By the powers vested in me by Research magazine, I am declaring the month of June “National Gatekeeper Month.” Have you hugged your gatekeeper today? Who exactly are these unsung heroes of the financial advisor’s practice? They are the brave men and women who ultimately decide who gets to talk to or see Mr. or Ms. Rep. Day in and day out, they field inquiries and questions from clients, prospects, and, oh yes, product companies.
There is nothing in the world more frustrating than trying to sell something to someone and encountering… the gatekeeper. We’ve all talked to gatekeepers in the past. They say things like, “What company are you with?” or “Will he know what this is in regard to?” A great gatekeeper is also very non-committal on the phone: “I’ll be sure to pass along your message.”
How did these people grow into such a powerful force in the financial services industry? It’s simple. We, as an industry, created them. Back about 20 years ago, when I embarked on my financial services career, there weren’t a lot of wholesalers out there. And there certainly weren’t any inside wholesalers. Back then, wholesalers made all their own calls and set their own appointments. They needed to be fluent in all their company’s products. For example, my first territory: I wholesaled life insurance, fixed annuities, immediate annuities and variable annuities. Yep, all of them.
Eventually, however, some national sales manager came up with the idea that if one wholesaler was good, more would be even better! The folks in the ivory tower began dividing up territory and hired a wholesaler for each product line.