Contrary to what most people believe, cold calling is not just picking up the phone and calling some random person, with you on one end hoping that they would pick up and be interested in your offers. In fact, it takes more planning, strategy, and even style than that. For this episode, Penny Zenker is joined by author and sales coach Wendy Weiss, dubbed as the Queen of Cold Calling, as they discuss how this marketing technique can be refined through a simple ballet-like preparation process. Weiss also explains how having a step-by-step benchmark process and today’s numerous digital innovations can improve cold calling even further.
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Improve Your Cold Calling Techniques With Wendy Weiss
On this show, I’m looking for people who are going to help you to work smarter. At the end of the day, that’s what time management is about and taking back your time. It’s how can you work smarter so that you don’t have to work harder. Working less and achieving more, so creating more impact. Wendy Weiss is here with me. I’m excited. She is The Queen of Cold Calling. She is an author, speaker, sales trainer and sales coach. She’s recognized as one of the leading authorities on lead generation, cold calling and new business development. That’s why she’s here because you need this. Her clients include Avon, ADP, Sprint and thousands of entrepreneurs throughout the world. She has been featured in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur Magazine, Selling Power, Inc, Forbes, various other business and sales publications. She’s the Author of Cold Calling for Women: Opening Doors and Closing Sales and The Sales Winner’s Handbook: Essential Scripts and Strategies to Skyrocket Sales Performance. Wendy, welcome to the show.
Penny, thanks for having me.
It’s a big thing for people to get more leads and close more sales. At the end of the day, if they’re not doing that in their businesses and growing, it’s what?
It’s not a business.
What makes you passionate about sales?
It’s funny because I was never supposed to be the Queen of Cold Calling. I was supposed to be a ballerina. I grew up in Pittsburgh and I moved to New York City where I still live and work. I moved here when I was a teenager to dance. I studied at the Joffrey Ballet School. Like every artist in New York City, I needed a day job. I got tired of waiting on tables. I got a job with a telemarketing agency that did business development. It turned out I was good at it, which was a complete surprise because ballet dancers don’t talk.
People dread cold calling like, “I have to call this list of people that I don’t know and I don’t know what to say or how to say it.” It’s not on the top of most people’s lists to think that would be fun.
Warm up, rehearse, and perform. The problem is most people jump to the performance. They get on the phone and wing it. Click To Tweet I got into this by accident. You asked me what I’m passionate about. I know that this is hard for a lot of people. It’s something that a lot of people find to be scary. The conversation about this topic is often so stupid. People say such ridiculous things about it like it’s about going through the nose and the hang-ups until somebody says yes to you. Who wants to do that? That’s completely insane.
That’s not very motivating. That makes me think like I know they say it’s a numbers game, but that doesn’t make it any more interesting and exciting to do.
Not at all. They say prospecting sucks so get over it. I’m very much of stance. What if it didn’t suck? What if it was a business process, something that you do to get more business? What if it wasn’t a whole big emotional thing?
How do you make it fun? Tell us a tip or trick on how to shift that mindset away from ‘eh’ to ‘yay.’
I don’t know that they have to be ‘yay.’ The idea is to get to neutral because if you’re neutral, then you can do what you need to do. You were going to take the emotion out of it. I had somebody that went through one of my classes. We do a program called 3X Appointments. We call it 3X because people routinely tripled their numbers. She did the program. She told me after the program ended that it helped her talk to her teenage son because part of the program was we help people take the emotion out of it. You might be sending an email and the person you’re sending it to might delete it, but nobody has a nervous breakdown about that. By the same token, if you know what you are doing, this is a communication skill. When you learn this skill, people open up their calendars and book an appointment.
It’s like any skill. You have to practice, work, and then you get better at it.
I’ll share what I learned in ballet class. Everything I know in life, I learned in ballet class. What I learned in ballet class was warm up, rehearse and perform. The problem is most people jump to the performance. They get on the phone and wing it.
Why is it that people don’t like to step back, warm-up and practice?
I do not have an answer to that one.
That’s very common. That’s not in just cold calling. It’s across the board. People just dive in. To maximize our results, that little bit of planning and practice upfront makes a huge difference.
There is a myth having to do with sales. There’s the myth of the born salesperson, that somehow there are these people out there that are born knowing what to do and what to say. I was lucky because when I got that day job all these years ago, they have taught me this skill. They coached me. They held my hand and I said, “Don’t do that, do this.” Learning this skill enabled me to build a business. People may be born with a lot of athletic talent, but that doesn’t mean they make it to the Olympics.
Do you want to share with us some of the dos and don’ts of the warmup, practice or the performance side?
