Ep408: Wendy Harris – You Must Dig Deeper When You Really Want Something to Work

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Quick take

BIO: Wendy Harris is an outbound telephone sales trainer who gives businesses the confidence to talk to strangers and never cold call again.

STORY: Wendy invested in a franchise that was doing quite well until the head office forced her to use scare tactics to get other people to join the franchise. She refused to go against her business ethics, which tired down her chances of making money with the franchise.

LEARNING: Do thorough due diligence and ask lots of questions, especially when you badly want something to work out. Always remember that you have an ethical obligation to your customers above making a profit.


“Always get a second opinion from a professional that you trust. Someone that will give you unbiased and God’s honest feedback.”

Wendy Harris


Guest profile

Wendy Harris is making conversations count! She is an outbound telephone sales trainer who gives businesses the confidence to talk to strangers and never cold call again. She is the author of the Bestselling book Making Conversations Count: How To Sell Over The Phone and podcast host of the Making Conversations Count podcast.

Worst investment ever

In 2004 Wendy led a team of ladies calling out, booking appointments, and doing quotes in the telecommunications industry. She’d been headhunted to this company, and when she got there, she found that the staff was talking to precisely the same people as she was in her old position. Deals were being closed, but commissions were not being paid to the people making the appointments. Her trust went entirely out of the window.

Breaking out to her own thing

The broken trust made Wendy want to consider quitting employment and do something else. So she persuaded her husband to give her a good few thousand pounds to invest in a franchise. So she set off on this path to run her own business with head office support and the other people’s experience doing the same thing in their area.

Wendy got invited by the head office to go into the office and do some paid work to support her income. The work involved talking to other people about how good it is to be a franchisee.

Being forced to go against her business ethics

Everything was working out well until Wendy was told the only way she would be paid is if she got people to sign up for these franchises and get them to pay for it on their credit card. These sales tactics did not amuse wendy because they were based on selling on fear. She then got slapped with a brand new franchise agreement that went from a four or five-page document to a 50-page document. The new deal gave all the control to head office, so the franchise was no longer Wendy’s business.

Lessons learned

There are two things that Wendy failed to do which led her to make her worst investment ever:

  • Not asking questions and instead took everything at face value
  • Not doing her homework by researching other franchises or talking to other people that had bought franchises

Andrew’s takeaways

Fear sells, but it’s an unethical tactic

Yes, fear sells, but you have an ethical obligation to your customers when selling your products and services not to use it as a tactic.

Due diligence is most important when you want something to work

When we really want something to work, we tend to be less vigilant and want to push it through to the end. We forget to do our due diligence and give people the benefit of the doubt. However, this is the time that we need to be the most vigilant because that’s when we’re most vulnerable.

Actionable advice

Get a second opinion from somebody that you trust. Not a family member or a friend in the industry because they may be your biggest fans, but they’re not necessarily always going to give you unbiased and honest feedback. Seek help from professionals such as getting an accountant to look over the figures, a solicitor to look over the contract, etc.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

Wendy’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to do a TEDx talk.

Parting words


“Just keep making conversations count.”

Wendy Harris


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community. We know that to win in investing, you must take risk but to win big, you've got to reduce it to join our community go to my worst investment ever.com and received these five free benefits. First, you get the risk reduction checklists I've created from the lessons I've learned from all of my guests. Second, you get my weekly email to help you increase your investment return. Third, you get a 25% discount on all a Stotz Academy courses. Fourth, you get access to our Facebook community to get to know guests and fellow listeners. And finally, you get my curated list of the Top 10 episodes. Fellow risk takers, this is your worst podcast hosts Andrew Stotz, from a Stotz Academy, and I'm here with featured guest, Wendy Harris, when are you ready to rock? Come on, let's get this conversation started. I know Wendy is definitely ready. So Wendy, is marketing is making marketing conversations count. She's an outbound telephone sales trainer who gives businesses the confidence to talk to strangers, and never cold call again. She's the author of the best selling book making conversations count, how to sell over the phone and podcast host of the making conversations count podcast, when you take a minute in Philly for the tidbits about your life.

