Thorough Sourcing Part VII

The class question from last week asked what things are at work that would cause Lisa our Gatekeeper to drop her defenses in the statement below.

“Lisa?  Hi, this is Maureen Sharib. Can you transfer me to Sheila McKinney?  Before you do, though, can you tell me: is Sheila one of the pipeline engineers there? She is? I thought so. In case I can’t reach Sheila, Michael Edwards is also one of the pipeline engineers I could try? That’s great, Lisa. And just in case I can’treach him, either, can you tell me who else in that group I could try?”

I will list them in occurrence, as I see them.

I said her name.

I then identified myself to her.

I asked for her help that included a name of someone inside the company; a name she was likely to recognize.

I asked one question at a time.

I repeated her name during the “interrogation.”

You may see something else. Tell us about it.

We left our student phone sourcer back in Part IV sitting nervously beside me, listening in on my calls.

After we’d managed to expand our call list with locations in the Marcellus Shale zone where we’d likely find the few pipeline engineers that existed in the region and had collected ten or so of them with my efforts I picked up the phone, handed it to him and said, “Your turn.”

He recoiled like I was about to hand him a hot poker, red-hot brand side first.

As he was collecting himself I put on the second head-set so I could listen in and pushed the “mute” button.

Uhhh … Okay,” he said reluctantly, knowing this was part of the program and having been told in advance that I’d do some of the calls as a demonstration before handing it off to him to finish.

What do you think would be best to call next?” he asked.

Texas ought to be open by now — let’s call headquarters of that company and see if they have any offices in the Marcellus Shale region.”

Boldly he dialed the Texas headquarters number of the energy company that we had identified as one of the major players in the region.

He surprised me with his approach.

Hello, Operator this is Max Hines in Ohio. I’m trying to reach Simon Michaelson in Pennsylvania.” I noticed a name he had tucked in to the job. It appeared to have come off LinkedIn.

It looks like we have an office in Williamsport — but I don’t see him listed …” she trailed off, sounding like she was really trying to find Michaelson.

You want the number?” she asked.

Yes, ma’am I do,” Max answered.

She gave it to him.

Then he really surprised me.

Do you have the ability to look into the Williamsport office?” he asked.

I sat back, knowing what was coming next.

She was either going to say “yes” or “no.”

If she said “yes” I knew the possibilities.

She said, “Yes.”

I wondered what he’d do with this opportunity.

If Simon’s not there, is there anyone else listed I might connect with?” he asked.

I exhaled, waiting for the answer.

I was hopeful.

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I wanted this to work for him.

There are about thirty people listed there — what are you looking to do?” she queried.

Ignoring her question, he asked, “Is there another pipeline engineer listed?”

After a brief pause she said, “There looks like there are three of them listed. You want to try them?” she offered.

Yes, Ma’am; that’d be a big help.”

Was I detecting a slight Texas drawl?

After she’d given them to him he went the extra mile and asked if any of them had direct dials.

Two did and one had a cell phone.

Hanging up the phone, I said to him, “I see my work’s done here.”

I’m a clutch player,” he smiled.

I see you are,” I said, rising from the chair and collecting my things.

I’m going to go work with Marianne now. I want you to continue working on this and give me a report in a couple hours. I think you‘re going to do just fine,” I congratulated.

Marianne turned out to be a different story but we had her whipped into some performing shape when I left her desk to go on to the next victim.

It was a struggle though.

Marianne’s heart wasn’t in it.

That story in Part VIII.

This is an ongoingseries regarding phone sourcing. Here’s part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V and part VI.

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!Some keyboards arenoisier than others.

If you’re phone sourcing the way I want you to phone source everything you’re hearing on the phone is going into your research document at the time you’re hearing it! That clickety-clack of the keyboard can stop some Gatekeepers from “sharing” with you. You don’t want that to happen.

I recommend you use a silent keyboard if yours is too noisy. Mine are rubbery and last about six months before the key symbols wear off. You can get one under $50. Here’s the one I have at present. It cost $17 plus shipping.An added benefit of this one is that it lights up.

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!


4 Comments on “Thorough Sourcing Part VII

  1. Maureen – I am enjoying following this so please keep up the good work.

    One thing puzzles me though. Being in the “information gathering” field – why are you so reliant upon Yes/No questions? I find the difference between closed questions (yes/no) and open questions absolutely night and day.

  2. I guess, Jerry, you’re talking about the awaited answer to the “Do you have the ability to look into the Williamsport office?” questions.

    Would you have asked it differently? How?

    I wasn’t aware I was so reliant on yes/no questions. I’ll think about your observation. As a phone sourcer I try my best to elicit information. Can you help me out here and point out how I could do it better?

    Thanks for following this series!

  3. Even this reply shows your inclination to (even though superbly worded) continue with the yes/no stuff.

    It wouldn’t be “Do you have the ability to look into the Williamsport office?” —- come on Mo. That is still a closed question.

    When you ask yes/no stuff (and at times it is needed) you’re really (in reality) asking for a one word answer. Many times sales people are “hoping” the person will choose NOT to answer in the questions desired fashion, rather, choose to elaborate on their own.

    What’s the point of doing that? Challenge yourself. Be creative. Go over the top until you’ve mastered the technique.

    “How hard would it be to connect me with the Williamsport office”?

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