There are many different things a phone sourcer says everyday, but there are some that are said most everyday.
You have maybe three seconds to engage a Gatekeeper.
What you say in those first few, fatal moments will determine in what direction your sourcing call will go.
The following are the most used words and sentences you’d hear if you could sit next to a phone sourcer for a day.
My Name Is…
The first rule in phone sourcing is to “remove the mystery.”
Sometimes just the fact that you communicate (without having to be asked) who you are is enough to cause a Gatekeeper to give you what you’re looking for.
Me: “This is Maureen Sharib; can you please …”
Using the word “please” sends a polite message, one in which you don’t communicate that you think it’s her job to serve you thanklessly.
Being asked to do something without being asked to “please” do something sends two very different messages.
It’s just as easy to say, “please” as it is to neglect it.
“Can you please tell me …?”
Can You Tell Me?
Can You Help Me?
Can You Show Me?
Can You Transfer Me?
Asking directly for what it is you’re after creates a subtle form of collaboration with a Gatekeeper.
The word “can” (in these questions) also indicates vulnerability in yourself; the fact that you’re asking for help attests to the fact that you’re willing to listen.
A willingness to listen carries its own set of charms.
Asking for help also indicates an inferred level of trust; that you trust her to do something for you.
The word “can” also sends up a subtle challenge to someone to attest to something by affirmatively stating an answer that something can be done.
Yes, I can tell you …
Yes, I can help you …
Yes, I can show you …
Yes, I can transfer you …
Replacing the word “can” with the word “will” sets up an entirely different set of circumstances for your call, doesn’t it?
Maybe I Can Help you
There are times when a Gatekeeper can be led taught encouraged to help you.
It becomes obvious (in her reaction to what you ask her for) pretty fast whether or not a Gatekeeper understands what you’re after.
Maybe she understands what you’re after but is unwilling to help you, too. That’s another can of worms.
If a Gatekeeper “sounds” wholly perplexed by the language you’re using, a pleasant (and simple), “Do you have the ability to search in your database?” will sometimes elicit an obedient “Yes” out of her.
Leading her on to search for the “development engineer” title (which you know the company uses because you looked at its jobs site before you called) might just evoke an excited (and pleased) “There’re tons of them! — Who do you need?” response.
That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
I Might (Probably) Have the Wrong Number
Calling in — I call it “stabbing in” — to a company’s workforce is a wonderful alternative (and combat technique) to an unobliging Gatekeeper.
It’s a distinct possibility when you make the “stab-in” call the desk phone that rings on the employee’s desk will not belong to the person(s) you seek.
Stating the obvious is a very good “ice-breaker” to explain your incursion.
“This is Maureen Sharib. I’m pretty sure I have the wrong number. I’m trying to reach accounting. Can you point me in the right direction?” is many times answered, “Sure, okay” and sometimes even with the delightful and rewarding, “Yeah, this is accounting. Who’re you looking for?”
This is related to the above. It can be used in conjunction with the above and is an excellent add-on that softens your advance or apologizes for the assailment.
It’s such a simple thing to say but an easy element to neglect in conversation.
Thanking someone for an effort expended on your behalf is simply good manners and sends a pack of messages; among them the fact that you respect and appreciate what someone is doing/has done for you.
Beyond that, it just feels good for both sides.
Here’s how to say Thank you” in 28 different languages.
Yes, there are times when skilled phone sourcers use silence to their advantage.
It’s a borderline sales technique but works effectively in phone sourcing (isn’t that what sales sometimes is?) as well.
Her: “Phil Peters isn’t the Controller any more.”
Her: (rushing to fill the uncomfortable void) “He’s now the CFO!”
You: “Can you tell me who the Controller is now?”
Her: “I’m not allowed to give out that kind of information.”
Her: “Let me transfer you to the department’s Executive Assistant — maybe she can help you!”