How Personality Impacts Our Success

Our ability to connect with prospects comes down to understanding what we’re all made of. It comes down to three components. Our personality style, IQ and EQ.

You meet a prospect for the first time, and open the call by asking, “Did you have a nice weekend?”

Their response?  “What’s the purpose for this meeting?”

So much for the small talk.

What goes through your mind? Maybe, I’d like to get out of this appointment as soon as I can. And how do you guess the prospect is feeling?

Your body language is unfiltered. It will indicate whether you’re interested in having a fruitful discussion with the prospect or just going through the motions. And the prospect will know exactly how you feel based on your body language!

Our ability to connect with prospects comes down to understanding what we’re all made of. It comes down to three components. Our personality style, IQ and EQ. IQ is our intelligence quotient and EQ is our emotional quotient. The question is, what’s most important in connecting with someone we don’t know? How can you improve when meeting someone for the first time?

Our IQ is set by age 15. People typically don’t connect at the IQ level unless you’re a brain surgeon or scientist and sharing important data and statistics. According to Dr. Michael Cox who was with the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank back in 2006, people skills are the number one business skill needed today.

That being true, then how do we improve our emotional quotient or intelligence? I believe the answer lies in understanding someone’s personality style. By understanding personality styles, we can become more adaptable to different styles.

Personality is your wiring. It’s your default system for how you see life. Personality includes how we make decisions, what motivates us, what we value, our way of communicating and most of all how we connect with others.

Many of the personality models talk about having four distinct styles, mine included. My model is color-coded to make it easier to use and understand.

Blues are relationship people.

They value trust and honesty, collaboration, peace and harmony and care greatly about serving others. They are “get along” people.

Golds are structured people.

They are well organized, disciplined, planners and believe in follow through and meeting commitments. They are “get it done” people.

Greens are analytical people.

They want information, details, data and are logical. By nature, they are inquisitive, love to learn and can be skeptical. They are “get it right” people.

Oranges are outgoing and expressive folks.

They like to be the center of attention, energetic, move fast and competitive by nature. They are “get it going” people.

Four very distinct personality styles that have distinct needs when it comes to connecting.

The prospect in my first example most likely is a Gold. Skip the small talk and get right to your agenda. And yes, Golds like an agenda. If you’re an Orange or Blue, the best way to connect is with small talk.

With Blues, talk about family or friends since they are the relationship people. With an Orange, it can be about what was exciting about their weekend, possibly about sports or a party or an interesting event. Your Green personality might connect on an important statistic or announcement in their industry about data or technology that would be of interest to them.

To improve your emotional intelligence, you need to ask yourself the question, “Who am I with?”

That will take the emphasis off you and onto the prospect and their point of view. What matters to them is the only priority where you should focus, and that focus will help you connect from their perspective. Emotional intelligence can dramatically improve when we understand our prospect’s personality.

Patience Is A Virtue

Having patience is giving the client their space, while at the same time being proactive to help them solve their issues. It’s not being aggressive, but assertive.

It’s nearing the end of the fiscal year and you’re $50K away from making your annual sales budget, and yikes there’s only three weeks to go.

Do you feel that sense of urgency? You bet! It’s the position most of us have experienced many times.

What do you do? Call your best clients looking for a silver bullet? Talk to some prospects that are considering your solution but haven’t pulled the trigger yet?

Sales is one of those careers that requires hustle, stamina, persistence, resilience and I believe more than anything else, patience!

Why do so many salespeople find themselves coming down to the wire to make their quota? The productivity they exhibit the last three weeks of the year is amazing. Why can’t that be consistent throughout the year?

Because of this pattern, we generally see that in an average quarter of the year, two-thirds of the sales will come in the third month. You’ll also see the budget increase from the first quarter of the year to the fourth quarter.

If you’re in sales, you must balance having a sense of urgency for twelve months, and at the same time, you need to be patient.

Clients enjoy working with salespeople that are patient yet persistent and have a sense of urgency.

