HOW TO RESPOND TO LEADS QUICKLY

Tips on how to respond to leads quickly with Maddy Martin

  • The most critical thing to moving the needle in your business is to respond to leads quickly.
  • If you don't have texting enabled for your business phone number, you're probably missing a lot of leads.
  • The most effective thing to do is to identify those top two or three things that you need to determine if the person contacting you is a good fit.
  • An important component is business continuity. If there was ever anything to happen to you who have you trained to take over those conversations?
  • Chat is actually an incredible SEO hack and we use a free chatbot.

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The most critical thing to moving the needle in your business is to respond to leads quickly.

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It's really important that when you have new leads who are looking to reach you, that you're responsive seven days a week and that you also have services that have continuity both for inbound and also being able to make outbound responses to people who, for example, fill out a web form.

Doug: Well, welcome back listeners to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. In-studio, today, I've got joining me Maddy Martin, had a great conversation with her on how her company comes alongside companies like yours and mine and becomes part of the team to help with lead conversion, and lead qualification, and just handling all those inbound inquiries, and sorting them and prioritizing them, and helping us to leverage as entrepreneurs, and business owners and marketers to leverage our time.

Doug: Maddy is the Head of Growth and Education at a company called Smith.ai, which provides integrated phone and web chat services for solo and small firm attorneys including their virtual receptionist, intake services, live website chat, and keypad cloud phone service. She has spent the last decade growing tech startups from New York to California and has expertise in digital marketing, small business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, SEO, and event marketing.

Doug: Well, hey, Maddy, super excited to have you on the show today. I know it's been a while trying to get you here and so happy to have you here to share with our audience. Welcome to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast.

Maddy Martin: Thanks, Doug. It's right to be here.

Doug: We had a brief chat before we started recording today and I'm really excited for you to share with our audience exactly what you do and then we will kind of dive into that and take one piece at a time and try to roll it out so people understand it. How do you serve your audience?

Maddy Martin: We are a virtual receptionist and webchat service for solo and small businesses. We improve their responsiveness to new and existing clients because we know that with marketing the most important thing is to be very prompt to respond to the new leads who are coming through, whether that's through referrals, paid search, organic, you name it. The most critical thing to moving the needle in your business is to respond.

Doug: Well, it's funny because I spend a lot of time online looking for vendors, and suppliers, and people that I need to work with to help my clients. What the most frustrating part for me is when I send, I fill in the webform and I hit the submit button. I always wonder, “Am I ever going to hear from these people again?” The answer to most of those inquiries is, “No, I will never hear from them even though I've requested their services.”

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Maddy Martin: Yeah. Off you go in the black hole, right? What ends up happening is that especially even with website chat with voicemail, with a form online, typically what's happening is that if you get that black box, whatever it is and whatever form you're going to just move on to the next business until you reach a live person. One interesting example that I just received this morning from a marketing agency, we work with, GNGF, which is Get Noticed, Get Found. They actually said one of their attorney clients who works with us on the phone receptionist side had updated their Google my business listing to the hours that we are answering their phones and not the hours that they're actually in the office working at the law firm.

Maddy Martin: They were able when a client was searching for businesses, to call for legal services after 5:00 PM. They were the only one that was open and that resulted in the phone call, which was answered by Austin, got the new business. It's really important that when you have new leads who are looking to reach you, that you're responsive seven days a week and that you also have services that have continuity both for inbound and also being able to make outbound responses to people who, for example, fill out a web form. We can call those people back right away. We can call those chatters or textures back right away so that you are not on the hook when you have a free minute during your day to call them back.

Doug: That's really cool. I didn't know you guys had inbound and outbound. Let's go back to the first part, which was extended hours. Typically, what hours your clients receive calls and what hours do you guys offer your services?

Maddy Martin: It's totally up to the clients when they send their calls to us. It could be all of their calls and we handle everything and fill them accordingly. Or it could just be overflow, right? We could be there overflow or after hours or weekend solution. We could just be answering calls for new potential clients and existing clients go somewhere else. But our hours right now which is March 5th, we're doing this recording, right? It's changing all the time and expanding. We do seven days a week, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to midnight Eastern time, 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM on the weekends.