Wendy Harris 01:35
Well, what can I tell you? I've always been a chatterbox. It's actually one of the endorsement skills that I encourage people to click on my LinkedIn profile. And I don't know I mean, wag comes from, it's my initials from being a maiden name. And being the chatterbox that was a kid and always having the dog follow me around, that would do all my bidding, you know, and behave itself. And when it comes to running your own business, my goodness, what do you call yourself. And because I set tongues wagging, was kind of one of the strap lines that I used in my early days, it just seemed appropriate to use wag. And I've grown up a little lately into a new brand of making conversations count, where I could probably say safely, I've made over a million calls in my career.

Andrew Stotz 02:26
Oh, my God, and you're only 36 right now I can see Yeah, maybe even knows that.

Wendy Harris 02:32
And customs duty, and anything else that you want to tax me for? Exactly.

Andrew Stotz 02:39
And just how I mean, tell us a little bit about how you can make that many calls. And just a little bit about what you do in relation to calls and what you teach.

Wendy Harris 02:51
It's not necessarily just a female thing. But I think women are particularly good at it because they're inquisitive. They ask lots of questions. You can have lots of fun, you know, drawing things out of people. But genuinely, it's because I'm just nosy. And if I'm picking up the phone, to help somebody solve a problem that I know, will solve it, then, of course, it's just having a conversation, it's just reaching out and saying, How can I help you today? It doesn't feel like hard work, it doesn't feel like you're being rejected, because usually you're received very well if you've got the right mindset and approach.

Andrew Stotz 03:39
You know, I, I, I speak for probably a lot of my listeners that are, let's say, maybe they're experts in their field, or they're, they're, you know, focused in on their work that they're doing. And, you know, we want to reach out, we need to reach out to sell our products, you know, the world's not going to come to our homes and come to our offices and say, Hey, we want to get your product. But yet it's hard. You know, I think about myself, you know, a part of the reason you know, I'll tell you a little secret when he said part of the reason I started the podcast was to force myself to get on the phone to get on you know, this zoom and, and get on with new people I've never met. And I just curious, like, you know, what advice from all of you experience would you give it? I mean, I wouldn't say that I'm a chatterbox or that I I'm nosy in that way, or like talkative, but I'm okay on the phone and I'm comfortable with my products and things like that. But what, what little bit of advice would you give myself and the listeners from your, you know, millions of experience.

Wendy Harris 04:45
You've got to do your research. It's not just about picking up the phone and what you say in that first sentence. You really have to know who your audience is. Who is it that's going to actually Want your stuff? Because let's face it, when you answer the phone, and it's a sales call, most likely they haven't done their research. They haven't got a clue who you are, or what sort of position you're in. And they literally tried to give you verbal diarrhea about how wonderful they are, before they've even asked you. So your perception of sales calls is like the ones that you receive. So it's about changing that up to making sure that the customer is first that they're the right people that you're talking to. Because you know that that is going to be something of value to them, and build that relationship.

Andrew Stotz 05:44
Great. I mean, it makes me think about the calls, I get a lot of calls from people calling ex-pats and saying I've got, you know, some my company, you know, helps with investments for expats, and I'm thinking to myself, I studied undergrad in finance. I did a CFA for Chartered Financial Analyst, I've been in financial analysts all my career, my name is all over the internet. I was a head of research running teams of financial analysts for 10 years. And then I have a PhD in finance, also. And I thought they couldn't find one of those things. And instead, they started talking to me about investments. And I just always like, now I make my own investment decisions. It just, it's amazing. In your brain, you're going Don't you know who I am? I was thinking I had one person that said to me, it was a young lady said, I, you know, do you need any advice on, you know, investing in AI? Are you asking for my advice, or you asking me for your advice, and like, I can give you advice, and I think we got it reversed here. But I think the point being, doing just a little bit of homework goes beyond 90% of those sales calls that people probably get, maybe 95.

