It’s part 1 of our special 2 part series! In this episode, we sit down with Wendy Weiss— the Queen of Cold Calling, and an author, speaker, sales trainer, and so much more! Wendy’s track record is impressive— she’s recognized as one of the leading authorities on lead generation, cold calling, and new business development!

Wendy is passionate about helping her clients speed up their sales cycles, reach more prospects directly, and generate more sales revenue. Her impressive client list includes Avon Products, ADT, Sprint, and thousands of entrepreneurs throughout the country.

We’ll chat with Wendy about how cold calling has changed over the years, why you need to have a target audience, as well as…

  • How to not overthink what you’re going to say— and why a script is important to have
  • How to micro-target your audience
  • Why knowing your audience’s pain points is important
  • What you need to do in order to set yourself up for cold calling success
  • And more

Listen now…

Special Offer:

Discover How to Jump-Start Your Sales Team’s Prospecting. Too often, sales reps fail because they can’t (or won’t) generate enough leads to build their pipeline. In “A Practical Guide to Getting Sales Teams to Prospect,” Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™, shows you how to jump-start your team’s prospecting and have them scheduling new business appointments right away. Get your complimentary copy here.


Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success Podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they built successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. Today we are going to talk about cold calling. Here to speak with me about the topic is Wendy Weiss, who is president at Cold Calling Results, a sales training and coaching consultancy with expertise and new business development. Wendy, The Queen of Cold Calling 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. She helps clients speed up their sales cycles, reach more prospects directly and generate more sales rep. Her clients include Avon Products ADP, Sprint and thousands of entrepreneurs throughout the country. Wendy, great to have you on the show.

Wendy Weiss: Well, thank you so much for inviting me to be on the show. I’m really happy to be here.

Steffen: Yeah, I’m really happy that we’re talking about cold calling. Before we go too deep into cold calling, how did you get started with focusing your career on cold calling?

How Wendy Became the Queen of Cold Calling

Wendy: Well, I got started completely by accident. I was never, ever supposed to be a sales trainer. I was actually supposed to be a ballerina. And I grew up in Pittsburgh. I moved to New York City where I still live and work. And I moved here when I was a teenager to dance. I studied at the Joffrey Ballet School. And eventually, like every artist in New York City, I needed a day job, and I got tired of waiting on tables. So I got a job with a telemarketing agency that did business to business, business development, and it turned out I was good at it, which was a complete surprise because ballet dancers, we don’t talk, we just dance, but we never talk.

And so I did that day job for a while. And then I started my own business where I had clients that I would represent. And I did business development for them. It was actually one of those first clients that dubbed me the Queen of Cold Calling because I found so many opportunities for him. And then from there, I went on to develop the business that I have today, which is working with business owners, executives, entrepreneurs, people that need to develop new business. And I feel like I’m doing something that’s pretty darn important because it’s still hard out here.

Steffen: Yeah. So, Wendy, how has cold calling changed over the years? You know, since when you started. Or has it changed at all?

How Cold Calling Has Changed Over Time

Wendy: Oh my goodness. Yes, it’s changed a lot. And, you know, one of the things, I mean, people say a lot of really dumb things about this particular topic. And one of the things that they say about this topic is that it’s about dialing the phone hundreds of times every day and just go through the nose and the hang-ups until somebody says yes to you. Which I mean, who in their right mind wants to do that? And, but that’s the model that a lot of people used. You know, today, it’s true that people don’t answer their phones the way they used to. However, we have voicemail, we have email, we have texting, we have social media.

So there’s lots of ways to communicate with the other human beings that you want to communicate with. We also have sales intelligence. I mean, when I started 20 some years ago, my clients would give me a book. They’d give me a directory to call out of. And there was no information beyond a company name, and, you know, an address and maybe a switchboard number and I’d have to find the right person and get their contact, their phone number.

