Cold Calling Tips Revealed From Super Bowl Data

Like football, sales prospecting is a contact sport. Identifying qualified leads, crafting the perfect pitch, and reaching out in the right way at the right time all take strategy, tenacity, guts… and the right data.

About three years ago our sales reps started telling us that when they called into Atlanta as it was raining, everybody answered the phone, and they made more sales. Industry research shows the single biggest obstacle that sales reps face is reaching busy decision makers.

Could the weather actually affect sales by affecting the ability to reach people? We put our data scientists on the question and they came back with a resounding “Yes!”

Then our reps noticed that before big sporting events like the World Cup or when Jimmer was sinking his wicked 40-foot 3’s, the whole game of sales seemed to be affected. Could sporting events also affect sales prospecting? The Moneyball model Oakland A’s have already been a model for predictive analytics in sales.

This week, InsideSales.com’s data scientists looked at national and regional datasets collected over the past three years in our Neuralytics predictive analytics engine to see how the Super Bowl affects contact rates between sales reps and their leads.

Big Game Hangover

National contact rates drop just after playoff season, and descend even further after the Super Bowl. Hordes of fans around the country are mourning losses and need some time to recover. Over the past three years, the Patriots displayed the biggest decline (-46 percent) in contact rates of all participating teams. Let’s hope (for the sake of sales reps calling into the Boston region) that the Patriots take home a win this year.

Super Bowl fans in winning cities answer phones slightly more after a win, but losing city fans swing stronger the other direction... especially New England!

Chart 1: Super Bowl fans in winning cities answer phones slightly more after a win, but losing city fans swing stronger the other direction with a big drop in contact rates… especially in New England!

This is especially true for the losing team’s region: For the three weeks after the Super Bowl, losing regions decrease their likelihood to accept sales calls (25 percent) and experience an even greater decrease in their contact rates (about 29 percent) (see Chart 2).

The Joy of Winning

There is an exception to every rule, and the exception here is with the winning team. Winning regions experience a significant spike in their likelihood to accept sales calls (32 percent), with contact rates increasing by nearly 10 percent for a month following the game (see Chart 2.)

Notice how the contact rates for winning cities rise significantly after a superbowl victory and losing cities don't answer the phone as much for three weeks while they recover?

Chart 2: Notice how the contact rates for winning cities rise significantly after a Super Bowl victory and losing cities don’t answer the phone as much for three weeks while they recover?

The fans of teams that eventually become Super Bowl champions are unlikely to answer as their eyes are probably glued to ESPN. Contact rates for these fans maintain below-average rates during the playoffs and in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but skyrocket following their eventual win (see Chart 2).

Here are a few “key plays” every sales team should consider:

Start Early to Tap Into Nationwide Euphoria

Four weeks before the Super Bowl, the NFL playoffs are in full swing and fans around the country are electrified and hungry for a chance at Super Bowl glory. This is an optimal time to contact Americans nationwide for a sales pitch (contact rates increase by 15 percent). However, you need to know when to back off as contact rates drop off significantly as teams are eliminated.

Don’t Bother Me, I’m on ESPN 

During the week prior to the big game and for two weeks following, people across the nation are less likely to accept sales calls.

East Coast vs. Central vs. West Coast: Understand the National Fandom Heat Map

All fans are not created equal as passions play out regionally in the week following the Super Bowl. The Upper Midwest wins the true “fanatic” title in the variance of swing of willing to engage in phone contacts, with Central not far behind. Eastern and West Coast fans have a more laid back reaction to the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat (refer to Chart 3). Use this little nugget to sharpen your sales prospecting strategies in real-time.

Superbowl regional fans vary widely on the swing of contact rates during the 5 weeks before and after the Superbowl.

Chart 3: Superbowl regional fans vary widely on the swing of contact rates during the 5 weeks before and 5 weeks after the Superbowl.

Just Happy to Be Here

From a historical perspective, regions that eventually return home without a victory have contact rates above average during the playoffs and in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but drop off significantly following their big loss (see Chart 2).