Wendy Harris 07:03
I mean, certainly LinkedIn, if I don't know about you and the listeners, but I get messages, dm messages of connected somebody is in a similar space. And I'm a big one for collaboration and partnership, because I think that the more you know about people, the better you can help your customers and put them in touch with the right person for the job. Okay, so there's, there's my logic, and I will openly connect with somebody if I can see a synergy. And then all of a sudden, I get this great big long dm, where they're pitching to me. And they're, they're saying, Do you need more sales? You know, can we help you get more business?

Andrew Stotz 07:44
Kind of like, hang on a minute? Read my shotgun blast.

Wendy Harris 07:50
Yeah, spray and pray doesn't work. So I would always use the analogy fish with a spear.

Andrew Stotz 08:00
That's a good one. I like that. You know, I did a little something when we first started talking today is I tried to find something interesting about you and where you live. And, and we had an interesting conversation, you know, and that's a good example. I didn't think about it in that way. I was just kind of curious. But, you know, for the listeners out there, I, you know, saw where the city that you live inside, though, asserts that city and see what goes on. And then I saw about this, this Anglo Saxon horn, you know, the Staffordshire Hoard, that there was an archaeological fine, and I read it, just a few lines about it, then when we got on the phone, you know, we started talking about that. And then I learned more, you know, in the process. So in some ways, it's a lot like what you're saying, you know, use it as an opportunity to learn.

Wendy Harris 08:51
And this is it's, I surprised myself that I knew so much about where I live, because we've not well done recently. But, but certainly it's those icebreakers. It's those conversation starters. It's, you know, if you're, I'm like, I'm a big swimmer, I get approached by people who love swimming and see those posts that I do, because we've got something in common already. We've got something to talk about. And it's where that conversation leads afterwards. So it's about thinking about who we all attract people like ourselves, you know, that you wouldn't be talking about tribe. It's much the same when you're doing business, you will surround yourself with people that you want to surround yourself with that make you feel good and you make them feel good. It's got to be that kind of Win win. So it's, it's much the same with conversations, you know, and, and I think the biggest, the biggest piece of advice I could give to people is that when people say gatekeeper, please drop that term. They are going to be your best representative advocate. Exactly. You know, I call them my auntie Dorsey's or my auntie Gladys, this, because if you're nice to them, and you, you know, explain your motives in a friendly and approachable way, they will likely find out what you need to know, they will help you because that's ultimately their job, their job is to protect their boss. But if they judge that actually, you sound trustworthy, you've done everything that you've said that you're going to do. And actually, you know, that they know that it's something that will help their boss, it puts them in a good light, then you they will help you get through, or they will help you get back in search at the right time.

Andrew Stotz 10:44
That's I mean, so fish with a spear number one, number two is flip the script on gatekeepers and consider them, you know, you're it. And yeah, you're advocates. And, you know, when you're talking on the phone to that advocate, and you're, you know, you get you're getting along, you got some good, maybe you got something in common you found it switching to kind of selling or pitching. It's not that difficult. I mean, they're expecting you're going to get to it and say, you know, and you say the reason why I'm calling is because I think I have something that could really benefit, you know, your boss and better. And I feel like that kind of switch is understandable. But when I think about LinkedIn, and I think about making that connection, let's say someone sees a post about swimming, and then they connect and ended it. But then there's a point where you're gonna make a switch and say, Look, I've got some great stuff, then you may be interested in. It's harder to make that switch to me on that LinkedIn message or in any type of message. But I'm just curious about about, you know, am I thinking about this in the wrong way? Or what, what are your thoughts about it?

Wendy Harris 11:57
I think that as soon as you start to have some tennis action, on messaging, it's really important to notice that that tennis match is happening. And to go, right, okay, at this point, it be a really good idea. And this is what you say to, is to be a really good idea if we just carry this conversation on it, and have in the real world and see grabbing a coffee over zoom or a chat. And once I've said yes, then you can say, well, I've got a diary link, let me send you that. And then you can book in whenever is convenient for you. So it doesn't feel like you're, you're sort of pushing yourself on them. But certainly, this is where I say to people, you'll never cold call, again, if you use a blend of connecting with the right people on LinkedIn, because you can do your research, you can check them out. And you can start that conversation online, and move it into a real world situation where you started to build that relationship, and you haven't pushed yourself on them.

