Cold-calling. The enemy of the introverted business owner. In this special episode, host Wendy Harris shares her own story. We’re making conversations about cold-calling count!
*THIS EPISODE CONTAINS EXCLUSIVE OFFERS SO PLEASE LISTEN THROUGH TO THE END!!*
Every business owner knows there’s an aspect of marketing and lead-generation that nobody likes.
They also know that to win big and get new customers, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and get your cold-calling done.
In this episode, we hear a story of a time when some cold-calling actually panned out very well.
Shout out to Axa UK for their cameo!
At least, it did for “Making Conversations Count” host Wendy Harris.
“Making Conversations Count” is now six months old and to celebrate that milestone (and the show’s new website) the team behind the scenes decided to make Wendy escape her comfort zone, and mark the occasion by putting herself forward as a guest on her own podcast!
Over the previous episodes, we’ve learned so much about the guests, but felt it was time we learned more about Wendy herself.
A couple of emails later, and popular previous guest Nat Schooler agreed to help us turn the tables on Wendy, and actually hosted the show for us!
Making Conversations Count – Episode Twenty-Six
15th April 2021
Wendy Harris, WAG Associates, with Guest Host, Nat Schooler
00:02:36: Making conversations count was born
00:05:15: Honest and Integrity
00:06:49: Feel good factor
00:08:59: People, passion, promotion
00:10:31: Wendy’s pivotal conversation
00:13:53: Confidence turbo boost
00:16:47: What if I’d never answered the phone?
00:18:50: Faith and instinct
00:20:22: JDI (Just do it)
00:22:28: Protect your own self
00:24:30: Power up or book?
00:26:10: Final thoughts
Wendy Harris: Have you ever dreaded answering the phone when it rings, because you know it’s just going to be another one of those really bad sales calls? It happens to me and I hate it and it’s something that I actually train people to do better, but today the conversation is my pivotal conversation. It’s about when I answered one of those calls and how it became a transformative pivotal moment. You may, at the end of listening to the show, just consider that when that phone rings again, it could be an opportunity waiting to happen. We’re going to be making conversations about cold calling count.
What’s new Wendy Woo? The website for you to find all things relating to the show should be live. It’s not finished, it’s not perfect, it’s going to be a work in progress; but you can go and check out all the episodes and we’re going to be putting all of the guests’ resources and offers into one place for you, so that you can really get the benefit of all the people involved in the show. You’ll need to go to www.makingconversationscount.com to check that out. Don’t forget to be subscribing though on the www.makingconversationscount.studio/podcast but all the links are on the main website anyway.
This is the episode that you’ve all been waiting for, it’s the story behind the show and why it’s so important to me, your host, Wendy Harris. A big thanks to Nat Schooler for returning as my guest host; it’s over to you, Nat.
Nat Schooler: I’ve been very privileged today to actually be invited to host Wendy Harris’s podcast show and that’s quite exciting really, purely because I’m really impressed with what you’ve been doing and that you’ve been doing extremely well. It was lovely to be interviewed by you, what was it, a couple of months back, I suppose. I really appreciate you inviting me to ask you a few questions.
Wendy Harris: I’m just so happy that you were up for the gig, Nat.
Nat Schooler: Making conversations count, Wendy. How did you actually get into making conversations count?
Wendy Harris: Goodness, without giving you my life history, I needed to leave home at the tender age of 17, and whilst I’d gotten into sixth from to study A Levels, I decided to apply for a job so that I could actually afford to leave home. The job that I applied for said, “Over 21s only”, and I wrote a cover letter with my CV saying, “I know that you’ve asked for over 21s only, but I’ve had quite a lot of work experience, working on the market stalls and working in a pub waitressing and silver service waitressing, that I think you’ll find that I’ve got an older head on my shoulder and I would quite appreciate just the interview experience”, I just wanted that.
The half an hour interview went for an hour and ten minutes, I was there with a raging cold and a box of tissues, so God only knows what impression I must have left them, but I was offered the job. We did six weeks’ intensive training, and within the first 12 months of working there, I was looking after national accounts, looking after my own area. I’d got manager’s rights on the system so I could discount whatever I wanted, and I just loved helping people and I’ve just done that then throughout.
Nat Schooler: That was in a sales environment, right?
