Friday, February 28th, 2014 .

What makes a great hold music song?  

— catchy melody

— lyrics you don’t quite know but can fake your way through

— lyrics that don’t quite make sense either

— something that could be performed by artists as varied as an 80s punk band or Perry Como.

— a song that doesn’t quite annoy you but isn’t really very good either

Of course anything by Glen Campbell is good, as well as most of the Coldplay catalog.  Believe it or not, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana could be an excellent hold music song, especially if it were covered by, say, Nancy Griffith.   Or, since we’re in that mode of thinking, how about the 80s punk classic “Don’t Wanna Know If You Are Lonely” by Husker Du… except it’s covered by Jack Johnson.

You know what else works great on hold?  Just about anything by either Dean Martin or Celine Dion.

Keep in mind here, I’m not praising this music for its musical qualities.  I’m praising it for its ability to distract you from the annoyance of being put on hold.  If you’re on hold and some hold music is playing and you aren’t singing along but instead are getting increasingly peeved, the hold music has failed.  Good hold music keeps you from entering the state of peevishment.  Which is a word I just made up.

And, having spent considerable time on hold in my frequently misbegotten life, I’ve come up with four songs that really are the best.

And then I thought: what else would I like to hear while I’m on hold?  For that section, I’ve added three non-songs.  They are speeches from movies that you will always enjoy listening to as you are stuck in hold purgatory.

 

Four Hold Music Classics

1. “The Girl From Ipanema”.  You’ve just called your insurance company about why they rejected a claim you made for the poweful anti-depressant meds your psychiatrist prescribed, and they put you on hold to check.   The darkness is gathering over your life, bleak thoughts of nothingness and despair fill you as you sit and wait…  suddenly, on the hold music: “Tall and tan and young and lovely the girl from Ipanema goes walking…”  And there you are, not quite so aggravated, not quite so willing to question your entire existence.  It’s a lovely day in Rio and the girl from Ipanema has just walked by, my friend.  Things are gonna be okay, even if that prescription is going to cost you $1,600 a month out of pocket.


2. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”  Burt Bacharach and Hal David are one of the great song-writing duos of all time.  And I have often said these words to myself while waiting for the electric company to approve an extension on my bill: “Raindrops keep fallin’ in my head, but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red.  Cryin’s not for me…”  The woman from PG & E then comes back on the line and before she can say anything, you say to her: “Look, regardless of what your decision is, I just want you to know that these blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me.”  There’s a long, uncomfortable pause and then she says: Okay, well, we can give you one more extension but then you have to pay the bill in full.  Thanks so much, you say, and remember, ma’am: you’re never gonna stop the rain by complainin’ because you’re free.  She hangs up, but you’re happy because your refrigerator is going to work for another month!


3. “What’s It All About, Alfie?”  Another hold music classic from Bacharach and David.  You’ve called your agent, and she’s “on the line with another client, could you hold?”  Sure, you say, because what else are you, an unemployed writer, going to say?  You’re wondering if the network liked your pilot script and are a bundle of nerves until these questions are posed by Dionne Warwick: “Is it just for the moment we live?  What’s it all about, when you sort it out, Alfie?’  You know what? you say to yourself, Dionne Warwick makes a good point.  It doesn’t really matter if this project is picked up and you suddenly are rich.  No.  It’s cool if they say no because they hate my writing because, really, what’s it all about?  Nothing, frankly.  It’s just TV.

4. “If Ever I Should Leave You” from the Broadway musical, “Camelot.”  You’ve got a quick question for your lawyer about the divorce but he’s just finishing up a conference call with a couple who are preparing a pre-nup so you’re on hold.  And then you hear these words being sung: “I’ve seen you in autumn when fall nips the air/I know you in autumn and I must be there.”  Oh, no, not in springtime,  you start belting away, summer, winter or fall… the lawyer comes on the line.  Look, you say, I’ve decided she can have all the good car and the house.

The Three Non-Songs That Should Be Part of Hold Music Rotations.

What else would I like to hear while I’m on hold?  For this section, I’ve added three non-songs.  They are speeches from movies that I would  always enjoy listening to as I am stuck in hold purgatory.


1. “I’m A God” speech by Bill Murray from “Groundhog Day.”  You know that scene late in the movie, not far from the start of the third act, where Bill Murray’s character has hit the peak of frustration over the endless loop his life has become in Punxatawny, PA, and starts to tell Andie MacDowell’s character about all the people in the diner and then tells her about herself (“You like boats, but not the ocean…”)? Could somebody play that when I’m on hold so I could listen to that instead yet another rendition of “God Didn’t Make Little Green Apples”?  Please?


2. “Was It Over When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?”  In 1994, the Cleveland Indians fell behind 2-0 in the American League Championship Series on the road to the Seattle Mariners.  With the series coming to Cleveland, the Indians management played this speech from “Animal House” to the crowd at Jacobs Field in Cleveland prior to the national anthem to get the crowd pumped up.  In it, John Belushi tries to motivate his defeated fraternity brothers.  Let’s face facts, here.  If you’re on hold, it’s not because you’re awaiting good news.  You’re probably feeling a bit blue and tense and overwhelmed.  You need some Bluto, my friend.  What is called for here is that a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.


3. “You Were Born to Be Hockey Players, Every One of You.”  Probably the greatest locker room speech of all time — and the best part is that it actually happened.  Just before the US-USSR hockey game in the 1980 Olympics, the US coach Herb Brooks (played here by Kurt Russell doing a perfect St. Paul accent), tells his players they have a shot against the greatest hockey team in the world.  I could listen to this over and over while I’m on hold with my bank as I ask them to reconsider the overdraft charges they stuck me with.

