It doesn't take long making recruitment calls before you run into the situation where the person you understood was the decision maker has in fact left the company you are calling.
Hopefully you didn't lie and tell reception that you spoke to them the week before otherwise that could cause you some issues! (Just one of many reasons why I always advocate that you sell with the truth!)
Anyway you've made the call, you've asked for the decision maker and you get told that they have left; so what can you do?
I think there are two natural questions at this point
"Who's replaced them?" or
"Where have they gone?"
It's a close call but my preference is to ask the former because I'm calling this company to try to do business with them. I would rather gain information about that company first and track down the decision maker later. Also it's less likely that the receptionist will know where the decision maker has gone than who's replaced them so on balance I'll ask who's replaced them.
There are three likely responses to this; the receptionist will say that
In the first case find out and be precise "What's their exact title?" and with the second response again clarify their exact current title.
If for example they have said that the "Sales Manager has taken over the Sales Director role" is doesn't necessarily follow that he is now the official Sales Director.
What you want to know is have they taken on the position of the outgoing decision maker permanently or are they simply covering that role part time. Finding out what their current title is gives you a clue as to the situation. If they are still a different title to the decision maker who left then probably they are just covering the role.
Of course you could have asked the receptionist if they are just covering the role or if they had taken it on full time but because I want to know their title anyway and I don't really want to talk to the receptionist for longer than necessary I'm going to gain enough information to work with and then ask to go through.
At this point we should know the name and exact title of the person who is covering the duties of the outgoing decision maker. This gives us enough information to start our conversation with them and indeed it gives us a good question to open with so ask the receptionist to put you through.
Assuming that happens your opening position can be when the new decision makers answers the phone
"Good morning. My name is Archie Goodwin from ABC Global, I've spoken with (or worked with) Frank Smith (the decision maker who has left) previously and I understand you have taken over from him is that correct?"
It is possible that they will say something specific that will clarify if they are doing the role full time or not. If they don't, then explore the situation with a few questions
"Have you taken up the role on a permanent basis?"
"Did you move within the company or have you just joined?"
If they have moved within the company then follow the chain back and find out who has taken over their previous duties. Once you've identified that the individual has taken over full time then start the next half of the conversation with a simple
"How's it going?"
It's a simple and genuine question that wins some empathy and most people in a new role will have something to say about it. After that then you can fully explain what you are and how you are looking to help them and the company. Your call now proceeds as you had planned originally.
Response three from reception was that 'no one' has taken over the role. This means either there is a gap in the organisation or things have been shuffled around to close that gap. Or possibly no one's made a decision yet.
Avoid asking who's recruiting for the role for as long as possible. It immediately red flags us with the reception that we are recruiters and I'd rather avoid that if possible. What I would ask however would be questions like
"Who's handling the duties that Frank was responsible for?"
"Who did Frank report to?" Reception should know this at least. Clarify then that individuals full name and title and then ask "Are they in the office today?" Assuming it's a yes then ask to be put through.
When you reach that individual then reference the fact that you called to speak to Frank but that you understand he's moved on and you were hoping they would know who the best person to speak with now was ... and were they looking to replace Frank because oddly enough you'd love to help!
One of your decision makers might be missing but there is plenty of life in your target company.
Find out who's taken over, have a conversation and track up to the missing decision makers boss if you have to. And remember to track down the missing decision maker in his new role, congratulate him on moving and continue your relationship.
At the end of the day a decision maker moving companies is a great opportunity to win two clients!
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. Or view the archives for more recruitment, sales or other advice.
And remember if you're looking for recruitment training or recruitment coaching for yourself or your team give Edenchanges a ring or drop us an email today.
Until next time; be successful!Stephen Hart Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com