PODCAST EP 9
What is Customer Lifetime Value & Why is Conversion Rate Important?
On Episode 9 of the Paper Planes Podcast Simon chats with Simon Bell about what Customer Lifetime Value is and why Conversion Rate is so important.Listen Now
On this episode of the Cemoh Marketing podcast, Simon Dell speaks with Todd Fisher, CEO of CallTrackingMetrics.
The two discuss how CallTrackingMetrics can help a business’ sales teams and marketers work better together. Todd mentions that even in this modern day and age, phone calls are the predominant voice conversation-driven technique.
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Simon Dell: Let’s jump in and meet our guest for today. His name is Todd Fisher. He is the co-founder of a business called CallTrackingMetrics, co-founded it with his wife. Brave, brave man. He is in Annapolis, Maryland. I probably wouldn’t be able to find Maryland in a map, Todd, so I’m very sorry about that, although I know my America very well, but that one’s left me. So, welcome to the show.
Todd Fisher: That’s okay. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Simon Dell: First question, let’s just do the elevator pitch. Tell us what CallTrackingMetrics do, because it is a very specific piece of software that we were interested in finding out a bit more about today.
Todd Fisher: I’ll do my best to give a concise elevator pitch. CallTrackingMetrics is a marketing attribution software solution that enables sales teams and marketers to work better together. That feels kind of like a good elevator pitch to me.
Simon Dell: Cool. No, that’s good. That’s good. And I guess from CallTrackingMetrics, I guess by the name, sort of suggests that you guys are focused really on that point, when someone actually picks up the phone and calls a business?
Todd Fisher: Yes. I would also just sort of add to this, that names are a funny thing. You know, you kind of pick a name at the beginning, and you have to kind of grow with the name, but you kind of start to do more and solve more problems and become more for more people. I would say the sales enablement side of our business has really blossomed.
And while call tracking is sort of our roots, we’ve evolved into this, really focused on the marketing attribution side, but then learning that you can’t just do the marketing attribution by itself. You need the sales teams involved in that in order to get really good data back to those advertising channels. And so, we’ve built out more tools to help sales teams.
Simon Dell: So, when you first started this, because you’ve been doing this for a while now, was it 13 years if I remember right, looking on LinkedIn?
Todd Fisher: I think that’s right, I mean, we kind of fumbled our way around for a little while there and then really kind of, like 2010, 2011 when things really kind of became available on the internet, then we became an official business in 2012. So, that’s 10 years in business. And there was a lot of discovery happening though before that business kind of became a business.
Simon Dell: Because I guess back then, those early days, iPhones are still in their early iterations, social media was in its early iterations, those kind of things. So, I guess the attribution model, be it from Google ads or be it from phone calls, look very different back then than it does now. What’s been the one sort of main change you’ve seen in those 13 years?
Todd Fisher: Oh, I mean, I think that in some ways, I was going to say it was quite a bit easier back then. Cookies were more accessible. Europe didn’t do its whole block the world, block the internet thing. Google was much more open. There was a lot more energy and excitement behind that aspect of the Internet.
Facebook was like this new thing, and they were releasing APIs soon so you could actually advertise on them. That was a big fanfare around that. And I remember 2010 when Twitter introduced ads for the first time, and it was like, “Wow.” So, it was just kind of, I think, a lot of energy back then, and I’d say things are so much more refined now.
The way we had wished things worked, like in 2010, there was no measurement protocol, as I recall. So, even sending data to Google, we had to reverse engineer how Urchin metrics work so we could figure out UTMA matches to this, and UTMZ is this, and we parse it by doing this.
And it was very esoteric, and there was no documentation for what endpoint to send the data to, so, in some ways, we felt very special because we could do this. And then the measurement protocols came out for the universal analytics, and it really simplified, yet also made it more available to more people, made it less special in a way, which kind of drove us to continue to: How do we continue to make things that are of value to more people?
Simon Dell: So, what’s the typical customer for you guys? Obviously, there must be – you mentioned sales teams. I guess the better customers are the ones with sales teams. Would that be a fair assumption?