Wendy Harris: Yeah, telesales account management and from there I went onto do field sales, I’ve done recruitment, I’ve worked in IT, I’ve worked in telecoms; a solution selling really. But I think where I’ve been successful is I’ve been quite social about my approach. They’re very jargon-filled industries and I’m just kind of like, “Come on, let’s see how we can solve this problem so that you understand what we’re going to do”.
Nat Schooler: Yeah, I totally dislike all of this jargon. The acronyms are just ridiculous.
Wendy Harris: I can’t even spell it, let alone say it so —
Nat Schooler: A lot of these people, they use acronyms because they love to just think of themselves as important and actually, they’re not important a lot of these people but they like to think they are, and they behave like they are; it’s really quite sad actually that they carry on using these TLAs.
Wendy Harris: What?
Nat Schooler: Three letter acronyms, Wendy.
Wendy Harris: Oh yeah, I get you. Don’t do it, you see. Just don’t do it! About the only I use is TTFN, ta, ta for now. I don’t know, I just think that there are a lot of people out there that have been sold to and mis-sold, misrepresented, gotten themselves tied into all sorts of contracts and deals that if they sound too good to be true, they are too good to be true.
It’s got to be about honesty, integrity and one thing that my dad always used to say to me, when I worked in the bank in Lichfield, he says, “You don’t do it on your own doorstep”, and he’d told me this for years and he was absolutely right. The personal account managers, there’s an acronym we were called PAM. They were all people that were coming in and I was targeted to sell loans and house insurance and stuff like that and the checklists that they did, to check your money in and out and affordability, was stacked so that they were always going to get given the loan, even if they couldn’t afford to repay it.
I was going to people — they were coming for a loan and I was going, “Don’t do it. Don’t take that much. You won’t be able to do it and then you’ll be in trouble”. I was never hitting target because I was giving them right advice and then of course we had the PPI insurance claim back and I was like, “Saw that one coming!” I can’t see people being taken advantage of; it just doesn’t sit well.
Nat Schooler: It’s very, very important, so conversation must be really important then to help your clients.
Wendy Harris: It’s the start of every good idea, isn’t it, and I think I say this on my LinkedIn profile; even if that conversation’s in your head, that idea has to go somewhere. By sharing that with somebody else, and somebody else, it’s like the domino effect that can help you on that journey to ultimately where you want to be, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. If I don’t know somebody that can help, I certainly know somebody who will know somebody; it’s not just about me being able to help, but to feel that I can help in any way shape or form is what gives me rosy cheeks.
Nat Schooler: It’s a feel-good factor.
Wendy Harris: Yeah and I like to think that, like my dad was saying, “Don’t do it on your own doorstep”, that I’ve had clients, long-standing clients, that came to my wedding and we could go down the pub and we could have a chat. I know that lots of people say, “You don’t need your clients to love you, they’ve just got to trust you”, actually I want to be loved as well, I want to love them.
If I don’t love them, how can I really truly help them, because it’s that underlying belief in them and I say to everybody that works with me, “Yeah, you get me for 90 minutes and 30 minutes accountability”, or, “You get me for six weeks”, but you get me forever because I don’t say you can’t ever pick up the phone and ask a question. It’s kind of like a lifetime membership, but we don’t a forum on Facebook where we do it, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Nat Schooler: It’s nice when you enjoy working with people; it just makes life really enjoyable doesn’t it?
Wendy Harris: It’s not work. I can tell you now, listeners can’t see, but you can vouch for me. I’m as pink as my branding right now, because I’m talking about my passion and that’s how I get. I get truly invested in people doing well, I just want them to do well.
Nat Schooler: It’s a good purpose to align with, because you’re putting out this content which, in essence, can change someone’s life for free. You’re giving it away, yeah; I mean that’s what you do just because that’s your purpose.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, I mean I see value triangles everywhere and there’s one that I really dislike and that is people, pain and promise. To me, you’re putting two negatives against people; why would that work? For me it’s people, passion and promotion. If you’ve got the passion and you’re that person then you’re going to promote yourself without even realising that you’re promoting yourself. You’re going to attract the right kind of people; you’re going to talk to the right kind of people, and it comes down to why the show was created.