If you’re a dancer, the first thing you have to do before class or rehearsal or performances, you have to warm up. You have to get set up so that you can do what you need to do so you do not hurt yourself. The warmup for cold calling so you don’t hurt yourself starts with a micro-targeted profile of an ideal prospect. Who is it you’re looking for? When you know the profile of the type of lead that is a great lead for you in your market with whatever it is you’re doing, it’s easier to find them. It’s easier to create messaging that’s going to resonate. They’re more likely to close because they’re appropriate leads and you don’t waste your time. We always start with what’s the target.
For people who are reading is that across the board with marketing. If you don’t know who you’re targeting, it’s critical for cold calling and anything on the sales side. You can’t get the right messaging if you don’t know who you’re talking to. That is crazy how many people skip that.
Cold calling not a creative process. It's a business process. It's not about expressing yourself. It's about getting appointments. Click To Tweet It’s crazy because the answer to what’s a great lead for me and in my market is not everybody. It’s specific.
How do you help people with that? Maybe that’s where people fall down. They go, “I’m a coach and therefore, I can coach anybody.” Do you have a process where you help people to get a question that you might ask to help them get clear on who it is that’s best fit for them?
We start with the concrete objective criteria. We’re looking at how large is the company, either revenue or employee count. Does it have to be in a specific geographic location? What’s the title of the person that’s going to hire you? Is it a specific industry? What people like to do is they like these subjective criteria, “I’m looking for people that understand the value that we have to offer. Wouldn’t you like to be the list broker with that list?” We start with very concrete objective parameters. When people are in our 3X Appointments program, I have to reign them in a little bit. They will say they’re looking for companies with 10 to 10,000 employees. We got to narrow that a little bit first. The rule is what you say has to be relevant to the person you plan on saying it to. It starts by choosing. What I love about this and what is powerful is you get to choose. Many businesses are just reactive. Whoever comes in the door, that’s what I’m going to work with.
They’re not getting their ideal customer. One of the things I like to say to people when they’re trying to figure out who that is. If you’ve been in business at least for a year or a couple of years, and you have some clients, pick one client that you love to work with. What are some of the characteristics about why you love to work with them? Is it because of the size of the company? What is their role and so forth? It can help them if they’re not sure, it gives them something to work from. There’s the not list. Sometimes people don’t know what they want, but they know what they don’t want. Sometimes you work with list the things that you don’t want, and that helps you find better what you do want.
Once you know who you’re looking for, then you can start to create that message that’s going to resonate. When you get them on the phone, you need to have something compelling to say. In a voicemail, you have to have something compelling to say so that they will return your phone call because people still do that. If I was going to send them an email, I got to have something compelling to say, so they hit reply.
I would guess that this is as applicable if you were connecting with someone on LinkedIn as well. This is a pet peeve of mine. As you said, have something relevant and make them want to respond back. I see a lot of non-compelling messages where I’m like, “The point of LinkedIn isn’t to be linked to everyone, it’s to be linked to people that make sense.” When they say, “Your profile looks interesting, let’s connect.” Maybe we can pick something like that apart and give people some better strategies because that doesn’t work for me. I’m not going to hit accept for somebody like that.
There’s got to be some engagement, “I noticed you were doing this, that and the other thing, which is interesting to me. That’s why I’d like to connect. We know all these people in common. Because they’re doing this and I’m doing that, this is why.” There’s got to be some reason there.
What about the rehearse? I have to look at it. I know it’s only three things, but the warm-up, the rehearsal, and the performance. Are there any dos and don’ts in that rehearsal piece to hone the skill?
If you’re a ballet dancer and you’ve got a concert coming up, you’ve been rehearsing for months. You’re not just running out there on stage and dancing. If you’re training as a ballet dancer, you take a class every single day. You repeat the same movements over and over again every single day. When you do that, you get muscle memory. It’s automatic. You don’t have to think about, “Do I have to point my feet? How do I do this step or what comes next?” Because you’ve done it many times, you stop thinking. You just are. You’re just being. We want to do the same thing. We need to practice. Once you’ve created the message and I’m going to use the word that everybody hates, you need a script. The script is not, “Hello, sir or madam, may I have a moment of your time.” A script is you’re prepared. You know what you’re going to say and how you’re going to introduce yourself.
I’m going to say something controversial. Everyone uses scripts. Every single sale professional in the entire world uses scripts. You’ve probably got an elevator speech. You’ve probably got questions that you get asked all the time and you have an answer. There are probably objections you hear all the time and you have a response. It may not be written down but if you’re saying the same thing over and over again, that is the script. People get very hung up on this word script. The question is not, “Should I use this script?” The question is, “When I use this script, what happens? Does it work?” I would argue that if people are hanging-up on you, it doesn’t work. You needed a better script.