Todd Fisher: I think so, yeah. So, I think for us, it’s evolved over time. But people would come to us initially for call tracking, and then the conversation would kind of start from there and it would be, “Hey, when somebody calls the tracking number, if they press 1 on their keypad, can they route the call to sales?” And then if they press 2, could they route the call to service? So, that became, “Oh, how do we solve that problem? Okay, well, that’s an interesting one. Let’s see if we can put some software in place and build a solution.”
And then somebody asks the question like, “Well, hey, they’re calling me back. It’s a repeat caller.” So, it’s not the first time they called. Is there some way you could bypass that menu, and not have them be prompted for pressing 1 and pressing 2, and just kind of like, “Oh yeah, can we time box set so that it’s within 24 hours?” And so, there’s a lot of having somebody ask a question about can they do something, and then us just kind of doing what we do usually, which is we kind of get excited. Like, if somebody like asks you, “Can you do something?”
Simon Dell: You just say yes and figure it out later on.
Todd Fisher: Well, yeah. That’s what was so exciting about 2010, ’11, ’12, ’13, early days, was just this constant stream of, “Okay, we said yes to them. We got to pull an all-nighter and figure that out.” We got smarter over time, and our solution became more robust where it was like – we started saying yes to things, and I think it was like a few years ago, I was like pleasantly surprised that I had gone through a whole call with a couple of different customers that day and answered yes to everything, and I had nothing to do at the end of the day. It’s so weird. Usually, I’m stressed out.
Simon Dell: So, give me an example of the types of clients you deal with. Is it software companies? Who is the ideal target company for you?
Todd Fisher: It’s hard to say. So, let me see if I can give some examples. That’s probably the best way I operate. So, it could be a pest control company coming to us and saying, “Hey, we want call tracking to improve our advertising. We also want to score our leads to make sure that every time we sell something on the phone, we can correlate that sale back to a Google ad.”
It could be a law firm that says, “Hey, every time somebody clicks on one of our expensive Google ads and they call, again, if we get a case from that, we want to know and we want to convert it.” It could be a standard, like a pure advertising company, that what they do is they have multiple customers, and they’re in a variety of industries. It could be an addiction treatment center that’s starting up and they’re embedded inside of Salesforce.
They’re answering phone calls on behalf of patients. It’s critical that those calls get to the right people at the right time, and they want to keep track of the leads and everything in there. And again, they’re doing advertising. Really, any business that is phone oriented and high touch sales, like you need to explain something to me on the phone before I can decide whether or not I should purchase. Turns out that’s kind of a not a one sized type of company. There’s a lot of companies like that out there. So, it’s an interesting space.
Simon Dell: The first sort of question I’d sort of written down here is because I’m fairly anti-talking to people on the phone, and people are these days. And I always joke about how, you know, Stephen Fry, one of the observations he made was that calling someone is probably the rudest thing that you can possibly do, because you’re expecting them to drop whatever they’re doing to answer you, because you think you’re more important because you’ve called them.
It’s equivalent of, I think the metaphor he uses is it’s like walking into someone’s office and banging on their desk until they talk to you. But I also understand there’s a lot of people, there’s a core consumer out there that wants to talk to people, obviously not necessarily face to face, but actually have a live conversation with people.
Todd Fisher: Yeah, I think about the situation. So, let’s say the pest control one, if there’s a reason you feel that you need to call somebody because there’s something in your house that’s very disturbing to you, you might want to make sure you talk to somebody really quickly, and it feels very intimate maybe because it’s a really important thing to you.
That’s a case where you maybe pick up the phone and talk to them, to know that they’re actually there and they’ll come. Drug addiction, huge problem. And you probably want to talk to somebody on behalf of a loved one before you send them to a certain place. To get a better feeling for, “Is this going to be a safe place to send my loved one?” Healthcare, totally that way. Legal, you probably don’t want to hire a lawyer until you talk to them.
Maybe the first touch is going to be over the phone. It depends on the product, it depends on the situation, but the high touch sales that exist are very much happening over the phone. We’ve seen huge growth in phone conversations, phone sales, because we don’t like the cold callers. That’s, I think, what you’re thinking of when you think talking on the phone. But it’s a very personal thing to talk to somebody. And if it’s an important enough sale, you probably want to talk first.