My pivotal conversation comes from something happening to me that I normally do to other people and that is that the phone rang on my desk. I’ve had a lifetime of ringing people and looking to explore possibilities of working together for clients and for myself; and I think it worked it out I’d done over a million calls in my career so far and that’s conservative, I think. So, it’s about time I share that with other people, how to make those conversations count.
The one day I was sat, and it was just straight after the New Year break, those couple of dead days where it’s like a Thursday and Friday and nobody’s really back to work till the Monday and I was sat in the office, they’d gone back to school and work so I came up and I thought, “Right, I’m going to do my accounts and stuff. I’m going to start the year and I’m going to make sure that I’m up to date with my admin”, and I was just sat, and I was just getting on with it and the phone rang.
I answered it and I didn’t recognise the number, and the person just said, “Hello, is that Wendy?” I said, “Yes, it is”, and they introduced themselves and they said, “I hope you don’t mind but we’re running some research and we’d really appreciate your opinion on something, if you’d be happy to share a few minutes on it; and it’s linked with a product that you’ve already purchased”. I was like, “Okay”, and she was just lovely, it was like, “Yeah, I don’t mind at all”.
I just thought, “This is how I would approach somebody to get their time”, and from that conversation she asked me a bunch of questions and said, “That’s great”, and she was really enthusiastic, and she sounded really quite excited about what I’d said. I don’t even remember what I said now, and she said, “If I’ve got any more questions can I come back to you?” I went, “Yeah, of course, you can”.
So, she’d left it open for herself and lo and behold about an hour and a half later she did call back and asked me a few more questions and then she said, “Thank you. I’ll be in touch”. It was at that point I was like, “In touch for what?” She went, “I can’t tell you just right now, but I’m going to go and see somebody, and I think there’s going to be an exciting opportunity for you”.
By then she’d got me intrigued, I was like, “What is all this about? I thought I was just doing some research and helping out and you were so nice, it was how I want people to be when I ring”. She rang me back and she said, “We’d like to put you forward to be one of the businesses that AXA insurance are going to be selecting to represent their brand in 2019”.
I was like, “Wow, really?” She was like, “Yeah, there’s three businesses and if you are in agreement, you’ll be one of those businesses to represent the brand”. I was absolutely blown away because AXA insurance pick me? I work out my log cabin, in the garden, I’m kind of like a nobody; that was my mindset. Lo and behold what happened then, a few weeks later, two big London agency crews with their cameras and everything came, emptied my office, it was minus three and did a photoshoot.
The evidence of that is actually my LinkedIn banner now, on social media I use one of their photographs and it’s me out walking with the two dogs and I’m on the phone because I can take my phone and do business anywhere, so that was interesting. It got me thinking because the two London agencies were saying, “Wendy, what you do is really important. How you help people is really important. You could mop up the capital if you just come down to London”.
I was like, “I don’t want to come to London. I’m quite happy in my little Staffordshire village working from home helping these people from here”, and who guessed right that I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere anyway, a little bit later. But, that confidence grew as they were shouting about my business on their social platforms, as I could say, “I am the face of their public indemnity insurance on their website”, as they invite me then to do two articles on networking and things like that, that I’ve been able to add to my LinkedIn status.
It was kind of like somebody else going, “Wendy, it’s okay, you’re good at what you do. You can shout about these things, it’s important for you to be able to do this”, and I went on and went, “What can I do with this?” It just boosted my content, the context of how I was talking to people online, how I was talking to businesses, how I was able to then go, “I shouldn’t be charging the fees on Fiverr”, I hadn’t realised I’d been stuck for ten years charging the same thing.
I just went, “Right, okay”, new website, new courses, new branding, you name it, it gave me all of that confidence and then people were going, “Wendy, you should really do a podcast”. I was like, “I don’t know what I’d talk about”. I mean I can talk; you’ve probably guessed that by now, but what would I talk about? Then it hit me over a glass of wine over a weekend, everybody has a story to share, and everybody has had that moment where they were thinking, “Goodness, what’s next?”
For context, when they rang me, I was thousands of pounds in debt and I had 28p in my purse; I didn’t know where the next client was coming from, basically I’d put myself on the mental health first aider training course to help me and my clients because when clients come to me, they’re investing personally; it’s their money. It’s not the businesses money, it’s their money, it’s what they’ve worked hard for and if it doesn’t pay off that’s down to me, that’s on my conscience.
