Creativity, Logic and Noise

Phonework contains a unique combination of creativity and logic that has captivated me for 26 years.

The writer in me embraces the language challenges – finding the right words and presenting them in the right way to clearly communicate ideas and inspire conversation. Effective phonework is closely related to the art of storytelling.

This is balanced by statistics – simple, logical bits of information that are essential to the success of everyone using the telephone as a prospecting tool.

I was first introduced to statistics by my oldest brother when I was a youngster. There are 9 years between us and I adored him; he adored baseball. When I was 12 he took me to an Expos game in Montreal (there was so much excitement about the red-haired Rusty Staub at that time, it’s a name I’m sure I’ll never forget). Throughout the game my brother kept his own set of statistics and encouraged me to help him.

This lesson stayed with me. In fact I make use of it every time I pick up the phone, whether I’m working for a client or myself. And it’s a lesson that’s valuable to everyone who uses the telephone consistently for prospecting and sales.

Why? Because numbers are truthful. A baseball player who knows his overall batting average understands that his success is not connected to one tough game – its about his performance over time. He can rely on his numbers.

So can you.

Knowing your numbers is the very best antidote to discouragement. We all have phone time that’s only voice mail, or delivers “no” several times. But your numbers are your success rate and assure you that, no matter what happened today, you are going to succeed.

What numbers do you need? You should know these averages:

*how many times you dial the phone in order to have one conversation;

*how many conversations you have in order to book one appointment;

*how many appointments you have in order to close one sale.

I’ve simplified here. Depending on your product or service you may want to include statistics on the number of brochures you send out, or the number of demonstrations you do, etc.

Here’s an example of how this works. I recently completed a project booking appointments for a client. My numbers were:  100 dials, spoke to 33 people, booked 11 appointments.

This tells me that to speak to someone I have to dial the phone three times and to book one appointment, I have to speak to 3 people.

Of course this doesn’t happen sequentially. For this project there were several hours where all I did was dial and leave messages. And … there was one hour when I reached everyone I called and booked 4 appointments!

Numbers tell the truth. When you know your numbers you can rely on the results of your efforts.

And you can plan your phone time more effectively. For example, I know I average 10 dials per hour. If my statistics indicate I need to dial 100 times to get the necessary results, I can set aside 10 hours and feel confident I’ll complete the project on time.

How do you uncover your statistics? I can only speak to how I do it … with pen and paper. I created a “Tick Sheet” for my sales staff years and years ago, and I’m still using the same system. It never lets me down.

I’ll gladly share it with you. Send me a message at and I’ll provide you with the sheet and some simple instructions.

And if you have your own method for keeping your personal statistics I encourage you to share it with everyone by commenting on this post.

Finally, in the tradition of story telling, a recent workshop participant wrote to me about a funny phone experience. One night while she was working late her husband and son decided to have pizza for dinner. The son, who is 12, was given the task of picking up the phone and placing the order. He dialed the number and told his dad something funny was happening. He dialed a second time and Dad knew from the facial expression that the same thing had happened. With a “Let me try”, dad dialed the number and received … a busy signal!

As I had mentioned in the workshop, busy signals are rare these days. Chances are there’s lots of young people out there that have never heard one.

Enjoy this week’s phonework!

0 thoughts on “Creativity, Logic and Noise”

  1. I remember a day when I made 34 phone calls and spoke to only 2 real people (which totally surprised me at the time!). The rest I left messages for; I received 4 call backs. From those 6 people, I booked 4 appointments and eventually closed one sale. One thing that became obvious from these numbers is that I needed a better strategy about the messages I was leaving for people. It would not have been so obvious if I hadn’t been keeping track (using your Tick Sheet at the time). The numbers also tell you what part of the process you can improve on!

    • Thanks for this, Linda. I had not thought of this before … that the numbers reveal areas for improvement. And I’m guessing that the longer you keep your own stats, the more information they reveal about possible improvements. Love this!

  2. So many times in sales we can get discouraged by one slow day or even hour, and we don’t see it as a numbers game. I find that in order to keep myself confident (and accountable) I have to keep the numbers and refer to them often. As you’ve pointed out they make me more efficient with my time and show me areas of improvement and ones I’m doing well in. Thanks for the post it’s a really great reminder to keep up with the numbers.

    • Thanks, Shelley. Good to hear that you are using the numbers and that they are helpful. Discouragement is not an option, right?


Leave a comment

What's The Phone Lady doing?


  • Remote learning experiences + one-on-one coaching for women entrepreneurs (More info about this three-year program here.)
  • Team and individual coaching with a national moving company to refine their sales process
  • Remote half-day training for provincial tourism representatives
  • Remote seven-part sales training program for US-based SaaS
  • Remote webinar on accounts receivable communication for industrial-services company
  • Remote webinar on validation to college students in entrepreneur program
  • In-person workshop on job search skills for women in the trades
  • Remote half-day webinar on written correspondence to customers

Do you or your team want to improve your communication skills? Do you have a communication question or challenge you'd like to discuss? This quick-to-fill-out form is easy to use and you'll hear from Mary Jane very soon.