Freelance Online Marketing Tips: Dealing with Gatekeepers

By Adam Hansen
 Freelance Online Marketing Tips: Dealing with Gatekeepers


If you follow this blog and have applied even 25% of the information we have given you, chances are you know more about online marketing than 99.9% of the population.

If at some point you’ve thought about hiring your skills out to the highest bidder (or anyone willing to pay) then there are several bases you need to have covered first.

The biggest hurdle you will likely encounter in your hunt for freelance online marketing riches is gatekeepers. If you’re looking to turn your SEO, paid search, social media or other online marketing skills into money one of the first things you have to do is learn to deal with them.

What is a Gatekeeper?

Gatekeepers are the people who stand between you and the person making the final decision to use your services or not.

These can be secretaries, receptionists, middle managers and anyone else who acts like a buffer between a business owner, top-level executive or person who controls the purse strings for outside vendors like you.

And while these people might not have an important title or a lot of official power, they are the ones who really control the business. They can greatly influence your chances of getting a new client.

Trust me, I know.

I currently am a gatekeeper and have also dealt with them as a freelancer. In fact, I spend so much time dealing with potential vendors that I often joke with my bosses that the real reason they hired me was so they wouldn’t have to anymore.

Here’s some tips on how to get past gatekeepers and get the sale.

Be a Real-Life Human Being

Nothing irks me more than when I’m in the middle of a project, the phone rings and I get some automated message.

I don’t care if you got sold on some auto-dialing lead-generating system. Let me tell you flat out, they don’t work.

If I pick up the phone and it’s not a real person, I’m gone.

Know What You’re Talking About

The following is a real conversation I had. The name of the company and salesperson have been changed to protect the stupid and clueless.

Caller: “Hello, this is Bob from XYZ Marketing, I wanted to talk to you about your Google listings.”

Me: “My Google listings? Really, OK, which ones?”

Caller: “Your listings in the search engines, like Google. I wanted to talk to you about them.”

Me: “Yeah, I got that; but which listings are you talking about? My organic listings and if so, which keywords, my paid search ads, my Google+ page, my local ads, my map listing?”

Caller: “Ummm…. yeah, your Google listings. See we make it so you get more Google listings and ….”


If you’re calling a business to discuss something with them, don’t be vague or misinformed. Know what you’re talking about, what you’re offering and what you want to achieve.

Be Short and to the Point

Time is the most valuable thing I have and if you call me up and try to waste that, then we’re not going to do business.

When you call a business tell them who you are, what you do and what you’re trying to achieve. Don’t try to close the deal right there. Simply introduce yourself, show the gatekeeper that you have something of value for the business and see if you can get some time set aside later to go over things in more detail.

Get the Hint

No means no, and when a business says “No thank you” it’s time to move on.

I’ve lost my temper and really let people have it when I say I’m not interested and instead of them moving on, they delay, transfer me to a salesperson or continue to pester me.

Bypass the Gatekeeper Completely

Typically when outside vendors present pitches to me, if the idea is good and I think it will help us, I take it to my superiors who have the final say.

But every now and then my bosses will come to me with something they found online, got an email about or saw at the last trade show. And if they want to do it, we usually do it. Unless it’s a horrible idea, we’re already doing something similar or the price is really off, I don’t fight it and it gets done.

When your name is on the side of the building, you get to spend the money as you see fit.

In terms of pitching a product, the most effective way is to bypass gatekeepers completely and get it in the hands of the decision makers. If they like it then they will make it happen.

This is where networking, presenting your product at trade shows and other information sessions and other methods of rubbing elbows with decision-makers really pays off. You don’t have to play the numbers game of cold calling anymore because you’re not trying to plow through as many gatekeepers as possible.

What’s Your Take?

If you’re out there trying to make a go of selling online marketing as a freelancer, what problems have you ran into with gatekeepers?

Have you used any successful tactics that get you in front of the decision makers?
Bradley Burnie 9 years ago
I am a gatekeeper was well. I get this types of calls daily. As soon as you lie/mislead to bypass me, I hang up the phone. Be friendly, and to the point, we have stuff to do. No is a NO, calling again asking for someone else doesn't work, LOL. And if you piss us off?? There is no way in hell we'll pass you through.