Are these fans just happy to make it to the big game? Who knows, but sales teams can take advantage of their excitement before their team loses with some targeted prospecting.

The Super Bowl is only one of many factors that influence whether a sales rep will be able to reach a prospect (and, in turn, close a sale). The outcome of sporting events doesn’t have the same impact on contact rates as immediate response to leads, time of day or day of week, for example.

To win in sales or football, you have to take risks, and based purely on the historical data on contact rates of winning and losing teams in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, and admittedly correlative and probably not causative, and if contact rate profiles were the primary deciding factor; then New England fans are matching contact rate profiles of a winning Super Bowl team this year.

So, here goes… New England for the win.

How fanatic are you?

What’s your prediction?

NOTE: Here is a more in-depth analysis of the InsideSales.com Super Bowl Sales Playbook.

The Seven Trends of InsideSales.com

I get asked all the time what makes us so successful… As I’ve thought about it, We find, ride, and sometimes even cause trends. We need all the leverage and help we can get. Always build a new business on upward trends. The first article I wrote for Forbes shared a few ways we look for trends: 3 Google Tools to Check Before Starting a Business.

My favorite sales and marketing maxim is Divert a River, Don’t Dig a Well. What does it mean? Think about it.

We are told a good company rides one trend, a great company rides two; we are trying to ride and drive seven notable trends at once.

  • Cloud Software and Telephony: We were the first company to combine CRM software with dialer technology in the cloud. When Dave and I founded InsideSales.com together he had a web development shop, I was at the last company I helped found called inContact. He had hosted customer database technology, I had hosted dialer telephony solutions. We blended the two together in a new kinds of hybrid application that opened up all kinds of new synergies. Thanks to salesforce.com, who really put cloud computing on the map, and who is our favorite and best business partner, we have enjoyed riding this extremely powerful trend. We also new this new combination of technology would play best in the emerging new world of inside sales.
  • Inside Sales: 10 years ago we new we wanted a very powerful name. We went out to Google and typed in the phrase ‘inside sales’ and found 40,000 companies hiring people, but not a single competitor, not a single ad. We knew we wanted our company name to be the name of the new category of business that was emerging. Everyone else saw it as the name of a department in a company, we saw it as a new industry emerging out of a profession. We are now the leader in automation technology for professional sales people who sell remotely. Inside Sales as an industry is growing 300% faster than traditional sales. Right after the crash of 2008 a research study done by infoUSA and Dr. James Oldroyd showed that what was now the emerging inside sales industry was growing 15x faster than tradition outside or face-to-face sales. it was counter-recessionary, actually growing in the worst economy of our lifetime. Now it is still the fastest growing segment of all of sales and marketing.
  • From the Short Life of Online Leads, Harvard Business Review

    From the Short Life of Online Leads, Harvard Business Review

    Internet Lead Response: Google and the Internet has changed the way leads are generated for business and we invented and patented the ability to respond to web leads within seconds instead of two days like companies do on average. We found through research that there are incredible benefits to be gained by responding very fast to web-based inquiries. This trend came after the landmark 2007 research study by InsideSales.com and Dr. James Oldroyd while working at MIT. It was done again by he and our own CEO, Dave Elkington, and a brilliant professor at Harvard Business School by the name of Kristina McElheran. It was called the Short Life of Online Leads. We were excited when the research was again published by Inc. Magazine. Eric Markowitz is a well known writer for Inc., Vanity Fair, and the Washington Square News and summarizes the research of Dr. James B Oldroyd and our own CEO, Dave Elkington. His Inc. article on July 6th, 2011, is entitled “How to Best Harness Inbound Marketing Leads.”

