Fewer Words, More Conversation

March 5, 2017
Mary Jane Copps

happy phone call

The most important outcome of speaking with a prospect – or existing client – is learning more about them. Our ability to serve is directly connected to how much we understand their needs, challenges and goals.

Yet many times we end a phone conversation without learning anything new. Why is that? The most common reason is … we did most of the talking.

How do we prevent ourselves from talking too much? How can we be confident that we’ll be brief and precise?

1. Know the reason for your call. While this may sound obvious, we’ve all received phone calls from people who are only “following up” or “touching base”. Being this vague leads nowhere. When you call someone, be clear about your “why” … to hear their thoughts on your proposal, to get feedback on your workshop, to ask a specific question, and so on. 

2. Write down the reason for your call – and keep it in front of you.  It is the nature of conversation to reveal new thoughts and ideas (exactly why I love them so much) which create unexpected twists and turns that distract us from our original intent. We’ve all ended a phone call only to realize we didn’t get the information we needed.

3. Know that everyone is overwhelmed and that your ability to be brief and precise is a sign of respect.

4. If you become known as a “talker”, people will stop answering or returning your calls. Most of us have someone in our lives we should call more often but don’t because each conversation takes an hour of our time.

5. Record and listen to yourself. Yes, I know this is uncomfortable but it is the best way to know who you are on the phone. We all have “phone personalities”. You can’t improve your communication if you don’t know how you communicate.

6. Ask open-ended questions. This is how we learn more about our prospects and clients – we inspire them to tell us more. And this is how we build strong relationships that grow and sustain our business.

Here’s a quick, very funny story to help you remember that too many words can have dire consequences:  Just Duck!



  1. Paul Roy says:

    Great post Mary Jane. Spot on.

  2. Nicole Osmond says:

    Thanks Mary Jane. Some simple but very helpful advice here. Personally, I’ve been struggling with #4. A friend, who I respect a lot, will leave a message for me and ask me to give them a quick call, but I know it is never going to be a quick call. I struggle with it and often find myself procrastinating to make the call. Thanks for the weekly advice, much appreciated as always.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      I have several of these people in my life and I’m always searching for the right moment to call them. I sometimes line them all up on a Sunday afternoon with a pot of tea nearby. Thanks for sharing, Nicole.

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