Andrew Stotz 13:00
So for the listeners out there, you know, I mean, I'll just explain, you know, my, my feeling. Part of the reason why I've reached out to Wendy and other people like her is because I want to improve myself in the area of sales. I want to improve myself in a lot of different areas. And so I invite guests that I think are experts in their area, and I've had a lot of different people. But one of the things that I've that I've noticed about that is that if I was to call when the if I was to call you and say, you know, I want to introduce myself and tell you about some of the things that I have and this and that, you know, it's just gonna be hard to get that time. But when I call to say, Hey, why don't we do a podcast episode together? It's a time of mutual sharing. And we get to know each other. And I think that, that, that kind of flipped the script for me. And I've built a lot more deeper connections, friendships, networks, and, you know, business partners throughout that, you know, process. So, for the listener out there, I think, you know, it's not all about just sending out emails, what Wendy's talked about is getting people on a zoom call and not face to face, you know, and getting him to coffee.

Wendy Harris 14:10
Yesterday, in fact, I was having a chat with a lady who said she never cold calls. And I said, Well, do you need to use this simple question. And she said, Well, I could do with getting in touch with my old clients. And I said, Well, that's not even a cold call. They know you. So and you're not doing that. And she was like, no. And I said, so how do you stay in touch with people, for them to come back to you? And she said a while I send them an email, but I'm not quite sure what to say. And I said, Well, I don't condone this, but I would say that your email has to be in the tone of voice that you would have if you were having a conversation, whether that be on the phone or face to face. at a networking event, you should be yourself in all places, support. Just think about this. And she went, the time it takes you to write the email, you could have wronged them. And even if they didn't answer, you could have left a message, setting out your intention. Yeah. Yep. And she went on, and I let me know how you get on. So I challenged her to do that, and we'll see what happens. But I think, you know, what is there to lose by not doing it, you're not going to bring that customer back into the fold.

Andrew Stotz 15:40
So let's, let's make this real for our listeners, you know, maybe we've got a little Wendy Harris challenge for everybody out there to think about, who is that past client, past friend as whatever, that you know, a couple of them one of them that you think, you know, if I, if I would just pick up the phone, you know, there's, I can reconnect, and maybe I'll get business or whatever, find that person, and then pick up the phone,

Wendy Harris 16:09
I would say my book, I challenge everybody to find 10. All right, and do 10 every time because then you've got a measure, you can test and measure. So start with those past clients that you have that you've lost touch with, get a list of 10 if you only need an hour to do this, if it takes you longer, it's because you've actually had a conversation with me. So you know, if it takes two, it's still good, right? So just leave them a message is, you know, the reason that I gave to the lady yesterday, the example was its Mental Health Awareness Week. So because of the work that she does, with laughter, meditation, right? It was right, come on, I just wanted to reach out. I haven't done masses of posts on social media, but Mental Health Awareness Week, everybody's doing that. So I wanted to reach out personally, make sure that you're doing okay, and let you know about the next classes I've got coming up, get in touch, it'd be great to hear from you. You can leave that kind of message with somebody? And how are you going to make them feel that you have singled them out? To reach out personally, make sure that they're okay. That's the first thing that they're going to hear. Then they're going to remember how you made them feel the last time you work together? That should be a big enough call to action for them to check it out.

Andrew Stotz 17:48
Yeah. Well, I've learned a lot already. And I appreciate it. And I think for the listeners out there, we've got a good challenge, you know, find 10 people that we want to connect with, and sit down and make those calls and reconnect. And yeah, awesome.

