Most sellers regard gatekeepers as a threat, or an obstacle to be overcome. They prevent you from getting to the decision maker, blocking your access at every turn. Some even screen their boss’ email so they block you there too.
There is also no shortage of writings and opinions about how to “work” gatekeepers to get where you want to go. Personally, I have always found these techniques, frankly, manipulative and prone to backfire. I also find them a bit demeaning to the gatekeepers, so I’d like to change the paradigm here.
First, assistants are highly skilled important assets to their bosses and companies. They do WAY more than just keep the sales riff raff at bay. Many, in fact, are highly empowered by their boss and their company. The work they do is critical to their boss’ success and the success of the department and company. (I bet some of them make even make more than you do, hotshot.)
So the first thing you must do is to acknowledge and recognize their professional status. Treat them, in every way, as if you are talking with their boss. Empathize genuinely with the myriad of things they have on their plate and they will with you. Establishing a cooperative professional relationship with your decider’s gatekeeper empowers the both of you.
Inane sweet-talking presents you as a manipulator, insincere and not someone their boss would want to partner with, so this WILL get you blocked. Try to trick them with BS like “your boss asked me to call her today, so would you just put me through” won’t work either.
Throw out those gatekeeper tricks and try the non-trick: respect. A key part of their role is HELPING their boss to be more productive and successful. Approached as a fellow professional, you will find they can be very willing to help you, too. Sometimes, I don’t even call my client or decision maker, I call their assistant to get or convey the information I need.
Sometimes, they can even function as YOUR assistant, too. Wow, what a concept, huh?