The Proven Entrepreneur

TPE S2 15 | Lead Generation


In marketing and sales, talking to people in a way they can hear is crucial. Getting their attention and interest means an increased future generated sales. It is a very important process, and most businesses would consider this very crucial. Today, Don William interviews Lead Generation Queen, Caryn Kopp. Carolyn is the Chief Door Opener for Kopp Consulting, a company that helps business leaders and salespeople get in the door with their most sought-after prospects. Tune in and learn some valuable nuggets on how you can get that right door open!

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Getting The Right Door Open With Caryn Kopp, The Queen Of Premium Lead Gen

I have a very good friend, fellow EO New Jersey member Caryn Kopp with Kopp Consulting. Caryn, welcome to the show.

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

It’s so good to have you on the show and see you. I originally met you years ago through your daughter, who lives in DC or the Alexandria area and is a true delight. I enjoyed working with her. I don’t remember why but she connected us.

She’s the Executive Director of EO DC.

I recall that. I’m not sure why she introduced us, but she did. That was years ago. Your main business now is Kopp Consulting. What does Kopp do? What do you do?

We’ve been around for many years, and we get our clients in the door with their prospects for the first meeting. When the prospects are executive-level decision-makers, then it’s a big engagement. We call that the door opener service. That’s what we are best known for.

I love that. You probably recall one of my businesses. I’m in the contact center business or call center business. We typically do outbound and business-to-business. We would be, as what the industry would say, high-end, but Kopp Consulting, you’re what on the luxury end, very boutique, concierge, and high-level communicators reaching out to executive level at major corporations around the world.

We hire only senior-level business developers to be our door opener. When a client hires us, our door opener will represent them as if they were a member of our client’s team. They take a remote access email address and a voicemail box extension at their office when they’re reaching out using strategic sales messaging, which we’re also known for targeting a strategically selected group of prospects. Our clients have someone very senior who’s representing them and can have conversations with executives that get an outcome.

In all my career, I’ve been in marketing and sales for many years as an outsourcer where people contracted with my company to help either on the marketing or the sales side. It always was bemusing to me. I want to be real clear with us. Cost is always important, but I was always a little bemused by people who are looking for the lowest price marketing and sales support they can find yet expected phenomenal results. Typically, my answer to them has been, “This is an area where you get what you pay for. If you want spectacular results, it’s a little more pricey than what you’ll find on the bargain.”

That’s true because a company that is hiring low-level people who are sometimes actors with a good voice, moms who are home who have a little bit of extra time and like to talk on the phone, or a kid who graduated from college, what is the match ability of that person with our client’s prospect? If our client is looking to get in with the CFO of a major corporation, how likely is it that somebody with very little to no experience is going to be able to hold their own in a conversation with that executive? There are times when hiring a low-level company like that is right.

Think about if somebody wants to target selling coffee to office managers. It’s a very transactional sale. It’s a plentiful market around the world. You probably could hire a lower-level person for that. If you have an accounting firm that’s looking to get in with a CFO or an advertising agency that’s looking to get in with a CMO or a VP of marketing of a fairly large company, you have to think about what is the match ability and who is going to be able to represent you and get that right door open.

One thing we know in Sales 101 is that you have to talk to people in a way they can hear. It’s certainly a lot easier if you match a high-level person with another high-level person. It makes perfect sense. Let’s go all the way back to little Caryn, let’s say five to graduating high school. In the house that you’re raised with your parents, your grandparents, or however that worked, was anyone entrepreneurial? Did someone set that entrepreneur example for you as a child?

Failure is not the opposite of success. It's part of success. Click To Tweet

My father owned his own business. The funny story behind that is that he owned his own business, and he was in sales. I didn’t want to do what he did. I didn’t want to own my own business and be in sales. When I went to Babson, undergrad, which is known for entrepreneurship and business and everything, I ended up there learning all of that. I came out of school and worked in sales. I went into a training program that Sylvania had at the time in sales. I was like, “How is this happening?” I was in brand management for a while after that. No matter what I tried to do, all roads led me here. I am in sales, and I own my own business. Thank you, dad.

