5 Keys to Unlock the Gate – by Gary Polsky

In business, one of the first obstacles many salespeople encounter is the gatekeeper. This is the person who stands between you and your ideal contact—his boss. This gatekeeper can prevent you from ever making a direct connection with the decision-maker, from ever sharing information about your product or service and how you can serve them.

So, how do we unlock the gate?

1. Pull Don’t Push

Instead of constantly calling, pushing for a direct connect and ultimately annoying the gatekeeper, get in her good graces. I call it a “pull” strategy. Instead of trying to push past the blockades the gatekeeper puts in your way, pull the gatekeeper onto your side. Get to know them personally, their likes and dislikes. Woo them. Incorporate them into your entourage of Professional Intimate Relationships.  If they end up liking you, they are more likely to offer you access to the decision-maker and may even give you tips on how to deal with him.

2. Listen for Cues

Listen to what the gatekeeper says before you object. And when I say listen, I mean truly listen for what her objection is without trying to insert your own agenda.  Listen to what she is saying, but also watch for non-verbal cues. Experts say up to 70 percent of communication is unspoken. So be sure to watch the gatekeeper’s body posture and facial expressions and listen for tone of voice. Is what she is saying truly why the decision-maker will not meet with you? Being empathetic to the gatekeeper’s position will give you a lot of bonus points.

3. Ask for a Date

Instead of constantly calling, hoping you will catch your contact at a “good time,” be direct. Ask the gatekeeper what time is best, what form of contact is best. Does your target prospect like email or phone calls? Are they pop-in types or scheduled?  This honest and direct approach will alleviate the mounting frustration that builds when you constantly interrupt the gatekeeper.

4. Be Unique

Remember the gatekeeper deals with tens, or even hundreds, of “you”-types.  Help him help you by being memorable. Offer something different to drag him out of the everyday routine. Be true to yourself, while making it something that will also be interesting to the gatekeeper. And, if you were truly listening for his likes and dislikes, you should know what that will be. Not only will the gatekeeper appreciate the different approach, it will keep you front-of-mind when an appointment or phone time opens up.

5. Lighten the Mood

Whatever you do, you never want tension to creep into your relationship with the gatekeeper. One sure way not to get an appointment is to antagonize the person that keeps the schedule. Laughter lightens the mood and gives you a happy aura. When the gatekeeper enjoys your presence, even craves it, you have a much higher chance of getting an appointment with her boss.

Remember, the gatekeeper is just doing her job. Appreciate that and get to know her as a person and you will be on your way to meeting with the boss.


Gary W. Polsky has spent nearly 30 years in the healthcare industry—from managing home infusion sales, to running hospitals, to founding hospice-care companies in four states. This experience has cemented his belief in the importance of strategically building and leveraging mutually beneficial relationships to achieve growth and success. He is the author of Everything but the Sex: 5 Strategies to Create Professional Intimate Relationships. You can connect with Gary through his website apexlifestyledesign.com.