“CallSource® Reflections” is a blog series by CallSource’s® co-founder and President, Elliot Leiboff. Elliot co-founded CallSource® alongside the late Jerry Feldman in 1992. Over the years, Elliot has developed a small call tracking company to a full service lead generation performance organization. CallSource® invented call tracking. Elliot has witnessed a myriad of inventions, tried different strategies, invested in technologies and basically seen it all.
CallSource® is a classic American tale of an idea that turned into a business that has thrived through grit and determination. “CallSource® Reflections” is Elliot’s blog series on lessons learned as a business owner before the era of startups and VC funding.
Elliot’s monthly blog contributions take the reader on the journey of how our solutions have evolved.
Product Development by Clients?
I am occasionally asked: “How many people does CallSource have on its research and development team?”
I answer, truthfully, “many thousands.”
Most of our best processes and technologies begin with suggestions from our clients. Since they know more about their businesses than we do, we listen, study, and respond.
The First Client-Led Product Development
In 1992, when CallSource first invented call tracking as a service, our sole purpose was to create an objective, accurate, automatic system for attribution of telephone leads. No sooner did we accomplish that goal then we learned that many of our clients were equally interested in analyzing the performance of their call handlers.
As part of our call tracking service, we were already recording the calls so we could validate that they were legitimate leads. In response to the request to allow our clients to review their own calls, we developed the call recording retrieval system known as CallReview®.
With CallReview, a trainer or sales manager could simply click an icon to play back a call recording. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that, despite their new ability to review their call recordings; busy sales managers complained that they didn’t have time to evaluate all of those calls. So the next request was: “Can you review the calls for us and send us a monthly report card for each salesperson?” That’s when we developed what we call Telephone Performance Analysissm(TPA for short).
Studying the Elements of a Successful Phone Call
Identifying the core elements of a successful telephone call was challenging.
CallSource analysts painstakingly reviewed millions of recorded calls, correlating conversational style and content with successful outcomes and assigning a weight to each element of a successful call.
From this, we developed the Core Four Principlessm that every salesperson needs to learn:
As these principles went unapplied in the majority of calls we analyzed, we realized that telephone lead conversion was a significant weakness – and a huge opportunity for our clients. In our analysis, top performers often outperformed average performers in converting telephone leads by as much as three to one.
Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Intelligence
In an effort to reduce the cost of analyzing calls, CallSource invested many years and millions of dollars attempting to apply speech analytics software to Telephone Performance Analysis.
While speech analytics is useful for a number of things, it is disappointingly incapable of the accuracy required to grade an employee’s telephone skills fairly.
With advances in machine learning, speech analytics may one day overcome background noise and mobile phone audio issues, and understand the complexities of human conversations; homonyms, accents, and idiomatic expressions. For the present, however, expert, well-trained, (expensive) analysts are still needed for accurate results.
The Need for Call Coaching
Interestingly, the mere knowledge that their calls were being graded prompted improvements in call handling performance… but most TPA scores hit a plateau within a couple of months.
Clients, weary of receiving reports, month after month, confirming how poorly they were converting calls asked us if we could please help them to improve the phone skills of their employees.
In response to that request, we applied the unique knowledge gained in reviewing millions of calls. Instead of “one-size-fits-all” training, we developed a coaching system and an online learning management system, Our University®, featuring phone skills training and coaching targeted to the individual training needs of each TPA participant.
CallSource training and call coaching teach Core Four Principles and encourage changes in sales strategy and call-handling behavior. The process requires patience, particularly with sales people who have learned bad habits over years or who were trained to rely on out-of-date tactics and scripts. Individual or group coaching, followed by monthly TPA reports, creates a feedback loop that keeps employees developing and exercising the specific skills that are proven to increase lead conversion.
The Evolution of CallSource – Thanks to Our Clients
By studying the needs and following the suggestions of our clients, CallSource evolved from the leading call tracking company to a coaching, training, and performance management organization that utilizes call tracking and recording to provide valuable business insights and advice.
Other, great, client ideas helped lead us to develop a series of call processing and lead analytics services, plus online sales enhancement and web lead attribution tools, which I will be happy to write about another day.