Gatekeepers, whether we love them or hate them, are a part of sales life. There is no magic pill as each gatekeeper is different and each situation demands a customized approach.

In Part 1 of this series, I outlined the first three strategies for getting past the gatekeeper and mentioned two important steps to take before you design your gatekeeper approach.

In this article, I will show you the remaining three strategies that emphasize creative ways for getting past the gatekeeper by going straight to the decision makers.

1. Utilize a manager or executive in your company. Set up a meeting between your manager or executive and one of the customer’s managers or executive level decision makers. The gatekeeper may believe you are going around them, but they will have nothing to complain about if you are bringing value to their organization through an executive relationship.

For example, in B2B technology sales, I know many sales reps that set up meetings between their VP of Marketing or VP of Engineering and the customer’s VP of Engineering or CTO. In these cases, the gatekeeper is usually a Commodity Manager, Buyer or similar role within the Operations organization.

Innovation drives technology companies, so engineers have more power in product decisions and a gatekeeper can rarely complain when you are adding value in that area by educating their engineering execs. Just make every effort to update the Operations person (or your equivalent gatekeeper) about your activities so they feel included, and if they are good at what they do, they will likely recognize your benefit. This example can be applied to several other industries.

2. Win in another business unit. When confronted by a strong gatekeeper, a great strategy is often to win in another business unit and bring your success story to the appropriate decision maker. This gives you a huge credibility boost with the unit where you are attempting to gain access, and is a way of side-stepping the gatekeeper’s block.

Don’t forget about your gatekeeper, though. Once you have built credibility and momentum, the gatekeeper is more likely to respond better to you and you can start to include them in your overall sales strategy.

3. Create a meeting directly with the decision maker. The ultimate goal anyway, right? There are many ways to do this, and I’ll list several below:

1. Set up a lunch presentation to “update the company’s executives on important new trends in their market” and bring in your Marketing brass to give the update.
2. Create a golf outing, dinner or boat cruise and get a speaker (one of your execs or an external keynote speaker) to add value to your prospects by speaking about a topic relevant to their market.
3. Attend a networking event where you know your decision maker will be present. Strike up a conversation and you might find common interests for which you can follow up with them by sending further information.
4. Go to LinkedIn and send the decision maker an “InMail” requesting a meeting (you will have to upgrade to a premium account if you have not already). Start by looking for common ground (look at their profile for clues), and then succinctly state your intention for the meeting and the value you plan to bring to his or her organization. Click here to learn how one gal used InMails to increase her response rate by 41 percent and get 6 new clients.
5. The following tactic worked for a sales rep at a large software company where 16 customers had blocked him for many years. He mailed a couple of those folding chairs (the ones you bring camping or to tailgate parties) directly to the decision makers with a note that said, “We’re just asking for a seat at the table.” That creative tactic got him 11 out of 16 meetings and he landed a few new deals!

There are other creative ways to get meetings with your customer’s decision makers, and in some cases, you will need to try multiple angles. Always remember that even if you’ve gone around the gatekeeper, they are still there and may feel snubbed if you’re not including them.

Make an effort to respectfully loop your gatekeeper back into the equation once you have gained momentum with the decision makers, and see if you can include their “win” into your sales strategy and go for the triple “win, win, win.” Ultimately, when it comes to getting to the decision maker, no matter how you do it, persistence is your friend.

“Never, never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill

Author's Bio: 

For over 15 years, Justin McSharry has worked with organizations in a variety of ways to make an impact. He founded EvoLeadership Academy from his passion for facilitating change in individuals and organizations who are ready to make a bigger impact in their business and with their stakeholders. Justin is a lifelong student of human potential and his multi-dimensional corporate background includes engineering, training and sales in the fast-paced and highly competitive Silicon Valley. He’s engineered multi-million dollar technology deals, facilitated and lead training, all while developing his peers through mentoring and coaching.

Justin brings a calming, realistic, and supportive presence to all of his engagements so that clients feel heard and inspired to take their next developmental leap. He’s happily married and enjoys practicing meditation, making music, and traveling.