Listening to Directions

August 23, 2014
Mary Jane Copps


Some of my summer has been occupied by phone projects for a diverse group of entrepreneurs. I  love doing these projects. For me there is something delightful about sitting at my desk with research tools on my computer screen, pen and paper close by (along with a cup of coffee) and dialling the phone with the aim of inspiring conversation. I get to speak with a lot of interesting people. And I’m continually learning new things about different industries and cultures and … phone communication.

That’s right – even though I’m The Phone Lady I still have lots to learn because how we communicate on the phone is changing constantly and it can vary from city to city, province to province and there are definitely nuances unique to every country.

These projects also force me to be very present to what I do on the phone, and why I do it, because clients can – and do – request explanations. For example I recently booked a meeting with the Corporate Administrator at a company on a client’s “wish list”, not with the Director of Development. It will come as no surprise that the client questioned me. None of us want to go to meetings that waste our time. So, why did I do this?

Well, sometimes you have to follow directions in order to get where you want to go. And on the phone, which directions to follow are evident in tone of voice. You’ve got to employ your listening skills.

Back to my example:  In my first call to the company I actually spoke with the Corporate Administrator. She answered the phone and I introduced myself but immediately asked for the Director of Development (I had his name already). Without hesitation, the Corporate Administrator took my message and gave me detailed information on how best to reach the Director. This is what I mean by “tone”. The Corporate Administrator did not try to insert herself between me and the Director; she was warm, welcoming and helpful.

And she did give my message to the Director because he called me back the same day. He was rushed, as so many of us are these days – it isn’t personal. He allowed me to do my “pitch” and then was very clear that they were already investigating the topic I was calling about and had established a system for their research. The first step of the system – meet and talk to the Corporate Administrator.

The “tone” of the Director made it very clear that 1) he would not meet with anyone who didn’t comply with his request; and 2) meeting with the Corporate Administrator wasn’t a dismissal, it was how they wanted things done.

I know that some people would walk away at this moment. Once they were referred back to the Corporate Administrator they’d assume there was no sale and move on to another prospect.  This wouldn’t be wise. Also evident in the “tone” of the Director was that following these directions would be viewed as a sign of respect for their company and their process.

In case your wondering, the client’s meeting went well. It did not result in a sale … yet. Tone also told me that this company doesn’t rush into relationships. The fact that we followed instructions may still result in new business for my client.

Enjoy your PhoneWork everyone!


The Phone Lady On The Road

 August 25 – Cold Calling/Prospecting with The Coast, Halifax, NS

August 29 – Phone Skills and Your Job Search with OWL, Halifax, NS

September 8 – Making Things Happen! with The Coast, Halifax, NS

September 9 – Effective Phone Communication with OTC Insurance, Halifax, NS

September 11 – Phone Power: Best Practices for Customer Service Representatives with Wilsons Security, Halifax, NS

September 15 – Follow Up with The Coast, Halifax, NS

September 30 – Effective Phone Communication Skills with OTC Insurance, Halifax, NS

October 2 – Essential Phone Skills with the Multicultural Career Group, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS

October 2 – Celebrating Entrepreneurship and the Telephone with the Valley Women’s Business Network

October 3 – Train the Trainer, Self Employment Benefits Conference, Halifax, NS

October 7 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous with Northern Opportunities for Business Limited, Truro, NS

October 8 – Phone Power: Best Practices for Customer Service Representatives with Wilsons Security, Halifax, NS

October 21 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous with Rural Action Centres, Central Bedeque, PEI

October 23 – Telephone Talent: Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Customer Service and Sales, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, Charlottetown, PE

November 4 – Public Debate: Phone vs Email at Yuk Yuk’s, Westin Hotel, Halifax NS – Please vote for me! Even if you are unable to attend the Halifax event.






  1. Glenn Stewardson says:

    This is a great reminder that my agenda is not always my clients agenda.
    Once I discover where they are I can reach out and go to them first.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Yes, Glenn, thanks for this perspective. There are a lot of times we need to remember that our client’s agenda come first. I feel a blog series forming.

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