One of the things that I like in the rehearsal in dancing is you’ve got a mirror there so you can see yourself. You’ve got an instructor who’s giving you feedback. A lot of times people don’t go that extra mile to make sure that they’re getting feedback, that they’re testing it or even record and listen to themselves because those are huge things. When I first listened to myself and I have other people do that sometimes, they’re like, “Is that what I sound like?” It’s shocking but it’s important to hear what other people are hearing.
In our program, we practice with people and sometimes they give us recordings. They’ll record and send it in so we can listen to them, and then we can listen to it together because it’s important. When you practice, you want that automatic muscle memory so that you can say what you have to say. If the prospect has a question, they have an objection, you’re speaking with the gatekeeper or whatever it is, you’re not thinking, “What comes next?” You say what you have to say.
It makes it less stressful. It’s neutral because it takes out the emotion when you already know how you’re going to respond.
You don’t have to think about it and that’s when it works. That’s when you get on the phone. It doesn’t take years. We have 3X Appointments program that is three months. You can learn to do this in three months. It takes ten years to train a ballet dancer. It’s not going to take you ten years but three months.
It all boils down to warm up: knowing the profile of the lead that works for your market. Click To Tweet Even then, you have to have certain things that work for you to be a ballet dancer.
Even once you’re dancing professionally, you keep taking class every single day. I still take a class and I’m not dancing professionally.
It doesn’t matter where you are in your sales career and your sales experience or anything. We’re constantly looking for that training, new ways to get better, new ways to practice, and things like that. That is important to stay on your game. Are there any other key points that you wanted to share with our audience?
Since the name of this show is Take Back Time, I thought that I would share my number one-time management strategy.
I was also going to ask you, do you have a shortcut or something that you do that shortcuts to your success?
The time management strategy is to follow the money. Everyone’s busy, you’ve got a lot of stuff on your plate if you’re a business owner. When you look at your to-do list, all the things you need to do, you say to yourself, “What is closest to me getting paid?” Do that first. I would argue selling something to somebody is right there up on the top and then prospecting. Putting opportunities into your pipeline would be number two. That’s what we always want to do. We want to follow the money because many business owners or even sales reps get hung up on the day-to-day, “I have to go do this filing or I have to this paperwork.” Leave it to later, go sell something.
I want to highlight for people who are reading that you said prospecting second. I’m a firm believer in that too. That’s something that a lot of people get caught up in. They are over prospecting and not enough selling and converting. They are focusing on the conversion part of the process. They’re focused on the prospecting or having the conversation, but not optimizing that conversation to close it, to create that appointment, or to take it to the next level.
I should share my definition of the word prospecting because to me, prospecting is you get an appointment. It’s not all this stuff leading up to it and then you stop. It’s that you get an appointment and the more effective and efficient you are at doing that, that leverages your time.
At the end of the day, that appointment is more likely to turn into a sale than a lead.
A lead is a name with their contact information.
We want more appointments because that’s going to filter through the entire funnel. The more appointments we have by sheer numbers, the more sales we’re going to have. When you focus on that next conversion point, then you’re going to be able to tweak two spots in that sales process.
If you do the prospecting piece right, then it’s more likely that the opportunity is going to close.
What’s your shortcut then?
There are a few things. Lots of times business owners will say either, “I don’t want to. I don’t have the time.” The idea is not necessarily that you as the business owner have to be the one on the phone. The mistake that many business owners make is they say, “I’m going to hire a salesperson.” I say, “What do you have in place for them?” The answer is nothing. If you have a step-by-step benchmark process so that you know what the numbers are, this is what we teach in our program, you could plug somebody else into it because you know what works.
The key is understanding your prospects, and then being able to produce your concrete objective criteria. Click To Tweet I like that you said a benchmark process. Tell us what you mean by that so people are 100% clear.
One of the myths about cold calling is you’re going to open up the phone book, you’re going to call anybody, and you keep calling them with your fingers crossed. Many years ago, maybe that works, not well, but it doesn’t work now. What we want to do is have a step-by-step process. How many times are you going to reach out to anyone prospect? The research shows that it takes somewhere between 8 to 12 touches to get someone to respond. We usually start with eight. We do four voicemails and four emails, but then we track it. If the response is not high enough, maybe we need more voicemails and emails. We need to add something else like texting, something on social media or we’re going to send them a letter. We know because the research tells us 8 to 12 touches. We know it’s more than one. You put that process in place and that includes scripts. It includes scripts for when you get somebody on the phone, what are you going to say. It includes scripts for voicemails and email templates. That’s the process. You track it and you measure it. If you’re getting the response that is a good response for you, then you can plug somebody else into it. That’s how it works.