Simon Dell: And do you generally find if a new client is coming towards you, or a new company is approaching you, or even some of your existing clients…? I always find that the whole process of answering the phone, or taking messages or whatever, it’s just one of those things that’s quite often done very badly within businesses.
You know, they spend lots of money on websites. They do the Google ad campaigns. You know, they might have branded cars and branded shirts and all these kinds of things. But often, they let themselves down by the fact that the phone call is going through to potentially, in the first instance, somebody who isn’t trained or isn’t a good brand advocate for the business.
Todd Fisher: Absolutely, yeah. And I think it’s probably one of the number one struggles any business has, is A) staffing enough people to be able to answer the questions the business has, and to be able to do that kind of in real time, to your point. Somebody just knocked on the door. We need to talk to them right now. I think that’s probably one of the most real and difficult things the business has to undertake.
Our company, I know we have a dedicated team of people who answer the phones. They use our software, our marketing team uses our software, and our sales team uses our software, and we try to provide the best possible service to demonstrate to our customer base that, hey, it can be done, but it’s hard. Sometimes, the phone will be ringing more than we can answer.
But I don’t know. That’s a tough one. It’s like it’s easy to miss. And I think that’s where I get kind of excited, is that a software tool like ours, it gives you some visibility into what’s going on with the business as a whole. So, you can see all the conversations coming into your account with CallTrackingMetrics to see, “Oh wow, there are a bunch of people calling in right now. We should man the phones.”
And I think a lot of businesses just don’t know that they’re getting calls, or maybe it’s just too easy to kind of ignore. One of the early experiences I had was we would set up a tracking number for a customer. And in the early days, we just call forwarded. So, that was the standard. And we still provide this, just simple call forwarding. You’re going to call this tracking number from an ad. It’s going to forward over to a business telephone line.
And I had this one, a business owner getting kind of mad at me because he was seeing in the call log on our side that his calls were not answering. They were going to no answer. He’s like, “Why aren’t you able to forward the calls to me?” And after some digging and investigation, I was able to reveal to him that, “Hey, you know, the small business phone line that you have can only handle two phone calls at the same time. And so, when you were getting three calls at the same time, the third one was just ringing busy. There was nothing we could do to help you.” But he would have no idea that that was happening.
Simon Dell: Yeah, and I guess probably that sort of takes me to the next question, is that if you don’t answer that phone, all the tracking in the world, I guess the conversion rate drops off if they have to leave a message, or they have to call back again, or you have to call them, all of a sudden, bang, the conversion rate is massively lower for that second call.
Todd Fisher: Yep. Two things that come to mind from that. My father-in-law runs a roofing / gutter installation company, and he was always stressing to me how it’s super important to call people back in 30 minutes or less. Otherwise, you lose the lead. Well, I think the same is true with that phone call when it’s live and incoming, except the difference is if you probably miss that call, you have very little bit of time now to call them back or maybe not at all.
That’s another kind of value add of a software tool like ours. So, one of the things we built is the ability to automatically call back a missed call. Let’s say your lines are busy right now. You can catch that call, put it into an automatic callback queue, and then as soon as one of your team members becomes available again, they get connected to or attempt to reconnect to that person that was missed.
Simon Dell: You mentioned some software, some CRM. I think you mentioned the word Salesforce later on. That’s the daddy of CRMs.
Todd Fisher: Yeah, 800-pound gorilla.
Simon Dell: Yeah, absolutely. It’d be interesting to hear: Have you guys built your own one, or do you use an off the shelf system? And generally, what do you guys recommend out there for people that want to take this kind of tracking seriously?
Todd Fisher: Great question. So, we use Salesforce for our company, invested a lot into Salesforce integration as well. And I think in reflecting on it over the last 10 years, that really kind of happened because a lot of people use Salesforce. Also, companies that have more money to spend tend to use Salesforce. And so, it’s kind of good business to work with Salesforce. So, we’ve spent a lot of time building out those solutions. But I’ve been very impressed with, say, HubSpot.