Doug: Okay, well, that's really cool. Just making some notes here. Just walk us through the process then because someone's… they're running their business. Somebody hits their website or hits a lead page and fills in a lead and the data comes in. How does that workflow fall from the website through you guys and back to the client?

Maddy Martin: Right. On a website, you typically have a phone number, maybe you have a chatbot or widget that's slides staffed. Then you also probably have a contact form. It's totally up to you. The phone calls can go right to us, or it can go to your team with us as overflow. It could be a chat where it's engaging and we handle the conversation, or the person indicates that they want a phone call initiated and we can call them or they fill out the form. Then that is forwarded to us for a call back with the instructions that we have for handling that, let's say, new potential client.

Maddy Martin: Now, when that call happens or when the chat happens, we're not responding to emails right now. Right? But when a phone call or chat happens, or even a text message to that phone number, which by the way, if you don't have texting enabled for your business phone number, you're probably missing a lot of leads. What happens is that we respond and screen and take those next steps, which is really critical. Having just answering service is not worth your time. What is worth your time and money is to have a service that can actually screen your leads based on the criteria of who makes a good client for you. Are they in the right location? Are they looking for the right types of services? What are the three to five indicators that show that they are a good fit for your business?

Maddy Martin: Then taking the next step to either transfer the call or to schedule an appointment with you on your calendar so that that lead is locked in and that they are not going to explore other service providers.

Doug: I think one of the things that you had mentioned is that you guys integrate in terms of various platforms that clients might use. For example, what you just shared is that you would actually book it into a booking calendar, that's a shared calendar.

Maddy Martin: Yeah. Not only can we work with pretty much any online scheduling system out there, calendly, schedule once, acuity, but you also name it. There are some native ones within CRMs as well. Like HubSpot, for example, has its own calendaring. We can go right into HubSpot, Salesforce, many practice management, business software management solutions that are industry-specific or general active campaign for example, after a call or chat or conversation that is logged with the personal contact information, name, email, phone number as well as the call notes from the receptionist or the entire transcript of the conversation if it's text-based, like chat or SMS or actually what's coming up is Facebook Messenger integration that we're releasing.

Doug: Oh, that's interesting. I'm still caught off guard and maybe it's just because I'm not in the millennial stage that I get so many business requests through Facebook Messenger and lots even on my personal page. I'm still more of a, “Hey, phone me or email me.” But people will use the platforms they're comfortable with.

Maddy Martin: They will. I totally sort of reading into what you're saying there, which is people are contacting you through all these different channels. How much time do we spend switching between all these different platforms that we have to be present on in order to run a business effectively right now and not miss out on leads? The beautiful thing is with us, we already have your directions. We know your business, you funnel all these different channels into us for phone, for text-based communication and we can handle them consistently every time.

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Maddy Martin: I mean, imagine if you're a small business owner having to manage a different service that's handling your frontline on all of these different channels. If you make an update or you add a service or you change your hours, you have to tell everyone, right? Just having one company that can handle those conversations consistently and accurately every time and one point of contact is really a nice efficiency to add to your business when you're outsourcing these communications.

Doug: I want to go back to one thing you mentioned. Then I think you dropped it and I don't want people to miss it. That was text enabled for your business phone number.

Maddy Martin: Yes.

Doug: I understand what that is, but for the benefit of our audience, please share what that looks like.

Maddy Martin: Oh my gosh. I mean, most VoIP cloud phone systems will have text-enabled phone numbers right now, but basically that means if you have a local or toll-free number, you should be able to receive and send a text through it probably through an app on your phone, maybe in the browser or through a desktop app. But what that allows you to do is to have text messaging without incurring like the, “Oh, here's my cell phone number. Yeah, let's text.” That is never going to be good for logging in your CRM, right?

Maddy Martin: Then once someone has your cell phone number, I mean, how often, Doug, does someone remove their cell phone number from their phone? I mean, it's locked in for good, right? Don't let them get it in the first place. There's a really cool sort of add on we can add on a text-enabled number if you've got a landline or if you just have a personal cell and you need a full number provision for you. We can also work with any other phone provider that you already have, so you don't have to get a number through us. We work with pretty much every cloud phone system under the sun.

Maddy Martin: What we can also do that's pretty cool with texting while I'm on it is to send a text to your leads instead of like an email nurturing drip, actually send them a text message for a next step. Or after a call, let's say we have a consultation that we schedule with a new client. We can send them a link to the form that they need to fill out in order to be prepared for that first phone call. It's both receiving and sending.