But, of course, today, we have all sorts of sales intelligence to help us pinpoint exactly who we need to be reaching out to and what issues are important to them at this moment in time. And in addition, we only used to, you know, we’d have an office line and that would be it. But today, we, you know, we can call them on an office line, there might be multiple locations, we can call them on the cell phone, as I said before, email, text, social media. And lastly, there are all sorts of tools to speed up the process.

And we use, there is software that we use and we recommend to all of our clients that is, it’s an efficiency tool. Combine that with a dialer, which makes you even more efficient, you can use this technology to leverage your production to really do more dials in a shorter amount of time. So it’s, and, you know, one of the things people say all the time is that cold calling doesn’t work anymore. That’s not true. Cold calling works. It works very well. It just doesn’t work the way it did 20 years ago.

Steffen: Yeah. So, I assume, you know, if you started back in the days when someone handed you kind of a phone book, right? And it didn’t tell you who the right person is you need to talk to, you must have been really good or had to come up with really clever ideas to overcome the protector of the person you wanted to talk to, right?

There was one number that led you to the switchboard and the switchboard might have sent you through the PA of the salesperson or the person that you need to talk to. But getting through the gatekeeper is something that I think many people find quite difficult. Do you think that back in the days because you most of the time most likely you had to deal with gatekeepers that you develop a really good approach to how to get through them and get to talk to the person that makes decisions?

Wendy: Absolutely. Although I want to comment on something that you just said because even 20 years ago, I would never have allowed a client of mine to give me the phone book. They would have to be very, very specific and targeted about the type of company, maybe the industry. I mean, this is something we still teach with all of our clients. Before you even start, you have to really micro-target and maybe that’s something that we could talk about in a moment. But so the phone book is out.

But in terms of the gatekeepers, this is how I think about it. Imagine for a moment that Indra Nooyi is calling your prospect. Now, Indra Nooyi, she used to be the CEO of PepsiCo, and now she’s on the board of directors of Amazon. So, she’s calling the prospects and the gatekeeper says Indra Nooyi, what’s this in reference to? I am willing to bet that the answer is not, Oh, um, well, I used to be the CEO of PepsiCo. You know, we make Pepsi Cola.

You know, that’s a soft drink and we also make Gaideraid. That’s a sports drink. And Tropicana, that orange juice and also Quaker Oats, that’s oatmeal. And now I’m on the board of directors of Amazon and we started out selling books and now we sell everything. Jeff Bezos, who’s the world’s richest man, maybe you’ve heard of us. But I don’t think that’s the answer. And the answer is actually some version of please tell Steffen it’s Wendy Weiss.

It’s, you know, please tell your prospect, whatever their name is, it’s that it’s your name from your company said with a lot of confidence. And there is a myth of, you know, because what most people do is they spill their guts. They do what I just did with pretending to be Indra Nooyi. There is this myth of the dragon lady gatekeeper that has been with the boss for 45 years. These women do not exist anymore. I mean, they’re the boss, and you’re much more likely to encounter a temp who knows nothing than you are to encounter somebody that’s been with the boss for 45 years. So the answer is just a lot of confidence. Give me your name.

Steffen: So that sounds very simple, right? And I mean, do people overcomplicate that part? Do people overthink to come up with smart lines?

Wendy: Yeah, yeah, they do. I mean, we, when we teach this, there’s a series of scripts that we give our clients and we practice with them. Certainly practicing is a really important piece of this because if the gatekeeper says, What is this in reference to? And you go, uhhh, then you’re kind of dead in the water. So we give them a series of scripts. They’re very simple scripts.

And the way I think about it is that if you’ve done your homework for anybody that’s listening that is nervous about gatekeepers, or if you have a sales team that’s nervous about gatekeepers, if you’ve done your homework and you have micro-targeted, and you’ve got something you believe in the value of whatever it is you have to offer, and I hope you do because if you don’t, go find something else to do. And so you’re reaching out to prospects that you believe with the information that you have, might have a need of whatever it is you do.

