Telephone Selling – One Ringy-Dingy


Okay, maybe I’m showing my age, but if you’ve never seen the old Saturday Night Live episodes of “Ernestine Tomlin,” the telephone operator, look them up on YouTube. They’re classics. Ernestine is confident, not afraid to ask for or occasionally demand things from her telephone customers. Whether she’s talking to J. Edgar Hoover, or a housewife who hasn’t offered a phone repairman a sandwich while he’s working on her phone, Tomlin knows what she wants and goes after it in an oddly calm, professional, although hysterically inappropriate manner.

While most of us would be out of business if we adopted her scripts, there are a lot of things we can learn from Tomlin about conducting business on the phone. One is that confidence and self-assuredness go a long way even if you have no idea what you’re talking about. Tomlin also gets immediately to the reason for her call, and she doesn’t waste or mince words. She manages to make her calls friendly and yet keeps a sense of humor throughout the call. She’s authentic, relaxed and honest. She asks questions until she understands the situation or the problem. Even when customers are rude she doesn’t lose her temper but stands up for herself. She stays upbeat and professional. Take a light lesson from Tomlin and do the same!


An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… these are NOT three separate devices! And we are calling it iPhone! Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone. And here it is. ~Steve Jobs

2 thoughts on “Telephone Selling – One Ringy-Dingy”

    1. I knew that and it was just a test to see if anyone is as old as me. 🙂

      Thanks, Greg, for reminding me. I had forgotten that’s where Ernestine appeared. Laugh-In was a great show back in the day.

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