Am I Being a Pest? And Kudos to Porter

April 21, 2013
Mary Jane Copps


“What’s the best time to call?” is one of the questions I get asked frequently and earlier this week I posted my answer to The Lunch Pack’s Burst of Learning group on LinkedIn. (It takes less than a minute to read and can be found here:

While writing that post, I began to think about the frequency of other comments on phonework. Then during my time at Oxford Learning’s Niagara Falls conference this past week, I found a contender for first place: “But I don’t want to be a pest”.

This is usually said in relation to the phonework of follow up. You have received a query from a prospective client or had a detailed conversation with them, and you need to follow up for further discussion.

Here are some thoughts that I hope will help eliminate your “pest” concerns:

1) When a prospective customer contacts us for more information, it is vital that we follow up in a consistent and professional manner. To do otherwise is a clear message of disinterest on our part. Remember the adage “Actions speak louder than words”. When we avoid, procrastinate or ignore our follow up work because we are preoccupied with ourselves, with the notion of being a pest, we are still communicating with our prospect – and what we are saying is “We don’t want your business”.

2) Follow up is what the vast majority of our prospects expect. In fact, whether they recognize it or not, they are judging us on it. They contact us for information and then they get back to their busy busy lives. They are trusting that we are professional enough, and interested enough, to keep the conversation going. If we don’t they either decide they don’t want our particular service or product or … they move on to the competition.

3) We are a “pest”  when we don’t listen. By this I mean, if we continue to call someone who has already said “no”; if we call someone every quarter when they clearly asked us to follow up in a year’s time; and … if we continually call someone who is outside our target market. Do your research. Listen carefully. Do your follow up.

One more tidbit. This past week I flew Porter Airlines for the first time. They are a stellar example of providing an unexpected and delightful experience that builds loyalty. If you have never flown Porter, here are a few highlights:

1) A meal on the flight from Halifax to Toronto – with good healthy ingredients.

2) Free stuff – beverages and a wide variety of snacks at no cost at all.

3) Mostly cheerful staff – which makes being a customer a cheerful experience.

4)And Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto (also known as the Island Airport) is, well, beautiful. Seating is in groups of four with some privacy, ideal for the business traveller. And while you are waiting, the cafeteria-style restaurant offers lots of healthy food choices with … more free stuff – free coffee and tea, bottled water and snacks.

I felt taken care of and that I mattered as a customer. And I haven’t felt that when on a plane or at an airport since …????

Thanks, Porter



Many thanks to Chelsea Hill and the Centre for Women in Business for this wonderful profile in the April issue of BizBeat:


April 25 – Halifax – Grow Your Business 

10 am until noon

This monthly prospecting practice, in conjunction with The Hub Halifax – 1673 Barrington Street, brings together like-minded entrepreneurs who want to perfect their telephone skills. To register click here  Call me at 902-404-3290 or email me for more details.


May 2, 9 and 16 – Halifax – PhoneWork: The Art (and Science) of Effective Telephone Communication

At NSCC, Institute of Technology Campus, 6 to 9 pm Thursday evenings

From telephone interviews to conference calls, from customer service to market research, from booking appointments to closing sales, the telephone is an essential business tool. Using it effectively requires specific listening, interviewing and speaking skills. Regardless if you are a business owner, an employee, or someone looking for a new job, this course provides you with everything you need to banish phone fear and become phone fabulous!

All the information, including registration, is here:


May 5 – Halifax – Launch for Anthology Untying the Apron Strings

At The Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Road  2 to 4 pm

This anthology of poetry and prose created by Lorri Neilsen Glenn remembers our mothers of the ’50s and I am honoured that Lorri has included my essay Eulogy for Eunice.

You can find out more about the Halifax launch here and about the anthology here


June 5 – Halifax – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous  – Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED)

Whether it’s leveraging supplies, coordinating marketing initiatives or following up on a sales lead, the telephone is often the fastest, cheapest and most effective tool at hand to get the job done.  Why is it then that it is also one of the most avoided tools in business?  Not feeling confident in your ability to effectively communicate by phone can very quickly create a negative impact on your business’ bottom line.  Avoid this impact and overcome your phone fear by empowering yourself with the knowledge that you need to turn your telephone into one of your company’s key competitive advantages. Learn more details and register here:


June 7 – Halifax – Powerful Conversations – Editors Association of Canada

Discover your unique “phone personality” and learn how to be a more effective communicator on the telephone. This workshop will sharpen your existing skills and teach you new ways to use the phone to build relationships and get things done. More details available here:


October 2 – Halifax – Exceed Your Quota: Get More Appointments – Close More Sales! 

Peter Skakum of Tangent Strategies joins me for this powerful workshop at Ashburn Golf Club. We’ll show you how to confirm more meetings and leave those meetings with new customers and new orders. Download the course description, learn more details and register here:




  1. Steve Foran says:

    This is the type of reminder that is regularly needed because it is easy to forget what our role in this whole follow up thing is. I’ve also heard you speak about it being our job to inform people so they can make an appropriate decision. That also helps avoid the feeling of being a pest.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Exactly, Steve. It is all about the customer and the prospective customer and giving them the service they need in order to make the best decision for themselves. Thanks for you contribution!

  2. Linda Daley says:

    I used to feel like a pest. And then I got really really busy and realized the value of someone that follows up with me. I want the people that are really busy as clients, so it totally makes sense for me to be following up with them (probably more than I do!).

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Yes, Linda. It helps when we think about what we appreciate from others when we are trying to make decisions. We all need help and reminders in that department! Thanks for your contribution.

  3. Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and
    look forward to new updates.

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