Let’s Hop on a 5 Minute Call

February 28, 2024
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There’s a fantastic meme account on X where “Hunter” spreads the comedic gospel of cold calling one’s way to becoming a billionaire. Hunter suggests that true sales people take freezing cold showers, tip their landlords for sub-par living arrangements as respect for creating optical conditions to grind, and to make cold calls every day, every night, during holidays, and while being seated in an ice bath at the Cheesecake Factory.

The account, which can sometimes be found trolling celebrities by asking them to hop on a quick 5 minute call in the comments, is likely relatable to any salesperson that’s experienced the rigors of the hustle. For instance, I can recall one particular day in 2015 when I was making cold calls from a waterfront skyscraper in Jersey City when a plane flew by the window and then LANDED right there in the Hudson River. What to do? Go look? Not possible. Had to make more cold calls!

That plane, of course, was flown by Captain Sully Sullenberger, of which the feat of landing there became known as the Miracle on the Hudson. I am proud to say that because I ignored all of it and continued to make cold calls while it was happening that I am now worth $463 trillion as a result.

FCC Seeks to Close the “Lead Generator Loophole” on Texts and Calls

November 27, 2023
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textsAs part of the FCC’s initiative to “combat illegal text messages” the regulator intends to require that texters and callers obtain a consumer’s prior express written consent from a single seller at a time. Specifically, the FCC is acknowledging that lead generation sites or comparison shopping sites attempt to abide by the current rules by obtaining one layer of consent that they then creatively apply as counting toward all the numerous parties they have relationships with. It’s known as the “Lead Generator Loophole.”

“Lead-generated communications are a large percentage of unwanted calls and texts and often rely on flimsy claims of consent to bombard consumers with unwanted robocalls and robotexts,” the FCC said in its proposal. Their solution? One-to-one consent.

First, the one-to-one consent must come after a clear and conspicuous disclosure to the consenting consumer that they will get robotexts and/or robocalls from the seller. “Clear and conspicuous” means notice that would be apparent to a reasonable consumer. In addition, if compliance with the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (the E-Sign Act) is required for the consumer’s signature, then all the elements of ESign must be present.”

Second, we adopt our proposal that robotexts and robocalls that result from consumer consent obtained on comparison shopping websites must be logically and topically related to that website. Thus, for example, a consumer giving consent on a car loan comparison shopping website does not consent to get robotexts or robocalls about loan consolidation.

Fortunately, the FCC spells out an example of what might be acceptable as one-to-one consent for a lead generator.

For instance, the website may offer a consumer a check box list that allows the consumer to specifically choose each individual seller that they wish to hear from. Alternatively, the comparison shopping website may offer the consumer a clickthrough link to a specific business so that the business itself may gather express written consent from the consumer directly. Our rule does not prohibit comparison shopping websites from obtaining leads through valid consent and provides multiple opportunities for responsible comparison shopping websites to obtain leads for potential callers.”

According to the National Law Review, “It has not been adopted yet but it looks like it will be in December when voted upon. It looks like the rule will become effective in or around August of 2024.”

That Voice on the Phone

November 9, 2023
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ai chatbotWhen someone told me a tech company was using AI to have legitimate voice conversations with sales prospects over the phone, I was skeptical. Then I listened to some examples. The voice and interactions sounded so real that I became even more skeptical that I was even listening to AI. The technology behind it was EVE, a company founded in 2016 that actually uses pre-recorded human responses to engage with someone over the phone. If it sounded so human, that’s because the responses were in fact human voices. EVE’s system is not artificial intelligence in the current sense like ChatGPT. Instead, EVE is using a dialogue tree, a system of recorded responses that are played based upon the interpreted communication of the person. It understands what the person is saying and chooses the right response quickly. And speed is key, because according to Alex Skrypka, CEO of EVE.calls, people will feel that something is off if it takes longer than 1 second to receive a response to something that’s said. The trick is never having the customer figure out that they’re talking to a bot.

In the earlier days, this technology had limitations. EVE could only handle simple voice commands. That progressed, however, to where it could be the opening sales caller, getting prospects to the point where they were pre-qualified and passed onto a human. But by last year it was beginning to assist in closing deals. Skrypka believes that by next year it will advance to a level where it is closing independent deals all on its own and by 2027 will be considered not only an expert closer but also be able to up-sell the customer while doing it.

