Thursday, September 5th, 2013 .

As you may have seen in PC World, we’ve been leveraging Chrome’s newest technology to create an always-on, installable version of UberConference.  I’m excited to announce that as of today, the app is available for anyone using Windows or the Chrome OS!  Learn more.

The Chrome App is a totally redesigned experience and offers the benefits of a regular native application:

  • No browser required to launch or run the app
  • Always running in the background, so you’ll never miss a call
  • Launchable with a single click by using the Chrome Launcher, creating a shortcut or pinning the app to your taskbar

If you’re already a Chrome user, install the UberConference app heredirectly from the Chrome Web Store.  If you’re not a Chrome user or want to learn more click here.

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 .

Last Thursday, members of the UberConference team traveled to New York for Pepcom’s annual summer showcase, Digital Experience. At the event, the team demoed UberConference to the more than 350 journalists and analysts in attendance.

A large number of the attendees noted that they already use UberConference (especially using the call recording feature for interviews).

Digital Experience also gave the opportunity to introduce UberConference to people who hadn’t used the service before. Future users were eager to try out the mobile app (on Android and iOS) and also to use screensharing.

Thanks to Pepcom for welcoming us and to all of the attendees for stopping by our booth.

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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.

Friday, July 11th, 2014 .

lebron-topper

So LeBron is going home to Cleveland. Or should he have said he’s going home to the 216, (which is the area code for Cleveland).

It’s about time that we begin to acknowledge that area codes have become as important a part of our identity as what NFL team’s bumper sticker we have on our second beater car. (I mean, come on, you’re not putting a bumper sticker on the nice car you driving to your cousin’s wedding in.)

In fact, with cell phones now, people hold onto their phone numbers long after they have left the place.  My oldest daughter, who went to college and worked in the San Francisco area for ten years, moved to Brooklyn four and a half years ago.  Her cell number still starts with 415, the coveted area code for San Francisco.

Why not give it up? Why not just get a New York area code?  Well, because, I believe, the area code has become a part of our identity in this era. Oh, someone says to her in New York City after she gives them her number, what area code is that?  San Francisco, she says. They’ll smile. So you’re from San Francisco? Yup, she says and smiles back.  Suddenly you know a lot more about that person than a hundred questions on a dating site will ever reveal.  It means my home is elsewhere.  This is where I live now, but I’m really from the 415.  It’s who I am.

So maybe LeBron going home to Cleveland also is about reclaiming the 216 as the authentic area code of his soul.

Friday, February 21st, 2014 .

I have eight (8) children, now mostly grown. Two live in New York City — Brooklyn, to be exact — one lives in Washington, D.C., one lives and works on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota, one goes to college in Minnesota and another is in South Africa, and my two youngest live in Germany. I live in Berkeley, CA. The nine of us regularly do Skype Group Calls, and there is nothing I love more than seeing all eight of them in a group call. Take my word for it, they are all incredibly beautiful-looking children.That pretty much covers my need for video calling. The rest of you? I don’t really want to look at you when we talk on the phone. Nothing personal… oh, okay, it is something personal. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s just that, well, I’d prefer imagining how you look.

And here’s how I picture you: you’re looking great. Your hair is perfect and you’re dressed in a casual yet elegant manner that bespeaks the quality of you as a person.In addition, if I’m going to talk to you on the phone, I kinda don’t want to spend anytime making sure I look good. I just want to sound good. I want you to imagine me the way I’m imagining you. I want to sound smart and competent and brilliant and insightful and piercing in my analysis, or — depending on the situation — maybe a little sexy. Even if I’m wearing that ratty University of New Mexico Football sweatshirt with holes in the armpits that I got at a thrift store eight years ago, and my hair is a mess, and I haven’t showered since Tuesday. You don’t need to see that. No one needs to see that. Frankly, it’s upsetting enough to me that I look like this, and I certainly don’t want to inflict it on you.

A couple of months ago, I did a video call with my writing partner on a film project. We had never met, but had corresponded and done a lot of work together via email and Google Docs, and I felt completely comfortable with him as a partner. Then we did the Skype video call. His hair was a mess and his nose was bright red from a cold… and he was lying in bed! To be honest, that killed it for me. It felt as if I were lying in bed with him. And he was sick! I did not want to be lying in bed with a sick guy talking about the second act break. I didn’t.

“Can we continue this call tomorrow?” I asked.

“Why?” he said.

“You’re sick and in bed,” I said. “And I kinda feel like I’m in bed with you right now and I might catch what you have..” And so we ended what had been up to that point a productive call.

Look, I don’t want to come across as Mr. Fussbudget Himself, Felix Unger, and certainly the technology exists to make video conference calling simple and convenient.

But don’t you sometimes wish you were just doing an audio-only conference call? That way, all of us could be sitting in our PJs at home, and we could all be imagining that everyone else looks as good as they sound. These are smart and brilliant and handsome people I’m working with, you can think to yourself, without reality — messy hair and ratty t-shirts and dingy living rooms — ruining it for everyone.