I'm sorry are you the organ grinder or the monkey?

Picture of a monkey sitting in front of an old style organ quickly Photo-shopped by Stephen Hart of Edenchanges!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #9

I'm sorry are you the organ grinder or the monkey?

Have you had the experience of reception putting you through to someone and when the other person answers they don’t say who they are?

Naturally the first step is to ask them if they are the person you were trying to reach. Sometimes, although not often, senior decision makers will be abrupt on the phone when they don’t know you and not introduce themselves properly although it is reasonably uncommon for them to do that.

What is more likely  when you are speaking to someone who didn’t introduce themselves is that they are another gatekeeper and someone that reception has put you through to so that your call can be further screened.

So ask if they are the person you originally wanted and if they say they aren’t them and still don’t provide a name then I do one of two things. Either I simply ask to speak with the original person or I ask for the name of the person I’ve come through to. I always word that the same way, which is:

“I’m sorry, I don’t know who I’ve come through to?”

They will in almost all cases give me their name in response to that question; make sure your tone is slightly confused or quizzical.

And my next question is always:

“And what’s your title FIRST NAME” 

(I always use their first name when asking)

You see my rule is that apart from asking them a question here or there I won’t have a conversation with someone when I don’t know who and what they are. First of all I don’t think that’s professional or polite and secondly I can’t tailor what I’m going to say unless I know the title of the individual.

Now if the title doesn’t give me enough information to assume that they are responsible for the thing that I want to talk about then I’ll ask

“What are you responsible for?”

Again I’m not willing to talk, and by extension try to sell, to someone whose areas of responsibility and power are unknown to me. That would be nonsense.

By adopting a slightly confused tone you should get answers to all three questions and thus be in a position to either hold a proper conversation with them or ask them to put you through to a more relevant contact.

Should you hit further resistance and they start demanding to know who you are then give them your name and title (business consultant is better than recruitment consultant at this point) and again ask them who they are. Explain you’ve come through blind and didn’t expect to speak with them, nor did you ask to speak with them so … who are they and what do they do!

If you’re getting bogged down or the person is totally closed off then I’d end the call and make a further call to the company at a different time.

After all if the other person doesn’t give you the common courtesy of their name and title then you aren’t going to be forming a great business relation with them anyway.

And to paint the full picture for you if we go back to the beginning of the conversation when I’ve asked for the original person and if the unknown individual brushes off the request and wants to know what the reason for the call is then I will ask them who they are in exactly the same way as I listed above.

I hold to my rule that I will not have a conversation unless I know to whom I’m speaking and I don’t think you should either.

More Recruitment Advice Next Week

That's all the Lessons from the Wolf Pack this week - tune in next Wednesday for more advice from the recruitment front lines. 

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com
PS No monkeys were harmed during the creation of this article although one was hastily photo-edited onto the picture of an organ


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