Having patience is giving the client their space, while at the same time being proactive to help them solve their issues. It’s not being aggressive, but assertive.

It’s prioritizing the needs of the client and reminding them of the benefits they will receive when they decide to move forward with you. It’s making a case for the benefits they will receive from your solution.

Now let’s look at patience when it comes to personality styles.

Blue and Green personalities by nature are more patient and passive.

They’re great at asking questions and letting the client move at their own pace.

Golds and Oranges personalities are more aggressive by nature, therefore are less patient than Blues and Greens.

The right balance is for all four styles to move to assertive, being proactive while being patient keeping the client’s needs and timeline always top of mind.

Being patient and assertive means working your prospects and clients on a consistent basis, communicating with them on a frequent basis for the right reasons – meaning, meeting their needs – showing value and reiterating the benefits of your solutions.

It’s not just about selling your products and services, but helping your clients solve their business issues and helping grow their business.

Patience means that you’re in it for the long term. Building strong client relationships takes patience. It’s a balance between achieving your annual goals by helping your clients achieve theirs.

Selling is an art and a science. Patience is more of an art and your sales process is more of a science. Work them both to achieve your success.

Don’t Make Lead Generation Harder Than It Has To Be

There are a lot of different things that can happen between an appointment and a flat-out rejection… and in fact, some of them might be things you didn’t even notice at the time.

Prospecting for new customers can be easy or difficult.

As I’ve written in my book and dozens of articles, working at it consistently, providing value prospects, and having a little fun can go a long way toward your success.

With that being said, however, I often find that salespeople unintentionally make lead generation harder than it has to be.

I’m not talking about techniques you use to find new clients; I’ve given you tons of suggestions for those. I’m talking about the mindset you take into the process.

Simply put, many salespeople put too much pressure on their calls, emails, and other prospecting activities.

How do you do this? By judging the success of your prospecting activity on the number of appointments they generate.

Obviously, this makes a great deal of sense on a certain level, since appointments typically lead to sales, and that’s how most sales reps are evaluated.

What is easily forgotten, however, is that there are a lot of different things that can happen between an appointment and a flat-out rejection… and in fact, some of them might be things you didn’t even notice at the time.

For instance, suppose you send an email to a top prospect, and although they don’t agree to meet with you, they do look at one of your articles or white papers. It might seem like you’ve come up short of your goal, but what if:

  • You leave an impression in the prospect’s mind?
  • They appreciate your ideas and agree to meet with you in 4 months, partially as a result of those steps you took today?

Taking the long view can help you realize that setbacks aren’t necessarily the same as a failure.

I think more salespeople and business owners should view prospecting and lead generation in the right context: Your job is to start forming relationships with potential buyers.

While it’s certainly nice to have them agree to meet with you right now, it’s not an absolute necessity for you to consider the call or email a success.

Holding on to that mindset can change not only the way you feel about your prospecting but also the results you get from it.

Why? Because 10 hours spent cold calling, for example, could easily yield only 12 contacts, and two actual appointments.

Those numbers can seem pretty bleak when you view them on their own.

But when you stop to think that each of those dozen prospects is now that much closer to doing business with you, and that many more could be more receptive to hearing from you in the future, you realize that your hard work is going to pay off.

Those prospects will become customers sooner or later. That attitude, in turn, can help you bring the right amount of energy to task.

Not All Sales People Are Extroverts

Ambiverts are good at balancing between things like talking and listening, where an introvert won’t talk and an extrovert will talk too much.

Examining people and their personalities and then aligning those personalities to specific jobs has been going on for quite a while.

It seems that whenever someone is in a sales role, one automatically assumes that this person must be an extrovert.

In fact, channel leaders have told us that they look for “type A” people.

They look for those “outgoing” men and women. They look for those people who seem entirely comfortable in new situations, oozing with self-confidence.

We all know people like that, right? On the surface, it appears that this is the type of person you want in a channel sales role. Someone not afraid to “go for it.”