It was a powerful, powerful conversation that couldn’t have come to rescue me at a better time.
Nat Schooler: Wonderful, it’s amazing how you look back at that point and you can see that that was a real turning point for your business, it’s amazing. At the time, you’re sort of like, “Well, what’s this for?” It reminds you that you almost need to just accept it and take the opportunity because a lot of people would have said, “No”, to that and they would have missed all of that publicity.
Wendy Harris: What was really freaky was that my sister works at Clear Channel, so she does all the billboards and stuff and I had to ring her and say, “If you happen to see your sister’s face on one of the billboards round the capital, don’t be shocked. I’m telling you so that you’re prepared”, and she was like, “That’s awesome”. It happened to be somebody in her team that looked after their ad campaign, for whatever reason, and it was just like, “How did you manage that?” I was like, “I didn’t, it came and found me”.
I think you’re right, Nat, some people would just say, “Nah, I haven’t got time for that”, what did it take me? A ten-minute conversation, because somebody was being nice to me and talking to me in the way that I would want and expect to be spoken to, as a stranger. Yeah, there we are, we now have great people like yourself sharing their stories and it’s kind of like, “Yeah, we’ve been making something of something now, but by heck we’ve had to go through a right load of stuff to get there”.
In those failing moments and keep going and keep going and keep going and keep going, it’s by having those conversations with other people that have encouraged us and gone, “I can do it!” Sharing those stories with people now that’s really important to me because how many people are out there now that are going, “I’m in that position. If I don’t do it, all is lost”.
Nat Schooler: I’m just nodding away because I’m writing a book at the moment and this is just so relevant to that book. It’s like, without that struggle, without that kind of faith that you’re going to succeed — because if you lose that faith that you’re going actually come out the other side, that’s when the problem really happens. That’s when you can just sit there and go, “Well, I may as just give up and I’m just going to go on unemployment or I’m going to go and get a job driving a van”, or whatever that job may be that you really don’t want.
Wendy Harris: It’s a mindless job.
Nat Schooler: The problem is, is that if you’re surrounded by people that don’t believe in you, then a lot of people will just listen to those people and that’s the biggest mistake that I think people can make. It is to just listen to people that have never done things themselves, they don’t believe things are possible, they just like accept someone’s advice when they’ve never done it themselves.
It’s like that’s one of the biggest issues that I’ve got with society, is listening to just idiots tell you things, when they’ve got no idea. The reason they do it, and I’ve understood this now because I’ve spent a lot of time unravelling all of these things, and the reason they do is it that they don’t want to see you in pain, so they don’t want to see you suffer; that’s what’s stopping you from being encouraged by your friends and family.
Wendy Harris: There’s a point I think as well where, in the past I know there have been opportunities and I’ve passed them up. Personal circumstances, family, self-belief even, but the point is that I’ve recognised afterwards the regret of not taking that opportunity. So, you’ll go, “Ah I could do that, I could do that. I know that’s going to scare the pants off me”, so I’ve not done it. Whereas now, I recognise that feeling and I can go, “Oh come on then, let’s do it anyway”, because what could be worse; going, “I wished I’d have done that”. I don’t want to be the one that says, “I wish, I should have, could have”.
Nat Schooler: Yeah, me too. I was literally just listening to someone today on a video. He was standing up in front of a class of students who were graduating, and he was basically saying when you get to heaven or wherever it is you go, imagine just being visited by all of the different versions of yourself that had taken those opportunities and imagine them being upset with you and telling you that they were disappointed that you didn’t take it.
That’s why my mission is similar to yours, to just empower people to just get going and just get on with it and it’s not easy, right; but if it was easy, everyone would do it and that’s the point.
Wendy Harris: That’s a good saying, I say that a lot.
Nat Schooler: It’s true.
Wendy Harris: Very true. It’s like the other saying is, “You never know where a conversation will lead”, and that’s what stops a lot of people from actually starting conversations with strangers, is because they pre-empt, they overthink it, they start to have the conversation themselves, from a negative mindset. Be open because you just never know and that’s kind of my pivotal moment really, is from a conversation that I just thought I was helping somebody fill in a ten-minute survey.