  • Gamification: When Dave and I started the company we were both enamored with the book called The Game of Work by my friend Charles Coonradt, who I call The Grandfather of Gamification in a fun Forbes article I did. We have helped turn sales work into a game for nearly ten years and were recently ranked the 7th best platform for Gamification overall and the only one focused on helping sales people specifically. We find sales increases nearly 10% using gamification principles, but engagement in system usage increases upwards of 50%. The Millennials and surrounding generations grew up on video games, World of Warcraft and Mario Kart. Make work fun, keep score, provide immediate feedback, display personal and team achievement, and good things happen.
  • Predictive Analytics: We have used predictive analytics for 7 years to help sales people know who to call and when to call to dramatically increase results. After the research by Dr. Oldroyd, we wrote algorithms that moved the predictive capability out of the old predictive dialer model and into the database. Instead of predicting how many lines to call at the same time to annoy people at home during dinner time, Dave and I felt we would rather move use predictive analytics for professional salespeople and help them know who to call, and when to call. We knew we were on to something when our Predictive 2.0 model tripled sales against the leading saas predictive dialer at the 2nd largest home security sales company in the world. Since then we have added machine learning and even artificial intelligence capabilities and things are getting more predictive all the time.
  • Big Data: We not only use internal data to predict but we now tap live feeds from incredibly huge external data sources like the weather, stock markets, gas prices, and much more to increase our predictive capability as well. We hire PhD’s in areas usually reserved for think tanks and academic circles to feed Dave’s passion for data and the need for smarter technologies in the world of sales. Sales has been slowest of all to bring in these new technologies, but sales is the last to shut off the light when things struggle, and the key to success for every business. So when sales engages, look out.
  • Sales Acceleration: Several disruptive trends in the market have combined to create massive demand for InsideSales.com sales acceleration technology. There are dozens of software applications in nearly 20 categories of sales automation that has been called the sales acceleration category. We are the only sales platform in that space that ties together many of these different applications in one place to dramatically increase the velocity of selling.

One of my favorite thinkers, Clayton Christensen, tells of an eighth trend surfacing that we are now gearing up for. I call it Disruptive Consulting. Read about it in his awesome article called Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption.

 

Author: Ken Krogue | Follow me on Google+
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Brad Pitt, Oakland Athletics, And Moneyball: Still The Model For Change Management, Business Transformation And Predictive Analytics

This article about the winningest team in Major League Baseball this year made it to #5 on the Forbes Most Popular list. – Ken

Brad Pitt, Oakland Athletics, And Moneyball: Still The Model For Change Management, Business Transformation And Predictive Analytics

Brad Pitt, Oakland Athletics, And Moneyball: Still The Model For Change Management, Business Transformation And Predictive Analytics

I started writing this article from a hotel room in Oakland, California. I’m within walking distance from the stadium used by the Oakland A’s, the only professional baseball franchise that shares their playing field with the local pro football team in the country.

The Oakland A’s changed the way the game of baseball, and all professional sports are played. They transformed an entire industry forever by using math and statistics to choose players and make decisions.

Science over 150 years of art.

They figured out they are in the business of winning.

Just how good are they?

Moneyball by Michael Lewis inspired the movie by the same name, starring Brad Pitt

Moneyball by Michael Lewis inspired the movie by the same name, starring Brad Pitt

Billy Beane, who was played so convincingly by Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball, is the General Manager strapped with one of the lowest budgets in the country out of 30 teams, yet they are tied for the most wins of any team in the 2012 and 2013 seasons combined (94 + 96 = 190 wins.)

As of today, half way through the 2014 season, they have 59 wins and 36 losses, the top record in all of Major League Baseball.

Is it working?

Results over time don’t lie.

A decade after the original Moneyball book written by Michael Lewis shared the secrets of using math to make decisions, the strategies are still paying off.

I loved the movie when it came out in 2011.

It told the story of the 2002 Oakland A’s, with a payroll of $41 million, who had to be competitive with larger market teams like the New York Yankees, whose payroll topped $125 million the same year. They were not only competitive, they tied with the Yankees at 103 wins, won the division and 20 straight games that year, and forever changed the world of professional sports.

In 2013 the Los Angeles Dodgers started the season with a payroll of $213 million, the New York Yankees close behind with a payroll of $210 million. Oakland paid out 60 million.

If you own or run a business, watch Moneyball. If you’ve seen it, watch it again.

The Oakland Athletics, led by Billy Beane, have mastered the concept of change.

