Thorough Sourcing Part III

Remember, at the beginning of the last lesson, I asked the nervous sourcer sitting next to me if I could see his call sheet?

He busily pulled up the Excel sheet that he normally works in.

In the day-long phone sourcing class I had given him and his cohorts the day before I had instructed them to prepare a call sheet (in Word) for our individual work together that included not only the job description of the job we’d be working together but also the companies they wanted to target for names as well as information on each company. That included listing those companies along with:

“…their addresses, websites, main numbers, their fax numbers, a brief bio on what the company does and any names they already have at the company.”

I looked at the Excel sheet and asked him where the job description was. He said he didn’t have one.

I asked him where the bio information was on each company. He scrolled right on the sheet until I saw a brief explanation of what the company did. It was 6-8 words, max.

I asked him where the names were that he already had at the company. He showed me a few scattered names,  most of which did not include titles or direct dial phone numbers.

I looked to see where the phone numbers for each company were. The ones I saw listed looked suspicious because most of them did not look like the “sweetheart” numbers many companies wiggle away from the phone company. They’re called “sweetheart” because, in an effort to be easy to remember, companies originally desired 00 numbers, as in their last four numbers including “00,” as in 4500, 2100, 6700, etc.

As I remember, the “00” was meant to bring up an image of a heart — therefore the “sweetheart” imagery.

Many of his numbers looked like direct-dial extensions far away from numbers that looked easy to recall.

Nor did I see addresses or fax numbers or the company websites.

I sighed.

This isn’t unusual: rarely do I encounter what I asked for in the first day of training.

Habits are hard to break — the Lord knows I know, but sometimes, when you’re being tasked to do what the teacher asks, for goodness sakes do it!

The first part of any sourcing assignment is to listen to the instructions.

The group had been given a 40-question “Phone Sourcing Quiz” at the end of the previous day’s training. It included the following question:

True or False? Most phone sourcers are Extroverts … they like to talk a lot!

This guy had given the right answer the day before: False. We had spent a good amount of time on the fact that one of the most important components of phone sourcing was listening, and he hadn’t listened to my instructions!

This is so common I can hardly describe my frustration. I’m not sure if it’s because they want to get started on the work that they skip the instructions or they really think ignoring the instructions is the answer and that their way is the better way.

If it’s the latter, there’s no sense in paying me thousands of dollars to come beat it in between their ears.

Apparently, that’s what some people need.

I prefer the tongue-lashing approach to a beating at the post.

Where are the fax numbers?

“I didn’t get them.”

The web addresses?

“I didn’t get them.”

The addresses?

“I didn’t get them.”

And why do we need them?

“Oh, yeah. For information in case we need it.”

And why might we need it?

“In case we can’t get in past the Gatekeeper.”

And why else?

“So we can call into the individual hinterland offices of the companies that some of their employees might be in?”

That too — why else?

He was catching on at this point.

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“Because you told us to?” he asked, looking like a deer caught in a headlight.

“Because I told you to,” I repeated, letting my displeasure show.

I don’t think he’ll make that particular mistake again.

So there we were — and I had a decision to make. Do I spend one hour of the two I had allotted for his personal training setting up his job properly, or do I dive in, taking the chance that my expertise can flub through and past what information was missing.

I chose the flub through path, crooked as it was.

I’m going to stop here and talk a minute about listening.

If you do not listen (and this includes thoroughly reading) to the instructions on a job you may as well not even start it.

I say this because I want to impress upon you how important organization is when you’re phone sourcing.

There’s an Early American proverb that states:

“There’s many a Slip twixt the cup and the lip.”

What it’s always meant to me is that much can be lost between the time you pick up an object (or a project) and move it. If you don’t listen to the early instructions on a sourcing project (and this applies to you Internet sourcers too, en massed that you are) you’re going to miss key components that can help you achieve your goals.

In next week’s lesson we’re going to see what it’s like to navigate a poorly set-up job. In a later lesson we’re going to see what ease is brought to a properly set up one!


This is an on-going series regarding phone sourcing. The beginning of this project is here.

Subsequent portions will appear weekly.

Here is this Tuesday’s Phone Sourcing Tip. It is also listed in the ASK Maureen group here on ERE.

I hope you’ll join and contribute to our discussion!

Asking more than one question at a time (or giving out too much information) overwhelms most Gatekeepers.

After you’ve stated your name and repeated hers back to her (if she told you her name when she answered), give her one request only.

“Hi Sheila, this is Maureen Sharib. Can you please transfer me to your Quality department?”

That’s much better received than:

“Hi Sheila, this is Maureen Sharib. I’m working on a project and I need to speak with all your quality engineers. Can you tell me who they all are and then can you transfer me to one of them?” is just way too scary and way too many words for her to hear anything but what sounds like to be a “name raid” to her.

Trust me, she knows what a “name raid” is.

Easy does it.

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, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!


3 Comments on “Thorough Sourcing Part III

  1. This story looks like a classic case of two people misunderstanding each other. We have a case of a manager who is controlling, “Because I told you to,” and analytical, and an employee who is communicative, with the possible fault of seeking popularity, who also shows a preference to “get” the big picture and so is not too hot on analysing the detail. The two characters are almost diametrically opposite to one another. To motivate such a staff member the manager needs to convey the big picture, just being told to “do it” is not motivational enough. A person chosen for their extroversion will be good at selling the “sizzle” and not the sausage, and yet the manager, in this case, is asking the individual to analyse the ingredients of the sausage. It is a common mis-understanding that to be good on the phone you need to be an extrovert. However, being a Resourcer entails an eye for detail and also the act of gathering that detail should be a motivation in itself. It should be noted though that the bulk of such people, who are good at information gathering, tend to be intravert and would be considered as good Office Administrators. Consequently, the art of recruiting the right calibre of staff for resourcing roles should be to find intraverts who are out-going, this is not the same as being extrovert. Therefore, I propose, that a successful Resourcer is, first and foremost, an administrator type of person with an eye-for-detail, who loves to demonstrate their organisational and administrative skills, with a propensity to follow procedure but, is sufficiently out-going and confidently communicative enough to talk people through what is being requested of them. With training, someone with that personality will be very persuasive, persistent and patient.

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