Working the Gatekeeper


Charm and bagels used to work.  Is that enough today?

Welcome to the club if you’re finding it harder to get through the gatekeeper than it is to get an advisor to buy. So what’s the ‘trick’ in getting through?  No trick. You just need to apply the same stellar sales strategy and skill with gatekeepers as you do with advisors.

Here are things to wrap your brain around:

The gatekeeper’s job is to protect the advisor’s time, and many advisors say they don’t take calls from wholesalers.  Often the gatekeeper is not just the administrative assistant.  Some are junior advisors and/or play an active role in managing the practice.  Many have powerful information that could serve up exactly what the advisor needs – nirvana for a wholesaler.

Gatekeepers smell wholesalers right through wireless phones, especially if the call opens like this:

“Merrill Lynch this is Cathy speaking. Hey Cathy it’s Jason from Dynamo Funds how are you today? Good how are you? Great! Hey is John available?”  

Taking the layup the gatekeeper cheerily replies:

“He’s busy right now, can I put you through to his voicemail” or “he prefers email”…

The best wholesalers have a strategy to gather what’s top of mind for the advisor before a conversation or meeting.  That helps them craft a very customized approach that is MUCH more likely to be well received and helps the wholesaler stand out from the pack.

Here are some ideas to help you gather the critical intel from gatekeepers to make your job easier:

Help gatekeepers do their job…Tell them you don’t expect to be put through

“Good morning Cathy (always use their name), this is Jason with Dynamo Funds.  My guess is you have to field lots of wholesaler calls.  I need your help in determining whether it makes sense to put a phone conversation with John on the calendar – I don’t want to waste his time if I don’t have something he will be interested in or need. I would imagine a conversation now without an appointment would be an intrusion.  Would it be ok to ask you a couple of questions that would help determine what specific information John might find valuable and worth his time based on what’s going on right now?”

Determine the gatekeeper’s degree of influence and ask questions that get at emotions vs product

“It wouldn’t surprise me if your job requires you to to be a jack of all trades – can I ask what role you play in helping John manage his practice?”

“Can you tell me what type of clients John prefers to work with and his approach to keeping them happy?”

“With year-end reviews coming up, many advisors I talk to are considering changes to their portfolio allocations. What do you think might be on the chopping block and/or in the research phase for consideration?”

“What are some of the more stressful / tough things you and John are dealing with in the business right now?”

“What’s high on John’s radar in terms of near term priorities for his practice?”

Ask the gatekeeper to take specific action

“Can you help me with one thing?  (using the language – ‘can you help me’ is powerful)

Based on what you told me, I believe John would find a conversation helpful, relevant and might save him some time.  I can also give him a sense of what other advisors like him are looking at right now.  Would you be willing to put a phone appointment on the calendar for next week – my goal is to bring him value that specifically relates to what is currently top of mind, makes his life easier and keeps his clients happy…”

And, if you get the gatekeeper talking…

” One last question…Do you have thoughts or advice on the approach to the conversation that John will appreciate?”


After you speak to the advisor, don’t forget to call the gatekeeper and thank him/her…

Stay tuned for the next opportunity for me to climb on the soapbox: THE HAZARDS OF GOT’CHA.