We invited Billy to keynote our 1st annual customer conference in Park City at the end of May this year. He held us spellbound for over an hour. He swore us all to silence, so I won’t breath a word about the amazing stories and strategies he told.

Not a word…

Suffice it to say he is the real thing. Business, and entrepreneurs in particular, can learn a lot from Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s about change.

A lot of skeptics have come and gone. In 2011, Sports Illustrated ran an article, “The Art of Winning An (Even More) Unfair Game” with the introduction:

“Eight years after it forever shifted baseball’s tectonic plates, Moneyball is a Brad Pitt movie, but its ethos has changed. Intellectual firepower is mandatory, but no guarantee of success now that the game’s financial giants have cracked the code. Competitive advantage: Red Sox.”

Let’s see, hmmm, Red Sox 43 wins and 53 losses so far in 2014.

Billy Beane has changed things again.

What is change? It is to make a difference, to become different.

A person changes.

A team or business transforms.

When a consultant helps a business change they call it transformation because they can charge a lot more the bigger the word or phrase they can coin. You can’t copyright and trademark simple and clear concepts.

In education change is called learning.

In religion change is called repentance.

Same concepts.

Youth want to change the world and still think they can. Their elders worry they are too old to change, yet they often have the power and wisdom to effect big change, though young entrepreneurs who are successful often gain the power to affect big change, we just hope there is some wisdom also.

Technology is the lever of young entrepreneurs to make change. Science tries to explain why the technology actually works and whether it can continue to work.

The predictive analytics model that Billy Beane and staff use they call Sabermetrics. They find undervalued players who are much better than their paychecks indicate… using math.

Now I know what to tell my kids when they don’t like doing their math homework.

It pays…

Stay tuned, this is 1 of a 3 part series on Change Management and Business Transformation

Author: Ken Krogue
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Cloud Computing, Predictive Dialers, Gamification, and How We Got the Name InsideSales.com

This is section 2 of The Story of InsideSales.com

CLOUD COMPUTING AND TELEPHONY

One of the very first things we did after we started InsideSales.com and built out our technology was that we calculated how much it would cost a company to purchase this technology in-house, it came to nearly $650,000; we offered it for rent for $135 a seat plus 2 cents per minute. We handled all the headaches and hassles of security, maintenance, upgrades, and uptime. We brought enterprise class technology to any size business without an enterprise-size IT staff. We soon found that IT loved to wash their hands of those pesky salespeople and turned it over to us who do it for a living so they could focus on the core of what they do for a living.

In 2004 we partnered with my old company inContact but they had their business to run which focused more on inbound call centers rather than sales, so we decided to build everything we needed from the ground up. Dave had Thomas Purdy and Rob Christensen who pioneered a rapid application development platform that completely blew my mind. We got projects done in days and weeks, not the months and years I had seen it take at my previous companies. I would come up with an idea and Dave would have it in production in a couple of weeks. Within six months the whole platform was working.

Tom Pilkington, the VP of Sales at PeopleWise, a subsidiary of LexisNexis that was our Founding Case Study.

Tom Pilkington, the VP of Sales at PeopleWise, a subsidiary of LexisNexis that was our Founding Case Study.

We showed it to 5 companies, 3 of them bought it, 1 was PeopleWise, a subsidiary of LexisNexis.

Dave and I both agreed on a few main things, we hated telemarketing, and we loved the Salesforce.com model.

 

PREDICTIVE DIALERS

Telemarketing used a 30-year-old technology called predictive dialers. Aggressive marketers abused it so bad the FCC had to dramatically limit it’s use and we wanted no part of it. You know, it’s that call you get at dinner time with a pause, click, and voice comes on and says, “Please wait for the next available representative”, and you think, “Wait a minute, you called me!” It’s that call where you have to say “No!” seven times before they let you hang up.

It’s why Do Not Call was implemented. As I mentioned, “Tele” was and still is a four-letter word.

We decided to take a different approach.

We wanted to call businesses.

There was no dialer technology at all for for B2B.