I think their CRM solution has really evolved and turned into a pretty awesome thing. We’ve recently integrated with Pipedrive, and it seems to be a pretty sweet CRM. Yeah, I’m sure I’m missing some. We hear a lot about Infusionsoft, but there’s a lot out there. And we try to basically work with our customers because it’s really important to get into that CRM, so that those conversions can follow back. We can follow the lead through its whole lifecycle.
Simon Dell: Yeah, I mean, look, obviously Salesforce is a highly recognized brand name, and HubSpot as well I think is obviously another sort of market leader. There’s a lot of other smaller ones, smaller companies, and things like that that are suitable if you don’t want to go and pay the money for Salesforce and HubSpot, although I think actually HubSpot has a free version now, which you never used to have.
Obviously, with a lot of the functionality limited to it. Okay, last couple of questions. You’ve probably heard a lot of people answer the phone in the past 13 years.
Todd Fisher: Yes.
Simon Dell: Well, it’s a question we’ve sort of discussed here, is actually how to answer that phone. This might not be a question that you’ve ever been asked, but to me, I think there’s better ways of answering the phone. You know, certain things that you should say when you answer it. Obviously, you want people to sound happy, and you want them to sound interested, and all those kinds of things.
But by all means, if you don’t have an answer for this, But I’m interested where perhaps you’ve had that initial phone conversation or you’ve heard that initial phone conversation that perhaps has impressed you, that you’ve gone, “Right, well, these people seem to be, they’ve taken their marketing message all the way through to that initial phone call.”
Todd Fisher: That’s really interesting. I was going to say, I think I’ve interacted with people that would be way more qualified to answer the phone in the right way or to tell me how to answer the phone in the right way, but it’s hard to remember. But I do recall some that had really good introductions in the phone call.
I think the neatest thing I’ve seen is when they have a really professional call script for their teams to follow that are really interactive, and I think the energy that you hear in the voice of the person answering. I think that’s probably been the most telling, definitely heard the calls where it’s like, “Oh man, like this one is… I don’t think they want to be here right now.”
Simon Dell: And I guess that’s the challenge, you’ve got to sort of match or answer the phone, and you’ve got to deal with these inquiries in a way that you can’t be put off by someone having a bad day at the other end of the phone and things like that. Because it could turn into a six-figure sale or beyond that, you know?
Todd Fisher: Yeah, and I think that’s probably the hardest thing about taking phone calls, is you really don’t know what the state of that person that’s calling you is going to be in when they call. You don’t know what problem they’re going to be facing, or how they’re going to present it to you, or can you even understand them. I think that’s a really tough job taking phone calls, because it’s like you really, really got to be on your toes, and you got to think quick.
Right now, we could see each other. And this is easier because we can understand from each other’s face a lot about the way the conversation is going. But when it was just this and just purely just the phone, you can’t see or read that person the same way, really. And sometimes, they have thick accents even, and it’s hard to understand them, and you got to strain and be like, “Okay, I’m going to parse out whatever this person is saying to me, and I’m going to try and help them.”
Simon Dell: I have to say I find phone calls hard because you don’t have that social cue of understanding when someone’s potentially finished a sentence or started a sentence, that kind of thing. But I do remember, it sticks in my head, a phone call I had with a potential prospect client once. I just did absolutely everything wrong. They were one of those people that the way they spoke, when you thought they’d finished a sentence, they hadn’t actually finished the sentence.
And I don’t know whether you’ve ever met people like that. They will say something. And often, when you go up or down at the end of a sentence, intonation goes up or down to indicate whether you finish, or whether it’s a question or whatever, they had this capacity in their speech, which meant that you didn’t quite know whether they’d finished talking. And for me as a salesperson, which is basically what I have been for the past 20-odd years, that’s really hard because your natural feeling is to jump in and answer a question.
And we kept having this conversation where what I kept doing was interrupting him because I thought they’d finish speaking. And I must have interrupted him about 10, 12 times within what was a 5-minute, 7-minute conversation. And you could hear every time I did it, he was gradually eking up on the frustration scale, getting higher, annoyed that I was interrupting him because I couldn’t read the way he was talking.
