In a unique take, this episode focuses on technology. I talk to Steve Waite of Simplii about the power of communication in your business. VoIP has transformed our ability to interact with prospects and customers. I ask Steve some of the best practices in phone communication and how a small business can leverage telephony to get a strategic advantage.
Steve Waite is the director of business development at Simplii. He’s been at Simplii for 7 years, originally from Portland, Oregon. Now he lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s married and has four children.
Frank Bria (00:00):
It’s the 6 to 7 Figures Show. Episode 75. Let’s hit it.
Broadcasting from the Valley of the Sun outside Phoenix, Arizona. This is the 6 to 7 Figures Show. Tired of working so hard and having no time? Take your six figure practice and turn it to a thriving seven figure enterprise. And now your host, author, speaker, mentor, and strategist Frank Bria.
Frank Bria (00:29):
Hey everyone. Welcome to the 6 to7 Figures Show. I’m your host, Frank Bria, and today absolutely thrilled to be joined by Steve Waite, who’s the director of business development at Simplii. Am I saying that right, pronouncing that right?
Steve Waite (00:41):
You were saying that perfectly.
Frank Bria (00:42):
He’s been at Simplii for seven years, originally from Portland, Oregon and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. At the time of this broadcast heading into winter, which is a beautiful time there. The snow in the mountains.
Steve Waite (00:57):
Well I got the jacket on.
Frank Bria (00:59):
Yeah, he’s married. He’s got four children. And we’ll be talking about Simplii and what it does. But Steve, welcome to the show.
Steve Waite (01:06):
Thanks Frank. I’m excited to be here.
Frank Bria (01:08):
Yeah absolutely, absolutely thrilled. So first, let’s, Simplii, let’s talk about that. So what’s the company, what do you guys do?
Steve Waite (01:16):
So Simplii, we are a hosted voice over IP phone service provider with offices here in Salt Lake City and in Boise, Idaho. Yeah, hosted phone service with a real slick integration into most major CRMs. And we’ll discuss some of that. But yeah.
Frank Bria (01:39):
So for those people who are getting tripped up on the tech buzz here, voiceover IP is kind of like… I mean we kind of use this technology a lot in phone calls now, right? Cause people are kind of doing voiceover over web. Are you guys focused on business owners and setting this up essentially as a business integration tool?
Steve Waite (01:59):
Yeah, so specifically for businesses, we don’t touch residential phone service at all.
Frank Bria (02:05):
Okay. Just out of curiosity, a lot of business owners today are using their cell phone. Why is this an improvement over just putting your cell phone out there as a phone number?
Steve Waite (02:19):
Yeah. Yup. This is a great question. I get it all the time. I work with a lot of business owners that do use their cell phone and that’s fine. We try to take it to the next level. So when I’m talking to a business owner, I try to convey the message that it’s all about appearance, right? When customers are calling you and you’re answering on your cell phone or they get your voicemail, most of the time they can kind of tell that that’s your cell phone they’re calling. So what we try to explain to business owners is, we can create a really professional auto attendant, right? Or an IVR, a virtual receptionist. They can say, “thanks for calling X, Y, Z corporation, you know, for sales, press one for billing, press two, to schedule an appointment, press three, and it just gives the appearance of a larger company, a more professional company. Not saying that they aren’t professional, it just gives the appearance of that they’re talking to a bigger company. So it’s all about appearances a lot of times.
Frank Bria (03:27):
Okay. I mean as a lot of small business owners are trying to scale up and growI think a lot of them struggle with this sort of communication of teams. You know, you’ve got multiple people. Is this something you guys solve? Is that a problem you guys solve for a lot of business owners is how to connect these remote team members? I mean you’re remote, right? You’ve got offices in Boise and Salt Lake, but that seems to be a model that a lot of small business owners are handling these days. How do you connect those remote team members?
Steve Waite (04:04):
Yeah, so the beautiful thing about voice over IP isI can have a desk phone here in my office. I can also have that same desk phone at a home office. They both ring as the same extension. So if you call my office phone, my home phone rings at the same time. Right? I can also have it hunt out to my cell phone so I can answer a call on any location. And then we also have an app where it’s tied to your cell phone where you can dial out from your app as your business line. So yeah, to tie in remote users, it’s just as simple as giving them a desk phone that they plug in at home and they operate as if they were sitting in your office.
