I always chuckle about this old notion about "getting past gatekeepers".

Why do I say old?

Well in the past, you called people up and pitched your product or service or you sent an email and pitched your product and service or even before that you wrote a letter and pitched your product or service.  Companies built "infrastructure" to stop these calls, emails and letters getting through and bothering company executives.  A whole industry grew up in terms of trying to get your message in front of people.  The gatekeeper was born.

I remember, when I first started working (in the days of letters) the Managing Director's personal assistant (PA) would give him a box file, with the days correspondence.  They would decided what he would read for the day.  The same happens today where the PA or sometimes called today, Executive Assistant (EA) will decide which calls will get through or even which emails would get through.

At my last corporate role, the EAs would have access to the executives email inbox and their job was to keep the number of emails down to a respectable level.  Here at DLA Ignite, we have won piece of business and since the Managing Director has given the go ahead, we have dealt with the EA sorting supplier details, so getting us set up as a supplier, getting the purchase order signed off and which salespeople are going to get the digital skills.

But the notion of "gatekeepers" does hark back to past where the mainstay of organisations was cold calling and email marketing and as we know this just doesn't work anymore so this whole notion of gatekeepers gradually disappears into the past with faxes and Sony Walkmans.

But this blog is about gatekeepers.

Why there are no gatekeepers in the world of social selling

In social, you are dealing with the person's actual social media profiles and while some executives are using people to run their profiles, the notion stays the same.

1.  If you look like "just another salesperson" you will be treated as such 

In the old days when you cold called, you would always need a way of dealing with gatekeepers.  You needed to seem like a fellow business person.  The same with your social profile, such as LinkedIn.

You are your LinkedIn profile.  If it looks like a CV, we assume you are looking for a job.  If your profile is a corporate brochure, we assume you have little business acumen and cannot think for yourself. If your profile talks about yourself, your journey and your expertise, then we assume you are a seasoned business person and we will read on.

Remember in digital your competitors are just one click away, if people are not reading your profile and you are keeping people interested with your story and insight, then they are reading your competitors.

2. If you don't have a network then you won't influence your territory

Your territory is digital now, you should be connected to all your prospects and customers, as the simplest and most efficient way to nurture them.  Everyday you are able to give them a "digital wave" so you are always front of mind, for the good reasons of course.

3. If you are not creating curiosity and intrigue in your network you are easy to forget

One of the ways that the modern buyer and modern gatekeeper will evaluate if they will have any form of conversation with, they will of course check out your social media profiles. It stands to reason.

The second thing we do is we look at your content and the amount of engagement you get.

If you are posting corporate brochures and white papers, it's clear you have little opinion, little business acumen and you can be little help to me.  It's critical you are creating your own content.  It reflects you, your thoughts and people can dig in and see if you can help their business.

Why is the engagement important?  We as business leaders and gatekeepers can see how much your network know, like and trust you.  If you get lots of engagement, it's clear people trust you, if you don't get a lot of engagement then it's clear few people see you adding value.

It's worth noting that, the VPs that out there getting the likes from direct reports and channel partners, everybody knows what you are up to and can see round it.  We know it's not authentic. 

None of this is rocket science, but it's amazing how many businesses and employees don't get digital business and the way that the modern buyer thinks.

So who's doing this?

In case you missed it, the Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch have banned cold calling and have moved all their people to social selling. This isn't some trendy tech company that might have decided to do this on a whim, this is a very conservative financial services company that has made a decision based on data.

But surely cold calling has a better ROI than social selling?  Not according to Merrill Lynch.

"They will also be encouraged to contact prospects over LinkedIn, which has a higher hit rate than cold calling"

The CRO (chief revenue officer), Richard Eltham of Namos Solutions, of one of clients posted a comment on LinkedIn about social selling. See here.

“Social selling is not an option now it is the way of the world and you either learn and execute it or fear getting left behind”