The AABC’s of Leaving Message – Part IV

We all walk away from creating long-lasting valuable relationships and increasing our revenue because we refuse to do this one thing  – the “C” of leaving messages – continue calling! Persistence is what makes things happen.

Consider this quote from Steve Foran:

“I took Mary Jane’s advice from a 90-minute workshop and got a return on investment of 5000%. Using her strategies and techniques, my return of 50X the workshop fee is from just one client that I had written off as not interested anymore…” 

In the eight years I’ve had the privilege of being The Phone Lady, I’ve heard this outcome at least 100 times. By following up with someone who’s lack of response was interpreted as “no”, a “yes” has been discovered. The simple act of continuing to pick up the phone is powerful and vital to our success.

Here’s why:

1) Approximately 75% of business decision-makers do not return phone calls until after our 5th message. This is especially true when the call is a prospecting/cold call. The first two calls are greeted with “well, if it’s important, they’ll call back”. The third and fourth calls end up on a to-do list but do not rise to the level of priority.

2) Everyone – and I mean everyone – is overwhelmed. Speaking for myself, I am falling short most days of what I would like to accomplish. There are emails I haven’t returned, projects I haven’t begun, etc. Each day I set out to complete a list of priorities but some things take longer than anticipated, or a new priority arrives out of the blue. And so it goes for the people I’m calling. While the reason for my call is a priority for me, it isn’t for them. I must continue calling if I want to inspire conversation.

3) Not continuing to call has its own impact – and it’s not always positive.  Take a moment and think about the fact that you have left three messages for someone – and then you stop. What impression does that create? Perhaps that they’re business wasn’t important to you, that you lost their phone number, that you aren’t very organized, that it’s was only about the money and someone else said “yes”. None of these impressions are relationship builders!

The reason we don’t continue to call is we take their lack of response personally – we let our ego get in the way. We decide for them that they aren’t interested in speaking with us or accepting our proposal. We create an image in our mind that includes their listening to our message while rolling their eyes and laughing at us.

As I approach 27 years of prospecting and following up on proposals I can tell you that this image is not based in reality. It comes from our lack of belief in ourselves and/or in our product. It is us telling ourselves we are not good enough – rejecting ourselves because we fear “no thanks” from someone else.

While discipline is the key to developing the practice of continuing to call, here’s something else that might help:

Think back – way back – to the days before voice mail, before answering machines. What happened when we called someone and they weren’t available?

Well, if they had a receptionist we would hear the reasons – they are in meetings today, they are travelling, etc. This eliminated the image of the rolling eyes and laughter, and helped us understand the busy schedule of our contact.

If they didn’t have a receptionist the phone simply rang – and rang – and rang. If memory serves me, we’d hang up at about four rings and … call again. We kept calling until we reached our contact. That’s how business worked.

And, even though we now have voice mail in the middle, business still works this way. Continue to call, leave brief and concise messages, avoid phone tag and have conversations with your customers and contacts that build stronger relationships.

Enjoy your phonework!

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.

5 thoughts on “The AABC’s of Leaving Message – Part IV”

  1. This is a great reminder that we need to keep calling if it truly is important to reach someone and not expect a call back. It is my job to reach out to them.

    • Exactly, Glenn. It is a bit of a mind shift, but once we embrace this notion, our communication with our clients improves immensely. Thanks for your comment! mj

  2. Brilliant advice as usual. As you know, I have followed this advice myself with excellent results; however, Mary Jane, when do you stop contacting? I got to six follow-ups with a senior official in the US with zero response, so far. Do I keep going indefinitely?

    • Yes, especially with someone in a senior position, I would keep calling. The reason? Travel. It is so very difficult to return messages when one is travelling and it is well within the realm of possibility that a senior person could be travelling for a week or more. And they could be travelling overseas, which makes returning a call even more difficult. As an alternative, you can connect with an executive assistant and say “I’m wondering if you can help me. I’m having difficulty reaching so-and-so. Is he away or what would you suggest?” And he could be ill as well, or have a family situation that is taking up a lot of his time.


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