We wanted B2B and large ticket B2C only, no telemarketing.

So instead of using the brute force predictive technology that predicts how many calls to make at a time in hopes of getting a live answer to route to a rep, and hanging up on anyone else who happens to answer, we decided to use a more elegant Power Dialer strategy that puts the salesperson in charge of the experience, and moves the Predictive Analytics into the database. We called it Predictive 2.0.

Then we would build all kinds of little “power tools” we called them, to leverage everything they did.  Our favorite was a voice messaging tool where a salesperson could record their own voice in a library of messages for every situation, and when they got to an answering machine, they would wait until the “Please leave a message at the tone” and with a single click of a button, leave their 30 second message and already be on to the 2nd or 3rd call before it even finished. And the person at the other end didn’t realize it wasn’t the salesperson who took the time to leave them a message.

Dave and I firmly believed we could build a whole new kind of experience that didn’t burn out salespeople or their prospects.

 

Chuck Coonradt was the author of The Game of Work that dramatically affect Dave Elkington and I when we started InsideSales.com.

Chuck Coonradt was the author of The Game of Work that dramatically affect Dave Elkington and I when we started InsideSales.com.

GAMIFICATION

We also decided that we loved the Inside Sales way of life: Work hard, play hard.

Put in a good day, then go home and have a life. It fit who we were, and all the Millennial’s who we were hiring. Dave and I love a book called The Game of Work. It was the story of Charles Coonradt, who consulting with companies to increase their productivity and employee morale. He noticed that the same employees who plodded their way through the day at work, would all scramble out to the parking lot during lunch hour and put their heart and soul into winning a pickup basketball game where they didn’t earn a dime. Then come back to work and trudge through the end of their day.

I had done some research while at Franklin where we were trying to find what made our best performers. I had interviewed nearly 400 people and had 70 great performers: A background in athletic achievement. Great athletes turned into great salespeople. I think it is the practice, the repetitions, keeping score, watching the numbers.

So from the very beginning we tried to use these principles to Gamify our software solution. We tried to give the data to the salespeople long before the Gamification craze came into being in 2010. We started with the Athletic model from the Game of Work, and folded in the Game Mechanics model when we realized every Millennial on the planet grew up playing Mario Cart, Starcraft and World of Warcraft.

Charles made quite an impact on our company! I recently wrote a Forbes article calling him the Grandfather of Gamification.

 

One of the original logos of InsideSales.com

One of the original logos of InsideSales.com

INSIDE SALES

We needed a name.

I told Dave that the best possible name would be the name of the web category we were creating… InsideSales.com. We tracked down the guy who owned it, he first wanted over six figures. Dave put his negotiating chinese water torture techniques to work and the guy called us back right before Christmas and said, “I need $3000 today, if you can get it to me, it’s yours.”

We went out to Google and typed in “Inside Sales” and there wasn’t a single ad, it was blue ocean.

There were 40,000 companies in a row trying to hire professional inside sales people, we knew there was a serious trend building. The 1st week of January in 2005 we brought up the website and got 8 leads the very first day. Today we get 750 inquiries a day. We had built the ultimate cold calling technology, but never made a single cold call the first several years of the company, we were to busy responding to leads from the web.

Inside Sales was already a profession, but it wasn’t an industry. People like Trish Bertuzzi, Anneke Seley, Art Sobczak and many other notables had already spent years solidifying the inside sales profession.

Bob Perkins is the original founder of The American Association of Inside Sale Professionals that helped make Inside Sales and industry

Bob Perkins is the original founder of The American Association of Inside Sale Professionals that helped make Inside Sales and industry

There were people making cars by hand before Henry Ford built his assembly line and put a conveyor belt on it. But he built the profession into an industry and built the American middle class.

Our strategy was to help form an industry out of what was still perceived only recently as a 2nd class department that was taking the scraps off the table from the old timer field salespeople who had been in power for 100 years.

We saw change coming. We didn’t know that the crash of the economy in 2008 would be the biggest catalyst for change of all.