As far as I’m concerned, one, you’re helping them do their job just by letting them know that you and your service, that you exist, you have every right to call them. I feel that you’d actually, if you have something of value to offer, and you’re not letting people, the people that potentially could use it, if you’re not letting them know about it, as far as I’m concerned, you’re doing them a disservice. So there’s no reason, there’s no good reason not to pick up the phone and introduce yourself to likely prospects.

Steffen: So, cold calling is not that. So I mean, kind of that’s the bottom line. I mean, there needs to be, companies need to have a way to identify, or once they identify a prospect to get in touch with them. And as you rightly said earlier, you know, there are more channels these days that you can use and they should probably all be combined, right? Whether, you know, you do cold calling with a micro-targeted list, and we’ll talk about that in a second.

Whether you use emails to follow up, to share additional information, whether you leave targeted voicemails, connect with them or reach out on LinkedIn, etc. When I think here, it’s about cold calling for me, it’s not just the calling part. It’s an entire process that goes into identifying the right company that I want to talk to and then how I’m basically engaging with them across several channels, but they all work together, they all have one common message. Is that about how you would think about it, how you would go about it and teach that to people or companies that you work with?

Talk Like a Person, Not Like a Piece of Paper

Wendy: Absolutely. The idea is, once you’ve done the micro-targeting, you know, what is the challenge that they have that you can help them with? And how do they talk about it? Not how to you talk about it. And so what we’re really talking about here is what is your value proposition? But what most people do, when they create, they let their marketing people create their value proposition which they put on their website, and that’s perfectly fine for the website. But human beings don’t actually talk like that. I mean, we don’t talk in complete sentences, you know, with a capital letter at the beginning and a period in the end.

And so when you’re communicating in these different channels, it needs a different type of communication. The phone is a different communication medium than something that’s written. And so one of the big mistakes I see a lot is people will take the value proposition that’s on their website and they’ll use that in a prospecting call. And it doesn’t resonate because it’s written language, it’s not spoken language. And so the real key here is to talk like yourself and to use the language about the challenge that your prospects use. That’s hard to do but it’s a real communication skill.

Steffen: That probably also requires kind of a test and learn approach. We all assume that a certain issue is what our target audience have, right? And that might not necessarily be the problem they have. Or the way how we communicate it is, as you said, not resonating because we use the wrong words, for example. So people need to adjust their approach, depending on the feedback they got.

Wendy: Yeah, absolutely.

Steffen: So, you know, you already mentioned a few times micro-targeted lists. So let’s go there, right? So you need to do cold calling or part of winning new business, whether you are an agency or b2b focused business, you know, it’s one channel that this kind of company should use in order to renew business, but instead of kind of, you know, sending or calling everyone or then sending follow up emails to everyone, how do people, how should people go about to build their micro-target list? What needs to go in there in order to already set yourself up for success?

Wendy: Well, what you’re looking for are parameters of what makes a really great lead for you in your market. And these need to be very concrete parameters. Things like how large is the company? Either in employees or revenue, particular industries or verticals? Do they have to be in a specific geographic location?

And also, what is the title of the person that has the authority to say yes to you? That’s, you know, you need that information as well. So, it needs to be very concrete. Often when we do our programs, we’ll have people come to the programs and, you know, we’ll go through this process with them and I’ll ask the question, Okay, you know, describe the parameters of an ideal prospect for you.

And maybe they’ll say something like, any business with five to 5000 employees. And then I’ll say, Okay, well, would a prospect that has five employees have exactly the same challenges that a prospect that has 5000 employees have? And usually they say no. So then I say, Okay, you’ve got to narrow it. And if indeed, five employees and 5000 are both perfect fits for you, then you probably need several different types of messaging because they have different challenges.

