Five Ways to Name Your Prospect

Guest blog by Wendy Weiss
Author of Cold Calling for Women: Opening Doors and Closing Sales
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

The first step in your cold call is frequently an attempt to put a name on your prospect. You think a particular company is a potential prospect--you just don’t know whom you should speak with. How do you put a name on that person?

Here are five ways to find your prospect’s name: 

1. Ask the receptionist
The easiest way to name your prospect is to simply ask the receptionist. A part of her job is to help you identify the prospect. Another part of her job is to connect you. (Generally, receptionists are underpaid and overworked. Callers are frequently rude, so be very nice to the receptionist; she can be a tremendous help.) 

You: “Before yTou connect me, (P A U S E) I need to reach…” (give title) “Who is that please?”. 
(The key word here is: “before.” You say, “Before you connect me” and then you pause because you want the receptionist to hear the word “before” and that way give you a name before she puts you through.) 

Receptionist: "What is this in reference to?"
(This “What is this in reference to?” is different than later on when the secretary or assistant says it. At this point the receptionist doesn’t really mean what is this in reference to? She means I do not understand what you want, I don’t know who to connect you with. Remember: Her job is to connect you with someone.)

You: (Use the “Broken Record Technique”--Repeat what you just said but elaborate a little. For example, if you want to reach the Senior Vice President of Marketing:) I need to reach whoever handles marketing.  I don’t know if that would be your Senior Vice President of Marketing or your Marketing Director or your Advertising Director... Who would handle that and what is the correct title?

(If you keep using the “Broken Record Technique” and throwing out titles, eventually the receptionist will latch onto one and give you a name)

Sometimes if a company has a policy that they will not give out names at the switchboard you can ask to be connected with that department. When the receptionist in that area answers you start over with “Before you connect me…”

2. Call the Chief Executive Officer:
The theory here is that Executive Secretaries know everything. Call the CEO’s office. Ask for the CEO. When the Executive Secretary says, “What is this in reference to?” tell her. She will then generally point you in the right direction, in addition to which when you get to your prospect you can say, “the CEOs office said I should be meeting with you,” implying that you actually spoke with the CEO. 

3. Randomly change the numbers of the general switchboard number: 
If the general number is –5000, call -5001, -5002, -5003 etc. and keep going until you actually reach a human being. Ask them to help you. “Would you help me please?”  People love to help. Ask: “Who is in charge of that department?” “Who is the liaison with…?”  “Who should I speak with?” “Who would handle that?” Once you get a name, ask: “Do you have a company directory? Would you look up that extension for me?” Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t—but it never hurts to ask.

4. The made-up name:
If asking the receptionist the first time doesn’t work because company policy forbids them to give out names, make up a name and ask the receptionist for that person. The receptionist will say, “There is no one by that name here.” You will say, “Oh, Jane Jones used to be the Senior Vice President of (fill in the blank).  She was the one I always dealt with. Who has taken over for her?” Assuming that the receptionist has not been at the company since the beginning of time and knows there was never any Jane Jones… she may very well give you the prospect’s name.  

5. A last resort;
Call Human Resources. Use the same technique that you use with the receptionist. “Before you connect me…”