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How To Find Direct Phone Lines for Outbound Sales Prospects

3 min readOctober 3, 2013

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This simple fact, that we were told countless times as children, might just hold the secret to outbound sales success. Think about it – would you rather call a key decision maker directly, or go through a switchboard?  Sales data from Vorsight, a company that specializes in appointment setting, reveals that direct numbers have a powerful impact on pipeline. Their research shows that doubling the amount of direct lines on your calling list triples the amount of opportunities created! According to the data, a rep with 51% direct lines on a call-down list was able to book 11 meetings in a month while a rep with 97.6% booked 33.

Shark Tank TV show judges

If you want to pitch like a contestant on Shark Tank, you need a direct line of communication with your prospect.

We previously wrote that more executives are willing to pick up the phone. While it’s a good time for outbound prospecting overall, acquiring an executive’s direct line offers the clearest path to crushing quota.

However, getting an executive’s direct line can be easier said than done. Discovering a prospect’s direct line can sometimes feel like P.I. work, but all signs indicate that it’s worth the effort.

Here are some recommendations to help inside sales reps connect with prospects directly.

Explore Sales Intelligence Software

In our view, it’s well worth the expense to simply purchase access to the data, if it exists.

There are several paid directories that can offer direct numbers as well as other profile informaiton. While these services will vary in terms of accuracy and completeness, given Vorsight’s data, they may be well-worth the investment. We’re fans of Data.com ( formerly Jigsaw, and currently owned by Salesforce.com), which also delivers profiles from D & B.

While we’ve never personally used DiscoverOrg, the company boasts 94% direct lines for contacts in their database.

Direct Phone Numbers Within Email

It’s usually far easier to get a prospect’s email address than direct line. If you can get a lead to respond to your email, chances are that their direct phone number will be listed within their email template.  This is true even of auto replies, when execs are out of the office.

Social Media

On rare occasions, leads will include their direct line on their Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook pages. We’ve also seen direct numbers shared in tweets in an effort to take a conversation offline.

Navigating the Company Directory

If no direct lines exist in external databases, don’t rule out company directories. This method is slow, but you’d be surprised how often executives can be located and dialed by saying or typing the right command into an automated phone menu.

Charm the Gatekeeper – And Don’t Lie to Them

direct line executive If a human answers, you’ve reached your first gatekeeper. Gatekeepers can often be guarded and nasty. Much like a nightclub bouncer, their job is to let the right people through and keep out the riffraff. But with the right approach, you can sometimes convince a gatekeeper to divulge a prospect’s direct line or transfer you.

Whatever you do, don’t pretend to be someone else, or lie. This will effectively end any chance of getting past the gatekeeper in the future.

Instead, emphasize touch points you’ve had in the past. Example: “Mike requested an eBook from us last week, and I’m following up to make sure he received it and see if he had any questions.”  In this case, Mike’s “request” was a download after filling out a web form, but it indicates interest all the same.

If this doesn’t work, it can be helpful to approach other employees who aren’t in a traditional gatekeeper role, such as subordinates in the same department.

Store Direct Numbers in Your CRM For Future Use

As you acquire direct numbers, are you storing them all in your CRM? Solutions such as Revenue.io’s sales enablement app for inside sales automatically logs every single call in Salesforce.com. This is critical, since inside sales process tends to be extremely collaborative, with multiple reps or teams working an account over time. When other reps need to follow up with a lead in the future, they won’t have to jump through the same hoops you did to acquire the direct number. Optimizing sales follow-up is one of the foremost reasons we developed apps that connect telephony with Salesforce.com.