Nat Schooler: Brilliant. You can say, “Yes”, to everything that comes along right and like that’s been my biggest mistake in the past is to turn round and say, “Anything that comes, I’ll say yes to”. As someone who works for themself, you end up just giving all your time away to people that basically just want to take more of your time for free and that’s like the biggest mistake that I see people make, is just not knowing what to say no to.
I’ve been invited to do all sorts of things but actually, if it’s only a win on their side, they say, “Can we have a coffee?” Or, “Can I pick your brains?”, is the standard line.
Wendy Harris: “I need to ask you a favour, Nat.”
Nat Schooler: I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about people that want to pick your brains, yeah.
Wendy Harris: Yeah.
Nat Schooler: The moment you hear the words “pick your brains”, you should automatically think, “Oh dear, this is going to cost me a £1,000”. I could earn a £1,000 in this one hour instead of talking with you and you’re going to pick my brains and you’ll never tell anyone how I helped you; you’ll never tell anyone anything positive about me; but you’re going to take all my information that I’ve worked on for the last 20 years of my life, for free.
So, I’ve got this great answer now, and I say to people, “So, is it a quick question that you have, or would you like to become a client?” That’s it; it’s a very simple yes or no. If they say, “It’s a quick question”, I say, “Oh great, no problem, send me the question”, and then I will write a blog about the question and I might even send them the blog, depending upon how many people ask me that same question. That just makes life so much easier because you’ve got these resources, it’s like so simple.
Wendy Harris: We do have to protect ourselves because ultimately there is only us, isn’t there, responsible and in control of us. That’s a good point.
Nat Schooler: Yeah, but Wendy that’s why you wrote this book.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, I mean I wrote the book because I felt that there were a lot of people out there that perhaps would not have the resources to pay for a power-up session, a one-to-one session with me. My clients say that they get an awful lot out of the one-to-one because I’m interactive and I get really involved with their business. I will be able to give them specific drilled-down messaging to use. But in the book, it was kind of like everything that I do for all my clients, the framework and it’s there for people to go and do it on their own.
If it’s a tenner on Amazon, what have they lost? A tenner. You can’t even go to the pub and have a couple of pints now at the minute, can you? It’s the starting point, it’s kind of, “Listen to the show, listen to the value I want you to have in me inviting guests to share their stories Go read the book, and you’ll get an understanding of how I approach business and how I talk”.
I have had close friends and family say, “Wendy, you have become an earworm when I’m reading your book”, which I do feel sorry for them, but I’ve had some great feedback from it being a great starting point. If that means that then they’ll come to me, great but if it means that they’ve started their journey and they can do it for themselves, bob’s your uncle my job was done by just creating the book.
Nat Schooler: It’s the feel-good factor of actually just delivering something really amazing that helps someone, and that’s your purpose in your business and your life, right?
Wendy Harris: Yeah, simple as. If you can’t be helpful don’t turn up.
Nat Schooler: Wendy, I think that’s the perfect place to end, it’s been wonderful.
Wendy Harris: Nat, you can come and guest host for me anytime.
Nat Schooler: As long as you don’t pick my brains, we’ll be good.
Wendy Harris: It’s just a quick question!
Nat Schooler: The thing is, I think it’s also very important to make time to give to people, if you see that people will really benefit from that. There’s an important distinction to be made from people who are takers and people who will just really appreciate the help that you’ve given them, and I think that’s really important to end on as well. You’re obviously someone who I’ll be very happy to do that for.
Wendy Harris: You are an absolute diamond, Nat, thank you so much for stepping in my shoes today. I hope you enjoyed yourself.
Nat Schooler: Thank you, I really did and there’ll be some links somewhere or other, I’m sure. If people want to check out my site it’s just www.natschooler.com. I’ve got loads of links to all sorts of things on there, so that’s the best place.
Wendy Harris: I’ll make sure that we pop them in the show notes as always. From this episode, there will also be a new website launching soon with an online do-it-yourself in your own time video course, so that will be coming soon and the links to that will be www.makingconversationscount.com.
If you want to subscribe to the show, www.makingconversationscount.studio/podcast. Until next time guys, thanks for tuning in. Thanks again, Nat.
Nat Schooler: Magic.
Wendy Harris: I hope you enjoyed my story of how making conversations count came to be. As you might have heard we talked about my book, and my reasons for creating it. You can get your copy at www.makingconverationscount.com/howtoselloverthephone.