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Nadji Tehrani
Executive Group Publisher, Editor-in-Chief


25 Years Of Moving CRM And Contact Centers Forward
In Just 25 Years, We Went From Non-Existence To A Pround Industry That Laid The Foundation For Every Corporation In America And Around The Globe

 

 

Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) was founded in May of 1972. At that time, we published advanced chemical technology publications such as Radiation Curing, Powder Coatings, High Solids Coatings and UV Curing Science and Technology magazines and textbooks.

In November 1981, I was disappointed with the sales results of our outside sales reps, so one day, I decided to get on the phone and see if I could sell advertising by telephone for our various publications. Indeed, it turned out to be a great new discovery — I was able to sell four pages of advertisements in the first hour. To make sure that I could reproduce this potential discovery, I continued selling one hour a day for the entire week and by the end of the week, I was able to sell approximately 15 pages of advertisements strictly by phone! Then, I believe, the industry was born...at least to the best of our knowledge.

As I have stated in many of these editorials, every company is a call center, and if you take the telephone out of any company, it’s only a matter of time before that company will go under.

Mistake #1
I called the outside sales reps to our office and asked them to start selling by phone. None of them was able to sell anything significant by phone. Consequently, they resigned. At that time, I didn’t know why, but today I understand. The reason is that the techniques that one needs to sell in person are vastly different than the techniques required to sell by phone.

Mistake #2
I interviewed several people in person, and none of them was able to sell on the phone. At that time, once again, I did not know the reason for this failure. Today, we know the reason. If you want someone to be successful in selling by phone, you must interview that person on the phone and ask them one key question; that is, “Tell us why we should hire you for this position?” If the sales person is not able to answer convincingly, then you must not hire that person. I was very confused as to why I was the only person who could sell by phone, and no one else. I told myself that this couldn’t be the case. I then went to one of our long-time secretaries and asked her to come in for training in the hope that she also would be able to sell. She first said, “Mr. Tehrani, I am the world’s worst sales woman.” Obviously, that was not the answer I was looking for. I told her that I had a $500 bonus for her if she could adopt a positive, can-do attitude and simply do what I do in a conference call with the customers. I added, “You don’t have to sell anything, but you have to have a completely positive attitude about it and try to sell with passion.” She liked the idea, and got on the phone. Lo and behold, she started selling tremendously. After three months, sales were up 50 percent over the prior year, and after she returned from a trade show, where she met many prospective advertisers, sales went up another 100 percent.

“Nothing great is ever achieved without an outstanding team of industry pioneers.”

Figure 1. L to R: Tom Rocca, President, KPI Group, LLC; Steve Brubaker, VP, Corporate Affairs, InfoCision Management Corp.; Richard Brock, CEO, Firstwave Technologies, Inc.; Hayley Savage, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Influent, Inc.; Nadji Tehrani; Jack Early, Founder, Early Cloud & Co.; Albert Subbloie, President & CEO, Founder, Tangoe Inc.; Ed Blank, Edward Blank Associates; Robin Richards, CEO & Chairman, The NTI Group; Ray Hansell, Chairman, Marastar Communications

 

Therefore, the industry was born. The keys to her success were great product knowledge, an excellent phone manner and a very pleasing voice.

We Trademarked Telemarketing®
Perhaps one of the good things that we did at that time was to obtain the registered trademark for the word “telemarketing ®” and as such, our pioneering of this industry was solidly verified.

Nothing to Write About!
We continued printing articles for two issues, after which my editor came to me and said, “I can’t find anything to write about. Are you sure this is an industry?” I stated that, “No, I am not sure, but we are going to make it an industry!” For the tagline of Telemarketing® magazine, which we started in June 1982, we used the following: “The magazine of electronic marketing and communications.” Indeed, many people ridiculed the idea and stated that marketing would never be done electronically! Here we are, 25 years later, and practically everything we do is done electronically; for example, electronic marketing, electronic commerce, e-business, etc. I suppose that we did have the right vision that someday, this new and revolutionary method of marketing will conquer the world and everyone around the globe sooner or later will adopt it.

The First Industry Trade Show
In 1985, we launched the industry’s first trade show, called Telemarketing and Business Telecommunications® (TBT). With our conferences at TBT, we trained the world. Indeed, marketing executives and CEOs of companies around the globe attended the TBT conference and exhibitions regularly, without fail. Companies from Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, South Africa, Ireland, Brazil and many others were among the earlier adopters of the new telemarketing concept which was, in fact, the most effective way to sell products and provide customer service. The global attendees of TBT learned the principles of telemarketing and then trained future telemarketers around the globe.

The Early Debate
At that time (in the mid 1980s), I continued to refer to our new method of marketing as an industry. As the industry began to grow, with TMC serving as the cheerleaders or evangelists, if you will, I found significant opposition from a few industry leaders to calling it an industry. They suggested that maybe we should call it a new discipline. I am happy to share with you that recently, at our 25th anniversary gala, held on May 4, 2006 in New York City, many of the same non-believers came up to the podium and stated, “Twenty-five years ago, Nadji told us that this was an industry, and we didn’t believe it. Today, we believe it!”

Call For Automation
In the spring of 1984, in one of my editorials, I called for the automation of the young and rapidly growing telemarketing industry. Indeed, if you are going to make millions of calls per day, you will need to get help from technology. After this announcement, several entrepreneurs responded, and they were among the first companies to provide software for sales, marketing, customer service and monitoring services. Some of the early pioneers of our industry may be seen in Figure 1 (the caption provides the identity of these pioneers).

