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, March 6th, 2014 .

The new technology track for Google Apps Partner Program provides customers with apps to help them run their businesses more efficiently, and as an early partner, UberConference is  recognized for its richly collaborative service.

This partnership means that we will be provided with technical, marketing and sales support to bring UberConference to a larger audience, and we are proud to announce that our first month of collaboration has been wildly successful.

Just four weeks ago, we announced our integration with Google Hangouts. Since launching the new Hangout App on February 6, UberConference has seen more than 100,000 customer installs and over 80,000 Hangouts with UberConference in just the first month.

“We’re excited about the new tech tracks for Google Apps Partner Program, which we anticipate will make our efforts more productive, give us even greater recognition as a top partner and accelerate our joint momentum with customers,” said UberConference CEO Craig Walker.

For more information about the technology track in the Google Apps Partners Program, please read the announcement here.

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 .

A couple of weeks ago, we announced with Google that our teleconferencing product, UberConference, was now integrated with Google Hangouts.  The response we got from that announcement was almost overwhelming.  Our biggest day of new customer signups-ever.

Which is great for us, and we couldn’t be happier or prouder.  But let’s step back a moment and answer the question: why is this a big deal for you?

Well, first of all, UberConference and Google Hangouts are just about perfect matches for one another.  Google Hangouts is a wonderful tool for video conferencing- it’s easy to use, and it works great, provided everyone is sitting in front of a computer that has a video camera, and your internet connection is solid.

But that’s not often the case with real life business calls.  Many times you have callers who are on the road, riding in the back of a cab to the airport, stuck in a hotel room with a bad internet connection or don’t have a webcam immediately available.  Or, frankly, don’t really want to be seen and are in no mood to get dressed at 5 a.m. in Los Angeles for an 8 a.m. conference call with New York.

Enter UberConference.  When you use UberConference with Google Hangouts, you can take the conference call out of the confines of the office and out into the real world where you, your coworkers and your customers are living and working and doing business.
Plus, UberConference allows you to join a Google Hangout without a webcam.  Or at least without turning on your webcam.

Then there’s the size of your conference calls.  Google Hangouts is limited to 15 participants.  By integrating with UberConference, that conference call can now add in another 100 participants.

The UberConference integration with Google Hangouts, however, was only part of the announcement.  At the same time Google also announced its Google Chromebox for meetings.

For small to medium-sized businesses, what’s not to love about this product?  Up until now, if your company did regular video conferencing, you were spending at least $10,000 on hardware for a video conferencing system.

What’s your investment cost with Google Chromebox for meetings?  About $1,500.  The Chromebox hardware package, which includes UberConference, is just under $1,000.  Buy yourself an HD TV for another $500, and you’re set.  You’ve got a complete video conferencing system for a fraction of the cost of existing systems.

And this is just the beginning of innovative, low-cost products we’re going to be rolling out for you.  Stay tuned.

Monday, May 21st, 2012 .

Firespotter Labs today announced from TechCrunch Disrupt NYC the launch of its game-changing audio conferencing service,ÜberConference. A free audio conferencing service with a visual interface, ÜberConference solves the most common problems faced in teleconferencing including making a conference easy to join, knowing who is participating, knowing who is speaking, and making advanced features easy to use.

“Everyone’s experienced the pain of teleconferencing issues ranging from forgetting the PIN to not knowing who’s on a call to noise in the background, yet there’s been virtually no innovation in audio conferencing – a $3 billion market – in the last 30 years,” said Craig Walker, CEO and founder of Firespotter Labs. “ÜberConference changes the experience entirely, doing away with all the pain points and adding value by incorporating public information on each participant from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, making it easy to know who’s on a call and to quickly gather information about the caller. With ÜberConference, not only have we simplified teleconferencing but we’ve significantly improved it.”

Previously CEO of Dialpad, which became Yahoo! Voice and founder and CEO of GrandCentral, which became Google Voice, Walker together with his team focuses on making complex telephony services easy to use.

With ÜberConference, joining a conference call is simplified. As long as participants’ numbers are in the organizer’s contacts, a PIN is no longer required and people are automatically joined to the conference on dialing in. The call organizer and participants all have access to a dashboard where they see images of the participants, know who is speaking at any given moment, and can quickly see participants’ public social media information. The organizer can also easily use advanced features such as mute, earmuffs and social media research with a click of a button.

iPad and iPhone apps are under development and will launch in the coming weeks. To sign up for the ÜberConference beta go to www.uberconference.com.

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 .

 

Meet Felix Wood. A relentlessly active 5th grader, he leaps, backflips and sprints through life. The iron chef of his family, he makes breakfast and dinner most days, delighting his three sisters and blowing up the kitchen. His favorites right now include marathon monopoly games, “all-the-sports” and his chameleon.

Felix visited his mom, Chelsea Wood, who works as a fabulous business development manager out of our North Carolina office and created this video for a project he’s working on. As a member of Duke’s TIP program for gifted students and Cub Scout he frequently works on enrichment projects.

Felix is a a Junior Olympian who has competed on several a competitive jump rope teams, he is currently working to become a ‘Skip-its Legend.’ Among a long list of requirements, he has to interview community leaders, demonstrate rigorous jump rope tricks and lead three community service projects. He chose to make lunches for Raleigh’s homeless, mentor inner-city children, and conduct a food drive for unemployed local families.

Watch this fantastic tour of our Raleigh office concluding with an interview with CEO Craig Walker. From Felix’s perspective, any company that can have “so much coolness” must have a team of geniuses at its helm. He asked Craig ‘what it feels like to have achieved telephony world domination’.

Great job highlighting what a fun place UberConference is, Felix! You are well on your way to legend status!