Dealing with Cause Partner Gatekeepers
Gatekeepers, employees who stand between you and a cause partner decision maker, are an inescapable part of sales. Your goal is not to avoid or demonize gatekeepers, but to get them to join your team. Gatekeepers are, after all, just doing their jobs — limiting and protecting a decision maker as needed and instructed.
Gatekeepers can be a powerful ally behind the scenes helping you close a cause marketing agreement. Here’s how you can earn their allegiance:
Build rapport. It’s unfortunate and shortsighted when sales people look past gatekeepers, sometimes as if they’re not there or if they are not very important. This is a big mistake. Gatekeepers are people, too! Learn about them, their lives, and their place within the organization. These details are an important first step to building a connection and creating an ally.
Be sincere. Gatekeepers deal with salespeople (and that means you!) all the time and know when you’re just sweet talking them to gain access to their boss. Talk to them as a person and forget the canned “getting to know you” questions.
Show respect. Tell the gatekeepers a bit about your program (not too much because you don’t want them to turn into a messenger!) and ask a few questions about the company. Your interest in their feedback shows them they’re part of the process.
Play by their rules. Every gatekeeper has a way that he wants to work with outsiders. (Keep in mind that these rules come straight from the boss.) He may want all communications with his boss to go through him.
Maybe he just wants you to cc him on any e-mails. Whatever process the gatekeeper wants you to follow, do it! You’ll build comfort and trust, and you won’t risk him blocking or limiting your contact with his boss.
Find out what they want. Everyone has needs, desires, and aspirations. Gatekeepers are no exception. What do they want, and how can you help? Does he want his boss to see he can handle more important work? Maybe your cause marketing program would be a good project for him.
Selling is about solving problems, addressing needs, and giving people something better than what they have. Do this, and your gatekeeper will become a gate opener.
Like everything you do with cause marketing, you need a strategy with gatekeepers. You truly have only one chance to make a first impression.