The rule is what you say has to be relevant to the person you plan on saying it to. And so, we, you know, we take our clients through a process where they have to like really break it down and be very, very specific about who it is that they’re reaching out to. You know, another example is verticals. You know, maybe you work with insurance companies and you also work with printers. And maybe you do exactly the same thing for both of them, but they think it’s different. So you need messaging for insurance agencies and you need messaging for printers.

Steffen: So the risk, obviously, is if a company goes out and creates one message across a wide spectrum of target companies, they will basically, the success rate will go down because they’re not as targeted. The response will not be as positive or as good as they hope, which means there’s a lot of time wasted, and therefore, you know, they won’t get the ideal out of the business development effort.

Wendy: That’s exactly right. It’s, you know, it’s like if you want to learn how to play golf and you go and get a book on sports of the world and it’s got a chapter on golf. Or maybe there’s another book that is about tennis and golf, or there’s a book about golf. Which book are you going to buy? You’re gonna buy the book about golf because you want to learn how to play golf. And it’s kind of the same thing here that if when you really micro-target and then you can create messaging that’s going to resonate with that particular target, that’s when it works.

Steffen: Is there a too targeted list or could they be list that is too targeted, doesn’t have to have a certain size?

Wendy: I’m not sure I understand your question.

Steffen: So what I mean is, you know, we’re talking about microtargeting targeted lists. Could I create a list that is way too targeted because then, you know, the number of people on that list is too small. And creating an approach for a small list, unless, you know, there is a huge revenue value behind that small list, what is too small and what is too big? Is there something that doesn’t make sense for them?

Wendy: Yes. Okay, so what we tell our clients to do, first of all, we tell them to make a wish list. And the wish list is 22, maybe 25 companies that they really, really want to do business with, for whatever reason. That’s their wish list. And then for the rest of the leads that they’re reaching out to, to do it by industry, or size of the company. Some pick a parameter. And so, you know, let’s say if you were calling, let’s say there were three different industries that you work and then you’d have three different sets of messaging for the three different industries and those lists could be large.

You know, they could be, you know, thousands of contacts. You’re not going to get through that many unless you have a huge team, you know, but they can be big. It doesn’t really matter. And then, but you’ve got your wish list, which is 20, 25 companies that you’re specifically interested in doing business with. And you’re doing more individual outreach to those companies.

Steffen: So now that we talked about target lists, right? How to fine-tune them, why to fine-tune them, we get to the next point is like, how should someone make a call? What goes in now that you have your target list? What is the next step for a business, a sales director that wants to develop a process, a program for his or her sales team in order to have successful calls/

Fine-Tune Your List of Prospects

Wendy: We teach a very specific step by step process and it always starts with keeping the goal in mind. And so typically, when you get your prospect on the phone, your goal is to set up an appointment. And when I use the word appointment, it can mean different things to different people. But what I mean is that the prospect agrees to have an in-depth conversation with you.

And so that conversation, you know, maybe you’re going to get in your car and go see them, or maybe you take them to a Zoom meeting, or maybe you do everything over the phone, but they’re agreeing to have that conversation. So you get that prospect on the phone. We want their agreement to the appointment, meaning they’ll have the in-depth conversation. When you’re leaving voicemails and emails, the goal is to get them to respond. So, when you start with that goal in mind, then it becomes much easier to create the messaging.

One of the things that drives me crazy, people often mix up, prospecting and selling are not the same thing. They’re two completely different skill sets. And selling, consultative selling does not work for prospecting. It’s the difference between asking someone for a date and actually going on the date. So when we’re prospecting, we’re asking for the date, meaning we’re asking for the appointment. And then selling is going on to date. You actually have that in-depth conversation. So a lot of sales professionals shoot themselves in the foot because they don’t understand the difference.

Steffen: That’s a good point. It’s actually, that was the question that I would have asked you. It’s like, the first contact is not about this is what we do. And this is how we can help you. And here is how we do things better. Just because you kind of interrupting someone, you don’t have an appointment with that person, right? You’re calling someone, you’re hoping that he spares a minute to listen to you briefly so that you can set up a call. But it’s not about taking more than one or two minutes of the person time because that person most likely is not in the right mindset to actually do that.