When I first started doing the Proven Entrepreneur Show success stories, I thought that most of the time, on a question like that, an entrepreneur would say, “Somebody set the example.” I’ve found it’s only about half and half. Some people had an entrepreneur example. Some people’s fathers worked for the post office, and their mothers worked at the bank. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everybody has their own path. What is common is that entrepreneurs end up owning businesses in something they were exposed to as a child or something they were good at as a child. We find that to be pretty common.

My first job was mowing my parents’ yard. I didn’t get paid for that. There were consequences if I didn’t mow the yard every Thursday. In my first job, I had a landscape job for an area of multimillionaire on several banks and oil companies, all kinds of stuff, but I got a check. What was your first job where you received financial compensation?

Babysitting would have been that. I have a funny story about babysitting.

Please share.

That became my first cold calling job also. I’m not kidding. I was eleven years old. The family I babysat for had a lawn doctor franchise. The mother said to me one day, “Caryn, you have a good phone voice. Why don’t you go into our basement? We have these cubicles there and open up the phone book. Call people and ask them if they’d like a free lawn evaluation.” I did that and won awards for that in their company at eleven years old. It was in my DNA. That’s one of the learnings I had back then that I carry through into my own company. Just because somebody has been successful in sales doesn’t mean they have the DNA to love the job of getting in the door with people they don’t know.

That’s a certain salesperson who not only is talented at that but loves that job. I loved that job. I could sit there all day and talk to new people. What I found fascinating was the study of language and intonation and how if I varied what I said, it would change the outcome of a call that maybe was two minutes in total length. If I changed the cadence of my voice and the intonation, I could also change the outcome, and I found that fascinating. Fast forward a lot of years later, we’re known for sales messaging. We have two trademarks in sales messaging, which is a foundational element of a successful door opening. All roads led me here.

I’ve been in the call center business a long time now, several years as an outsourcer. I’m a firm believer that entrepreneurs, certainly everyone involved in sales. If they’re a great closer, maybe they shouldn’t be opening their own doors.

Yes, I can make an argument for that.

They probably should go from closing situation to closing situation. If you’re beginning your career, there is nothing that will teach you like picking up the darn telephone and calling strangers. Now, there’s a lot of governance on that. You’ve got to do it in a compliant manner, but there is nothing that will accelerate your education in the sales and marketing like picking up the phone and doing some cold calls. Many people have this huge call reluctance where they’re terrified to do that. It’s something you got to get past to be successful in sales. I’m pretty sure that was in violation of labor law, eleven years old setting appointments for the long term.

If we go back as far back as that was, there weren’t any labor laws against that at that time. Now, there would be.

In my first job, I was driving a John Deere tractor at wheat harvest behind the combines. I tell people out there, “How old were you?” I was like, “I was eleven.” They’re like, “I can’t imagine.” When you’re raised on a farm, age doesn’t have anything to do with if you’re helping. The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say, is, “I drove the 9 miles from the house to the farm by myself.” You couldn’t do that now, and we won’t say how many years ago that was, but it wasn’t out of the norm for people who lived the farm lifestyle. After your childhood, you went off to university at Babson and got your degree and studied what?

TPE S2 15 | Lead Generation
Lead Generation: Nothing will accelerate your education in sales and marketing like picking up the phone and doing some cold calls.


I double-majored in Marketing and Communications.

The stars are aligning perfectly.

As many students at Babson did in those days, I had my own business on campus.

What was that business?

I sold neckties. That was where my dad and I went into a little bit of business. He gave me on consignment a box of neckties, and I would set it up at the top of the dining room. Babson is a small college, so there’s only one dining room. You could only go down from one direction. You have to pass the same table to go down to the dining room and the same table on the way up. My table was next to that table. It’s all location. I had a box. I set up right around the holidays and around interview season and Father’s Day coming up at the end of the school year.

