Friday, July 6th, 2012 .

evernote-devcup

We are excited about ÜberConference being in the Evernote DevCup competition for the best products that integrate with the Evernote API. DevCup brings together innovative ideas from all over the world and has over a hundred companies vying for more than $100,000 in prizes.

The ÜberConference Evernote integration was one of the first new features we wanted to add after our launch, and it lets you automatically save conference call summaries in the context of all your Evernote notes. Each note has summary information, who was on the call, and even a few fun features like who talked the most and least. Additionally, it will keep a record of any recordings or chat messages during the call.

Check out our new video on the Evernote integration.

Friday, March 21st, 2014 .

“The jungle is dark, but it is full of diamonds, Willy.”

-from ‘The Death of a Salesman’ by Arthur Miller

And that is the problem salespeople have had for years and years and years: the jungle is dark but it is full of diamonds.  There are sales out there to be made.  People, businesses, organizations, families — they need the things salesmen sell.  The problem is the jungle was dark, and finding the customers who need or want to buy what you are selling is time-consuming, wasteful and exasperating.

My first job straight out of college I was in sales. I sold dictation equipment for Lanier.  It was a grind.  I’d walk the streets of San Francisco — my territory was from the point where Market Street and California Street meet and extended as a triangle all the way to Van Ness.  This was old-fashioned knocking on doors selling.  I had virtually no information about any prospect and would try to find a picture on a desk or trophy on the wall to find something we had in common.  It rarely worked.  How great would it have been to have the LinkedIn profile of the guy I was pitching?  Where he went to school, where he used to work, etc?  Or what connections we had in common!

When I’d stay in the office to cold call, that was it…COLD.  Blindly dialing businesses.  Ouch.

Everyone who has ever worked in sales immediately recognizes this scene from “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

That was sales preparation in those days: here are the leads, now go out there and make some calls and close some sales.

It was a remarkably frustrating and inefficient system.  All I knew about these “leads” was a name, a business and a phone number.

This has begun to change dramatically in recent years.  A number of cloud-based software packages have emerged that significantly increase the amount of data a salesperson can access from almost anywhere about customers and potentials customers.

Knowing more about my leads, as I do today…boom!  Success.  And I don’t need to be in the office tied to some proprietary database to do this…it’s all in the cloud.  I’d rather do it from home in my pajamas anyway, and now I can.

Salesmen are now armed with enormous amounts of information.  They have access to prior purchases with the company (great for upsells, renewals, etc), complaints from the customers (Zendesk), and basically every interaction anybody in the company has ever had with a prospect or existing customer (Salesforce).

They also have the ability to work from anywhere, 24/7, and appear as professional as if they were sitting in their office, thanks to all the cloud-based information and tools.

My frustrating experiences in sales informed a lot of the product decisions we made early on in designing our company’s teleconferencing product: UberConference. UberConference makes great sales calls possible in four ways:

1. We make it easy for a potential customer to get on a call (no PINs).  The easiest way to lose a potential customer is to provide them with even the smallest barrier to communicating with me.  PINs are a potential barrier.  That’s why I insisted we not require them in UberConference.
2. You won’t waste everybody’s first 15 minutes figuring out who just joined the call (visual).  We provide on-screen updates so you know who is there as soon as they sign on.  No need to reintroduce yourself each time a new caller signs on.
3. You know who’s talking at any point: is it the IT guy or the finance guy? That may not only be helpful to know, it could be critical in closing a sale.
4. You get a rich UberProfile on each caller.  You can see their LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ accounts and get an idea of who the person is to whom you are speaking.  This could prove to be crucial in the trust-building phase of a sales relationship.  The more you know and understand about your customer, the better you can serve them… and sell to them.

I lasted only one year in sales.  I realized it was too hard for me so I went back to school to get my MBA and then to law school to hide for a longer time.   Had I had these tools I may have stayed in sales.  Thank God they didn’t have them back then!

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 .

cloud collective

 

“Our objective is to amplify market awareness of third-party applications that extend the value of the Salesforce platform. Solutions add value, increase productivity, and improve the usability of the Salesforce apps we all know and love.”

UberConference is pleased to join the first coalition for the Salesforce AppExchange called the Cloud Collective. The nine SaaS providers that formed this coalition are doing so to strengthen the Salesforce ecosystem and increase awareness of apps available to Salesforce users. The goal is to streamline the Salesforce experience and improve integrated workflow.

To keep informed about the future of the collective, please sign up for updates here.

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 .

hero_weather_channel

With about 1,300 employees globally and headquarters located in Atlanta, Georgia, The Weather Company is perhaps best known for its American television staple, The Weather Channel. Owned as a joint venture between NBCUniversal and investment firms The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital, the channel not only broadcasts weather forecasts and weather related news, but also features documentaries and entertainment programming related to weather. In addition to its programming on the cable channel, TWC also provides forecasts for terrestrial and satellite radio stations, newspapers, websites, and professional weather services. It also maintains an extensive online presence at weather.com and wunderground.com and through a set of mobile smartphone and tablet computer applications.