Doug: You become a part of the sales funnel, so to speak?

Maddy Martin: Yeah, absolutely. That's how you should see us.

Doug: Do you want to share a case study or an example with our listeners when you took a client, their current situation onboarded them, expanded kind of their reach for communications and how that worked?

Maddy Martin: Yeah, man, there are so many examples. Is there one particular industry or type of business that you think would be best for me to highlight?

Doug: Well, maybe the approach. Maybe somebody that you worked with in terms of lead qualification or lead conversion. I mean, everyone's looking for leads and the challenges that so often the leads suck and the sales guys complain. I just had that conversation yesterday. You don't need more leads, what you need are better-qualified leads.

Maddy Martin: Yes. Oh my gosh, that's so true. Okay. I mean, this is again sort of a legal example. We work with a lot of attorneys. But the nice thing is if your business is more simple, it's more complicated and it shows our ability, which isn't the worst thing. Here's an example. You've got immigration, which is no big surprise, like one of the biggest booming areas of law today, right? I mean, the immigration firms are swamped and whether it's outbound or it's inbound, you know that there is a ton of noise that happens when the top of your funnel is swamped.

Maddy Martin: What we find is that when we're able to screen really effectively and then also even for these businesses charge for consultations, then they are able to have extremely well-qualified leads. Now on the chat site, what's fascinating is that all those chatbots, because again noise, that is not requiring name, email, phone number, those are generating a lot of fake interests. A lot of people who are looking for freebies or kicking tires or want your advice but don't want to pay for it if you do consult or services like that.

Maddy Martin: Now, what's nice is that when you do that level of screening and intake on the phone, and if you require a name, email, phone number before a chat even begins, then you're asking for that potential client to commit to having this conversation and sharing information. Or at least you can follow up and contact them if they've given you the information online. You follow the steps and you steer the conversation, right?

Maddy Martin: The most effective thing to do is to identify those top two or three things that you need to determine if that's a good fit, say them as early as possible, and then steer the conversation because most people don't know what to expect from your business. You can take a lot of that for granted. Then we see this in professional services all the time. Let's say there's wealth managers, financial advisors, IT providers, and marketing agencies.

Maddy Martin: If you think that your potential clients know what you're capable of doing or how the work looks like in terms of the sequence of steps to engage with you, that's often incorrect, right? Setting the stage, setting expectations from the outset, starts with that first frontline of communications. The best example that I would have is for people who really only focus on one or a few things and have honed in their expertise there. They find that as soon as they refine their criteria and take more control over those initial conversations and they're more upfront with how they work and who they work with and how much it's going to cost, then they're able to have much more productive use of their time and there's less wishing and hoping that this potential client is going to get it or is going to fit into the mold even though the signs show that they're not the right potential set.

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Doug: Just making a note here it is and ask you. How much of… I don't know, almost see your success, but do you think that having a client set their posture do you think that having somebody else follow up instead of the owner taking the call and the owner responding back to a lead, do you think that is more effective in the sales process?

Maddy Martin: I think it's incredibly effective and it's also very sustainable and scalable over time. It is dangerous to set the expectation unless it's really a VIP client and I wouldn't have used the use of that word to be that available because there are two main reasons. One, the goal is to grow to get to the point where you don't have to be that person who's always that accessible. There's also the sort of feeling that you fake it till you make it, right? You want to give the impression that your business is more established and mature than it may be. Or, if you're just totally overwhelmed and you're reaching a point of maturity where you're trying to do all these things, then you relieve yourself.

Maddy Martin: But there's the second important component, which is business continuity. If there was ever anything to happen to you or you're not able to be responsive in that way, who have you trained to take over those conversations? Are you letting people shadow you? Are you letting people in on like the smaller fish clients to try and get their swimming legs, right? It takes a while.

If you're in a situation where just one day you need to flip a switch and, “Oh my gosh, I can't take these calls anymore and someone else has to do it for me.” That is going to have a way worse business impact than you getting someone started early on and feeding them and training them so that they can grow into this good sales leader on your behalf so that you're planning for maybe not your obsolescence, but you're planning for your growth and strength, and continuity as a business because you never know what tomorrow's going to bring.