That was also my first experience with having employees because I had people who sat with the box while I sat in class. I saw how that was so that I could leverage my own time to not only make money but help other people make money and help the community have access to the gifts and the ties they needed. That was my first experience with the business.

If you’re reading this blog and you want to know something about sales, call Caryn. She comes by it, honestly.

It’s DNA.

Your first business was selling ties as they had funneled by your table to leave the lunchroom. I love that. You recognize that people buy more ties on Father’s Day, Christmas, and graduation than at other times. Was your next business Kopp consulting, or was there a stop or two in between?

There were a couple of stops in between. I left school when I graduated and worked for Sylvania in sales selling light bulbs, home electrical devices, and flashed cubes to grocery, drug, hardware, home center, and mass merge. They shipped me out to Chicago. I lived there for a few years. I didn’t know anybody in the Midwest.

When they sent me out there, I knew not one person in the Midwest to even call and have a cup of coffee with. I knew nobody. That was a big learning experience. By the time I left there, not only did I have clients who were friends, but I also had a whole group of friends as well and had a wonderful time there. I learned a lot about sales. That’s where I went through the training program. For the first six months, I was out. They put us through a training program and shipped us off to various territories.

I spent the next couple of years there and understanding the cycle of running a territory. That’s not about new business development, but that was also about increasing sales with current clients and what happens when the clients expand. I was one of the winners of our national sales contest and went on a cruise at 23 years old. That was quite an experience. From there, I went into brand management. I was working on the OTC side of a pharmaceutical company in brand management. I learned about marketing.

The more real the language is, the better the door opening is. Click To Tweet

There was an MBA in there too. I forgot to tell you about that. I went into marketing and then went back for my MBA, which I did at NYU. I studied marketing then I came back out into brand management. I went into the radio industry, where I combined my sales experience with my marketing experience. I was talking to teens and young adult brand managers who never had before considered radio in their media plans.

That’s probably one of the hardest sells other than maybe wealth managers. They have a hard sell. This was a hard sell because most of the time, the ad agency is deciding on these things. We needed to talk to the brand manager because the agency spent its money on television. We wanted them to spend their money on the radio, and they normally don’t do that.

We had to make the argument to somebody who had the ability to say to the agency, “No, do this.” Because I spoke that language because I sat in that chair, it was all about the sales messaging and what we say in that meeting to have the brand manager say, “You’re right. I do need to tell my agency to do it this way.” From there, I started Kopp Consulting.

Words are so powerful. It’s important that you use the right words in the right order and then with the right intonation, inflection, pause, etc. You’re painting pictures in people’s minds. That’s how we think. We don’t think in words.

What’s interesting about that is that even though you say that and I say that and everybody who’s reading will not along in agreement that words are important, the big question is how much time are they spending thinking about the words that they use and the words that their salespeople use to make sure that they’re right so that in a performance moment, they’re going to get an optimal outcome? Very little time is spent there. What I’ve seen happen, I’ll bet you’ve seen this too, is that two companies can go up against each other for a piece of business. One company is clearly the best one for the job but doesn’t get the job because they didn’t have the best words.

To me, it’s a lot like speaking. Speaking from the stage is content and delivery. There’s no difference in all human interactions. It’s, “What am I saying? Am I using the right words? Am I delivering them in the right manner?” You’re right. Many people shake their heads up and down, but they have no idea if they’re doing it right or how to.

That’s one of those instances where if you feel a little short in those areas, you can get a coach. You can hire a pro. There are people who know. One of the things that have helped me many times in my career was something that I wanted to be better at. I went and found somebody who was good at that and paid them.

You go from A to B, but you get somebody to push A and B a lot closer together. Time flies, and you can get it done. There’s no sense in doing it the hard way. If there’s an easy way, there’s no sense in doing it the hard way. Think back across your career, let’s say Kopp Consulting. What I’m going to ask you for here is a hard lesson, something that’s happened.