Frank Bria (04:53):
I don’t know a lot of people feel the same way I do. Maybe it’s just cause I’m old, but there’s something about picking up that handset and having it versus a cell phone. I don’t know. I have a hard time operating out of my office with a cell phone. It’s just maybe I’m old, I guess. But it’s really fascinating that now we’re talking about voiceover IP in ways that integrate into the marketing and sales automation and things like that. Because one of the things that really stood out about your company that was kind of fascinating, is that you guys are you talked about earlier, this integration into CRM. You know, for me, voice over IP solutions have been very tactical. You know, it’s like “Where’s the phone ringing and how does it follow me as I’m traveling around”? But, talk a little bit about this integration to CRM. What does that mean for businesses? What does it allow them to do that they couldn’t do before?
Steve Waite (05:59):
So there’s a couple of advantages. I mean, the first advantage is, let me take step back. When I talk to business owners, I usually ask them, “What is the phone experience that your customers get when they call your business”, right? If they’re calling your cell phone, what’s that experience, right? What happens? Do you answer? Does it go to your voicemail? So what we try to do is, especially if they’re using a CRM, we have the ability, when a customer calls in, it gives a screen pop. So they get a screen pop, it has the customer’s name, their phone number, and a link to the CRM in which they’re a contact. So Frank, you call our business, I see your name, I can click on your link and it pops your account inside of let’s say, Salesforce for Jeff. Well then what it does is it’ll actually log our phone call. So it logged the call, it attaches the call recording of our phone call, and then if there’s any SMS or text communication between us, it logs that inside the contact record as well.
Frank Bria (07:10):
Wow. That’s a lot of information that I like. At least I scramble to kind of put it in to figure out, you know, when was the last time I talked to the person andncall recordings as well. That’s got a lot of data associated with it. What kinds of businesses are you finding this is working really well for? I mean, as people are listening to this, thinking “Am I big enough? Am I ready for this”? What are you seeing from a customer perspective?
Steve Waite (07:44):
You know, I’d say most businesses, I mean there’s a couple of angles in which businesses utilize a CRM. Some use it for just customer management or customer relationship management. They want to know when’s the last time we had email interaction, was our contract sent out, some of that basic stuff. Other business owners use the CRM as a marketing tool and they use the marketing automation side of the CRM. So it doesn’t necessarily matter the size of the company. I have one userbusiness owners that it’s just themself. They work out of their home and they just use that to store their interactions with each client. And then I have multi location companies that have 300 plus employees and they use it as kind of a three prong approach. They use it to manage clients, they use it to market and then they use it to submit orders and things like that. So it just depends. It depends on what the need of the company is, but we can work with anybody.
Frank Bria (09:02):
Got it. Do you get a lot of questions about how to optimize and leverage the technology? I mean, I’m assuming a lot of people first kind of come to you guys with the idea of getting this location independence for messaging. But there seemed to be a lot of hooks and a lot of potential power in there that someone like me, if I were signing up for something, I might not be squeezing all the juice out of the orange as it were.
Steve Waite (09:28):
You bet. So I always, when I work with clients, I take the consultative type approach. We’ll literally sit down with a client. Again, I don’t care if it’s a plumber or a CEO of a fortune 500 company, same approach we walked through. What’s the customer experience when someone calls your business? Does it hit a live voice? Is it ringing to your receptionist? Okay, well then what happens if they want to speak to Frank or do they want to speak to the sales department? Is that just a quick transfer? Great. Well, what if they call in, is it ringing to a virtual receptionist where then they can quickly decide “”I want to speak to billing or customer service and it’s all automated. So we talk about that. We also talk about how do your phones ring after hours, right? As a business owner, are you 24/7, or do you put the phone down after six o’clock. Okay. And if you do, what happens if there’s an emergency or what happens if there’s a sales call? Do you still want to be able to take that call or do you want to route that maybe to an answering service? We have the ability to route it anywhere you want and we can also set up some automated SMS replies. So if a client calls you after hours or if they text you after hours, it’ll send an automated text message saying, “Hey, we’re closed. Here’s our website”. Or you can disseminate any information you want on that auto text. So there’s a lot of way to ways to still manage your business, capture some sales and things like that without necessarily having to be tied to your phone 24 hours a day.
Frank Bria (11:23):
Yeah, that’s interesting because…
Steve Waite (11:24):
We walk you through the whole gamut, the whole thing.
Frank Bria (11:27):
Okay. So it is a consultative kind of onboarding approach that you take. I think that’s refreshing because a lot of tech companies don’t do that. You know, they sort of like, “Here’s the product, good luck. Go to the FAQ. Figure out how to install stuff”.