Doug: Yeah. It's funny because as you said, that brought back a conversation I had last week. I'm part of a mastermind with a group and one of the business owners, their business is growing exponentially. He was in the hot seat and he said, “So what's your biggest challenge?” When I say growing exponentially, the company owners, there's a husband and wife team aside from building a new home and opening up several new locations, they're looking at buying a jet. It's that type of growth.

Maddy Martin: Wow.

Doug: Here's the owner, the smart guy and his biggest challenge right now is he gets between 30 to 50 phone calls a day that come through to a cell phone.

Maddy Martin: [inaudible 00:18:34].

Doug: He can't obviously take them all because he's traveling and he's working. He takes what he can. He talks about spending hours upon hours returning calls and we drill down to exactly what you said and found out that a large number of those people aren't qualified. If he had somebody else taking those calls and qualifying them, he could have all the calls rerouted. That was actually the recommendation of the group was, “Change your message in your cell phone, don't take any more calls, and outsource.” Now I know where I can refer him. We'll have that conversation when we get off.

Maddy Martin: Well, let me tell you. There is often the concern with people who have that mindset, who've grown a business. It's their baby to think that it's going to be a call center experience is anathema. That is just not going to sell, right? But if you use a service like Smith AI, then we give that inhouse feel where our clients, our clients' clients say to them, “Wow, it was so nice talking to your receptionist.” Or, “I had a chat with Jane.” Or, “I just spoke to Bob.” There's this feeling that they're inhouse. You don't have that call center noise, that scripted approach. That doesn't work and that is not the next step for someone like this middleman, right? I mean, you-

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Doug: No, for sure.

Maddy Martin: … you got leaps and bounds and may never get there, right?

Doug: Yeah. Yeah. He's dealing all in America. I said, “So why wouldn't he do stuff digitally?” He shared with me that most of his clients are not online or most of their… there are two sides to their business. But the people that they use for service providers aren't online. Their clients are online. The service providers that are falling into qualify aren't, so that's the problem. He's got their phone-based and if you missed the call, he said, “I might take days or a week to actually reconnect with them.”

Maddy Martin: Absolutely. If you're traveling on your private jet, then you're not going to have great self-service. You need the continuity of a receptionist service that's going to give you that peace of mind that they sound articulate, right? That they are the sort of representative and frontline for your business. I think oftentimes what I find because we were talking before about how much I travel and where I've lived and I mean the conferences I just went to travel about 50% of the time.

Maddy Martin: I can tell you from the thousands of people who I've talked to, who are running solo and small businesses, medium-sized enterprises, there is a comfort issue more than a financial or operational issue, right? Going into RingCentral and forwarding your calls to us, takes a few minutes. But getting over the comfort issue of, “Can I hand this off and sleep at night?” is something that we find is more of a struggle.

Doug: Talking about that at that level, so you've got a small business entrepreneur, maybe solopreneur. Typically, you get all sorts of phone calls, so you have potential clients, you have suppliers, so do you have the ability then or does your team then redirect the calls, so maybe there's somebody that deals with, say, accounts payable or accounts receivable or?

Maddy Martin: Yes. Yeah.

Doug: Okay.

Maddy Martin: We can direct to a number of different transfer lines. We also can ping you via text message or through Slack, chat apps, so that if you're not in a position where you want to just have one person or department have the phone ring, or maybe you use Slack as a group to say, “Round Robin, who's going to claim this incoming call?” That can be a really nice option to have the opportunity to give your team claiming or to just have it route directly with a warm transfer so that that person is not just dropped into another phone route.

Maddy Martin: I mean, how annoying is that when you've already been on the phone with someone and they just transfer you cold and you're like, “Wait, how do I get back? Oh no, I have to go through the IVR and the phone tree again.” Right? You hang up, you try and do it again. You tell the person, “Oh, the transfer didn't go through.” I mean, you want a warm transfer.

Doug: Yeah, yeah. I'm laughing because I've had some really heated discussions with myself as I've been locked in that system that I can't actually talk to a real person. Their menu options aren't meeting my needs.

Maddy Martin: But they have changed.

Doug: Yeah. Well, I mean-

Maddy Martin: Right? I mean, I feel like every phone system that I ever hear or menu options have changed. I'm not keeping tabs on you.

Doug: That's funny.

Maddy Martin: Thanks for letting me know.