Sales professional on phoneThe possibilities call to mind a recent popular post on LinkedIn about one thing remaining constant in fintech despite all the advancements in automation is the demand by customers to want to talk to someone. But tech is now addressing that in ways previously thought unimaginable. Customers are already talking to AI agents through neural network technology like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, though mainly in text/chatbot form. As of September, however, ChatGPT was brought to life with a voice. The current options of Juniper, Breeze, Cove, Sky and Ember are a variety of synthetic male and female voices that ChatGPT can speak as but they don’t sound that synthetic when you listen to them. I could be fooled by Juniper.

According to Skrypka, the challenge with putting something like ChatGPT on the phone right now is that crucial response delay time. It’s going to give away that it’s an AI. For testing’s sake, I tried this out and found that while Juniper held up pretty well in a light conversation, she broke the immersion a few times when she had to think about something I said for 7 or 8 seconds.

Perhaps a voice bot, whether it be based on a dialogue tree or a neural network doesn’t have to be perfect 100% of the time anyway, just good enough to scale a business efficiently and cost effectively. EVE, for example, touts that it can handle up to 1 million calls per hour. Imagine how many sales representatives it would take to have 1 million phone conversations an hour.

To think that these capabilities are only going to get better! If customers continue to feel that talking to someone on the phone is necessary before making a big decision, the world of fintech will continue to serve them. But whether that sales person or customer service rep is really a person or a bot is something the customer may never know for sure.

Sales Slump? There’s Ways to Overcome It

October 9, 2023
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exhausted salesmanFrom beginning as an entry level rep seven years ago to his current role as the Director of Sales and Operations at Tip Top Capital, Sergio Zamudio has gained a deep appreciation for the importance of maintaining motivation, especially during slower weeks. A slump can get even a good salesperson down so he encourages a shift in perspective. Instead of focusing on the number of contacts made in a day, one should evaluate how many of those contacts can become qualified prospects.

“It’s kind of like the marble theory,” Zamudio said, “if I throw a certain amount of marbles in a jar, how often do I come across a blue marble? Well, as long as I keep digging, and I keep looking, I’m going to get something.”

To inspire the team, Tip Top offers various incentives. The top producers in the office are recognized with a monthly trophy. And weekly rewards are given out, which can range from tickets to a Giants game or seats at a Broadway show. The underlying idea is to encourage the team to focus on what they can control, such as striving for another sale, rather than dwelling on tough days beyond their control.

“What we do to try to get people motivated and going is that we like to do bonus incentives,” said Zamudio, “We do this thing called a monthly trophy. Everybody’s very goal oriented and tries to beat one another to try to win the trophy, which goes to the top producers in the office.”

For Gerald Watson, CEO of the Watson Group, 25 years of experience has taught him a few things. When a week is slow, sales reps should “look at their existing book of business, whether it’s people they’ve done fundings for or even prospects,” he said. His advice is that reps should engage them in discussions about other financing products they might require. “Same customer, new products, that’s a real fundamental business strategy,” Watson said.

If all else fails, get accustomed to asking for referrals. Ending an interaction with something as simple as, “’Oh by the way, do you know anyone that…’” can go a long way,” Watson explained. “If there’s no opportunities with existing clients, you always want to get into the habit of asking for referrals.”

Will Murphy, COO at Everlasting Capital, is no stranger to a slump. The company started with one back in 2012 when his partner was making 400 calls a day for three months with no success. Finally, after all that, a deal got funded and it encouraged them to keep at it. While maintaining determination is certainly woven in to the fabric of their sales culture, Murphy also cited the importance of checking in on clients constantly. “We have a lot of trade secrets that we’ve learned over the years that we’ve implemented into play to (1) stay in front of the client, (2) stay in front of renewals, and (3) provide the best customer service that we possibly can because you got to stay relevant in this industry, or you’ll pretty much be forgotten,” said Murphy.

The History of Cold Calling: A Fascinating Tale of Sales and Serendipity

April 26, 2023
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cold callingOnce upon a time in the early 20th century, in the bustling world of sales, the art of persuasion was taking shape. Salespeople would go door-to-door, using their tenacity, charm, and ability to establish rapport with strangers on the spot to sell products and services. This approach laid the foundation for a sales technique that would eventually become known as cold calling.