Steve Waite (11:43):
I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve worked with thousands of business owners, small to large. So I usually have a pretty good idea of how to maybe guide them if they’re not sure what they want to accomplish. Then if they do, I always tell business owners, the nice thing about voiceover IP is, if you can think it, I mean, we can almost make it happen. Right? And our big motto is we want to be a whole office solution. You know, we want to be able to handle a call if you have a receptionist or if you have a sales team, you have a marketing department or do you have an accounting department. We can handle phones for your entire office, or if you’re the business owner with just a mobile phone let’s create an auto attendant and then no matter what selection they press, it still rings to your cell phone. But it gives you the appearance of being a bigger company.
Frank Bria (12:40):
Sure. Well, and the appearance piece ties into something that you mentioned earlier that I kind of want to dig into. And that’s around customer experience. Because you talked about like “what’s the customer experience”? You know, a lot of entrepreneurs today are talking about the sort of boundaries right around their communication, their contact, “I’m only checking email once a day or I’m only getting to…”, They’re pushing out these boundaries which are creating kind of… They’re doing it for the lifestyle, which I think we understand, but it creates a customer experience that probably has unintended consequences. What are some of the big mistakes you’re seeing business owners make in this contact customer experience that people are sort of accidentally creating? Like what kinds of things should we be avoiding?
Steve Waite (13:28):
I’ll give you an example. I’m working with a disaster services company, right? They do disaster cleanup and things like that. Their struggle right now is you call their business after hours and if it’s an emergency, and it could be an insurance agent or it could be a referral that was sent to them. Someone’s house is flooding and they need immediate service. Well, right now this company, it rings out to a cell phone, one person’s cell phone. Their struggle is, if that person’s already on a phone call and it’s an emergency, it’s hard for them to jump over and try to grab that other phone call. So, they’re missing a lot of business. So my suggestion when I talk to business owners is, you’re right, what’s the experience and what are you trying to accomplish? Are you like this disaster services company where that one phone call you missed, they told me this, they said it could be a $40,000 phone call that they just missed. So that’s their struggle and a lot of business owners struggle with, kind of, what you alluded to. How do you juggle giving the best customer experience, but maybe not having to always be tied to your phone. You know, there’s ways to route calls appropriately so that you don’t always have to take the calls. We can send text messages, you can communicate via text. If you’re indisposed and you can’t jump on a phone call, we can have those route to other employees. We can have those route to an answering service. We can do a lot of things.
Frank Bria (15:18):
Yeah. In the movement towards all of this internet based or email communication or instant messaging communication. You know, some people have the idea that picking up the phone and calling a business is kind of outdated. Are you seeing that? Is that true? Or what are the trends on phone communication these days for business owners?
Steve Waite (15:42):
Yeah, it’ll depend on the industry, but for sure we’re dealing with a younger generation, you knowwe’re old school. I’m used to just, “Hey, just call me, let’s talk it over, talk it out over the phone”. But this generation now they want to text. So we’re starting to see that SMS and texting and MMS sending pictures and video. But that’s how people want to communicate now, so I think business owners have to adapt because guess what, your competitor is, right? And so we give them solutions. We can set up a mobile app that can, you can text, you can call. I mean you can, however you need to communicate with your potential customers, you need to communicate the way they want to communicate and not the way you want.
Frank Bria (16:35):
Right. Yeah. It’s interesting the moment you said pictures, I immediately, I remember a client of mine a number of years ago, this is one of the big struggles we had is they were, they do a HVAC work, so a lot of server room construction for tech companies in the Bay aArea. And the challenge was, people send pictures in to a tech, and then you’ve got other people involved in the work order or something else and someone’s like, “where’s the picture”? No one can find it, It’s on some guy’s phone who’s on vacation and there was no central repository. People were having to doing crazy things like forwarding pictures to someone else who could then download it off their computer. It was a really like messy thing and you know, but that’s the way people wanted to communicate. They wanted to just take their cell phone out to the equipment, snap a couple of pictures and send it in, and it’s amazing that without really thinking that through, that can be a real hassle.
Steve Waite (17:36):
You bet. It’s funny. Technology now, it’s crazy. We have on our service the ability where I can do a screen share. Literally I can share my computer screen out to your cell phone.
Frank Bria (17:52):
Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that. I’ve seen it demo’d a couple of times, a couple of tech companies, but it’s fascinating and it’s underused. I think a lot of people aren’t using that very often.