Wendy Harris 18:07
Well, next challenge. Yep. And you just quickly because you know, it's about cold calling, and it's about talking to strangers is what I do. Find those 10 people that you really want to do business with ringan, introduce yourself as to where you're from, and say, the reason that I'm calling is I want to know how you do this already. Is Simple as that I just want to know how you do this already. And if you can be cheeky, because I don't cheeky, I would say because as I'm not going to tell you how fabulous I am, until I know how you do things. You know, you can be that cheeky, yeah. And then compare, see what works and keep doing it.

Andrew Stotz 18:52
That it's so, so simple. You know, that's what's so great about it. It's simple. And it's a great challenge. So I think for all of us, let's take that challenge. Well, now, I have a challenge for you. Now it's time to share your worst investment ever. And since no one ever goes into their worst investment thinking it will be. Tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to it then tell us your story.

Wendy Harris 19:17
Okay, it's 2004 I'm leading a team of ladies that are calling out constantly booking appointments and doing quotes for in the telecommunications industry. I'd been headhunted across to this company. And I get there and I see that the staff that are already in place, are talking to exactly the same people as I was in my old position. And deals were being done. And commission was not being paid to the people that were originally making the appointments namely, me so My trust went completely out of the window. And I wanted to do something else and I had been let down previously in other jobs. So I persuaded my husband actually, so it wasn't even my money, which kind of makes it worse. And my husband gave me a good few 1000 pounds to invest in a franchise. Now, not all franchises are a bad idea. I would just say that you've got to do your homework, which is what I just said at the beginning is lesson learned. And, and I, I set off on this path to run my own business with the support of head office, and the experience of the other people doing the same thing in their area. And everything was hunky dory. And I was invited by the head office to go into the office and do some paid work to support my income. talking to other people about in, you know, how good it is to be a franchisee. And everything was sort of going quite swimmingly until I was told to the only way, you know, I needed to be targeted to be paid for people to sign up for these franchisees tell them to pay for it on their credit card. And it was kind of at that point, really, that alarm bells started to ring for me that the sales tactics were, let's say, not aboveboard. They were selling on fear. That how I was making my franchise successful, and bringing me an income, and sharing that with others, was not really doing me any favors, it was just a time suck. And then I got slapped with a brand new franchise agreement that went from like a four or five page document to a 50 page document. And then that meant that I couldn't blow my nose without permission. So it was no longer my own business. That was my worst ever investment.

Andrew Stotz 22:38

Wendy Harris 22:40
all roads are walked or staggered upon, aren't they, for a reason. And through that whole, you know, seriously stressful 1218 months of my life. I hooked up with quite a few of the franchisees people got to understand what I've done in my career in terms of picking up the phone, training managing teams, and I was introduced to a lady called Lisa, who ran around telemarketing company. And I began to work for her until such a point that she said, Why don't you just do this yourself in your own area. Right. And it suddenly dawned on me a conversation I had a couple of days ago, that that journey, I've always thanked Lisa for that journey. And because you know, one door opens is another one closes. And that was really where wag was born in 2005, you know, trying to get out of a one I was just locked out of my franchise lost the money that was invested. It puts tremendous pressure on me and my husband because it was his money. And, and all I was doing was successful. all I was doing was replacing my income not growing it to a point where there was a pot of money to for me to say have this back. Yep. And then I had to start all over again. But what dawned on me a couple of days ago was there in actual fact, the reason that I went for a franchise was because I didn't trust myself enough to think that I had all of the skills and tools to be able to run a business on my own. When in actual fact, the realization when I got there was that I was more than capable of doing that if you just surround yourself with the right people.

Andrew Stotz 24:53
So how would you describe the lessons that you learn from that? Oh, gosh,

Wendy Harris 25:02
I kicked myself up and down the street, because the one thing that I've always always done is ask loads and loads of questions. And I took so much of it on face value, because I was, I wouldn't say desperate, I was just, I really wanted it to work. I told myself that this was gonna work, this was a business in a box. So taking it on face value, not asking enough questions, not doing my homework with other franchises, not talking to other people that had bought franchises. With a couple of people that I did speak to that were franchisees were carefully selected, I should have dug deeper for the ones that, you know, weren't being pushed forward as the people to speak to about their experience. And it's about, I suppose, digging through to that gold seam where you get past perception. Yep.