Industry Development
In the mid 1980s, predictive dialer technologies began developing, and such dialers were adopted by many outsourced teleservices companies as well as in-house telemarketing centers, which are now called call centers, contact centers and/or CRM centers. The primary use of predictive dialers, of course, was for outbound telemarketing for such applications as collections, lead generation and sales support, etc. The ACD (automatic call distributor) technology, which had an earlier history of development than predictive dialers, was developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s by such pioneers as Rockwell, Aspect, Teknekron Infoswitch, etc.

Our proud industry started with humble beginnings, affected many lives positively, heavily impacted the world economies, touched millions of lives and supported millions of families around the globe.

Figure 2. 25 Years Of Excellence Plaque presented to Nadji Tehrani by InfoCision Management Corp.

 

The contributions of technology providers to the development of the contact center industry has been of vital importance following ACD (define - news - alert) development, which was the foundation of inbound telemarketing, and predictive dialers, which were the main workhorse technology of outbound telemarketing. Many other significant technologies were developed in the 1990s and this development continues today. Such developments include:

  • CRM technology;
  • Workforce management;
  • Monitoring;
  • IP contact center technologies;
  • Speech technology;
  • Outsourcing technologies;
  • Offshoring technologies (VoIP);
  • Data security;
  • Performance management and optimization;

As such, the development of the above technologies by many solutions providers must be regarded as the most vital element for taking our industry to the next level.

Teleservices Agencies Also Contributed Significantly
In the 1980s and beyond, the actual process controls, methodology and application of sound telemarketing and contact center applications were indeed developed primarily by telemarketing service agencies, which are now called teleservices outsourcing companies. These teleservices outsourcing companies, which collectively (including the Top 50 Teleservices Agencies companies) use in excess of 18 billion billable long-distance minutes per year, have gained tremendously more experience than any other call center, in-house or otherwise. Indeed, the Top 50 inbound and outbound companies ranked by Customer Inter@ction Solutions® for 21 consecutive years represent the leading contact center practitioners in the world. These companies, while practicing the telemarketing principles, laid the foundation for effective business transactions over the phone. To use the words of Steve Idelman, who is regarded by many as the “King of Outbound Telemarketing,” the business community found that, “There is no business like phone business.” Indeed, corporations soon discovered, in the early 1990s and beyond, that telemarketing outperforms any other method of selling. Today, we have learned that the telephone is also another outstanding tool of building relationships and providing customer relationship management, or CRM. In short, as I have stated in many of these editorials, every company is a call center, and if you take the telephone out of any company, it’s only a matter of time before that company will go under.

The Name Change And Accolades
As the industry evolved, Telemarketing® magazine became Call Center CRM Solutions™ magazine and eventually became Customer Inter@ction Solutions®. Along the way, The Wall Street Journal gave this publication the ultimate accolade; namely, that “Telemarketing® magazine is THE BIBLE OF THE INDUSTRY.”

Consultants Provided Significant Training And Services
Indeed, our industry also benefited significantly from the contributions of several prestigious leaders of the consulting sector. Leaders among them are Jon Hamilton, Thomas M. Rocca, Steve Riddel, David Yoho, Judy McKee, Rudy Oetting, etc. In short, the achievement of the development of the contact center industry was truly teamwork — everyone mentioned in this article, as well as many others, has made a significant contribution to our industry.

Telemania Lifetime Achievement Gala Sponsored By CIS Recognized Industry Pioneers, Visionaries, Founders And Legends On May 4, 2006 At The Marriott East Side Hotel In New York City
[Editors Note: See page 42 for photographic coverage of this spectacular gala, attended by over 100 industry CEOs and pioneers.]
The evening began with InfoCision’s Steve Brubaker recognizing me and TMC as the founder of the industry on behalf of the contact center industry. He humbled me and honored the dedicated and brilliant employees of TMC by offering me a special recognition plaque as seen in Figure 2 on the previous page! Frankly, I was speechless, as I did not expect it. The audience, comprised of over one hundred CEOs, Chairmen, Presidents, Founders, etc., further humbled me by giving me several standing ovations! In my acceptance speech I said, “Nothing great is ever achieved without an outstanding team of industry pioneers.” My award would have been more suitable for those industry pioneers and the dedicated TMC team (see Figure 3).

The Gala Was Spectacular
The leading past and present luminaries networked, received their awards and gave phenomenal acceptance speeches (see photos and coverage on page 42.) Many past industry leaders are now multimillionaires, and three of them are now billionaires. In short, our proud industry started with humble beginnings, affected many lives positively, heavily impacted the world economies, touched millions of lives and supported millions of families around the globe. Yes...we might proudly say: WE MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE in the world economy, in the world of business and indeed, we revolutionized marketing by calling it Telemarketing®: The magazine of electronic marketing and communications.

Looking Back
Of course, building a multibillion dollar global industry from scratch is no easy task. We could not have done it without the help of the outstanding visionaries, many of whom are identified in this editorial and in this issue. Indeed, it was a rollercoaster ride. There were a lot of challenges, but in the end, with God’s help, your help and TMC employees’ help, we succeeded and we made it!

Looking back, the last 25 years have been the best and most rewarding part of my career! It was definitely worth it. It was a dream ride, and if I had to do it all over again...I would do everything exactly the same way. As always, I welcome your comments. Please e-mail me at ntehrani@tmcnet.com.

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or PDF format), please visit Reprint Management Services online at http://www.reprintbuyer.com or contact a representative via e-mail at tmcnet@reprintbuyer.com or by phone at 800-290-5460.

For information and subscriptions, visit http://www.TMCnet.com or call 203-852-6800.

IMPORTANT: Please remember where you first read this pioneering effort before the copycats copy us (as usual) and pass it off as their own.

 

 
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