But, as the story goes with an iceberg, the surface always doesn’t tell the entire story of what lies beneath.

The complexity of human relationships, competing priorities, and goals in an ever-changing marketplace has created unprecedented challenges for channel owners, managers, and partners.

In this environment, channel owners and partner managers are left asking five pressing questions:

  • How do I get my partners to engage?
  • How do I get my partners to do what they are supposed to do?
  • How do I motivate my partners to focus on selling my product or service?
  • How do I empower my partners to be more self-sufficient?
  • How do I plan for, respond to, and take advantage of disruptive changes in the marketplace without destroying my partner relationships?

Getting in front of the competition will rely on how channel managers can overcome the above, and specifically exists in how they evolve as a person and adapt.

You would think an extrovert would be ideal to accomplish the tasks. Think again.

The proof in becoming more adaptive is in the numbers.

A study conducted by a University of Pennsylvania professor shows that an introvert salesperson (someone who is content to sit back, work on their own, etc.) earns an average hourly revenue of $120/hr.

It’s exhausting for introverts to talk to people all the time….wherein the channel one plays multiple roles.

In the case of the extrovert, they earn a little more. $125/hr.

It’s interesting as you would “think” that hiring or developing a person to be “outward” would be exactly what you need in sales. Not always the case.

Now, let’s take a look at the person in the middle. The Ambivert.

This is the person who is ADAPTABLE – adaptable to interfacing with introverts and extroverts. They produce $208/hr. Substantially more! It makes sense.

Ambiverts are good at balancing between things like talking and listening, where an introvert won’t talk and an extrovert will talk too much.

The reason is that they adapt.

If you want your organization to become really great, really productive, and really profitable, then position your people to become ambiverts.

Those that can adapt to any situation will be the ones to thrive!

Don’t Miss an Opportunity

Do you find yourself saying what you would have, should have or could have done after you fix a problem? This is a sign that you ignored a danger signal.

Life is filled with danger signals and warning signs. If you pay attention, you can avoid the potholes and the problems that they cause.

An oil leak in your car can be fixed with a $3 gasket. If ignored, your engine could seize and you’ll pay $2,000 for a replacement. Selling has its own danger signals and warning signs.

Not reading is dangerous. You need to learn about changes in business. Change is a warning signal.

Any change is an opportunity for you or your competition. When staff or company needs change, salespeople need to respond quickly to ensure that their products continue to meet customer needs.

Reading the newspaper is a source of knowledge about change. When you read the newspaper, you learn about changes in business that impact your customers’ businesses and then your own.

How else can you easily learn about mergers, strategic focus issues, competition, growth, and failure to meet business objectives?

Remember sales and business books, too. Even incorporating 15 minutes a day of additional reading will have a positive impact on your business knowledge and ultimately your business.

Having difficulty making call objectives for a sales call is a sign you’re in trouble. Your job is to bring value to your customers. Another greeting by a smiling face is not a source of value.

Objectives that add value to your customers’ operations involve avoiding costs, reducing costs, or simplifying an operation for your customer.

Planning before the sales call should include the steps to accomplish your objective. Having difficulty establishing your call objective is a clue that you might not be giving your customers a reason to do business with you.

Not knowing key decision makers is a bad sign. All accounts have critical decision-makers. The economic decision-maker reaches decisions based on cost. The technical decision-maker decides based on specifications. The user makes decisions based on satisfaction with using your product.

If you’re only calling on one decision-maker; if you’re unfamiliar with all decision-makers; or if you’re unaware of each of their concerns, the red light goes on. Pay attention when your contacts move on and are replaced by others. You need to reestablish relationships with the new contact by identifying their key concerns and motivators.

Forgetting to do the work to make a new contact loyal will leave you vulnerable to the past loyalties they’ve established with other suppliers.

No systematic process for prioritizing accounts is serious. Your selling time should be given to your accounts based on their probability of buying, their importance to your sales goals, and their need to see you.

