After looking at the last blog entry, something else came to mind and it was sparked by a conversation I had in the office with the manager of Prospex, Inc.

She asked me if I had ever been a hacker in addition to a “Nerd Herder”.

Naturally, I pleaded the fifth to avoid incriminating myself.

Now, if you’ve ever been in I.T., you’ve probably had to “hack” a system to get it operational, gain access after all other avenues were locked out or you just had to get some speed out of an aging system.

What she probably wanted to know was if I had ever tried to gain access to an operational system that I was not supposed to be able to access, to which I have to reply with a no.

I have never really found any excitement in trying to find or access a system that I was not supposed to have access to. There was always too much in my own back yard to explore for me to go looking elsewhere.

But I have always been curious how other individuals went about this activity, especially since there seems to be a rash of computer break-ins, security breaches, viral attacks, spyware, worms, trojan horses, etc… all aimed at gaining access to other people’s systems, like yours and mine.

It turns out that the general public has a glorified notion of hackers fueled by movies and TV shows like “the X files”, “Hackers”, “The Net”, “Sneakers”, “Swordfish”, and “The Matrix” to name a few.

Most security breeches and hacks are not caused by kids with keyboards traveling down tunnels of light watching bits of data fly by as they “surf” to the computer core. There is no man outside of your building tapping into the phone line with super sophisticated equipment capable of cracking the 128-bit encryption used on your data stream unless you have a reason to suspect that the NSA is peeking over your shoulder.

Truth is, most of the hacks and security breeches that happen are perpetrated by someone who has been out back diving in your dumpster searching for discarded records and leftover bills. They are looking for names, addresses, phone numbers or any other kind of information that may be used to brute force their way into your network.

And once they have something, they will want to verify the information and expand on it. They will do this by calling and saying something like, “Hello Larry, My name is Harry Hacker and I’m calling in regards to Scam magazine. In order to receive this magazine, I just need to confirm your information…”

When I first began in outside sales, I started many of my phone calls this way, calling to confirm information. I didn’t understand why I was hung up on so much.

Now, after receiving some of these calls myself, and getting to know the “hacker process” I can understand why.

My intrepid young sales rep from the executive level magazine started her sales call this same way yesterday morning. And it sent all sorts of red flags off in my head.

I don’t think she was a hacker, but as a sales rep, you don’t want to leave this perception to chance.

Here is a tip to anyone who is using the phone as a selling too.

When you call into a company and get a prospect on the line, you are there to sell something, not to verify information. Hackers call to confirm information.

You are calling to move the sales process forward.

Start your call off by establishing rapport and creating value for your client. You’ll get further along in the sales process.