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 .

At UberConference, I do a ton of calls – usually 1 or 2 every day. I’ve been doing conference calls since I was 21. I began my career in sales, selling hardware and software for a Fortune 500 Chicago tech company.

This was 1999, and one of the things that the company didn’t tell me, when they were recruiting me, was that I’d be spending 7 or 8 hours a day on sales calls, on the phone. (It was pretty naive of me to assume that being a corporate account manager meant something other than that, huh?). I really wish that before I’d taken that job, and before I’d started my own business, that I got a bit of sales advice about conference call outcomes.

Six weeks into the job, when I began taking my first sales phone calls, small business customers called in over what was called “the sequencer.” Essentially, it was the company’s 1-800 number; marketing then consisted of hundreds of thousands of computer hardware and software catalogs, mailed to pretty much every company in the USA with more than 5 employees.

Sometimes you got a great sales call off of the sequencer – perhaps you’d get a 5-laptop order, worth roughly $100 in commission.  Sometimes it was someone cold-calling from Miami trying to order 20 laptops – those deals were nearly always fraudulent.

The goal of these early calls was “sell something on every call.” What I didn’t realize, at the time, was that the goal of every sales call is definitely not “to sell something.” It’s to help the buyer make a yes-or-no decision that they feel really good about.

One thing I’ve learned in sales, especially from reading Skip Miller’s books, Proactive Selling and Proactive Sales Management, is that the sales process involves getting agreement from the buyer (and everyone that works with the buyer) on a series of intricate yes-or-no decisions. Yeses are great. No’s are pretty darn good, too. It’s the “maybes”, says Miller, that will kill you.

When a sales meeting results in a “no,” it means that the seller has encountered what’s called a “basic objection.” Usually, it’s one of 4 problems: buyer has no need, buyer has no budget, buyer has no authority, or buyer has no urgency. Most of the last three are linked to the first one – the fact that the buyer either has no genuine need, or the seller did a lousy job helping the buyer figure out if he had any need.

If the meeting doesn’t end in a “yes” or a “no” on the next buying action, then the meeting was not a successful meeting. The fancy name for maybes, in sales, are “continuances.” What they really are is a failure to accomplish anything substantial in the sales meeting.

When you’re planning a sales meeting, meeting objectives is much easier, if you think of everything from the buyer’s perspective, and the buyer’s objective. Here are four questions to ask yourself when doing your sales meeting prep:

  1. What qualifies as an advance to the next stage in the buying process on this call? How will I know when my buyer has advanced to that next stage?
  2. What critical yes/no decisions would my buyer need to make in this meeting?
  3. Have I communicated the meeting’s agenda to my buyer in advance, and adequately prepared the buyer for the meeting?
  4. Do I have validation from the buyer that the meeting’s agendas meet his buying objectives, business pain and need?

One other thing that I do after my calls – immediately after the end of the call – is allow an extra 10 minutes on my calendar to do a wrap-up. This is where I enter the necessary info into my CRM system (Salesforce), and plan what decisions I’d need to help my customer make on the next call. Give that a shot the next time you finish a sales UberConference – I think you’ll be pretty surprised by the results.

Saturday, February 9th, 2013 .

Learn how to add UberConference lines as “resources” in Google Calendar to quickly add UberConference meeting information to Google Calendar events.

At LTech we email, schedule, and manage our documents exclusively in the Google Apps Cloud.

As a Premier Google Apps Reseller and Amazon Consulting Partner, we’re always looking to find ways for our clients to take advantage of cloud-based business tools to help them streamline all aspects of their business.

UberConference was a natural fit for us. It allowed us to replace our old conference bridge service with a cloud-based service that was integrated with Google Apps.

Since we do all of our scheduling through Google Calendar, we decided to add our UberConference lines as “resources” in Google Apps. By doing this, we were able to “book” the UberConference line in Google Calendar through the “Book a Room” feature.  The UberConference dial-in number and URL was then automatically inserted into the Google Calendar invite and sent to our customers.

image

The setup process only took about twenty minutes.   Here’s how we did it:

  1. We created a spreadsheet with a row for each of our team member’s UberConference phone numbers, PINs and custom URLs.
  2. We logged into our Google Apps control panel with Administrator access and added each conference line as a “resource” to Google Calendar.  You can learn more about adding resources to Google Calendar by following this link.  A Google Calendar resource is anything you can schedule that isn’t an event, like a car, a computer or a bridge line.image
  3. We then changed the sharing settings for each resource to “see all event details” so that the bridge lines could be viewed and booked by all LTech team members.

When an employee is hired or terminated, we simply add or remove their bridge line resource from Google Calendar.

Now, when we need to schedule a meeting with UberConference, we simply click “Rooms,etc.” in the calendar event and click Add but our personal UberConference bridge line.

This method allows us to quickly schedule and share UberConference meeting information more efficiently because we can do it all from the Google Calendar interface.
image

Our guests then receive a calendar invitation with the meeting URL and phone line.  When it’s time to start the meeting, we log into UberConference and click “New Conference” to send out the invites again, but guests can also just dial in with the open PIN without the conference being created beforehand.

Please tweet us at @ltech if you have a question about booking UberConference resources.

You can learn more about LTech and our services at Ltech.com or by following us at @ltech.