What I sort of learnt from that was to sit there, listen, shut the fuck up, write the notes down, and wait until they give you the cue to actually then come back in and say your piece. It’s amazing how those skills of holding a basic conversation, those sales skills of appearing bright and breezy, of being happy on the phone, of being positive, not to the point when you’re so happy that people want to strangle you, but it’s the confidence, positivity, and doing all those things, but also the ability to listen.
The art of taking a phone call I think is a, you could argue, it’s a dying art. And I would certainly say, Todd, it’s not something that they teach kids at school. I mean, they didn’t teach kids at school my time or your time. But when you go through that basic sales, often, your first roles in business or sales roles, you learn how to have those conversations, you learn how to do those things. But I wonder whether this generation, this new generation coming through, has those skills.
Todd Fisher: Or those have always been learned skills, and perhaps we don’t have landlines at home anymore to spend hours talking to a friend or something. And it’s different the way we talk. But I don’t know. I’m very optimistic about this next generation. I think that my generation, we were always like, “Oh, you know, those new guys.” But I think it’s just, everyone new has got something new to learn. And I think that it’s – we all have to kind of fall a lot before we figure it out. And even then, I would say, I don’t think I’ve figured this all out.
The one thing I find is a lot more video conversations these days, you can have lag in some video calls sometimes, and that itself can create a very awkward situation that is even stranger to me. But some of the newer, younger people are maybe more adept at dealing with that.
Simon Dell: People are still surprised when I say to people, when I went to university, and I lived in a hall of residence with 200 people, and we had three phones between 200 people. So, fixed phones. Now, mobile phones started becoming a thing the year I left university. So, prior to that, you had to queue up or if someone wanted to call you, they had to go and see if you were actually in and blah, blah, blah.
Anyway, look, last two questions for you. What’s on the cards for you in terms of the business? Where does the business go? As I say, you’ve been doing this for 13 years. What’s the long-term vision for you guys?
Todd Fisher: My long-term vision, at least for now, is 10 more years and see, 10 more years of innovating. I really enjoy what we do. We have no funding, outside funding, so there’s no ticking time bomb. We really enjoy ourselves most days. It’s about problem solving. We spend a lot of time listening to customers. We love when customers are like, “Hey, do you think it’s possible to do X?” or “Hey, we really need you to do Y.”
And that’s like still super exciting moments of the day. Our team is growing, we’re hiring, we’re trying to hire. It’s very hard to hire right now. We’ve been growing at about 20% ish. It just feels really good. Yeah, we have a lot of exciting features in our pipeline. We’re wanting to see these things come to fruition. We’re building more capabilities, more automation tools, more things to help people keep track of their business, and help them automate as much as possible, and get the lead lifecycle down to an automatic button. Very exciting stuff.
Simon Dell: Last question then. If people want to find out more about you and the business, where’s the best place to find you?
Todd Fisher: You could probably just email me if you want to. My email is always there. Our website, calltrackingmetrics.com is a great place. Our support team, our phone lines, I still try to answer phone calls when I can. If I see the support lines are backed up, I’m like, “Oh God, I’ll take a support call” because it’s just a good thing to do. You experience like the customer then.
Simon Dell: And now, you’re going to be very, very cognizant of how you’re answering the phone after the conversation we’ve had today, you’ll be like…
Todd Fisher: I am going to think about it.
Simon Dell: “Am I being happy and positive enough or should I be a bit more breezy?” Anyway, mate, thank you very much for that. I think phone calls is something everyone, in this modern day and age of marketing, and Google ads, and banners, and AI, and metaverses and things like this, I think a huge amount of businesses forget that, still, they are predominantly voice conversation-driven, and that is a massive, intrinsic part of people’s businesses.
And they shouldn’t forget it. And not only should they not forget it, that perhaps they should put some more time and effort into how they do these things and how they measure them. So, really appreciate your insights. So, thank you very much for your time today, mate.
Todd Fisher: Yeah, thank you. This was great.
Simon Dell: That’s pretty much it from the Cemoh Marketing Podcast this week. We hope you enjoyed it, and we look forward to seeing you tune in next week.
PODCAST EP 9
On Episode 9 of the Paper Planes Podcast Simon chats with Simon Bell about what Customer Lifetime Value is and why Conversion Rate is so important.Listen Now
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