Leadership Lesson

How to ace B2B Sales – Avoid this one mistake.

Understand the difference between the decision maker, influence, and gatekeeper.


B2B sales calls come in all shapes and sizes. You might be reaching a single buyer or trying to get through to several people in an organization. Regardless of whom you are talking to, your pitch must be tailored to them and their role on the team. In this article, I will review the players you’ll likely encounter during your B2B sales calls: decision makers, gatekeepers, and influencers. I will also advise on how best to approach these different roles so you can most effectively sell your product or service!

All B2B sales calls have at least one decision maker and at least one gatekeeper.

In B2B sales, it is essential to understand the difference between the decision maker, influencer and gatekeeper.

All B2B sales calls have at least one decision-maker. The decision maker is the person who makes the final call about whether their company can use your product or service.

All B2B sales call also have at least one gatekeeper. A gatekeeper controls access from others in your organization to a person/department/group in another organization that has not yet bought from you (but may do so). Gatekeepers are often internal—for example, a marketing manager might be your gatekeeper if they control communications between you and their clients or prospects on behalf of their company. Porters can also be external—for example; an account executive might function as a gatekeeper because they know all of his client’s information, including what other vendors they use, how much they spend per year and where they spend it – information that could help him convince them that using your services would save them money!

The decision maker pulls the trigger on all sales decisions.

The decision-makers role is central to the sales process. They have the authority to make a purchase decision and have a budget to spend on your product or service. Their job is often high-level, so they do not need a lot of day-to-day operational details. They mainly care about whether you can solve their problem and how much it will cost them.

They often work alone in an office without any other people around them. They might not even speak with anyone else about what you are selling except for their assistant or secretary (a gatekeeper).

Suppose your company does business B2B (business-to-business). In that case, chances are you will need to contact a decision-maker at one point or another during your sales cycle.

Gatekeepers guard access to the decision-maker. They can be buyers, but they may not be.

Gatekeepers are not always buyers. They may be peers or usually a subordinate. They control access to the decision maker, who is typically an executive or decision maker with authority to buy whatever you sell.

Gatekeepers can be hard to identify because they do not always want their identity known—they may not want their boss to know they are stopping them. They prefer that you contact them directly rather than going through their superior. Gatekeepers also like saying “no” to people without anyone knowing about it (or having any record). This means that gatekeepers are often extremely careful about whom they allow into their inner circle, so if you do not fit into their social circle out of the gate (i.e., when trying to get in touch with them), then your chances of getting through are slim-to-none unless you’re very lucky or persistent enough

Influencers are the people who influence the decision-maker to buy a particular product or service.

Influencers are the people who influence the decision-maker to buy a particular product or service. They can be buyers or not, and they are the people you need to understand and influence to get your product or service sold. They can be anyone close to the decision maker whose opinion affects their decisions.

The influence may not be the person you usually talk to. They can be anyone close to the decision maker whose opinion affects their decisions. Influencers can include colleagues, friends, or family members. You need to identify these people when working with B2B salespeople because they are often highly influential in buying decisions for their company.


The buying team comprises three roles: decision-maker, gatekeeper, and influencer. The decision maker pulls the trigger on all sales decisions and usually takes responsibility for budgeting and authorizing purchases. The gatekeeper guards access to the decision-maker by filtering out unnecessary sales calls from people who do not fit into their organization’s culture or business model. Influencers can be anyone on your list which has some influence over the potential buyer’s decisions about what type of company they work for or what products they should buy from you (or not!).

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