Getting Around the Gatekeeper

Getting Around the Gatekeeper

Whether you're doing a letter campaign or a phone campaign, there's some information you want about a business before you contact them. Here's some tips on how to get a person's name to get deeper into a business when all you have is a company name or an "anonymous" listing somewhere.

Find their Website

If you don't have a website address, try picking it out of an email address at a custom domain name. Example: info@example.net so try http://example.net.

Poke around their Website

You can determine whether there's a contact name in a few clicks. It's like being Sherlock Holmes a bit sometimes:

  • check Contact Us - is there a name? Are there email addresses with name hints in them (i.e. jmorresy@example.net means someone named J Morresy works there -- or J M Orresy :) ).
  • check About Us - again there may be a name and bio there
  • look for testimonials - in local businesses, people buy from people, not from companies. Often they'll slip the person's first &/or last name in a testimonial. "We got the bestest service ever from Example! Thanks Joe, you take great care of your customers!" or "When I had the problem, I knew I had to see Joe Morresy! Thanks for taking great care of me."
  • New! read articles about their company. Often PR or interviews will mention the principal's name.

Have a domain name? Check their WhoIs registry

If you have their domain name -- whether from a website or an email address, you might be able to glean information from the domain registration information. There are services that allow people to hide their contact information, most businesses have the name of at least one person at their business in their WhoIs registry.

  • The most complete web display of the WhoIs record I've seen is at http://who.godaddy.com
  • Enter the bare-bones domain name i.e. http://www.example.net becomes example and then select .net from the drop-down
  • When the record comes back, look for "real person" information -- a name, mailing address, etc. If their website has any of this information, I would go with what's on the website -- but when I can't find the information, the whois domain records check is very helpful.

A snippet from the top of my record for my main domain:

Domain Name: ECLECTICTECH.NET
Registry Domain ID: 128355962_DOMAIN_NET-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Update Date: 2013-08-21 19:45:20
Creation Date: 2004-08-25 21:51:50
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2014-08-25 21:51:50
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@godaddy.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.480-624-2505
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Registrant ID: 
Registrant Name: Criss Ittermann
Registrant Organization: Eclectic Tech LLC
Registrant Street: PO Box 225
Registrant City: New Hampton
Registrant State/Province: New York
Registrant Postal Code: 10958
Registrant Country: United States
Registrant Phone: 8669938932
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax: 
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: info-registration@eclectictech.net
Registry Admin ID: 

You don't need the Admin or other contact information below this section if you're looking for a principal at the business in question. Usually the "registrant" will do. You can see my name, my business PO box, etc. Oops, my phone # is wrong. I'll have to fix it. It's correct on my website.

This information is supposed to be kept up-to-date for websites (that doesn't mean it IS -- it means it's required. (Enforcement is another issue.)

What if it's hidden?

People can "protect" this information, since it's often used by spammers and junk bulk mail etc. Let's take this company http://amitycomputersolutions.com -- right now all the links on their site are broken so I can't get to their About Us or testimonials. Next I try a WhoIs search:

Domain Name: AMITYCOMPUTERSOLUTIONS.COM
Registry Domain ID: 1523305650_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Update Date: 2014-03-20 08:01:22
Creation Date: 2008-10-08 13:19:28
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2015-10-08 13:19:28
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@godaddy.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.480-624-2505
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: Registration Private
Registrant Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC
Registrant Street: DomainsByProxy.com
Registrant Street: 14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
Registrant City: Scottsdale
Registrant State/Province: Arizona
Registrant Postal Code: 85260
Registrant Country: United States
Registrant Phone: +1.4806242599
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax: +1.4806242598
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: AMITYCOMPUTERSOLUTIONS.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
Registry Admin ID:

Thus we need to find another way to find a real person at this business, and hopefully a mailing address, etc. What I did was write an email to "AMITYCOMPUTERSOLUTIONS.COM@domainsbyproxy.com" letting them know their website is very broken, and that I wanted to invite them to a meeting. However, this email goes through GoDaddy's spam filtering before they deliver it to Amity Computer Solutions -- then Amity has to actually read and respond to it, which is less likely because the amount of spam that comes through that email is pretty large.

Ask Google

There's always a simple Google Search to see what it reveals:

"amity computer solutions"

Reveals a Google Places entry for the company's address, and a potential phone number:

60 Newport Bridge Rd, Warwick, NY 10990
(973) 224-1761

Only 1 page of results so I look them over and click on a few to see if there's more contact information.

LinkedIn search

Try Googling for someone who lists the business on their LinkedIn profile, hopefully the owner:

"amity computer solutions" LinkedIn
"amity computer" Warwick LinkedIn

I didn't get anywhere -- almost had a promising lead, but it looks like the person is in Boston.

Try Manta, Angie's List, etc.

Sometimes Manta lists the company and the principal. I haven't seen the owner on Angie's list, but maybe that's another possible location that would give hints.

"amity computer solutions" manta.com

Again, no go.

Summary

You need some persistence, and it doesn't always pay off -- but if you can find a real person and get around the gatekeeper(s) in a business, it's always helpful.

Let me know if you have any other tips and tricks to find a real name at a business.


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