Why Your Pipeline is Wrong

As team leader, you rely on your reps to provide you with accurate information about your company’s pipeline.  You use this information to try and create a realistic sales forecast for your organization.  But, do you really know what is in your pipeline?  Is it really filled with opportunity….

…or is it filled with sludge that just slows you down?

Do you know where you stand?  Are you consistently missing your sales numbers?  Is what you are being told by your sales representatives different than what really happens every month?

If you are depending on forecasts from your sales team to project your monthly numbers, it could be all wrong.

In fact, research has found sales forecasts to be less than 75% accurate!

You can increase your accuracy and your sales, just by knowing what your customers are saying.  We can show you how.

Please join our Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing on Thursday, September 13th at 10 am for a fascinating Webinar.  He will discuss how you can know, with confidence, what your clients and prospects are saying, and how this knowledge can be used to increase sales and customer satisfaction.

In this Webinar he will cover:

  • Why it is increasingly difficult to project your sales numbers
  • How to track communications of a mobile sales force
  • How you can gain insight into your sales team’s communications with customers
  • Review of a remarkable new tool that can alert you when key pipeline progress is made – at the time it is made

Click here to register.  Hope to see you there!

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Do you have a Disaster Plan in place for your phone system?

With hurricane season in full swing and Hurricane Isacc approaching, we wanted to provide you with a few suggestions for protecting your business communications.

One of the many benefits of your hosted communications service from Telovations is the ability to receive calls, even if your primary business location is unavailable or employees have to work from home.  Telovations’ geographically diverse, synchronous platforms ensure that callers will continue to reach your business.

Below are a few key features which you may find helpful in these circumstances. Now is a good time to become reacquainted with these features, spend a few minutes setting up your Disaster Redirect numbers and remind your employees how to use Remote Office, Simultaneous Ring, Sequential Ring or Telovations Anywhere.

  • Disaster Redirect – Stay accessible to customers, even if your offices are closed due to a natural disaster or other unforeseen circumstance.
  • Remote Office – Work wherever you like! Receive and place calls as if you are in the office.
  • Hosted Voice Messaging – Always have your voice mail available and accessible from anywhere.
  • Telovations Anywhere – Use any device (home phone, cell phone, etc.) as your work phone with all of your hosted phone features.

Depending on your service plan, these features can be configured from our online portal. The portal can be accessed by clicking here.

You can contact our customer care team to answer any question you might have by dialing 611 from your Telovations’ phone, calling 877-934-6668 or sending an e-mail to: support@telovations.com.

If your business loses power or connectivity your telephone equipment may not operate. However, if you utilize Telovations equipment as part of your service plan, your auto attendant and voice mail will continue operating if your business loses power. Even if you utilize your own equipment with the Telovations’ solution, you can temporarily setup an emergency message utilizing Disaster Redirect. If you have an analog fax line, you may remove the fax machine connection and plug in an analog phone (such as an inexpensive one you can purchase and that does not require a power outlet) to the wall connection.  This line can be used for outgoing and incoming calls, even during the loss of power. You can then use phone as an Anywhere device.

If your business requires a more robust Disaster Recovery plan, our staff of consultants is available to work with you to design and build a solution to meet your needs.

Below are a few links to additional hurricane preparation information you may find useful:

Above all, remain safe and be assured that Telovations will be available to assist you.

Making Sense of Telecom Jargon – Part 2

This week, we are continuing our featured series on common telecom jargon and acronyms in our blog.  If you missed part 1, you can check it out here.

MSP – Managed Services Provider – An MSP (it’s me, again!) is an outsourced agency that assumes responsibility of a business’ day-to-day IT operations.  It delivers and manages network-based services, applications and equipment.

What kind of services?

MSPs save your business time and resources.  Instead of being bogged down with software updates, system support, and verifying that your business is utilizing the latest in security and encryption technology – your IT department can focus on strategic initiatives.  It allows your IT department to work on growing your business, not maintaining and supporting your technology.

VPN – Virtual Private Networks – These private networks use a public network (the internet) to connect remote sites or users together, in order to provide users with access to a company’s database.  Prior to the virtualization of private networks, businesses would set up private networks with T1s.  The costs, associated with the purchase and maintenance of this type of equipment, are high.  A VPN is a pay-per-user system, with no maintenance expenses; therefore, it is a cost-saving solution for businesses.

Access to VPNs is restricted to specific users and/or locations.  There are 3 types:

  1. Remote Access – This network allows users to access company data from any remote location, i.e. home office, hotel, coffee shop, etc.
  2. Intranet – This type of network allows access from specific locations only – from a satellite office or home office.
  3. Extranet – This network allows remote access to only certain locations within the company database.  Your accountant to your financial records or a supplier to your inventory records.