As of August 2013, The Weather Channel was received by approximately 99,926,000 pay television households (87.50% of households with a television) in the United States, making it the most common cable channel in the country.

TWC faced a business challenge that included providing a platform capable of holding the amount of people they needed on a conference bridge at a cost point that could actually scale with the business. As Nick Gardner, Senior Director of Internal Systems reflects, “We needed to be able to provide that solution to the number of employees that needs this ability on a daily basis. The amount of people in the company that need large conference bridges is very high because of different business units.”

When new employees join The Weather Company, the company holds IT training sessions to get everyone on board and show how easily their employees can go into Google Apps and UberConference to sign up for their free line. They also use Google Chromebox for meetings, where they use the UberConference integration with Google Hangouts.

“We rely heavily on Google Apps and UberConference for our day-to-day business,” Gardner said. “UberConference is one of the key pieces in our employee toolkit because it fits so nicely with Google, and it’s part of our forward-thinking technology plan.”

“UberConference usage and Google Hangouts usage across the company in general is very high,” Gardner said. “Drive and Hangouts are critical collaboration tools for us.”

The integration with Google was not the only benefit. After switching from their previous conference calling service, The Weather Company saved about 70%-75% of the cost with UberConference.

Employees are able to schedule their weekly meetings easily, and join them from anywhere. The mobile app adoption rate has been huge; it’s so much easier to get on calls on mobile devices because there isn’t a PIN number. “I request that anyone I ever have a conference call with uses my UberConference line,” Gardner said. “I’m on the road a lot, and don’t want to have to enter my PIN or punch in a bunch of random codes.”

Gardner also likes how easy UberConference is to use.

“The ease of use is also great,” he said. “Everyone gets into their calls a lot quicker

out the conferencing client. Speaking of saving time, I can set somebody up with a new conference bridge in a matter of minutes, instead of having to wait 48 hours (or sometimes more) with other services. The deployment process runs a lot more smoothly. That is a big deal to us as a fast-paced company. UberConference fills a huge gap for us and makes everyone more productive.” 

Friday, March 7th, 2014 .

There you are, stuck with booth duty.  You were the last hire in the Marketing and Communications Department for your startup so you get stuck with booth duty for all three days of the trade show, for all eight hours the convention center is open.

Okay, that’s gonna suck, but on balance things are going pretty well with the company: they’ve got actual revenues, the CEO doesn’t come back to the office from board meetings with the investors looking like someone just ran over his cat, there’s a ping-pong table and free beers in the employee lounge area.  Best of all, you’ve paid rent on time six months in a row.

And then this guy shows up — the Swag Hog.  He’s got a couple of complimentary grocery size bags he snagged at other booths, and they are stuffed with knick knacks and branded office supplies from booths all around the convention center.   And he’s got a major haul going on in those bags.  Free stuff from all over the trade show: pens, note pads, key chains, USB flash drives, bottle openers, coffee mugs, cell phone covers, stress balls, breath mints, cheesy sunglasses, aluminum water bottles, Post-It Notes, and, of course, more shopping bags he can use to grab more stuff.  Some booths even give away popcorn because the smell draws people to their booth.

First of all, what is swag?  Originally, swag meant a bouquet of flowers, and then later came to mean the loot stolen by a thief or a burglar.  Then it came to mean the bundle of items hobos carried with them in Australia.  Then swag (and the bag that carried these items — the swag bag) became part of the lexicon of Hollywood to describe the bag of goodies that Oscar nominees received as part of the honor of being nominated.

And here’s what separate the Trade Show Swag Hog from the ordinary trade show attendee.

1. They have way too much free stuff in their bags. In fact, they have two or three bags full of free stuff.  And the free stuff they have is from EVERY SINGLE BOOTH at the show.  Seriously, dude?  You’ve visited every single booth and taken something free from them?  Try to be at least a little selective.

2. They have a lot of pens, notepads, and other office supplies. The bags of popcorn, the fancy brochures, the water bottles: only a few of those.  But actual office supplies: tons of them. My theory? These guys work for underfunded startups and the main reason they are at the trade show is not to develop sales leads or network with colleagues or showcase a new product.  No, the main reason these guys are here is to restock the office supply cabinet for free.

3. They make the fake return visit. The Swag Hog shows up at your booth, pretends to listen to your pitch, acts interested and says he’s going to get a colleague, and takes one of your free pens and a free Post-It-Note pad with your company name on it.  He moves onto the next booth and does the same to them, then looks back at your booth.  “Oh, you’re talking to another customer?”  Time for the fake return visit.  They swoop back and pretend to look at your display, then casually grab a handful of your free pens and take off.

Here’s my proposed solution: make the swag at your booth free flowers (the original definition.)  There you go, sir, you can say: “Take this home to your wife or girlfriend.  If you have one.”  They will leave and never come back.  And not to worry.  The Swag Hog wasn’t going to be a paying customer anyway.