“I’d call my prospect, but I don’t have their phone number.”

Let’s say that you agree with my last two articles (If They Aren’t Available, Should I Leave a Voicemail? & Have You Heard of the Telephone?), and that you’re willing to reach out via telephone, but for whatever reason you don’t know your prospect’s telephone number. Maybe you have their company’s main number, or perhaps you even have their email address, but you don’t have a direct number.

I’m a firm believer that calling the gatekeeper is often a recipe for disaster, so it’s best to get a direct number (even a mobile number) whenever possible. But that’s not always easy.

What to do?

1. LinkedIn. If you’re connected to your prospect, there’s a button just below their headline and photo on their LinkedIn Profile labeled “Contact Info.” Click it. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a phone number. That button will appear for 2nd and 3rd degree connections as well.

If you’re not so lucky, you can always call your mutual connection and ask them for your prospect’s number.

2. Facebook. This may be a shot in the dark 80% of the time or more, but when it works it’s amazing. And it only takes 30 seconds. Find your prospect on Facebook and click “About” under their picture. The next page has a section called “Contact Info.” Often, you’ll find a personal email address listed there. I’ve found a phone number about 20% of the time.

3. Jigsaw.com or Data.com. Perhaps the greatest contact info site ever, and your best chance for finding a phone number for your prospect. I’ve listed it third because unlike LinkedIn and Facebook, there’s a membership requirement and/or small charge for the service if you’re not subscribed in some way already. I’ve been using Jigsaw for over five years – it’s amazing. About two years ago Jigsaw sold to Salesforce.com, who renamed the service Data.com. So, if your company uses Salesforce, you may already have an integrated account. If not, go to Jigsaw.com and sign up. You can read more about how the service works in the week’s edition of fRickun Cool.

Jigsaw.com is a socially powered B2B database with over 30 million contacts (email, phone, and address). If you can’t find the specific prospect you’re hunting for, you will get darn close. Big hint: if your prospect isn’t in the database, you’ll likely find their boss. Call the boss – they’ll be happy to send you in the right direction. The higher up the totem pole you reach, the easier it is to make the sale.

4. Google. I’ve found phone numbers in the least expected places on the web. Once it was on a PTA website. Another time it was on a softball team list. Pretending your prospect’s name is “Bill Jones” try Googling phrases like:

Bill Jones phone
Bill Jones telephone
Bill Jones number
Bill Jones contact
Bill Jones office
Call Bill Jones

Note: If your prospect’s name actually is Bill Jones, it’s going to be a lot tougher to find his number on Google. You’ll probably want to add the city he works in, or the name of his company, or his job title. A more unique name (like mine, Noah Rickun) will be MUCH easier.

5. Call the wrong number on purpose. This one is not for everybody. It’s not necessarily professional and it’s a little slimy. But it works. Here’s how: you call anyone else in the company or department (but not the receptionist) on their phone line and pretend you dialed them by accident. You can try changing the last digit or two of the main number and you’ll probably get right through. Or just ask for anyone in sales – sales people love to talk and they love to help.

Let’s say your prospect is named George. You call Lisa instead (because you don’t know George’s number). When Lisa answers the phone, in your most confused or flustered voice possible, “Oh! Lisa…I’m so sorry. I thought I was calling George. I must have written his number down wrong.” Often, Lisa will offer up the correct number right away. Other times you’ll have to ask her for it. Either way, you win.

To be great at sales you have to be willing to dig a bit deeper than the next guy, you have to be willing to be a little more creative than the next guy, and you have to be willing to think and act like a detective sometimes. The strategies above will get you started, but they aren’t the only ways to get a prospect’s phone number. Your creativity, combined with your willingness to take risks, will determine your success.

PS I’ve probably missed a few other methods. I’d love to learn about yours. So would your fellow readers. Share your best tips in the comments below!


photo credit: beowulf sheehan

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