Jorge: What was the inspiration for building NextCaller and how did the founding team meet?
Jeff: The inspiration for starting Next Caller was actually over a bad customer service experience. Our co-Founder, Ian Roncoroni, lost a rental car reservation due to confusion over the spelling of his name. He called to make a change to his reservation, but the agent(s) on the other end of the line just could not find him in their system because his name was so confusing. So he thought to himself — “why isn’t this process automated?” Thus, Next Caller was built.
Ian was friends with Gianni Martire and Sam Espinosa from the city. Gianni had a ten year technology background with a couple successful exits, and Sam was a founding member of Stickk. Ian and I both wrestled at Princeton, so that’s how we got connected.
Jorge: What is your professional background and how did you get involved with NextCaller?
Jeff: My professional background is working in sales, leading teams for a couple of different companies. I started by leading the higher education vertical at SCVNGR, which is now called LevelUp. This was the biggest vertical in the company at the time in terms of the number of clients we had. My job was to build awareness for our program by speaking at conferences, through social media outreach, and of course, traditional cold-calling.
We built a business within a business. This caught the attention of a much larger company in higher education called Chegg. I led one of their six sales teams for a subdivision called Zinch. I worked there for a year but I decided that I wanted to do something much more fast-paced than higher education. I felt that decision-makers in higher education (specifically college admissions/recruitment) were very resistant to change and innovation, and I am quite the opposite, so I needed to find a better fit. Next Caller has been an amazing fit for my personality.
Jorge: What does NextCaller do and how can companies leverage it?
Jeff: Next Caller sends detailed caller profiles to agents in real time so that customers never have to spell information over the phone. This makes customers and agents happier, but it also saves businesses time and money. The average business cannot identify 60% of their callers! And for those calls, they spend at least 30 seconds gathering customer information per call, which amounts to a waste of just over 50 cents per call. Big companies get millions of calls, so you can do the math on what they waste every year.
Jorge: What is your target market; more enterprise companies or the SMB segment?
Jeff: Truthfully, anyone who receives inbound phone calls is a target for Next Caller. If a business cares about customer data, there is simply no substitute for us. We have the largest database of caller profiles in the US with just over 250 million. Businesses can clean their data with Next Caller, they can make more intelligent routing decisions with Next Caller, or they can just make customers happier with Next Caller. There’s a different value proposition for every business.
Jorge: What does the ideal customer look like for NextCaller?
Jeff: Our most ideal customers are those who have a really hard time identifying callers. These tend to be sales-driven organizations that market products to new customers who they have never heard from before. Because the customers are new, the businesses cannot find records internally for them. They subsequently rely on us to deliver the information, which creates a smoother transaction process. So basically anyone who markets a product on TV with a 1-800 number to call is a really good candidate for us. You know who some of these businesses are, and chances are, we are either talking with them or call them our clients already.
Jorge: What have been the most challenging aspects of launching the NextCaller sales effort?
Jeff: The most challenging aspect of launching our sales efforts has been just figuring out what works and what does not work. It sounds cliche, but truly, it takes time and requires a significant amount of data to be able to analyze what messages people respond to and which ones people do not respond to. Fortunately, we have a wealth of sales tools here like Yesware and other partners that help us to achieve those goals. Also, we have found that almost everyone gets excited about what we do, but as is typical in any sales organization, you still need to create urgency. We are always looking for ways to educate our customers on the inefficiencies of NOT using our solution and the various reasons why they need to get started immediately.
Jorge: What advice would you give early stage b2b startup founders about things to focus on and look out for when launching a sales effort?
Jeff: My advice would be to segment your sales efforts. While it can be fun and exciting to run around like a chicken with its head cut off reaching out to everyone you can think of, you will find that it is easier to build champions for your product within a certain business segment first and then make progress from there. We have learned that through our own efforts. Fortunately, we now have champions across several business verticals, and feel that this will allow us great flexibility in the outreach we do.
Jorge: What do you believe is NextCaller’s biggest advantages within the market?
Jeff: Our biggest advantage in the market today is pretty simple, and it is that we have far more customer data than anyone else. Period. Also, we deliver our data in real-time, so our customers are quite pleased not only with the level of information we can provide, but also its accuracy.
Jorge: Anything else you’d like to share about NextCaller or yourself?
Jeff: As a sales guy, I would be remiss if I did not say that you should please email us if you or anyone else you know could benefit from our service. As I noted, we literally created Next Caller to make customer service better. If you agree that spelling out bits of data over the phone sucks, then help us. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! Jeff