You tweak it, refine it and you make it so that you’re converting more and more in each of those processes.
What most people do is they keep changing things. They’re like, “Maybe I’ll try this.” When you do that, you don’t know what works. I come from a creative background. I was a ballet dancer. My first job was I danced in a ballet company. This is not a creative process. It’s a business process. It’s not about expressing yourself. It’s about getting appointments.
It can be about expressing yourself if that helps you to get appointments. It’s testing to see what works.
I’m not saying that it can’t be fun. I think it’s fun, but the rest of you don’t have to think it’s fun. It’s a business process.
When you say fun, it made me think of Chet Holmes. I used to work with Chet Holmes and Tony Robbins. One thing Chet used to do when he was doing the cold calling is he would make up different voices when he would call to make it fun for himself. He’d have fun with it and people like that. They had fun back with him and they were more responsive. Bring your personality to it as well. Is there anything else that you wanted to share with the readers? I know you have a free gift, but before we go to that, is there anything else that you wanted to leave them that we didn’t cover yet?
We should mention using the right tools because many years ago people were answering their phones, it was easy. You call them and they answer their phones. Now, this is what I hear all the time, “Nobody answers their phones.” That’s not exactly true. Some people answer their phones and we can get some of them to call us back, but it is harder than it was many years ago to get someone on the phone. That said, there are so many tools that we have now that we didn’t have years ago. That includes data and sales intelligence. You need to have sales automation to do this. You cannot do it on an Excel spreadsheet. We use a dialer and it doubles the call volume at a minimum because it allows you to pre-record and drop a voicemail. There are all these tools that are available that weren’t available before, and they make you more efficient. Use them.
That’s what this show is about. Be more efficient. Those tools are the key. Are there some tools that you want to mention that you think are excellent tools?
We use Contact Science. It’s not CRM. It is for telephone prospect and appointment setting. I do recommend Contact Science. If you reached out to Contact Science, tell them the Queen sent you because they give my people a discount. We also use a dialer by Electronic Voice. The same thing if you reach out to them, they take very good care of my people. That’s what we use.
Thank you for being here. Let’s share with everybody the free gifts that you have available for them and where they can go get them.
The first gift for those of you that are prospecting or should be prospecting and would like to start, I have my Cold Calling Survival Guide and the subtitle is Start Setting Appointments in the Next 24 Hours. This guide is going to give you a step-by-step system that you can start to implement to start setting appointments in the next 24 hours. For our readers or people that are tuning in, if you manage salespeople, I have a practical guide to getting sales teams to prospect because one of the things that I hear all the time from managers is, “How do I get them to prospect?” This guide is going to give you a practical and easy to implement steps and things that you can put in place to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your team if you need them to be prospecting. This isn’t a gift, but if you’d like to talk to me, my website is ColdCallingResults.com. I’m a phone person so you could call me (866) 220-4242.
You’ll pick up the phone?
I will either pick up the phone or leave me a message and I’ll call you back.
There are phone people. I’m a phone person too. People call me and I pick up my phone. Thank you, Wendy for sharing these tips. I love the connection with what you learned through ballet and how that crosses over into the business world.
It’s warm up, rehearse and perform. Thank you.
Thank you all for being here and taking away some of these key tips. Remember that this is applicable for cold calling, but this is about communication. It’s not just for cold calling, it can be for any difficult conversation. You probably want to do those three things too, warm up, rehearse and perform. These are valuable tips. I’ll see you in the next episode.
- Cold Calling for Women: Opening Doors and Closing Sales
- The Sales Winner’s Handbook: Essential Scripts and Strategies to Skyrocket Sales Performance
About Wendy Weiss
Wendy Weiss, who is known as The Queen of Cold Calling™, is an author, speaker, sales trainer, and sales coach. She is recognized as one of the leading authorities on lead generation, cold calling and new business development and she helps clients speed up their sales cycle, reach more prospects directly and generate more sales revenue. Her clients include Avon Products, ADP, Sprint and thousands of entrepreneurs throughout the country. Wendy has been featured in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur Magazine, Selling Power, Inc, Forbes and various other business and sales publications. She is the author of Cold Calling for Women: Opening Doors & Closing Sales and The Sales Winner’s Handbook: Essential Scripts & Strategies to Skyrocket Sales Performance. She specializes in working with companies that want to increase sales revenue by generating new business and/or companies with under-performing sales teams. She has helped clients double and triple the number of new business appointments they can schedule resulting in a matching increase in sales. Wendy is also a former ballet dancer who believes that everything she knows in life she learned in ballet class.
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