AI Counter Intelligence: Talk Track Angles And Phone Sourcing

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Jan 24, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Artificial Intelligence has taken control. Every day we wage battle against the machines, the robots, the AI. We struggle to find where we fit in, in a world now run by machines. If they win, we as humans will become useless. Extinct. However, there is one man who might be able to stop that from becoming a reality. His name is John Connor. One of his keys to victory is to turn to an old technology – Cyberdyne Systems’ series T800 Model 101. I know. It’s a scary thought. There’s no telling what the Terminator might do. But John is convinced that we can define what role the Terminator takes on, reprogram its talk track and take it from terminator to savior.

term1Similarly, Artificial Intelligence has taken control of the world of sourcing. Like John, one of our keys to victory should be to turn to an old technology – phone sourcing. It too can be scary because there’s no telling what the person on the other end of the phone might say. But if we look at phone sourcing like a terminator, then all we have to do is define a role and reprogram our talk track accordingly.

So let’s define some roles. And let’s start with yours. Are you a sourcer, a recruiter, an executive?

Depending on your position you will take a different angle in your talk track, like hasta la vista, baby. When I call and say, “I’m the President of GRS (Genuine Recruiting Services),” I receive a high level of respect. It takes away fear and doubt and puts me in charge. Every position is different, so go through your various openings and see if there is a good “talk track angle” you can develop that will give you some leverage. So the first position you should look at reprogramming is your role.


Second, what are the roles of your company? Look at the services your business provides, both primary and secondary and reprogram a talk track around that. For example, many recruiting/staffing agencies also conduct industry surveys. If you call into a company to source candidates and you say, “I’m Josh with GRS – we’re conducting an industry-specific survey and would like to talk with your team of developers.” That could be a very well received talk track angle. Conduct the survey and gather the information. Note: Make sure you are conducting a real survey, though. That is one of the keys. Do not lie. Lying leads to distrust and failure. So take some time to understand your company’s different roles as a product or service provider, and that will open up different talk track angles you can take.

The third role you should look at to help you reprogram your talk track is the position of the person answering the phone. If you focus on listening as the phone is ringing once the person answers the phone, you will hear that person’s words, tonality and you will hear background noises. All three of these will queue you in on who you’re talking to.

Listen carefully when a person answers and says, “how may I direct your call?” If his or her voice sounds robotic, mundane, disinterested and there is no background noise, then you’re talking with an operator, most likely. What is the role of an operator? To connect you with the right person. Reprogram a talk track angle for this role. This one is simple. Just state your name and then say the person you want to reach, adding a “please.” It works almost every time.

term2If the person picks up and states the name of the company with polish and asks, “how may I assist you?” While in the background there’s a lot of noise, perhaps you’ve reached a talented office manager. Their role is to represent and protect the company. Reprogramming your talk track around office managers is complex. I’d refer you to Maureen Sharib‘s Magic Method for more details.

Another person might answer “this is Tom,” spoken slowly, with a slight echo. Could it be an average employee of the company, sitting in an office? At this point, I like to apologize for calling the number and ask, “is this the sales department (pick the department you are trying to reach). Nine times out of ten they will say “no, this is marketing,” or whatever the department is. Write that down along with their name. These people might welcome a break from their daily workload and want to talk. You’re calling into their line so they mostly just assume you’re a business partner anyway. That’s good leverage. Now reprogram a talk track angle for this kind of a scenario.

You might also get the company president or a customer service agent, and so on. You get the idea. Knowing the role of the person who is answering the phone will help you reprogram a useful talk track angle.

The world of sourcing is under attack by artificial intelligence. One way to take back control is to turn to an old technology, phone sourcing. Take some time to define your roles, your company’s roles and the functions of the person you’re speaking with. Once you’ve done that you can now reprogram your talk track angle. Having that beforehand will help alleviate your fears of being on the phone and take phone sourcing from Terminator to savior.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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