Focused Calls: As Easy As 1-2-3-4

woman on phone

Losing control of a phone conversation is a challenge that often comes up in my coaching sessions and workshops. As a conversation expands, one or both parties bounce from topic to topic and the call ends without essential information being shared or the most crucial questions being asked.

How can we prevent this from happening? And how can we make our phone conversations even more effective?

One way to prevent this from happening is to write out, in point form, what you want to achieve on a call. Keep this list in front of you as you speak and refer to it frequently to keep yourself on track. Another way is to use numbers to create a karaoke-type “bouncing ball” that helps everyone stay focused.

How do numbers help you have more focused phone conversations?

Using numbers gives our phone calls an agenda which we share with the other person so they can follow along. For example, I could call a client and say, “I have four questions for you regarding our upcoming workshops.”

The client now focuses on that number – four. They give the call more of their attention because it has a structure and an implied time limit. The distraction of “how long will this call take” is eliminated because we are counting to four and that is unlikely to take very long. 

The numbers are then used during the call to move from item to item (like the bouncing ball), i.e. “The first question is … .” In addition to keeping the conversation focused, the numbers also help everyone make decisions. Because we know we need to get to “four”, everyone easily participates in finding a conclusion for one, two and three.

When we reach “And the fourth question is …” both parties are prepared to end the call. There is much less chance of the conversation wandering away into unessential information.

Over the years I’ve found that three or four questions on a call work best. One or two questions implies that the call is going to be very quick so doesn’t always capture someone’s full attention. More than four questions? The impression created is one of a very long phone call, one that requires specific scheduling, which can result in delays or procrastination.

I’ve enlisted the help of Canadian singer/songwriter Feist – and The Muppets – to help you remember to count to four. Enjoy!


Closing a sale is the natural outcome of inspiring great conversations and listening intently to our potential customers.

This natural approach still involves a process – a plan that moves potential customers through a journey of discovery with you. So ... what's your process? And am I the right sales coach for you? Let's find out.

0 thoughts on “Focused Calls: As Easy As 1-2-3-4”

Leave a comment

When you subscribe to my weekly blog, you'll immediately get my detailed ebook The Why and How of Following-up featuring my best advice plus examples of success you can duplicate.


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.