Andrew Stotz 26:06
I, maybe I'll share a few things that I take away, I've been writing down stuff as you've been going, you know, the first thing I wrote down is, you know, you said that they were selling using kind of fear and tactics, and then I wrote down, fear sells, you know, like, it's such a, you know, in fact, you know, the current environment in the whole world is full of fear. People are willing to accept things way beyond what they would ever accept, if fear levels are high. So I think that that's, you know, I think we have to accept that fear sells, but then we have to understand what's our ethical, you know, obligation when we're selling our products and selling our services to not use that as a tactic?

Wendy Harris 26:49
Yeah, what values the wouldn't. So once I was in, in situ, in head office and seeing the figurehead of the franchise, it was very apparent that everybody else had to do the sales, and she just wanted to be, you know, glorified in the, in the magazines, as this wonderful, you know, entrepreneur that was given all these opportunities to, to families to work from home and work the hours that they want. And it's that, that doesn't exist, you know, the first couple of years of any business. And, and this is the other shocker, it wasn't my first business. I'd run a business in a partnership, way, way, way back. I mean, we were going 2324 years ago, and, and I was the sales and the other partner, she did all the accounts and admin and back office stuff. But as a team, we worked really, really well. And the only reason that that, that that dissolved was that I moved away, I moved area, it was before technology could really keep us together from anywhere. And the business carried on trading without me, I just stepped out of that. So it didn't fail. I just left and went and did something else. So you know, this is actually business number 316 years, I think those past lessons. What have sort of set me up for success to recessions and a pandemic.

Andrew Stotz 28:30
Yeah, well, the other thing, I think, to me, the crux of your story is this challenge of when we really want something to work. We put aside our kind of due diligence. We give people the benefit of the doubt. And I think what I take away my other takeaway that I wrote down is that, you know, that's the time that we need to be vigilant, you know, because that's the time that we're most vulnerable. And that challenges. How do you do that? And I really want to roll into the next question, which will allow you to answer that and that is based on what you learn from this story and what you continue to learn what one action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate when they they come across the same type of situation?

Wendy Harris 29:25
get a second opinion from somebody that you trust. And when I say trust, I don't mean a family member or a friend in the industry because they may be our biggest fans. But they're not necessarily always going to give you an unbiased and God's honest feedback. So it is worth and this is where you know, getting an accountant to look over the figures. Getting a solicitor to look over the contract. I didn't do any of that. Getting somebody, you know, in this instance, it was a franchise organization. Businesses have associations that they're part of that like a governing body to keep them on the straight and narrow. Go talk to the association, see what feedback they've had, what kind of complaints they've had, what kind of success stories they've had. Just ask questions.

Andrew Stotz 30:32
All right. Well, I've got the last question. Speaking of question, what's your number one goal for the next 12 months?

Well, that's a good one.

Wendy Harris 30:43
I've got lots of goals. And I'd like to do a TEDx talk. I've got to pick a subject. So it's about finding that formula that will be interesting enough for mice, because we all have stories and different facets of stories. It's about finding that one key piece of my story that is worth sharing. So that's, that's,

Andrew Stotz 31:15
that's exciting. And I think 12 months from now, ladies and gentlemen, let's cheer her on so that she does get to that goal, which is exciting. So in the map of hidden that boom, well, listeners, there you have it another story of loss to keep you winning. My number one goal for the next 12 months is to help you my listeners, reduce risk and increase return in your life. To achieve this, I've created our community and my worst investment ever.com. I look forward to seeing you there. As we conclude, Wendy, I want to thank you again for coming on the show. And on behalf of a starts Academy, I hereby award you alumni status for turning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. Do you have any parting words for the audience?

Wendy Harris 32:04
Thank you, Andrew. And listeners just keep making conversations count.

Andrew Stotz 32:12
And that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. This is your worst podcast hose Andrew Stotz saying. I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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