Voicemail? Email? Success Takes A Conversation

I saw an interesting discussion posted in one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to. It asked:

When “cold calling” on a company for the first time, what is the best way to make contact that gets results? Assume you have no “in” at the company.

There were 64 votes. The voting results follow:

  • Email (4%)
  • Telephone (until you reach them live) (18%)
  • Inmail once (1%)
  • Email, then follow up by telephone (28%)
  • Telephone, then follow up by email (46%)

I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to change “company” to “person” and change “Assume you have no in at the company” to, “You don’t know this person.”

Which would you choose?

I’m a phone sourcer who’s asked many times to take my research one step further and contact each of the names I’ve sourced to “profile” them for their interest in the opportunity my customer represents. So, I would choose Door #2: Telephone (Until You Reach Them Live).

I know that makes me a minority, but I have my reasons for doing this.

I call and call and call until they answer. It doesn’t mean I call repeatedly in one day, but it does mean I might call once or twice a day for a week. I do it in list format. I keep notes on each name in my work document with the date, time of call, and what happened on the call.

Like this:

Tom Jones Satellite Antennae Design Engineer 831 xxx 5734

Feb 3 11:47 am reached his voicemail

Feb 4 9:15am same

Feb 4 2:13pm Reached/ he said the opportunity “mildly” interested him and he agreed to profile.

I then mark it “PROFILED.”

Voicemails Get Ignored

One of the reasons I don’t leave messages is I don’t get paid unless I reach them and gather their information. But moving beyond that silly pragmatism lies my firm belief that most voicemail messages go unheeded.

Once in a lucky while my notes look like this:

Sheila Mathews Business Analyst x58976

Feb 1 8:58am Answered; is definitely interested as long as she doesn’t have to move. PROFILED

More often, it looks like this:

Chris Schuster Market Research Analyst

Feb 1 9:08am VM (voicemail)

Feb 1 3:56pm VM

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Feb 2 11:15am VM — says he’s on vacation ’til Feb 10

Feb 10 3:55pm VM

Feb 11 10:13am VM

Feb 11 1:03pm Answered; PROFILED

Three Calls Get You In

Many times I have to call two, three, and four times to have the person on the other end answer live. I’d say an average number of calls (most industries) before reaching someone live is three.

I’m going to assume that the “Telephone, then follow up by email” choice above means a voicemail was left and then an email was sent. This assumption is based on my experience in what many people generally do. It is also based on the fact that a potential candidate is being contacted who is not necessarily looking for a job.

Many people never even listen to their voicemails and some only check them rarely. Even so, many people in our industry insist upon leaving voicemails after one call. Why, if you’re reaching out to them to gauge their interest in one of your opportunities? Why leave such an important matter to chance?

Once you have the name of someone who you know can do the job you have open, why take the chance of them not calling you back? After all, they’re “not looking for a job.” Why in the world would they call you back when they know that’s what you’re calling about?

It’s bad enough that many will tell you this when you do reach them. It’s your challenge to overcome that objection and press on with them to pique their interest.

So given all that, why would you leave a voicemail that handicaps yourself to a very low chance of return?

Oh, I know the yadda yadda, “I don’t leave an explicit message; I leave a teaser. They call me back to find out what it’s about.” Great. So they call you back and none of them are miffed that what they hear from you is nothing near what they were expecting?

It seems to me that would put a heavier burden upon a recruiter’s shoulder.

Isn’t the job hard enough?

So, what do you do? What would you have answered?

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!