It could be some things that occurred that at the time, you’re like, “I am not having fun now. That’s a hard cross to bear,” but maybe in retrospect, looking back, it turns out that it was in your benefit, something very good. We know that all success stories have a couple of elements of failure. Failure is not the opposite of success. It’s part of success. Do you have a hard lesson you can share with us?

It’s one of the things we struggle with within our business. We have a particular place of bottleneck in our business that we’ve tried very various different ways to solve and still haven’t. We’re still on that journey. One of the things that I learned early on is that, first of all, only because you’re a great seller doesn’t mean you’re going to be a great door opener. I learned that pretty early on. I learned in the business as we were growing that not every great door opener was a great messaging strategist.

That was a surprise to me because messaging strategy comes easily to me. It’s almost like lots of muck on a path, and I can see the path through. We call it the path to the cash. I can see that very easily, “Let’s get this out of the way and that out of the way. This is the clear path.” I know how to put that into words that will create outcomes. Very few people possess that skill. It’s rare. As rare as it is to find a great door opener at a senior level, it’s even rarer for one of those people also to be a great messaging strategist.

We tried several different things. In the beginning, I was the messaging strategist for all of them, but that’s not a way to scale the business. I trained one of our door openers to be our first messaging strategist. She documented what I was doing because she would say, “How do you do this?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I do. I feel my way through the conversation.” She shadowed me for several messaging programs and documented the patterns of what she saw me doing. That became the foundation for training other messaging strategists and for our lead strategist, who, several years ago, put together a training program.

TPE S2 15 | Lead Generation
Lead Generation: Words are so powerful. It’s important that you use the right words in the right order because you’re painting pictures in people’s minds.


This job doesn’t exist anywhere. You don’t have somebody who’s doing door opening and sales messaging across industries in any one company. This job doesn’t exist, so we had to create that. We tried several different things along the way, which didn’t work, and we spent money on that too. One of the things I thought about is maybe we can get somebody from a different industry that’s similar, like PR, because they have to get doors open with people they don’t know. They have to write some pithy language and all of that. What I learned is that their pithy language was more PRE as opposed to authentic and real.

The more real the language is, the better the door opening is. We couldn’t get that person to understand that. We also tried somebody who was good in sales and a great writer. That didn’t work because although she was writing and it was clear and concise, I would hand that messaging to our door openers, and the door openers would say, “This isn’t going to work.” They would know, so that didn’t work. Where we are now is we have a group of core messaging strategists who do this, but we bottleneck there. Last spring, we were taking on a lot of new clients at that time. Some of our clients had to wait weeks to get started. Think of the revenue we lost because we couldn’t start them sooner.

I don’t know if that’s a hard lesson, but it’s a journey. We’re still on the journey to try to figure out how to make that easier and remove the bottleneck. One person suggested, “Remove the messaging. What do you care? Have your clients write the message.” I said, “If our clients knew the messaging, they might not need us.”

The messaging is a foundational part of that, and getting that right along with who’s the target who needs to hear that because the world is a big place and targets weren’t created equally. People weren’t created equally, so where do we find the people who will feel the most urgency? What do we say to those people that make the difference? Who is the person on my team who’s going to synthesize all of that information into a document where the door opener is say, “This is a slam dunk. Can’t wait to get started.” It’s a journey.

Bottlenecks are typically towards the top of the bottle, and that’s the way it goes. Thank you for sharing that. What about a warp speed moment? What about something that happened in the past in your business where things had been going along pretty good, but all of a sudden, you won the big deal? You had tons of deals coming in. It could be something that was a hockey stick moment.

I remember Verne Harnish, who runs the Scaling Up Organization. You probably know him. My book, Biz Dev Done Right, is on Gazelle’s Growth Institute. He’s had me on to do some of his on-demand seminars before Growth Institute was even around. If you go back even further than that, not long after, I met him. He put something in his newsletter that goes a lot about our service and what we’re doing with the door opener service to get clients in the door. It was a flood. It broke my website contact button. I truly appreciate all the support he’s given our organization and me over many years. That was a fun time.

