New B2B Campaign Yields New Campaign Configuration

Randy got back on the job a lot faster than I anticipated. Welcome back Randy! He returned late Thursday night and is back at work today (Friday). He was sorely missed, especially by ME!

Today I’ll be analyzing some of the CDR’s (Call Detail Records) from our first 10 days or so of live calls for one client. We’re also preparing to start up another Client for next week. That will be our first commercial B2B client so we’re configuring some new and different features into the campaign to make it a more professional sales experience for the agents, such as:

  • Voicemail Automation: Often, when calling business phone numbers, we Agents will be asked if they wish to leave a message for the owner/manager. We want them to accept that invitation and leave the message. But it’s too time consuming and tedious to leave the same message a couple of hundred times a day. Instead, the Agent will have a VM (Voicemail) button they can click on that lets the GroupCaller™ system take over, wait for the tone when the call is transferred to VM, and leave a nice, professional message stating a compelling reason for the  the owner/manager to call back. The moment the VM Button is pressed, the system will place the Agent back into the call queue so another call will arrive within seconds. In this manner, the Agent stays busy talking and not leaving messages. 
  • Blended Inbound/Outbound Calling: Of course when messages are left for owner/managers to call back, the Agent must leave a phone number for them to call, and be able to answer the call when it arrives – and if they’re already on a call, it must also deliver a VM recording and ask that party to leave a message.  Call-Backs are a major component in managing sales. Our system automates most of that process.
  • Voicemail Marketing: About half of all calls placed terminate in a voicemail. We’ll leave a compelling sales message on each voicemail asking the called party to call back our Agent. This is a very inexpensive way to deliver a message and illicit a response. Once they call in, the Agent can explain the Client’s business and acquire a new Lead.

We’re very excited to develop this new campaign configuration because we’ll also use it to promote ourselves within a few weeks. It’s perfect for our Account Executives to use while they’re looking for new Clients to use our lead generating services!

Sales Manager Leave of Absence

Today is Wednesday. On Monday our Sales Manager in the Philippines, Randy Albalate, requested a leave of absense to return to his home town so he can take care of a medical issue from which his wife is suffering. Of course this was immediately granted. Randy will be gone for an unknown period of time; my hope is that it’s only about a week.  My thoughts and prayers are with him and his young family as he helps them through a difficult period. He’ll return shortly. In the meantime, I’m filling in for him.

I have taken over the responsibility of working with our sales team. Each morning I hold a briefing at which we discuss the events of the previous day and perhaps do a little training as well. I’m writing this at 4:30 am so I can tell you that today’s topic will be training on how to handle Do Not Call requests. It’s very important that Agents are aware of American law and handle these requests competently.  I also hope to discuss a change to the sales script which is necessary for our client, Sopra Brands, because their campaign is failing badly.  The two things that affect a campaign the most are the list and the script. If both of these elements are tweaked carefully, almost any campaign can result in success. We’re beginning to work on that today. These extra duties have forced me to slow some of the development progress, simply because I lack the hours each day to pay attention to our projects that are in progress right now.

Another task for today is ramping up a campaign for another new Client, Franchise Finance Group. We’ll be conducting a B2B campaign to locate companies interested in expanding their business through franchising. I predict this campaign will be significantly more successful than the Sopra campaign, if for no other reason, the FDG campaign calls businesses whereas the Sopra campaign calls residential phone numbers.

I’m looking into the possibility of making a trip to the Philippines in May for the purpose of establishing a real office. We have tried for the past 9 months to get a successful sales program going with home-base agents. it has worked to a degree. But the biggest problem seems to be noise pollution. We can’t seem to make a successful campaign with residential phone numbers because the prime time for calling is 4 pm to 8 pm in the USA, but that’s early morning until about 11 am in the Philippines – and the noise filters through the thin walls of our Agents’ homes and goes right to the ears of every called party. It sounds very unprofessional when a rooster crows or a dog barks while we’re trying to conduct business. so a quiet work space is essential to make this system viable. If we can’t get it from our Agents’ homes, we’ll have to establish an office for this pupose.

I have delayed the start of direct sales for ourselves because I cannot handle the support issues for a growing number of Agents and Clients all by myself. Those duties must be delegated and the Support Reps trained before we embark on a sales campaign for ourselves. This is very hard to do because we must pay for the support team and the sales tema during a time when we aren’t producing enough sales to survive. That’s OK, though. We have planned for an expended period of time while living off capital and not revenue in the early years of this company. And that’s exactly what’s happening.

