The Key to the Gate

This guide by EksAyn Aaron Anderson is very practical and noteworthy to emulate.

For most of the CEOs, gatekeepers like personal secretaries and receptionists guard access. It is their job to keep those barriers and filter who is worthy of the decision maker’s time. With the gatekeeper, your goal is to positively differentiate yourself. While the gatekeeper holds the key to gate and then beyond to the decision maker. You need to leave a positive, memorable impression that lets you stand out from all other salespeople that contact him each day. The distinguishing factors come when you act with solid principles: treat everyone with respect and as a friend, act with integrity, and be genuine and gracious. Some of the principles listed here:

Aim High:
Water flows downhill-so does influence. Sell to the people who can actually make decisions: Research and find the real decision maker and the gatekeepers

It’s a Process and not an event:
Getting an appointment is not an event, it is a process and you may or may not get the appointment at first call or after few rejections, the key is to try al possible ways

Treat Gatekeepers like Gold:
Acknowledging and recognizing a gatekeepers effectively is a three step process:

  1. Find something that you can honestly and sincerely compliment her on
  2. Write a note to the decision maker or boss
  3. Copy the gatekeeper on the email
    The principle of recognizing others is timeless. Again be sincere and honest. Most gatekeepers of high –level executives ate professional, helpful and polite – that’s why they are gatekeepers of high-level people. There may be times when you may chose not to compliment a gatekeepers when his/her conduct did not merit it.

Jujitsu Emails:
Jujitsu is an ancient Japanese fighting technique that uses skill to outmaneuvered the opponent. It is the art of using people’s weight and momentum against them. If II  am 150 pounds, and a 300 pounds solid guy is charging me, the outcome doesn’t look very promising for me. However, if I can use his 330 pounds of force against him by tripping him or getting out of the way of his momentum where he can’t stop, I can use my smallness to my advantage and his bigness to his disadvantage. The same principle can be applied to emails. As you start with the top person emailing, it is better to follow up with the gatekeeper and enquire on it. if the gatekeeper suggests to talk to a lower level, as her send that email to recommended person and copy you or alternatively you can do as well keeping the top level and gatekeeper in loop. this carries more weightage on the recommended person to act.

Chase and Dance:
Best salespeople are the best salespeople because they act nothing like a stereotypical salesperson. They act real, honest human – like a friend – who just wants to help. They are willing to admit that they may not have all the answers, their product may not be a fit, etc. They are willing to step back, remove the pressure and create space. They are conscious to reflect the tone and intensity level of the gatekeeper.


  1. Gatekeeper: I think that we already have a product that oes what you’re selling. I don’t thnk we need your product. (stepping back)
  2. Salesperson: But I don’t think you understand how good our product really is. It beats the competition, It’s awesome. I really want to talk to mike so he can see how much money he is wasting using your current product. (steps in again and pushes).
  3. Gatekeeper: Like I said, I think that what we have works just fine (Stepping back and starting to run)


  1. Gatekeeper: I think that we already have a product that oes what you’re selling. I don’t think we need your product. (stepping back)
  2. Salesperson: Great. Maybe you’re right. Maybe our product isn’t for you. We don’t want you to do business with us unless it is good for you. That’s why I wanted to talk to Mike. I wanted to find out his needs and the needs of your organization, and then let him know what we offer and see if there’s a fit. If there is a fit, great. If not, no big deal. (mirrors the emotion the gatekeeper shows of “we don’t need you”. Notice that the salesperson doesn’t “need” the sale either. This is mirrored emotion while stepping back.)
  3. Gatekeeper: I might be able to squeeze you in week after next (stepping in)


  1. Gatekeeper: He is not gong to be able to meet with you for few weeks. We have quarterly numbers to do plus prepare for an annual conference (Stepping back)
  2. Salesperson: Well, I am only going to be in your area on those days. Is there any way to squeeze me in? Plus, of he likes our product he will need to take advantage of it very soon or he will miss out on our current promotion. (steps in and pushes)
  3. Gatekeeper: Sorry, it isn’t going to work this month. (Stepping back and holding onto her position)


  1. Gatekeeper: He is not gong to be able to meet with you for few weeks. We have quarterly numbers to do plus prepare for an annual conference (Stepping back)
  2. Salesperson: Perfect. That is fine. I’m very busy myself. Whether it is now or next month, no big deal. Take your time (Mirrors the emotion and steps back too)
  3. Gatekeeper: Great. I will set up for the first week of next month. However, if things change, it might work for me to get in a bit earlier. I will let you know. (Stepping in)
  4. Salesperson: Perfect. If he can meet earlier, I will try to accommodate his schedule. (Mirrors the emotion and steps in, too.)

The Art of Getting Your Way:

Diplomacy is the art of letting others have your way – Daniel Vare. The principles here are:

  1. Listen more. You have two ears and one mouth
  2. Aim to understand others first

A Negotiation Example:

  1. My friend asked me to help in the purchase/negotiation of a car. In car dealership, after test driving a mustang, I made sure to mention the car was good and we are serious.
  2. I told the salesperson that we would need a great price for the car. “What o you need”? replied the salesperson (this was his way of asking me to name my position first). What If I said him, “I need $3000 off of the price?” Why could that be a compromising position? Because he may be willing to come down more than just $3000. What if he is willing to discount $4000 or $5000 from the sticker price. I stood my ground using a simple two step process: Compliment and Turn it around and ask a question
  3. My response: Great question, how low can you go? (maintaining control by asking another question. Notice I didn’t answer his question at all)
  4. The salesman replied, “I can o back to my boss an ask him how low he can go? but what do you need? (he was gain asking me ti name the position)
  5. Wow you’re a great negotiator. I still need you to go to your boss and ask him how low can he go? (this went on further and I didn’t name mine and answered all questions diplomatically and politely and calmly. It went on for few minutes before the salesman went to ask his boss)
  6. He came back with an answer: $246000. (that was $3000 from the sticker price)
  7. I replied “That’s trouble”
  8. Salesperson said, “we can do for $20600” (Much of what we say we do not say with words but with our body language and tone of voice).
  9. We walked towards the door, then a plea came that we do it for $19600

In the example above, we used negotiation principles by not naming our position first, and we used positive reinforcement by appreciating the gatekeeper for moving us in the direction of a sale. This could be applied in any negotiation situation.

Assumptive Questions:

During any negotiation, the way you ask questions is crucial and can mean the difference between getting the appointment/sale or not. It is imperative to speak confidently when asking for the appointment. Timid questions are asked in Yes/No format and is to be avoided. Confident salespeople phrase their questions confidently and assumptively as if the person has already said yes!?
Assumptive questions are just that – assumptive. You don’t ask if you can meet with her, you ask when. When it comes time to ask for the appointment, a confident and successful salesperson does not say, “So can I get an appointment with Mark?” Notice that this is yes/no question and easily opens up the door for the reply to be no. If you have done all the ground work, you have a right t ask the question assumptive. Being too assumptive may lead you to be deemed pushy!!.

Yes/No question: Can I get an appointment?
Powerful/Assumptive Question: Thanks for helping me out. Does this week or next week work for Tim? or What time works best so I can accommodate his schedule?