Handling Gatekeepers

July 30, 2020

Make the most out of your time on the phone

As an SDR you spend a large part of your day researching and account mapping on sites like LinkedIn, RainKing, and Zoominfo. Understanding the hierarchy of the account you’re calling into can be helpful in finding the best person to speak with, and in most cases, you find that the best prospect is pretty high up there. Something that persists across many industries and organizations is that the prospects at the top have administrative assistants (also known as gatekeepers, admins, EAs, etc.). Some SDRs see this as a problem — when an admin exists it makes it much more difficult to connect with a prospect. But many times, it’s actually a blessing in disguise. Here’s why:


You can speed up your online research by just talking with an admin. Instead of combing through a database of contacts and guessing which one to call, you can ask an admin to help you out. If you’re polite enough they’ll gladly give you another name to reach out to. You’re doing your job by trying to talk to their boss, and they’re doing their job by making sure you don’t talk to their boss. Most gatekeepers are an excellent source of referrals and should be treated as such. One of the best ways to get a referral is to say something like: “I wanted to talk about X and I thought I’d start with your boss, but is there someone else you know of that you could direct me to?” This is enough for an admin to give you a name right there.

More often than not these admins know more about the role delegation and company structure than you do. If you think their boss is the best person to speak to but they tell you it’s someone else, then chances are you’re wrong. The gatekeeper is probably sending you to the manager under their boss, and that could be a perfect place to start. Name dropping the boss will give you a higher chance to connect with this new prospect, and they’ll be more willing to talk to you.

Are your SDRs getting referrals from gatekeepers?


Gatekeepers aren’t always just assistants, they know a lot about the company and the target department you’re calling in to. Here at demandDrive we typically work within the high-tech software space, and a lot of times admins are generally familiar with the software in place at their company. Sometimes they’re even the end users of that software, which makes them the perfect person to get information from. If you have the chance to pick their brain, do it. They could know about what solutions already exist, how long they’ve been using a certain software, what the contract is like, if they like the solution in place, and if they’ve opened up talks about making a switch. You won’t be able to qualify them as a lead, but it creates a champion within the organization to vouch for your product.

With a lot of SDRs, the most frustrating thing is the inability to connect with people on a consistent basis. That means every time you do get someone on the phone you need to maximize the information you get. In this case, admins are no exceptions; they have information that could prove valuable to your efforts. More often than not an admin will want to be on the phone — they don’t get to talk about a lot of technical stuff during the day, and you could be that breath of fresh air. Make the most out of these situations by getting referrals and creating champions for your product.

Are your SDRs getting necessary intel out of each conversation?

A lot of articles published on “handling gatekeepers” tend to focus on the “getting past them” part. Instead of working to get past the gatekeeper, the focus should be on utilizing the gatekeeper’s knowledge to your benefit. Getting referrals and intelligence from them can lead to quality conversations with their managers, other people in the department, and ultimately the decision-maker for your project. When you treat the gatekeeper as a benefit versus a roadblock, you’ll be able to navigate that company hierarchy with ease.

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aj alonzo

AJ Alonzo is the Head of Marketing at demandDrive. A former SDR turned marketing leader, he's made it his goal to develop resources for sales reps who are looking to level up and for managers who are looking for guidance. Outside of work you can find him trying to shoot under par at his local disc golf course, sipping on a bourbon on the rocks, or continuing his quest to be the very best like no one ever was.
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