You need to ask and answer, “When is this account likely to buy? Is this a strategic account because of location, a particular product or volume? Is this a significant problem that warrants my time now?” In all cases, the answer will determine what you should be doing and how much time you spend with each account.

In all cases determine that your customer’s needs are met with your lowest cost solution. If a phone call will work, why make a sales call? All customer contacts should be made after you identify your sales priorities and determine appropriate levels of service according to those priorities.

Do you find yourself saying what you would have, should have or could have done after you fix a problem? This is a sign that you ignored a danger signal.

It’s so much easier to avoid a problem than to fix it.

When you hear yourself saying, “If only I had called on that new project engineer earlier, I wouldn’t have lost the account,” it’s time to start looking at your other business. You’re probably missing some warning signs there, too.

Building an Effective Partner Strategy

Partners that add value to your company. Partners that work with your company on providing services TO your company. What’s the real value of these partners? You need to think beyond just the services or products they provide to you.

Companies engage with partners for one underlying reason: leverage. Vendors need partners in order to:

  • Scale marketing efforts. That is, get more leads with a lower cost of acquisition of said leads.
  • Scale sales efforts. That is, create an additional “sales force” without the inherent overhead in hiring salespeople directly.
  • Scale services efforts. That is, create a 3rd party ecosystem of providers who can implement your products.

And, these partners come in the following shapes and forms:

  • VARS, Distributors, SI’s, Dealers, Agents, and the like. Those reselling or providing services.
  • Those providing advice, implementation services, or similar offerings to clients of your products.
    And, they come in all different sizes and shapes, depending upon your product or solution and the niche you reside in.

I’m not telling you something you don’t already know, but I have been primarily talking about external influencing partners.

What about partners that are internal to your organization though?

Partners that add value to your company.

Partners that work with your company on providing services TO your company. What’s the real value of these partners?

You need to think beyond just the services or products they provide to you. And, frankly, it dawned on us the other day when a client, unbeknownst to them, said it directly to us.

The REAL value of an “internal” partner exists in the following:

  • They live in a unique microcosm that exists between you and the reality of the marketplace. They can tell you “how it is” and “how it should be done” in a plain and honest way. This value is unbelievably important because vendors often live in their own little world and can’t see beyond their borders. Partners you work with can!
  • These same internal partners are independent. They see and they bring experiences across a much wider swath of engagements, clients, and situations than a vendor could ever realize. Our client told us that they appreciate that we are independent because we bring to them best practices, best approaches, and best advice – all of which were tested via other clients. This speeds their routes to market. Don’t get me wrong, not all the advice is perfect for every client but it shortens the routes to success in every case. A great example is that a client was wondering what the best approach to creating a training program was and, because we are in this world we were able to articulate, in a fast manner, the right approach plus some other unique nuances that ultimately created a training program that resonated and connected to all parties – fast.
  • Lastly, honesty. The real value resides in the partner’s ability to be brutally honest at times – about approaches, about people, about what they think needs to be done. You just can’t get this 100% of the time from your people. You CAN get this 100% of the time from a good partner.

In today’s fast-paced marketplace, you can’t do it all yourself. You can try, but it will be more costly and probably won’t provide the ultimate value you are looking for.

So, establish your own internal network of partners for your company in certain areas. Just like you create leverage externally, you need to create leverage internally – to ultimately accomplish the same corporate goals!

Negative Attitude Always Impacts Sales

Motivation and incentives are powerful tools that can improve performance and add to the bottom line when used effectively.

Annually, businesses spend millions on advertising to draw foot traffic into their stores.

Yet few count this traffic and use the information to measure the true performance of their sales teams. Most only count sales to reward star performers.

When businesses do count traffic, most realize that their salespeople still close business only at a rate of 15% or less.

Why? Attitude. It’s all about having a positive attitude that emanates from and is nurtured at the top through strong, fair and inclusive motivational practices.