As the 1920s rolled in, a remarkable invention by Alexander Graham Bell transformed the landscape of communication: the telephone. This groundbreaking device quickly became a common household item, opening up new possibilities for salespeople. Seizing the opportunity to expand their reach, salespeople began calling potential customers without having met them in person. This allowed them to cover more ground and increase the likelihood of closing deals. Thus, the era of cold calling began.

As cold calling gained traction, salespeople started to develop scripts to improve their success rates. These scripts ensured that key points were addressed, and objections were handled effectively. The art of persuasion continued to refine, with salespeople learning to adapt their approach based on the prospect’s reactions. By the 1950s, sales training programs and books emerged, focusing on perfecting the art of cold calling.

Entering the 1980s, the rise of telemarketing took the sales world by storm. Businesses set up call centers to reach larger audiences, and cold calling became a staple in many industries, including insurance, real estate, and financial services. However, this growth also led to increased scrutiny and regulation. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) introduced the Telemarketing Sales Rule in 1995, followed by the establishment of the National Do Not Call Registry in 2003. These measures aimed to protect consumers from unwanted calls and provided guidelines for legitimate businesses.

The dawn of the digital age brought about even more transformations to the sales landscape. Social media, email marketing, and targeted advertising gave businesses alternative ways to reach potential customers. While cold calling faced challenges adapting to these changes, it remained an essential part of the sales process for many organizations. In fact, the rise of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software made cold calling more efficient and data-driven, increasing its effectiveness in the digital age.

And so, the fascinating tale of cold calling continues to unfold. From its humble beginnings as a door-to-door sales strategy to its evolution into a sophisticated marketing tool, cold calling has played an integral role in the business world. As businesses adapt to the ever-changing landscape, cold calling will undoubtedly continue to play a significant role in sales and marketing strategies for years to come. The end, or rather, to be continued…

Time Kills Deals

March 20, 2023
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time is money

Time can turn an eager client into an unsure client. Maybe it’s the introduction of third-party influence that sways opinion or perhaps it’s just a loss of energy and momentum that starts to manifest into a game of second-guessing before closing. Bruno Raschio, Tom Gianelli, and Scott Platto gave their take to deBanked on how time can hinder the sales process and what to do to alleviate it.

How can one increase the velocity of a sale?

“It all depends on how the ISO can sell the merchant to get their documents in faster and how bad the merchant needs money.”

– Scott Platto, ISO Relations Manager, TMR NOW

“A lot of the time that it takes to get these deals done is the time that it takes to receive the additional paperwork that we need aside from the application from the applicant. For instance, we need bank and tax information and a lot of times – the person is a truck driver, so they could be on the road – may not have access to their taxes. So, a lot of times, the process is delayed until they’re back in town. The way to avoid that is perhaps vendors being proactive and collecting that stuff upfront.”

– Tom Gianelli, Equipment Finance Specialist, Credential Leasing & Finance

How many days between the initial sales meeting should someone wait before a follow up call?

“Sales is an art, and when you master it, you are on the highway to success. Part of mastering the art of sales is understanding that after you make that initial sale, your client will be bombarded with hundreds of reasons to back out on a proposal. That is why I have found success in following up at least one time in the next 24 hours after making the initial sales call. The more you build rapport with your client the more likely you will get to that closing table.”

– Bruno Raschio, President, East Harbor Financial

“…probably the sooner the better for me, I try to give [them] a call immediately after I’ve sent [them] an email to make sure that they are aware that the email was sent that it didn’t go into spam and that the process is moving along as quickly as we can.”

– Tom Gianelli, Equipment Finance Specialist, Credential Leasing & Finance

“If the merchant needs the money right away, I would follow up the next day if he does not get the documents needed. If the merchant does not need the money, then I would ask the merchant when [to] follow up and call like 2 weeks before. For renewals [sales reps] should keep in contact with the merchant every couple of months with a call and or email.”

– Scott Platto, ISO Relations Manager, TMR NOW

Do you think that sending sales proposals before understanding what that merchant needs can hurt the process as well?

