Disturbing Reception, New Year’s Resolution and Being Grateful

This past week I made a few cold calls on a project that involves approaching businesses that cater to the higher-end market. One of my leads I’d discovered at the Halifax airport when returning from a recent trip to Ottawa. There they were on the billboard above the luggage carousel – a company that has four luxury boutique resorts in Nova Scotia and one in Bermuda. I hadn’t heard of them before, their billboard was beautiful, and I was excited about calling and speaking with them. My first call received a reception that’s worth sharing with you.

I’d done my research and knew the name of the General Manager of one of the properties. He was not in when I called and the young woman who answered the phone asked if I would like to leave a message. “Yes, “ I said. “That would be great,” which is roughly what I always say when I have the privilege of leaving a message with a real person.

So I left my name and number and times when it would be easy for him to reach me. She then asked me what my call was about.

What’s important here is that she didn’t say “So and so’s not in, perhaps I can help you?” She said “What’s this call about?” This statement had a tone to it that edged on rude. In addition, there were noises in the background, of other people milling about, talking. I visualized this as guests standing in front of her.

I make the decision not to tell her very much about why I was calling, not because I was trying to be evasive, or tricky, but because I knew she doesn’t really have time to listen to my explanation, and also, because she wasn’t offering to help, I knew she’s wasn’t interested.

From experience, I can say that is was a 99.9% sure thing that if I started on my explanation, she’d sigh with impatience before I finished my second sentence. My time would be wasted; her time would be wasted. There was no value to anyone in my attempting to leave a longer message. I left the essential information and when she asked for more details I said “I think that’s all, thanks.”

Her response was startling: “He won’t call you back, you know, if you don’t leave more details.”

Really? This is how he does things in the hospitality industry? And you’re telling me this without really knowing who I am? What if I’m someone planning a big reunion this summer and I want to speak to the top person to get things started? And even without that, even with the fact that I’m calling to talk about a possible sale, what impression of this business are you giving me?

So the lesson is … every answer of every phone call counts, and every word that’s used matters. What impression are people getting when you – or your receptionist – answers the phone? Is it memorable for the right reasons? How does it portray the quality of your product or service?

On a completely different note, the New Year is just around the corner and I know that many of you want to be more effective and organized on the phone in 2011. You’ve told me so! That’s why I’m delivering my cold calling workshop in January. There are only 8 spots left. If you register before December 31st, the cost is only $189 for the day with breakfast, lunch and snacks included. It is a fun, knowledge-filled workshop that will set you up for increased success of the phone throughout the coming year, whether you are making the calls or supervising someone on the phone. Click here for details and the registration form: Ring Ring – I Am Cold Calling!

And finally, this is my last blog for 2010. I must say that I’ve enjoyed putting these bits together and I am both honoured by, and grateful to, all of you who have been loyal readers and contributors. Your comments add tremendous value not only for me but for everyone that “tunes in” and your emails provide me with increased motivation to keep learning more so that I can share it with you.

Mary Jane Copps aka The Phone Lady

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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.