Looking solely at units sold as a performance measure is one of the fastest ways to de-motivate sales teams and shift attitudes negatively throughout the store.

Management thinks they don’t have a very good group of salespeople or that they don’t know how to close.

Salespeople comment, “Business is bad – in this economy people have no money to spend,” or  “We have more people coming in, but they don’t really want to buy, not what we have to sell,” or even “Nothing is working; no one is selling anything – how can I make any money?”

These negative attitudes rapidly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Not only do these attitudes telegraph to customers through body language and words, but they re-enforce the importance of getting the sale no matter what.

Soon, words that kill deals before they start – no, don’t, won’t, or can’t – creep into the salespersons’ vocabulary.

For example, when Ford first introduced their newest Mustang, dealerships saw a significant increase in traffic and interest, despite the fact that most would not have the car available for several months.

Salespeople had to deal with prospects looking for the new Mustang rather than a short term purchase, and typically told prospects, “No, we don’t have it. We won’t have it for several months. We can’t tell you exactly when that will be.”

Prospects walked away without a brochure or information of any kind, and without having discussed alternatives: they left with nothing.

And, the dealership’s thousands of advertising dollars resulted in nothing. The salesperson received nothing for his or her time.

The question is, “Was an opportunity there for the customer to buy or for the salesperson to sell the customer?”

If approached from a positive attitude, the answer is always yes. Some of those prospects may have purchased other models if they had been given the opportunity.

So how does management instill and keep attitudes positive? How do they motivate every salesperson to view each individual who comes into the dealership as a prospect worth building a relationship with? Motivation and incentives.

Motivation vs. De-motivation Meetings

When management drives positive attitudes, they drive business.

Take the sales meeting. These meetings, intended to be motivational, first focus on the problems at the business such as who forgot to put the samples away, or who didn’t close the store according to procedures, or why numbers are down.

At the end of the meeting, the team is told to go out, have a great day, and sell!

Instead of calling sales meetings, hold motivational meetings. Bring bagels, cream cheese, and coffee to help get the day started.

Talk about the positive aspects of the business. Don’t single out any one individual, focus on the team.

Give everyone – not just “star performers” – tickets to the local movie theater.

These small investments set the positive tone that helps make salespeople successful.

Sales meetings must be positive events that provide the tools that help salespeople sell, make money, and set the stage for growing a positive attitude.

Motivation and incentives are powerful tools that can improve performance and add to the bottom line when used effectively.

They can be just as powerful in re-enforcing negative attitudes if improperly applied. To create a positive attitude that encourages salespeople to see every person who comes to a store as a potential commission or sale, these tools must be applied consistently and fairly across the entire sales team.

After all, if every salesperson could always sell just one more, what would it do for your business?

Refilling your Pipeline

Then there you are, it is the end of the month, end of the quarter, or heaven forbid end of the year, and you are seriously shy of your goal. What do you do? Where do you turn? You need revenue! You have bills to pay, a commission to earn. How do you find the quick sale?

Help I Need Sales Now!

Let me go on record and say that I am no advocate of letting your pipeline go dry.

So promise me first that you will not tell anyone you heard me talking about closing the quick sale and that you will keep this between you and me.

Also, promise me that you will go read the other articles here on Sales Gravy and never put yourself in this situation again. Agreed? Okay!

Okay, I will crawl down off of my high horse, and admit I get it, it happens sometimes. You get busy, you get stuck, and you get so consumed with taking care of existing business, you forget to go out and look for new business until it is too late.

Then there you are, it is the end of the month, end of the quarter, or heaven forbid end of the year, and you are seriously shy of your goal. What do you do? Where do you turn? You need revenue! You have bills to pay, a commission to earn. How do you find the quick sale?

The BIG Ones

Take a look at your existing customer base, and ask yourself how well you know them and how well you understand their needs.

Why? Because there is gold in your existing customer base, gold in the sense that there are easy sales, and easy sales that have value for your customer as well as you.