Today our one Support Rep will begin contacting each one of our Clients to ensure their campaigns are running smoothly. Brenn (our entire support department at the moment) is doing well and working hard to learn how to operate our system. He’s beginning to work directly with Agents now and today he’ll begin working directly with Clients. This is a big help to me and is already beginning to allow me to do other things that are necessary for our own success.

VoiFone Browser & Android Edition Deployed

Wow, this is amazing. Only 8 days after they began work our Team in India deployed the first working prototype of VoiFone! We’re beginning to test it. This is an early-stage prototype so it has none of the dozen or so features that’ll come standard with it, but at least it works and bears our logo!

VoiFone™ Prototype Deployed – Take A Look!

You can take a quick peak at the first prototype in the browser edition if you want. Use the login 1006 and password 10zerosix. You can’t make any calls with it but at least you can see the framework of the user interface. Remember this is an early stage prototype. The finished product will look much different (and better of course!).

The browser edition of VoiFone is so great because no installation is required! This makes it possible to call worldwide regardless of where you are or what computer you’re using. Just cruise to a website, login and call!  Simplest…Phone…EVER!

I tried the first Android version and it installed perfectly the first time! Nice, clean interface. I think you’re going to like it. Those who are using VoiFone right now report that the clarity of voice is better than Skype especially when calling remote areas of foreign countries. I’m sure people are going to love the elegant simplicity of VoiFone coupled with the power to call at record low rates.

I’m disappointed in our first week’s attempt at actively making calls on behalf of our Clients. We have one active Client and 4 more in the wings. We only gathered about 5 leads all week, but it’s understandable since most of the week was spent ironing out technical issues and teaching the Agents how to present the offer and use the system. I think next week will be much better.

One of the unexpected events of the week was the discovery that we cannot run a later shift to call people in the evening hours, local time. The reason is that all our home-based agents live in places where silence is an unknown quantity. Once the sun starts coming up (morning there, evening here), there’s all kinds of noise that comes through the phone to the called party because walls are so thin in the home construction there that all the street noise comes right into the house and passes through the microphone to called parties here in the USA. It’s VERY distracting and sounds completely unprofessional (imagine a rooster and cow sound in the foreground – not background – when somebody calls you about buying insurance, or investing in a franchiese . . .”not good”). So there’s a good chance I’ll be heading for Manila again pretty soon to set up a real office for agents. I’m tentatively planning to travel there in May.

GroupCaller™ Poised For Serious Growth

It’s going to take the rest of the month to get our Philippines agents trained well enough to start getting decent results for our clients and ourselves. But once they know what they’re doing I’m convinced they’ll produce a steady stream of new customers for us day in and day out.

Next week I start dual-training showing them how to work for our Clients, but also how to work for us. We’ll start aggressively recruiting new Clients as soon as our tech support guy is trained well enough to set up new Clients, new Agents and debug their software issues.  I believe before the end of April we’ll finally be making regular sales each week. This is something that has never happened in our 7 year development history. All I can say is. . .  it’s about time!

Milestone Today: VoiFone Developer Started

Well, it took a lot longer than I thought be we retained an outstanding team of programmers from India to complete the VoiFone™ development. Target date for completion is Tax Day 2012:  April 15. They seem very professional so I am confident they’ll get the job done. But don’t really know if it will be delivered on time.

One of the most exciting aspects of this project is that the new-and-improved VoiFone™ will first be deployed as a browser-based application. That means NO installation! Just register and use it. This sets us up for rapid deployment worldwide.  As we make progress through this final development phase to Version 1.0 I’ll post articles each time we hit a new milestone. They are predicting about 2 or 3 weeks to deploy the full-features online version of VoiFone™.

After that, they’ll deploy the other platforms as they are ready:  Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iPhone. We’re leaving off Blackberry and Windows Mobile for right now. I expect we’ll add them in the next project with this team.

We’re also getting an unprecedented amount of interest in our Lead Generation service. I’m exhausted, with only 4 to 6 hours of sleep each night because i’m trying to keep up with the new development plus roll out this new Lead Generation product. Tomorrow we’ll start dialing on 2 new clients the same day. Within a few days I expect the 3rd, and insurance agency. And we have two more right after that. So I’m going to be uber-busy trying to get those clients off to a good start.

That’s all for the moment, check back at the end of the week. More new stuff coming.