May 1st, 2019 | by


Today’s story features the seemingly simple direct-dial phone number. And I’m here to tell you, there’s a lot more to this piece of contact information than meets the eye.

A lot of people don’t dig very deep into the possibilities of direct contact information – but in today’s whiteboard session, you’ll see the real impact on your sales team.

Speaker in front of white board with illustration about direct dials.


They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well, this story starts when I had a great opportunity at a young age to work for a third-generation entrepreneur who taught me the way to really sell business to business over the phone.

This was pre-technology stack. This was before AI. This was just bang the phones, get the decision makers, sell the deals.

One of the first things that he taught my team was the distinction between a direct-dial phone number and a general business line or phone tree. “You definitely wanna have the direct-dial phone number!” he said. And so we were trained to find direct dial numbers for every prospect on our call list.

Well, our team had a lot of success – so much so that the founder was able to sell the business to investor partners. And the first order of business was to scale up the size of the team. So we went from a sales team of 15 people in a call boutique to 45 people – more of an inside sales body shop.

And at level of rapid growth, we started to lose our edge. With so many new people, we weren’t really good at doing the research to find those direct numbers anymore. It was no longer a competitive advantage.

Read it: How to Scale Up Your Outbound Sales Team

Quote about direct-dial phone numbers: "I'm here to tell you, as the leader of the sales team, when the ability to procure and utilize direct dial phone numbers diminished, so did our sales numbers."


So I learned firsthand what it was like to have direct dial phone numbers … and quickly learned what it was like to not have them. And I’m here to tell you, as the leader of that sales team at the time, when our access to direct-dial phone numbers diminished, so did our sales numbers.

With this in mind, let’s break it down.

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1. Direct-dial phone numbers save time

Speaker in front of white board with illustration about direct dials.


Duh, right?

We did a little math: You’re likely to make 4-6 times as many connections when you’re working with direct-dial phone numbers than without. If I’m on the phone for an hour, that’s the difference between getting 3 connections and conversations in an hour, and getting 12 connections or more.

Sales efficiency is an obvious benefit … but underneath the surface, there are other implications.

A world where your sales team doesn’t have direct-dial phone numbers is a world where your sales reps will find a thousand things to do other than pick up the phone.


Lack of direct contact information causes call reluctance

“Well, I just have to do a little bit more research. I just have to do a little bit more searching. I’m gonna find that phone number.”

Next thing you know, phone calls aren’t made and selling doesn’t happen. Because underneath the surface, lacking access to direct phone numbers is an invitation towards call reluctance. We learned that firsthand.

Call reluctance dresses itself up in many ways: When somebody doesn’t have the data they need to get into their target accounts, next thing you know mind starts telling itself a story about the many other things they could be doing.

And you have a silent sales floor.

2. Empower the sales team to target higher-level decision makers

Speaker in front of white board with illustration about direct dials.


I think that every salesperson out there would prefer talking to decision makers all day long.

Decision-makers are the folks who have purchasing power, who can actually sign the check – or who can ultimately say yes to bring a new solution onboard.

Sure, we’d all like to sell that way. But when you don’t have a direct number, you’re left with a tough choice: “I have to just talk to whomever I can talk to.”

You’re fooling yourself if you think the receptionist on the main business line is going to transfer you through to a VP or high-level decision-maker. They’re hard enough to reach when you actually do have their direct dial phone number. Without it – you don’t stand a chance.


But the opposite is also true.

When a team knows that they have direct access to high-level contacts who can actually sign the check … Well, all of a sudden, picking up the phone is a lot more attractive.

Quote about direct-dial phone numbers: "When your team has the very best and direct access to contacts that they're trying to engage with, that's empowering."


3. Direct-dial phone numbers motivate your sales team

This leads me to the motivational aspect. Direct-dial phone numbers go right to the heart of a sales team’s psyche, both individually and at the whole team level.

In my first story, I went from having direct-dials, to not having access to them. And finally, we got access to those phone numbers again – my first encounter with DiscoverOrg – so I was able to see both sides of this sales experience.

When we got those numbers, something magical happened on our sales floor.

You could see everyone’s competitive spirit came alive again! Next thing you know, guys and gals couldn’t get to work quickly enough. They were ready to get on the phones.


They were ready to run through walls because they believed in the data, and they saw their way to a bigger commission check, and everything that went along with it in their lives.

Just like with an iceberg, there’s more to direct-dial phone numbers than meets the eye:

  1. It’s not just a matter of saving your team a lot of time and wasted energy; this data also prevents call reluctance.
  2. You also empower your team by helping them engage with decision makers; and moreover, that EVERY sales cycle starts with decision makers.
  3. Direct access motivates your team to aim higher and hustle harder – boosting the bottom line for everyone.

I hope you enjoyed this whiteboard session! Please comment if you have anything to add about direct-dial phone numbers.

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Charity Heller
About the author

Charity Heller

Content Strategist, DiscoverOrg

Charity Heller, DiscoverOrg's content strategy manager, has been developing, composing, and editing content since age 2. Before her dive into content marketing, she founded and operated a book-editing company for 10 years. Charity has a B.A. in English literature, Professional Editing Certification from U.C. Berkeley, and she's a certified Project Manager.