Let me ask you, do you know the BIG Ones? Do you know the big questions every salesperson should know about their customers?

  • How does their business work? What exactly do they do? 
  • What are their biggest challenges? 
  • How has this economy impacted their business? 
  • Where do they see their business in the next five to ten years? 
  • What do they see as their biggest opportunities? Take the time to make five calls this week, to any of your existing customers, and ask them these questions. Get the conversation going, and you will find enough products and services to fill your pipeline. 

Your Alternative Sales Force

Oh, we all have ’em, those five or six customers that just love us. For some reason they love us, our staff, what we do, and they believe more in our business than we do.

Save our mothers, no one thinks we hung the moon more than these customers. You need to turn that support into more than just sheer admiration.

Sit these folks down, and ask for their help. In today’s economy our advocates’ sales power is far more impactful than ours. What may take us eight to ten times to close a deal, they can do in two.

The Looking Glass

Okay, hate to tell you this, but if you have been in sales longer than one year, you have left sales on the table.

You have done the hard part: You have made the initial call, had the conversation, followed up once or twice, then given up because the prospect didn’t bite. Now, we all know most customers do not buy without at least seven to eight touches, yet we give up at two or three.

The good news is, we left sales on the table, and they are on the table just at a time when our pipeline is dry. So now is the time to pull out the looking glass, and analyze the sales calls you have made in the last year. Look closely, and choose 10 or 20 who deserve a follow-up call.

The Big Sweep

Yep, you guessed it, now it is time for the big sweep. A whole week of follow-up calls. Just let those prospects know you are getting back in touch with them, see what has changed or is new in their business, and you have a few ideas for how you can help them.

In today’s economy, if you do not learn to master follow-up, and consistently practice the BIG SWEEP, you are leaving sales consistently on the table and making sales a much harder process than it has to be.

Change Your Lifestyle

There you made it. Your pipeline is full again, and this crisis has been avoided. Now, do not rest on your laurels, get back in the game, and change your lifestyle.

An empty pipeline, combined with a big goose egg where closed sales should be, never feels good. So get that stress out of your life, follow these steps and start making sales calls every day.

Now again, I am not in any way advising you to get yourself into this pinch, but I do get it and have been there myself.

These are the strategies, ideas, and tips I use to fill my pipeline when I need a quick sale. What I love about these strategies is that they may produce quick results, but never ever at the expense of your integrity as a sales person. No matter how dry your pipeline you can never sacrifice that.


The Hidden Value of Gatekeepers


Winning over a gatekeeper can often be the major differentiator when you’re in fiercely competitive situations.
Gatekeepers. Ahhhh, my favorite. No really; they are. In high school, I used to love the challenge of winning over the ultimate gatekeepers: my dates’ mothers.I think that’s honestly where it started, but I still love the challenge of winning someone over who has been strategically placed in my path to thwart me.

During our trainings and workshops, we’re frequently asked how to deal with dreaded gatekeepers. My favorite part of being asked this question is that it’s often done so within a context of terror, as if the person is picturing Gandalf slamming his staff into the stone and yelling, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

The first thing you need to remember is that behind the scary mask, there is a human. They have feelings, respond to human influence networks, and like to feel important just like the rest of us.

The only difference is that they’re put in place to filter (and sometimes flat out stop) people like you from accessing the “boss.” Some are good at this without being mean, callous, or crotchety, but many others are harsh and seemingly unlikeable.

The second thing you need to remember: You just need to accept the fact that they’re there. I’ve found that trying tricks or tactics to “bypass the gatekeeper” may get you some surprise face time, but it’s often at the expense of the deal.

Getting “past the gatekeeper” needs to be done by embracing them and leveraging their influence over your target’s calendar. Remember, you’re talking to the person with the MOST influence over who your target talks to, meets with, and ultimately does business with.

Do you really think that a trick to bypass them will result in a meaningful relationship? No. Probably not.

