Prospecting and the Gatekeeper

By Miles Sonkin, High Probability® Selling

If you’re calling business to business, and you’re reaching the administrative assistant, chances are that they know all about what the decision maker wants and doesn’t want.

The concept of getting past the gatekeeper usually ends badly. This article provides a different approach.

Q. When making prospecting calls, the prospect often ‘isn’t in’. When should I call next? Won’t the gatekeeper get irritated if I keep calling?

A. Here’s how we handle this common, and frustrating, situation in High Probability Selling:

Joe Prospect, please.

“Who’s calling?”

This is Miles Sonkin with High Probability Selling.

“Is Mr. Prospect expecting your call?”

No he isn’t. Are you Mr. Prospect’s gatekeeper?

“Well … yes.”

I am calling Mr. Prospect to make a twenty second offer. Is it okay if I make the offer to you right now and you can determine if you are willing to put me through, or not?


[Give Offer] … Is this something Mr. Prospect would want?

At large companies, the gatekeeper typically knows Mr. Prospect’s business as well as he does, and can answer the question with a “Yes,” “Probably” or “No” answer. When you get a “Yes” or “Probably,” they’ll do one of the following:

  • Put you through to Mr. Prospect, if he’s available
  • Specifically ask you to leave the message on Mr. Prospect’s voicemail. (When this happens, leave the message, but start it with: “This is Miles Sonkin with High Probability Selling. I just spoke with Gatekeeper Name, your assistant, and after I told her why I was calling, she specifically asked me to leave you a voicemail message, because she thought it was something you might want.” Then give your offer and leave your phone number.
    Take as much time as needed to write your message down and commit to reading it to Mr. Prospect.
  • If the gatekeeper is not willing to put you through, say, “OK…Goodbye.”

This type of conversation rarely happens because other aspects of the HPS prospecting method make this type of conversation rarely necessary. There are a number of factors, one of which is calling with a new offer every 3-4 weeks. This makes gatekeeper blocks an increasing rarity for the HPS prospector.

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

10 thoughts on “Prospecting and the Gatekeeper”

  1. At the beginning of the article, Miles writes, “the prospect often isn’t in”. He then offers a sample conversation with the Administrative Assistant. Miles ends the article with, “This type of conversation rarely happens because… (it’s) rarely necessary”. It is this last paragraph in Miles’ article that confused me.

    It is my experience that I hear “the prospect isn’t in” (or something like it) most of the time. It is also my experience that I will continue to hear this same statement from the same gatekeeper month after month if I just say “Okay, goodby”.

    That said, shouldn’t I expect to use Miles’ conversation with gatekeepers often, not rarely, especially the 1st time through a new list? Miles’ “Rarely” statement makes sense would happen only after going through the same list several times.


  2. I Love HPS,,, i have not taken the course,,, but am loooking forward to instructing a host of leaders. From what i,ve read the materials are awesome……Thanks so much for being out there Ory


  3. What if the secretary sends you straight into the voice mail system without hearing your offer first and you don’t get her name? Do you recommend leaving a voice message or not?


    1. Scott,
      Some people have reported success from leaving voice messages, but most people don’t get enough good results to justify the time spent. If we find a reliable way to get good results, we will include it in our training. Meanwhile, we just tell our students that it works for some people and not for others.
      Carl Ingalls


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