Wendy: Yeah, you know, it’s, the language that we use is, you know, I’d like to introduce myself and whatever the company name is. It’s an introduction. It’s not, I know you’re working with somebody but dump them, hire me. So you’re not asking people to make a buying decision or a hiring decision. You’re basically only asking for some time so that you can have the in-depth conversation.

Steffen: So what should be part of that, the brief conversation to get the person to say yes to a meeting because, you know, let’s be realistic, the people that we want to talk to most likely get a lot of calls from similar companies, right? And they will not say yes to everyone. They will select a few, if at all. So what needs to be part of a calling script to have a successful call?

Become an Expert at What Keeps Your Prospects Up at Night

Wendy: You know, when you do this right and you say what you have to say, if you’ve done your targeting and you have that great introduction, that elevator speech, sometimes it’s called, and you ask for the appointment, when you do it right, people actually just go okay and open up their calendars. And we’ve seen it over and over again in our programs. People are like completely amazed at how much easier it becomes. So, the key and, you know, we talked about this a little bit earlier, but the key is what’s the challenge that your prospects have that you can help them with, and how did they talk about it?

You know, sometimes people say what keeps them up at night? You know, so what is that challenge that you can help them with? And then, you know, your, whatever industry you’re in, whatever business you’re in, you probably have a jargon that you and your colleagues all use. your prospects probably don’t use the same jargon. They have their own jargon. And you can’t use your jargon. You have to talk like you’re talking to your neighbor that doesn’t know anything about what you do.

Very pedestrian language. And so we were talking earlier about the value proposition, that you don’t use the one that’s been created for your website. You put it into more human language. And that value proposition is what is that challenge they have? How did they talk about it? And I can give you an example. The client who was just in one of our programs, she was a marketing consultant and she worked with nonprofit agencies.

And she helped them put on fundraising events. And so I said to her, okay, what’s so special about you? Well, you know, How do you help your clients? And she said, Oh, we have a very special proprietary process. And I said, Okay, so what? You know, how are they better off after you go through this process? And she said, Well, first we meet with them. And I said, Okay, so what? And then she said, Well, we ask a lot of questions.

And I said, Okay, so what? And then she said, Well, we analyze the answers. And I said, Okay, so what? Then she said, Well, we make recommendations. And I said, Okay, so what? And because the thing is, nobody cares what you do. And proprietary process and meeting with them and asking questions and analyzing the answers and making recommendations, that’s all the stuff she does. So I said, Okay, so you do all this stuff. How are your clients whose nonprofit agencies better off after they work with you?

And she said, Oh, their fundraising events make money. So I said, bingo. So we helped her create an elevator speech that went something like we work with nonprofit agencies that are tired of losing their shirts on their fundraising events. Our events make money. And then she was able to go on and give an example of some of the events that they’d done and how much money was raised. And it was actually very powerful for the small, you know, the smaller nonprofit agencies that she was targeting. They all wanted to talk to her.

Steffen: That makes a lot of sense. The focus needs to be on the target on, you know, on the company, on the person you talk to, not on yourself, basically. And a lot of what you said obviously, that probably is what many companies do. You know, they analyze information, they ask a lot of questions. There’s nothing proprietary there. Nothing that is different to any other company that does the same thing, and then calls the same person.

So that makes a lot of sense. Wendy, we’re already the end of our first episode. Thank you so much for joining me on the Performance Delivered Podcast today and sharing your knowledge about cold calling. Next week, or next week’s episode actually, we will pick up right here at the same point where we’ll talk about how do you overcome rejections? Why should you optimize the calling scripts? And what’s the structure of a successful call?

How should you design voicemail messages, etc? Again, thank you so much for coming on today and I look forward to talking to you next week. Thanks everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered Podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.