After looking at an earlier blog entry, I had a nasty revelation.  In part, this line of thought grew out of a conversation I had I with the a sales manager.

This manager 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 a system administrator, you’ve probably “hacked” a system to get it operational, gain access after all other avenues were exhausted, or you just had to get some speed out of an aging system.

I think what she really wanted to know was if I had tried to gain access to an operational system that I was not supposed to be able to access. And the answer to that is a resounding no.

I’ve never been excited trying to gain access to 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 digging around in someone elses.

But I have always been curious how other individuals went about this activity. Currently, there seems to be a rash of computer break-ins, security breaches, viral attacks, spyware, worms, trojan horses, etc. And someone is designing all of these to gain access to systems like yours and min.

Hackers Use Mundane Methods and Sales Tactics to Get Into Your System

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”, “The Matrix”, etc.

Kids with keyboards traveling down tunnels of light as they “surf to the computer core” don’t cause security breaches.  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 we experience occur because a perp has:

  • been out back picking through your trash searching for discarded records and leftover bills;
  • created a website that looks amazingly similar to that one you frequent;
  • sent you an official-looking email requesting you to click a link;
  • called you to verify information your information.

They are gathering names, addresses, phone numbers and any other identifying information they can use to brute force their way into your network.

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

Example of a Inside Sales Person Using Questionable Hacker Tactics

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 many of my potential leads simply hung up on me.

Now, after receiving some of these calls myself, and reviewing how hackers gain access to systems, I can understand why.

My intrepid young sales rep in the call outlined earlier 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 tool.

When you call into a company and get a prospect on the line, remember you aren’t there to verify information. You’re there to sell something.

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.