The third thing you need to understand is that many executive assistants (EAs) and gatekeepers (GKs) are very influential. If they are your ally, they can help you during the sale, negotiation, and other parts of your buyer’s journey.

Winning over a gatekeeper can often be the major differentiator when you’re in fiercely competitive situations.

So, with those three things in mind, here’s what I do with gatekeepers…

Me: “Good morning, Sally. Is Buck Rogers available?”

Sally: “Is Mr. Rogers expecting your call?”

Me: “Thank you for asking. No, he is not expecting my call. That said, are you who I need to work with to try and get on his calendar?”

Sally: (coldly) “He doesn’t take unsolicited calls or meetings.”

Me: (positive tone) “I don’t blame him for that at all. I’d love to have someone that helps me spend my time where I should be spending it. Ok, so Sally, I most certainly don’t want to be a pest, and I absolutely respect that you are in charge of who he meets with. That said, would it be possible to get 15 minutes with you on your calendar to learn more about your company to see if we would even be a good fit? I know that you’re very busy, so would Thursday at 2pm work for a short call?”

Sally: “I don’t usually do that. I don’t think we’re interested.”

Me: “Sally, that’s exactly why I called. Not everyone is worth setting time aside. But, most of the clients I have today that have done business with us for years started with me working directly with the executive assistants like yourself. I assure you that I won’t bother you if we aren’t a good fit, so could you meet with me anyway? Say, Thursday at 2pm or Friday at 8am?”

Now, I clearly just made up a dialogue, and as the writer, I can make myself look as good as I would like, but this exchange has some elements that (if used properly) will help you establish fluency and success with gatekeepers.

In his mega-bestseller Sales EQ, Jeb Blount discussed the Five Most Important Questions in Sales.  Let’s look at this dialogue in the context of how people subconsciously ask and answer these questions when you interface with them.

  1. Do I like you?

    Most prospectors that call can’t rush off the phone fast enough or don’t take the time to acknowledge the gatekeeper’s role and responsibility. Acknowledging them as important increases the chances of them liking you. Also, be likable. Be positive. Be empathetic to the fact that they have to pretend to be an asshole all day to people who randomly call.

  2. Do you listen to me?

    People like to be heard, and by acknowledging them and the importance of their role, they’ll feel heard. Make sure you (truly) listen and engage them with questions based on their information. Listening is often confused for waiting for your turn to talk, so it’s paramount to make them feel heard.

  3. Do you make me feel important?

    Acknowledging the importance of their role is critical. GK’s sometimes feel like the ugly sister who always has to entertain her beautiful sister’s suitors while she’s still getting ready. Make them feel important. Sincerity. You can’t be fake. If you think about it, some of these people that are the EAs or GKs for important CEOs are really the ones in charge of the world. Keep that in mind.

  4. Do you understand me and my problems?

    Empathy is important and acknowledging that they’re busy and need to schedule appointments is a form of understanding them and their problems. Asking them for time to share problems from their point of view shows that you’re trying to sincerely understand them along with the people and the organization that they support.

  5. Do I trust and believe you?

    Can they trust that you’re sincerely wanting their time to meet and that it’s not just a tactic you’re using to “get to the boss”? Can they believe that you’re really trying to gauge whether or not they’re a good fit for you? Delivery of your message matters as much as the message itself, and some of these GKs can be shrewd; they can smell fear, weakness, and insincerity like a shark smells blood in the water.

So folks, in closing: Calm down, take a deep breath, and try to enjoy a conversation with someone that has a crappy responsibility. Remember that, just like you, they’re a person who has a job to do.

Remember that they, like everyone else, like to be valued and heard. Be a human and earn their trust and devotion.

And think of this: If you get them on your side, they’ll start gatekeeping for you and start sending your competitors packing. Allied gatekeepers can be amazing influencers when you need them, so embrace and cherish them.

PRO TIP: When you do land time with a gatekeeper, make sure you follow it up with a handwritten note thanking them for their time. It’s a lost art and a massive differentiator.