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Getting Past the Gatekeeper

By: Joyce Hayne

It’s often frustrating when you’re trying to reach a decision-maker, but you’re prevented access by a gatekeeper. Senior executive assistants can be the trickiest, since their job is to protect their boss’s time. Therefore, you need to pre-sell her on why it’s worth the executive’s time to talk to you. Always be pleasant and respectful.  Senior executive assistants hold the key to your success.

If you’re still doing research to determine who the decision-maker is, when you reach the receptionist you need to confirm that you have found the correct person. A good opening statement is: “I’m looking for the person responsible for purchasing laundry equipment. That wouldn’t be Mr. Jones would it?” You’re always better to start higher up in the organization with a president’s name vs. a junior buyer’s name to be certain the person you’re talking to has buying authority.

Once you’ve confirmed the right contact, ask what the best time is to reach him. If he’s not currently available, then call back at the exact time you were told it would be best to reach him. By calling at that recommended time, you will start building a rapport and trust with the gatekeeper, who will then ensure she gives you accurate information. Be persistent and friendly and you’ll eventually get through. After a few attempts, you can even ask the assistant to book an appointment for you.