Steve Waite (18:04):
Right, so let’s say I’m, if I’m a business owner and I’m sending you a quote and you’re like, “Oh, can you email it to me”? “Yeah, I already did”. “Well, I can’t, I didn’t get the email”. Okay. Well, “Hey, if you have two seconds, let me just share my computer. I have the quote right up on my screen right now. I’ll send you a link and you can just review it right on your cell phone” and you just share your screen, they can see that right on their cell phone. So again, there’s just so many different ways to skin the cat, right, and it just depends on the business. The business owner, a lot of business owners are really open minded and they’re open to “Hey, Steve, educate us. Let’s find a way that we can better communicate with our client base”.
Frank Bria (18:52):
Yeah. I saw some technology demo’d in the banking space a couple of years ago where people are using their cell phone to call in to a call center and then in the call center, they switch it over into screenshare mid-call. They’re actually swapping over, “Hey, just take a look at your phone right now and I can walk you through stuff” And we don’t even think about the potential for that. I’m on a phone call and it’s one channel. It’s one mode of communication and I’m able to sort of explode that channel of communication into a number of different areas to get visual, to get hands-on, to get really tactical with people. If you’re in the sales and marketing space and you’re talking to potential clients, I mean, the possibilities seem endless there.
Steve Waite (19:44):
Yeah, and Frank, I don’t want to scare people, right? So, I mean, I’ll talk technology all day long with business owners. However, there’s also business owners that are like, “No, no, no. Hey, whoa, let’s just keep it really simple. I just want it to ring and if I don’t pick up, it goes to voicemail”, right? I mean, I’m not going to argue. I’ll do whatever you’re comfortable with. I will try to open your mind to some alternative solutions that might enhance your business, but I’m not going to fight against you if you’re dead set on, “I want it to ring. If I don’t pick up, it goes to voicemail” because we have the ability to take that voicemail and send it out as an email attachment. So now they don’t have to call back into their office to listen to their voicemails. They can just pull up the audio file on their email and listen to it there. And then we can also send, any text messages can be sent transcribed into their email as well. There’s ways to make it a little bit more efficient for business owners to not get too complicated.
Frank Bria (20:58):
Yeah. I mean anyone who’s going to go through any kind of tech curve, it’s layering on complexity piece by piece rather than eating the elephant all at once. That’s a smart way to do that. So that’s great. Well, I think the important point is you’re handling an onboarding process and a consultative process that’s going to be really helpful for people. Cause I know this is one thing we preach for our clients is, if you’re going to do onboarding and if you’ve got a product, you want to own the success of the product for people and make sure that they have everything they need to really get the full return on their investment to really see how it integrates into the business and fundamentally just be successful at it. So it’s great you guys have that take. Stevewe’re out of time unfortunately. I really appreciate, you’ve given a great time, taking time out of your busy schedule for this conversation. Really appreciate it. One last question though. As people are listening and they’re thinking this is something they want to explore, what’s the best way for them to get in contact with you or the company?
Steve Waite (22:06):
Yeah and Frank, maybe you can distribute this, but they can call me direct. I’ll give you my phone number. It’s 801-449-9810. And then they can email me as well. It’s just [email protected] and I’m sure we’ll distribute that out to people if they need to contact us. And then for anybody that’s listening to this that hears about us from the program, we’ll give them their first month free so they can try us out. And we have 24/7 support service. We help onboard, we’ll ship phones out, we do it all so they don’t have to feel like they do it themselves.
Frank Bria (22:47):
Wow. That’s a generous offer. Thanks. Thanks so much. Well, the contact information is right below, so if you’re watching the video, it’s right below the video. If you’re on the show notes page, you’ll see it embedded in the notes. If you’re out about listening to this broadcast, come on back to the show notes page. If you didn’t catch that and you’ll get that information, I would be very surprised if Steve didn’t give out a phone number given all the discussion we had about making sure that you connect.
Steve Waite (23:12):
Call me everybody, we’re a phone company! Nawh kidding, you can email me.
Speaker 2 (23:15):
Either way, so that’s great. Steve, thanks so much for spending time with us. Really appreciate it.
Steve Waite (23:23):
Wonderful, Frank, it’s been a pleasure.
Frank Bria (23:25):
Thanks, and thank you all for being with us on this episode of the 6 to 7 Figures Show. I’ve been your host, Frank Bria, and this has been a fascinating conversation about the leveraging of technology in your sales marketing process. I really do recommend you take a look at your customer experience when it comes to how your customers perceive you. A lot of times entrepreneurs, we oversteer to this get out of my face view of the world in order to create boundaries around what we do, and this is just a really good way to think about this from a customer perspective. So, highly recommend you check that out. Thanks again, and we’ll see on the next episode. Take care. Bye bye.