How Did You Get My Number?

Two decades ago I was thrust into the word of cold-calling. One of the more experienced sellers sitting nearby was tasked with ‘helping’ me. I say that, but really, he couldn’t have cared less. We each had a printout, the old style dot matrix kind with the holes down the side and perforated pages ready to rip apart.

He reached one possible buyer during a particular day who said the strangest thing. It kind of ran like this;

It’s lovely that we speak today, as I am just right now looking at the very thing you sell, thanks for getting in touch, it’s lucky you reached me, how did you get my number by the way?

My compadre chuckled and replied by saying it was nothing special, he just had a list of names from the industry printed out and he was simply going through them, line by line.

I remember at the time thinking that his response wasn’t likely to engender huge appreciation buyer-side, yet was refreshingly honest, so maybe it was a good approach after all?

Then when running through some role plays with a technology sales team the other day, a specific buyer came up with this question.

How did you get my contact details?

Apparently, prospects in America regularly ask this early, and before you can continue you must provide a decent answer.

In role plays it can be a bit like improv. You can make all sorts of stuff up and the pretend buyer must go with it. Most people replied in this situation by saying another person had passed on their details.

I wondered what other response would go down well.

When I prospect I like to think that my targeted buyer gets to know not only my name, but that I am so absolutely after them, that I will definitely earn the right to connect. Would re-assuring them that I hand-picked them give a warm and fuzzy feeling, or would it raise the stalker alarm?

Perhaps you could let them know you have carefully selected them, without the trappings of potential boiling bunnies.

And if someone did refer you on, don’t be afraid to be upfront, but beware. How many times have you phoned the head honcho, got given an underlings number, and as soon as you mention this on the subsequent call, the shutters come crashing down?

I suspect a certain distance is best.

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