UM – Unified Messaging – There are 3 sources from which you receive messaging throughout your day:  phone, email, and fax.  UM delivers and stores all messaging in a single interface that can be accessed by computer, smart phone or tablet.  Voice messages are delivered to your inbox and can be replayed through computer speakers, through a headset or, of course, through a smart phone.  UM helps you stay organized by storing all messaging in one location, and it also saves you time.  When out of the office, how often do you check your voice mail?  Check your email?  Call in and ask if you have received any faxes?  UM gives you one source to go to, and everything you missed is right there in front of you.

What are the telecommunications phrases or acronyms that makes your scratch your head and think “hmmmmm…what are they talking about?”  If so, email it here and you could be featured on our blog!

Making Sense of Telecom Jargon – Part 1

Listening to someone speak about telecommunication systems can make us feel a little like Ginger in this Far Side cartoon:

It’s an industry that loves acronyms and isn’t afraid to use them.

Over the next few blog posts, we are going to define those common acronyms and terminology associated with telecommunications in the cloud.

Hosted PBX  – PBX stands for private branch exchange.  It is hardware that is stored in your office – generally in a back room or closet that connects all your internal phones to the outside phone lines through something known as the trunk line.  If you want to go really old school, your PBX would look like this:

With Hosted PBX, your system is managed off-site by a business phone services provider (Hi!) and instead of travelling into your business through a trunk line; all calls and PBX features (extension dialing, voicemail, conferencing, disaster recovery solutions, etc.) are connected to your internal phone system through the Internet.

The advantages associated with having your PBX hosted are no upfront costs associated with having to purchase hardware, or continuing costs from maintenance and upgrades.  A hosted solution is a subscription service, so you only pay for the lines and services you need and you can add or delete users as necessary.

Hosted VoiceHosted voice is essentially the same as Hosted PBX, but its features may be limited.

IVR – Interactive Voice Response.  IVR automates interactions through the telephone.  These come in the form of prerecorded prompts that the caller can respond to using dual-tone multi-frequency signaling (the touch tone key pad) or through speech recognition.  You know that drill:

Press or say “1” to hold, press or say “2” to hold….

IVR systems can be either installed in your business or integrated through your business’ network by using a telephony solution provider (hi, again).   The advantages of having your IVR hosted are the same as the PBX:  no upfront costs for equipment, no maintenance, no hardware to manage, and scalability.

Here are a sampling of ways an IVR system can help your business:

  • Capacity to handle high call volume
  • Provides answers to routine customer service questions after hours
  • Lowers call center costs
  • Prioritizes call – urgent problems can be dealt with first
  • Ensures that the caller reaches the right person/department quickly and accurately

Stay tuned for more!

Cloud Security

When discussing the many benefits of cloud computing, we meet the most resistance due to one factor above all others…

Security.

And the recent breaches at Yahoo and Dropbox are only fueling those concerns.

It’s funny, but people seem to take greater care protecting their personal information than their business information:

  • they make concerted efforts to shop websites that encrypt personal data;
  • they don’t have one key that opens their car, their safe and their home that they willingly hand out;
  • they pay for protection services like Lifelock and fraud monitoring that provide a monthly audit of their financial accounts;
  • they wouldn’t leave their teenagers unattended with unlimited access to their wallet.

When it comes to business operations, the same precautions are not always taken.  Many business owners do not encrypt information they store on-line, they freely pass around API keys, they do not do internal monitoring, nor do they control employee access to sensitive business data and documents.

In March of 2012, Symantec sponsored the 2011 Cost of Data Breach Study and found that the majority of data breaches are inside jobs – due to either employee negligence or malicious acts of disgruntled employees, past or present.

Paying attention to the following 4 points will lessen not only the likelihood of a data breach, but also the impact of a breach on your company:

  1. Encrypt Sensitive Data – Anything that gets stored online – employee’s social security numbers, user names/passwords, intellectual property, tax returns, etc. – should be encrypted or redacted before being stored in the cloud.  If the storage site is hacked, your files will provide no useful information.
  2. Protect API keys – API (Application Programming Interface) keys are the keys to your website kingdom.  They dictate how website applications interface with the cloud service providers that allow your business to distribute content, data, and services through your website.  These should not be emailed or stored on file servers that anyone can access.  Anyone that has access to these keys gains access to your website.
  3. Audit Cloud Usage – Your cloud service provider will provide you with a record of how the service is being used.  Pay attention to this information.  You can see who is logging on, how often, and what information they are accessing.
  4. Control Access to Data – Only allow your employees access to the information they need to do their jobs.  Your sales team does not need access to accounting information.  Your accountant doesn’t need access to intellectual property.  Also, do not allow your employees to access sensitive data while off-site or with their personal computers.

Adhering to these simple precautions will greatly increase your security.  Don’t let the prospect of a data breach prevent you from enjoying the cost savings benefits you receive when you do business in the cloud.