As a gatekeeper, your role is just what it sounds like: you have to "guard" your office, your supervisor and the rest of the members of your staff. While it may sometimes be useful to hear sales pitches and other presentations from companies and individuals who want to sell your company products or services, many businesses make a habit of "cold calling" potential clients. While sometimes this results in a sale, it also can completely demolish a carefully planned schedule and keep your employer from getting things done that really must be done. As a gatekeeper, you must sometimes keep those salespeople at bay - literally - by identifying them before they move past you and start their pitch to your boss.
For starters, be aware that not all salespeople are "evil." They are just doing their jobs like anyone else. However, some salespeople will try to trick their way into an audience. For example, they may ask for your employer by his or her first name, as if they are personal acquaintances. It may be tempting to simply forward on someone who appears to be on a first-name basis, but this is a common trick. Make sure you identify the person calling and clear them before sending them on.
Next, be kind but firm. If your boss does not take sales calls, period, then do not tell a salesperson that he or she could call them back. Simply state firmly that your company does not handle sales in this manner. Be polite but do not bend. If you sound like you might change your mind, then you convey the message that another call a different time might yield different results. If your boss or someone else in the company does handle sales, but in a scheduled fashion, then it is perfectly fine to firmly set a time for the salesperson to call back and speak to someone.
Being a gatekeeper is not always easy. Sometimes you will feel like the "bad guy" because people trying to get past you may feel frustrated and take that out on you. However, you can rest assured that you are doing the best that you can do for your boss and your company if you are sticking to company policy and keeping the gates up when necessary.