Larry Reeves is CEO of The American Association of Inside Sale Professionals that helped make Inside Sales and industry

Larry Reeves is CEO of The American Association of Inside Sale Professionals that helped make Inside Sales and industry

A few years later we got fully behind Bob Perkins and Larry Reeves, the founders of The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals. Their isn’t anyone with more passion and care.

We believed if there was a trade association, inside sales was an industry.

We had no idea.

***

Author: Ken Krogue | Follow me on Google+
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Go back to read Section 1 of: The Story of InsideSales.com

 

 

 

Dave Elkington, Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com, Philosophy, Hyper Growth, and Shrimp Tacos

The first company picture of Dave Elkington in August of 2005.  No grey hair at all!

The first company picture of Dave Elkington in August of 2005.
No grey hair at all!

Dave Elkington and I met early in 2004.

He had graduated from BYU with a degree in Philosophy and had already been working at Deutche Bank Alex Brown, an investment bank and a venture capital firm through the dot com era. He had a strong sense that web software, and especially software-as-a-service was a huge opportunity. He had tasted a small win or two and had dipped his toes in the entrepreneurial stream with an early Bluetooth company. He went through the dot com crash and saw the future of internet-based companies but knew they would need to have a strong financial model.

We often would laugh at companies with great ideas but no way to monetize them.

He wanted to start his own company in that space but wanted to grow it out of revenues, so he went back to BYU and started a graduate degree in computer science. He had already seen ignorant founders of companies who didn’t understand enough of the technologies who couldn’t guide the outcomes of their IT staffs and who sold their souls too early to raise money and then had new bosses before they even hit critical mass.

While doing this he started a web development company and began doing all kinds of projects as he zeroed in on what he wanted to focus on.

Marc Benioff started salesforce.com with Inside Sales during the First 6 Years

Marc Benioff started salesforce.com with Inside Sales during the First 6 Years and pioneered the world of SaaS software for the rest of us. – (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

He knew he wanted to use machine learning, artificial intelligence, and what he called “set theory” to do things that had never been done before in business. He had seen many companies’ come and go and was especially watching Marc Benioff plow the deep snow in application service provider platforms (ASP) just when the phrase Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) was being tossed around from the waves being made by saleforce.com.

 

PHILOSOPHY

Dave would talk about his philosophy degree and how it had taught him to think. That was one of the strongest things we both held in common; philosophy, and how to think. I was amazed out differently we thought, but we agreed on many common areas. Though we disagreed strongly on others. Dave believes strongly in what he calls “pragmatic relativism,” he has some pretty compelling arguments and has almost convinced me… almost. 🙂

He and I have warmly debated that topic from about the first few days we met each other. I believe much more strongly in universals principles and laws; I worked under the guidance of Hyrum Smith and Stephen R. Covey during my days at FranklinCovey, and my philosophic mentor had been Dr. Chauncey Riddle since I was just out of college. I had moved my family to Provo, Utah, and audited his last BYU class; the only class I ever took without getting a grade. I remember I felt my brain hurting from the rigorous Socratic method and System Thinking and strategic methodologies he shared. I regard it as more valuable than everything I studied at the University of Utah and the Naval Academy combined to help me be successful as an entrepreneur.

It was from this that I distilled the Systems Model we use:

Analyze > Design > Implement > Evaluate.

Or in one word: Test.

Dr. Riddle challenged me to learn how to think, not just what to think and when to think.

Dave had gone through a similar level of rigor and the two thoughtful backgrounds combined to make very animated discussions. We found when we could both engage we would distill things down to almost their very essence and spent many late nights doing just that.

 

HYPER GROWTH

I had gone to the Naval Academy and when we started this company in 2004 I had already been in the world of sales and marketing for 16 years, I had pioneered the use of inside sales at Franklin Day Planners when they were the 2nd fastest growing company in the US. My plans had abruptly changed from being a Naval Aviator and flying the space shuttle to pioneering professional sales over the phone and through the web. I had learned through sad experience that hyper growth was a unique animal all it’s own. We would set appointments and invite training directors at 115,000 companies with 100 employees or more to see a Franklin seminar and turn it over to the field sales teams. Then we started proving we could close them ourselves.

