-makers. In other words, they screen all calls, messages, and visits for their boss. 

In its turn, gatekeeper marketing is the act of adequately directing your messages or objectives to gatekeepers who then may allow or shut down admittance. Their job is to quickly analyze attempts to communicate with key decision-makers and forward only the information that has a good chance to help the business. 

What is a gatekeeper?
Source: Spotio

Keys for handling gatekeepers

A gatekeeper in business has two main goals: 

  • Keeping the wrong people away from the decision-maker 
  • Allowing the right people in to see the decision-maker

If your instinct is to be rude to a gatekeeper, know you are shooting yourself in the foot. These people are the ones who decide if you’re worth their boss’ time. Here are some pieces of advice:

Ask meaningful questions
The gatekeeper is your best friend if your goal is to meet with the decision-maker. They are likely aware of their boss’ pain points, and your solution may also benefit themselves. Talk to them as you would if they were the decision-maker and get their advice on the best way to approach their boss when it’s time.

Use social media
Creating a sense of familiarity through social media is easier than it has ever been. Social media gives you a chance to interact with the gatekeeper outside of calls. For example, if you see them share content relevant to their line of work or company, leave a comment thanking them for sharing or give your thoughts on the topic.

Find a mutual connection
This is a bit of an extension of using social media, given LinkedIn is a social site. Using it, see if you have any mutual friends with the gatekeeper who can “formally” introduce you to them. This helps establish credibility, while also showing you’re not just a solicitor. 

Be different

The main idea is that, to get past the gatekeeper, you need to differentiate yourself from other marketers and salespeople. You need to prove you’re the real thing, or you won’t make it past them. 

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Remember, the gatekeeper is not your enemy – they are simply doing their job. How they treat you is very much up to how you treat them. So if you want an appointment with their boss, you ask for one. Speak up and say something that will interest them.

How to get past the gatekeeper

Here are nine tips for getting past the gatekeeper:

  • The one who asks questions has control over the call
  • Ask who sets the company’s budgeting and policy
  • Don’t show gatekeepers your pitch
  • Keep your message original and under 30 seconds
  • Be professional and polite
  • Don’t shy away from using humor
  • Try scheduling a follow-up appointment or call
  • Know and stick to your objective (which is getting an appointment with a decision-maker)
  • Even if you get an initial “no,” keep trying if you believe that that specific decision-maker is important

Once you’re past the gatekeeper, you finally get the attention of the decision-maker. Have a script prepared for that too. You don’t want to put forth all that energy to get to them to be wasted on a bad or confusing pitch. The gatekeeper deemed you worth the decision-maker’s time and effort, so put time and effort into your pitch.

Wrapping it up

You’ll never be able to gain control over gatekeepers if you assume they have more authority over your value proposition than you do. Resist pitching to gatekeepers, stick to your objective, and understand that they can be excellent sources of valuable information. 

And finally, remember that gatekeepers can be an ally or obstacle to get to your prospect; it’s up to how you approach them. When you view them as an extension of the decision-maker, it throws off their complacency. Treating the gatekeeper like the decision-maker seems contradictory. So given this, you must convince them that you are worthwhile and not going to take “no” for an answer. This is how you get past the gate.

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