Red Flags: Mistakes Phone Sourcers Make in Their Calls


Normally the flags go up when phone sourcers ask me, especially when they’re new at it, “What do I do/say if/when she asks me why I need the information I ask her for?”

The truthful answer to this is that if the Gatekeeper asks you this question, the high probability is that you didn’t approach her properly*. But, like everything there are exceptions. I’m going to go through a few of them with you.

The first thing that runs a red flag up a Gatekeeper’s pole is saying too much. Many sourcers, because they’re nervous, talk too much.

“Hi, Lorraine, this is Mike Schmidt. I’m working on a list for my boss and I need to know who all your Java engineers are.”

Do you see what you just did here? You offered information that you didn’t need to. It’s called too much information (TMI) and it applies heavily in phone sourcing. You just invited her to ask you more about your “list.”

“Hi, Lorraine, this is Mike Schmidt. I’m working on a list for TheServerSide Java Symposium 2011 coming up next March in Las Vegas, and I need to know who all your Java engineers are so I can invite them.”

What’s wrong here?

You’re not working on a list for TheServerSide Java Symposium 2011 coming up next March, and she can probably hear it in your voice that you’re lying. Chances are you’re sweating bullets through the phone and expert gatekeepers can feel your heat through the phone.

Most people can not tell lies effectively. You’re not likely to be one who can.

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Think I’m kidding? Ask any professional Gatekeeper. Hell, ask just about anyone. Many people can tell when they’re being lied to.

“Hi, Lorraine, this is Mike Schmidt. I’m working on a list for my boss and we’re on deadline. In fact, if you don’t tell me who all your Java engineers are, my ass is grass and I’m going to lose my job and my five kids won’t eat next week!”

Guess what? A professional Gatekeeper doesn’t care about your kids, and using this cheap trick Drama Queen approach is full of just what it is — Phoney-Baloney.

These are just a few of the common mistakes phone sourcers make when approaching Gatekeepers. Can you think of and offer others?

*Approaching properly: Repeat her name (if she told you her name) and tell her yours.

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!

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2 Comments on “Red Flags: Mistakes Phone Sourcers Make in Their Calls

  1. A mistake I would add is assuming the Gatekeeper knows the information that you want. I have found a lot of times Gatekeepers throw out names and when verified — they are far from related from the title you were trying to obtain.

    Be respectful and sound as if you have authority to do business with this company. Learn if the gatekeeper has the information or go to the department that does… be ready to dig and research with integrity!

    –Heather Bain
    Research Recruiting Manager
    DuffyResearch
    hbain@duffyresearch.com

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