Our department was gaining the nickname “Telesales,” but I recoiled at anything with the phrase “tele” in it. To me it was a four letter word. We coined the phrase “Inside Sales” which was just beginning to be used.

I told them I would stay 5 years or until we did a million dollars in a single month. I knew I had a long way to go, when my first month sales was just over $27k. I told them we would use college kids on the phone for 60k to sell what their 300k salespeople would sell. We started with six phone reps transferred out of the call center on old furniture out of the warehouse. I researched to see what new outside sales Account Executives would close in the first six months…

We beat it by 127% at a small fraction of the cost.

They closed at two to three times better ratios, but we made seven to eight times more contacts. Sales was a numbers game, and still is.

We made a ton of the old timer outside sales people very mad at us. They first tried to crush us, then control us, then cooperate with us. It was so stressful I would wake up in the mornings with what seemed like little pieces of rock in my mouth; the edges of my own teeth. But much of the problem was me, I needed to grow up and so did my people.

We were dialing by hand but still doing great. Franklin struggled so badly with technology at the time they actually made us dial a 10-digit account code in the phone system after every phone call to track and charge us for any personal calls. It was a policy of the accounting or “sales prevention” department and it drove me nuts. I initially wanted a dialer technology just to store that dang account code under a single button, but I remembered my earlier days at Quota Marketing Centers where we invented one of the very first “power dialer” technologies as we generated leads for Toshiba copy machine dealers all over the country.

I had all kinds of ideas to leverage inside sales, but no technology, just a big leather book. I would go to lunch with Mike Shelton, the Telecom Director at Franklin and we would brainstorm new ways to save time. Next thing I know, he had left the company with some developers and built many of the very things we had talked about. He sold it for millions of dollars; I never got my dialers.

I left Franklin four years later to the day when we did our Million Dollar Month. I left with my dear friend Paul Jarman, who was one of my first two sales reps at Franklin to start what became a long distance company. After being there about 5 years I went to a meeting one day to buy another company and there was my old telecom guy from Franklin seated across the table. He had already sold his first company and was working on rewriting the same code to be the first call center technology in the cloud. He wanted to launch the first SaaS telephony company.

He did.

We saw the possibilities and a year later we bought his 2nd company and eventually changed the company to what is now inContact, the top inbound SaaS contact center company in the world. But I hated inbound, I loved going outbound; causing sales… not catching them.

Talk about destiny, now we owned the very technology I had sketched on napkins in the Franklin cafeteria. Within weeks I started pulling together the single most powerful inside sales technology ever invented. The problem was we didn’t have a way to handle all of the leads. We tried embedding the dialer technology into Act!, then Goldmine, but it took them right to their knees. I had a consultant helping me and he called me and said I needed to go to Springville, Utah and meet Dave Elkington, who had just finished a massive lead management database in the cloud.

Dave Elkington and I first went to lunch at Bajios in 2004 when we decided to launch the project that is now InsideSales.com

Dave Elkington and I first went to lunch at Bajios in 2004 when we decided to launch the project that is now InsideSales.com

I called and we went to lunch at Bajios, we had shrimp tacos and horchata.

We soon realized he had the database technology, the drive, the financial expertise, a crushing discipline, and an ability to execute with charisma like nobody I had ever seen before. I had the dialer technology, the strategy, a clear vision for the future of inside sales, and way of buffering to hold it all together.

We soon decided to build the world’s first customer database with built-in dialer tools in the cloud (though the phrase ‘cloud’ hadn’t been used yet.) The database had the qualitative data, the call center tools had the quantitative tools and we had a feeling that the two together would open up a whole new world by letting us see things in a new light… the light of data.

Dave and I both knew this synergy of predictive analytics, big data, and artificial intelligence would change sales and marketing forever.

***

Author: Ken Krogue | Follow me on Google+
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This is section 1 of The Story of InsideSales.com
Go to Section 2 of The Story of InsideSales.com