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The SingSong Sourcing Experience

by
Maureen Sharib
Jan 27, 2012, 5:37 am ET

I had that singsong experience again yesterday while (phone) sourcing.

What’s the singsong experience?

It’s when a Gatekeeper starts offering information, in a continuous pattern, to your request.

Don’t misunderstand — I had spent several hours sourcing into a particular entertainment company with very little — almost none — success.

Several hours.

Admittedly, the customer said it was a challenge.

Then I got “lucky.”

It was 7 my time and 4 on the West Coast where my target was located.

I was frustrated.

I was slightly angry.

That’s how I get when I get frustrated.

Infantile — I know — you don’t have to tell me but sometimes it serves me. Other time I just try to stay away from other people, but last night what felt like an unproductive day motivated me.

I hate to go to bed feeling like a loser.

I kept dialing.

Finally, on one call I was transferred from the Gatekeeper’s console to an executive assistant (to one of the Executive VPs who reported to the CEO).

She answered!

Most at this company had not been answering throughout the day. I had been doing a lot of “stabbing in”* with few results.

I had been given a list of names inside the company and the request was to fill in the reporting structures under those names.

I needed the reports of the EVP she reported to. I had one of them from the customer. My gut was telling me there were several more.

‘Hi Judy — whatcha’ need?” she asked, all friendly-like.

I’m sorry, Marla, this is Maureen–”

(Before the receptionist/gatekeeper transferred me I asked her (quickly) whom she was transferring me to. She gave me the EA’s name (Marla) so that’s why I knew it. Marla didn’t say her name when she answered.)

She cut in before I could finish. Actually, I was finished. I say as little as possible when I’m calling.

“Oh, you’re coming in from the reception desk — no matter!” she chirped. “Whatcha’ need?”

Now, don’t ask me why she said “no matter” and then don’t ask me why she asked me what I needed. She just did. It happens, sooner or later. You just have to get to the later sometimes.

I told her what I needed:

“I was trying to reach Peter Boyle’s group — I understand you support him?”

“Yes,” she answered, pleasantly.

“I understand Matt Hogue’s title has changed (the receptionist/gatekeeper had given me that much).”

“Yes, he’s the CFO now. He was the VP,” she confirmed, still pleasant.

I could feel myself tensing. When you’re phone sourcing you reach a do-or-die moment when you can sense if the person on the other end is going to proceed (or not). I was at that moment and my neck and shoulder muscles were hurting from the day’s frustrations. I sensed she would go on.

“But I don’t have the other members of the group. Can you tell me who they are?” I dice-rolled.

Like I said, this do-or-die moment is fraught with emotion for many phone sourcers — the phone sourcers reading this know what I mean. Phone sourcing is a high-stress activity, admittedly. It’s a big part of why many people don’t like doing it.

She trilled off seven names.

I was tired so I misspelled a couple, tripping on the keys as she was trilling but I got them down best I could without interrupting her roll.

I knew once I had the names I could cipher out the titles somehow.

Maybe even with her.

The names are the most important thing.

I gambled further, knowing from experience if she told me this much she’d go further with me:

“And can you tell me, Marla, what Jerome’s title is?”

“Accounting Manager,” she shot back.

“I think I misspelled Ann’s last name. What is it?” I asked, all the while horrified at the indecipherable mess I had made of it.

“Schuster?” she asked. I recognized the incongruent letters I had typed and also recognized how the mess I was staring at could be Schuster.

“Yes; with a ‘c’ or no ‘c’?” I vollied.

“With a ‘c’: S-C-H-U-S-T-E-R,” she slowly spelled.

I said nothing, listening to the silence when she finished.

I felt she wasn’t (finished).

“And she spells her first name with an e,” she added, breaking the silence.

“Thanks. I had it without,” I told her, matter-of-factly.

I was fighting to control my voice.

“And Lisa? What’s Lisa’s title?” I went on, holding my breath.

“Reservations VP,” she said.

Here comes the singsong part — it’s always music to my ears.

“And Jan is Marketing Director, John is Director, Business Operations, Pam is Regional Director of Sales and Ken — Sr Director Product Development,” she sang trippingly off her tongue, getting the job done.

“And you have Matt — CFO,” she finished.

It’s almost like they go into some sort of trance.

“Yes, I do have him,” I admitted, with an emphasis on “him.”

That’s it?” I asked, doing a final check while still typing what she had just told me, the last part from memory. I’m lucky in that voice/sound seems to “implant” itself into my memory (I keep hearing like what it was said) for a few seconds after I hear something.

“That’s it,” she answered, convincingly.

Quickly, I then said, “Marla, you’ve been a great help — I do appreciate it. Thank you and Good-bye!”

She said “Good-bye” and I hung up.

I breathed a long sigh and sat back, arching and stretching my arms around my keyboard and adjusting my head on my shoulders. I heard cracking and felt relief.

Now, you’re wondering why she told me all that she did and why, finally, it got easy? I don’t know for sure but I have my suspicions. I’d like to hear yours first, though. Tell me what you think.

*stabbing in When you call in to a company’s internal dial system; willy-nilly with the expectation that someone will answer at their desk who will be able to give you information. It’s (usually) a very effective phone sourcing technique!

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Carol Schultz

    Maureen,

    It never ceases to amaze me at the information some folks will give up. When you sound confident and like you know what you’re doing, people cough up info. When you sound a bit confused, they want to help and cough up info. At least that’s been my experience. I developed a method of getting names out of companies (pre internet) and it never failed to provide many names. As you know, today most people don’t want to do the hard work to get this information.

  2. Keith Halperin

    @Carol: very few of us will ever have the time or drive to become anywhere nearly as good as Maureen and some of the other world-class sourcers here on ERE. Consequently, in the occasions where you need world-class sourcing help, pay them $40+/name- in most cases, it’s much more cost-effective than you trying to do it yourself.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  3. Krista Bradford

    Maureen,

    Great piece and play-by-play description to unlock the singsong list that is music to our ears: a listing of every team member along with their titles. (It’s kind of like playing a video game and trying to find the secret to get to the next level . . .)

    Keith makes an excellent point. Few in recruiting have the time to develop names (and intelligence) through phone sourcing. That is why phone sourcing is such a terrific investment. While everyone else pursues the same overworked, obvious candidates that you can dial up online, your techniques surface amazing talent that is there — most definitely — but just sitting there with a big old neon sign over their head in flashing lights that says “recruit me”. Sweet. After you identify them, that means you’ve pretty much got those candidates all to yourself because no one else has gone to the trouble to find them.

    I believe Woody Allen once said that “80 percent of success is just showing up”. The phone sourcing technique takes it a step further. With “stabbing”, the secret to success is just showing up, call after call after call after call knowing you’ll get there. And you do. Time and time again, you do.

    Cheers,
    Krista

  4. Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Krista.

    -kh

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