It’s almost parallel to an entrepreneur on Shark Tank, whether they get a deal or not. The exposure does so much good for them.

What’s interesting is that when the people who follow him read something like that about our organization and the way we’re structured, a lot of times, it’s like a light bulb moment because even though we are getting appointments and appointment setting is not new. The way we go about this using only senior-level business developers who can represent them and get the big doors open, that’s their light bulb moment for people they didn’t know existed. As soon as they see that it exists and it comes from somebody like Verne, the phone rings. That was great.

I don’t think there’s any one single thing you can do that will explode your business better than having a person who has tons of credibility and a large audience stand up and say, “I don’t know what Caryn charges. I don’t know if she has any availability, but I know that if you need this done, you should hire her.” There’s nothing better than that.

We’re going to put you in the time machine now. We’re going to take you back to twenty-year-old Caryn. You’re going to get about 60 or 90 seconds to share a couple of thoughts that you wish you knew then that you know now that would have sped you along your entrepreneurial path. It could be a couple of thoughts.

That’s good because I thought you were going to ask me to sing and that wouldn’t have been pretty. In twenty, I would have been in college. That was still when I was trying to fight being in sales and owning my own business. I was still on that path at that time. What would I say about that journey?

Something that would help you speed along your way. Something you know now you wish you knew then.

The messaging is a foundational part. You have to get that right along with figuring out the target who needs to hear that because the world is a big place, and targets weren't created equally. Click To Tweet

It might have to do with leveraging the relationships of the people I knew at that time. Leverage is not the best word now that I think about it. I’m not using the word nurture because it’s overused. It’s caring for those relationships along the way. I didn’t know that at that time, I understood the importance of the important people who I was meeting and coming along my path.

That’s true of the professors and the people I reported to when I got to Sylvania and some of the others. I’m still in touch with them, the first two bosses. I don’t think I understood the power of that. Also, it’s the power of having maybe a top 5 or a 10 list of people who could change my life and the path to meeting those people, even if I didn’t know them. Now, I understand the power of that and the ability to chart a course that would put me in the same place as somebody who could change my life.

Thank you for sharing. If one of our tribes wanted to reach out, what’s the best way to reach you, Caryn?

They can reach me through the website, which is They can learn more about what we do with the door opener service and sales messaging. They can reach me that way. They can reach me through LinkedIn, Caryn Kopp. I hope they do because I’d love to hear about what people are doing now. Business development has certainly changed in the last couple of years. I run a company of people who do business development across industries. Every day, we’re collecting data, and we understand what’s working because we have the data to support it. I’d be happy to share with whoever needs to know that information.

Readers, you won’t find a nicer, smarter, more well-rounded business person than Caryn Kopp at Kopp Consulting. Caryn, thank you so much for joining us on the show.

Thank you for having me.

It’s my pleasure. That’s this episode of the show.


Important Links


About Caryn Kopp

TPE S2 15 | Lead GenerationToo often the process of opening new prospect doors receives minimal attention by business owners and salespeople in terms of time spent, consistency and strategy – three critical elements for prospecting success. Have you ever heard someone say, “When I’m in front of the right decision maker I close the sale most of the time, I just can’t get in front of enough of the right people!” Kopp Consulting provides an easy solution for this with the Door Opener® Service.

Kopp Consulting successfully helps business leaders and salespeople get in the door with their most sought after prospects. When the business was in the early years, Caryn was the one on the phones for her clients, helping them find opportunities, piquing the interest of hard to reach decision makers and getting her clients in the door. For this reason, she has been dubbed Chief Door Opener®. One client has had 73 meetings, closed 10 new customers (so far) and says the Door Opener Service contributed over $5,000,000 incremental revenue. Another client closed $773K with $2MM in the pipeline in just a few months.


For information on how to work with Don visit Work With Don Williams
You can also reach out to Don Williams at
Please join Don and his businesses in support of St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital in its Mission to cure Childhood Cancers. You can donate to St. Jude at
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TPE S2 15 | Lead Generation