“In my experience I have seen many times that some clients don’t know what they need or understand the benefits they’re being offered. Sometimes, by initiating a conversation where you as a salesperson can expose the true benefit of your product there is a higher probability of success. The clients or merchants are always going to incline to say ‘no’ so if you can beat that with a good initial pitch you will succeed.”

– Bruno Raschio, President, East Harbor Financial

“I think it does. If you are not consulting the merchant on what they need you cannot break the program down to make sense for them or not. If they do not like the offer, they will never answer you again. Talking to the merchant, being a financial consultant, and showing them you understand their business shows them how the money and you can benefit them. Or they will find someone else that will.”

– Scott Platto, ISO Relations Manager, TMR NOW

What else can be done to increase sale velocity?

“Understand your goals and challenges and make sure your team understands them as well that way you can all move in the same direction to close deals and reduce time frames. The due diligence process can sometimes uncover unexpected obstacles. Being quick to address them is where you will find success in a timely closing.”

– Bruno Raschio, President, East Harbor Financial

“I think just clarity and communication really is probably the key.”

– Tom Gianelli, Equipment Finance Specialist, Credential Leasing & Finance.

“Pretty much to be a consultant and do not push the money down the merchant’s throat. Don’t be afraid to tell the merchant not to take the money if it does not benefit them in any way even though […] you want the commission.”

– Scott Platto, ISO Relations Manager, TMR NOW

In The Funding Biz? Here’s What to Know

March 9, 2023
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Are you in the biz of funding small biz? Listen to these execs tell you how to make it work!

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Let’s Get Personal! (In Sales)

September 16, 2022
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“Personalization is adding that human element to a buying process that can traditionally feel either very stressful or cold and clinical,” said Taylor Hicks, Creative Strategist at Elevate Funding. “It’s about recognizing that clients (and prospects) are humans with their own unique set of needs and goals.”

Working in this industry and communicating with clients is a given but being personable with each one encountered is a task within itself. No client wants to be victim to a boring sales call where the one pitching lacks a persuasive personality. And nobody wants to be on the other end of the call feeling like they are wasting their clients’ time with a dull sales pitch. Making the client-to-business communication an eventful experience for both parties comes with a great amount of pressure, and it also can make or break a deal.

“Be a human being. Don’t do the high-pressure sales things like some of these guys are doing,” said Alexander Gold, CFO at Future Funding. “I get compliments that my guys are not doing that, and I feel like it’s just timing. So, if your timing is good, people will give you the shot. If your timing is bad, you won’t get the shot…”

The client needs to know that they can fully put their trust into a company or product, and it will be worthwhile. Creating a mutual trust, especially when dealing with a person’s finances can be a very personal experience. The key to that can be very simple, as Gold says, to tell them who you are and how you can help with just a moment of their time.

business woman“So first, you have to build credibility, I would say that’s the most important thing is building credibility,” said Gold. “That could be knowing something they don’t, showing them something or teaching them something that you can prove and then possibly show them as well. I would say products, being very knowledgeable in your products and your product base.”

“…[It’s] how do you provide them interesting insights into their finances or into their needs without coming across overbearing or selling them something that they don’t need?” said Greg Varnell, VP of Product and Development at Q2. “And that’s a real balance. And so, I think, for us, personalization isn’t just trying to sell somebody something, but it’s trying to tell them the information that they need when they need that information.”

“I think trust has to be earned,” said David Roitblat, Founder and CEO at Better Accounting Solutions. “Most of our clients are referral based from other clients. So I guess that speaks for itself. […] So that does give us a head start on that, but ultimately, people judge you based on your work.

“At Elevate, we take a custom-tailored approach for each client,” said Hicks of Elevate. “We send out newsletters to our clients biweekly to remind them of our various programs, like add-ons and renewals. We are proactive in reminding them of their Future Receivables Sales Agreement, and we’ll always work with them on reducing their payment amount if their revenue drops. We provide our clients a variety of ways to get ahold of us – whether that’s email, call, text.”

Regardless of your role in the finance industry, interactions can have long lasting impacts. From the initial meeting to developing trust, and eventually turning that journey into a meaningful working relationship. And who knows, that one great client interaction could lead to many referrals and recommendations in the future.