Q&A on Gatekeepers

Telephone keypad detail


Question: Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with secretaries or assistants who are gatekeepers?


Answer: Although in the age of voicemail it’s becoming less frequent, you may find yourself talking to a secretary or an assistant rather than the prospect. Since it may take several calls before you finally get through to the prospect, you may end up talking to this person several times. Here are some guidelines for getting cooperation.


  1. Recognize the importance of the assistant to the prospect.

  2. Use the names of references to build credibility: “Jack Smith, your CPA, suggested I call.”

  3. State your objective for talking with the prospect.

  4. Avoid using the term secretary. Instead, you can ask, “Do you work with Brad Caswell?”

  5. Ask for help in making contact with the prospect. You can also see if the assistant can schedule an appointment for you—some can (often after confirming with the prospect.)

  6. Be appreciative of any help given.

  7. Ask for several alternate times for talking with the prospect before asking to be placed in the prospect’s voicemail.

  8. After the first call, address the individual by name.

  9. Be friendly in a professional way.


Some bankers consciously contact the Administrative Assistant of the prospect they are trying to reach first. By following the steps outlined above, they believe they have a better chance of getting in the door than if they tried to go directly to the prospect.

Agree or disagree? Add your comments below or email nmiller@mzbierlyconsulting.com

Want more tips on prospecting? Check out these articles:

25 Questions to Assess Your Prospecting Process

6 Secrets of Star Prospectors

How to Build a Business Network (eBook)



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