Doug: Where do you think the low hanging fruit is today? I mean, the world's changing so fast. Technology is changing so fast. We've got like you said, chatbots and text, and phone. For our listeners that are tuning in, what do you think the biggest opportunity is for them?

Maddy Martin: Oh my gosh. I mean, first of all, just pick up the phone as a backstop to block this bam and have the calls come through. You should not be sending people to voicemail. But on the chat site, what's fascinating is that if you do a quick calculation, think about how many phone calls you're getting inbound. We're seeing about one chat, which is a net new lead for every four calls that a business gets. For every nine form fills about five net new chats. These are people who wouldn't have called and want the ease of access or wouldn't have filled out that form because maybe they're not quite sure how to answer your questions.

Maddy Martin: Chat is a really easy way to get that person to engage and I would advocate for making it proactive and not just sitting there quietly. Someone can always hide it, but they know that it's there if they want to call on it for a couple of reasons. Not just, can someone find the contact form on your website? But that can screen and schedule in a responsive way based on their prior answer. It's not just a template form with a blank box that says, “Put your notes in here.” Like, “Oh gosh, what are we going to get?”

Maddy Martin: But there's no search on a lot of websites now, right? Combined with the fact that Google doesn't really provide all those keywords, it says NA, not provided, right? What are people searching for? Why are people coming to your website? Chat is actually an incredible SEO hack and we use a free chatbot. I mean, there's really no excuse to at least put it out there and let people chat in and guess what? They're often typing what they typed into Google and you'll get all those keywords and you can build a content strategy from that in addition to obviously getting that direct client or potential lead.

Doug: When you're talking about chatbots, are you typically working with clients that have some automation set up where they would fill in some information, ask them questions, and the chatbot deals with it then if they want to talk to somebody live, they can click to somebody live? Or are you talking about live only?

Maddy Martin: I'm talking about we have our proprietary chat that we actually have as a software that is the AI-driven chatbot. If you add on our live staff to it for 24/7 live responsiveness, then the AI sort of steers that agent to give accurate answers to sort of take the next expected step in the conversation to translate English and Spanish, let's say, instantly. There's a lot of technology that goes into that, but if you don't want that live staff chat, which… I mean, we're talking about services that cost $140 a month. We're not talking big box here, right? I mean, and not every one of our clients is ready to buy a jet.

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Maddy Martin: Let's say that you still find that a lot of money and you're just getting started. You've just paid for this website and you're like, “Oh, that really drained me.” Then you add the free chatbot and you see what the conversations are like. You get some pre-programmed answers to your questions, to clients' questions. You also get a five-step sequenced conversation for new leads, which means someone comes in and they say, “Hi, I'm interested in this business,” and the chat opens and the chat prompts. The next question, which is, “Hi, are you a new or existing client?” Or, “We handle family law matters. Are you looking for help with A, choose one of the following, divorce, separation, child custody, yadda, yadda.” Right? They can steer the conversation, they being the chatbots and that's completely free.

Maddy Martin: If you're not at least doing that, if you have a website and I really hope you have a website, then you can add that on and just see what's coming through there. Then choose your flavor for the next step if you want to. There's unlimited conversation. It's not like, “Oh, I got this bot on my site.” Now after a day for the rest of the month, that's going to say, “No one's here right now, leave a message.” Right? That's not the way that we work.

Doug: Yeah. Again, I'm laughing because I think of all the chatbots that pop up on the websites and I'm there and it's like, “Yeah, we're not here.”

Maddy Martin: Right. That's because of the self-served chatbots.

Doug: Sure.

Maddy Martin: Right? We had initially said like, “Oh, maybe we'll offer that.” What we ended up doing is saying, “You know what? We're either going to staff it or we're going to put the chatbot on it,” because small businesses do not actually end up wanting to staff their own chat.

Doug: Well, not only that they don't want to. It's do they have the resources to do it?

Maddy Martin: Right.

Doug: Then, how do you get coverage? If you've assigned it to one person may be your assistant and your assistant's busy out of town traveling with you or doing something else or on vacation, what happens to the person who's managing that?

Maddy Martin: Right.

Doug: I want to get a little bit more geeky because I like some of the technical stuff. In terms of web form fills, we had experimented with some systems tools. When people fill in their information, it collects your email address, it also collects their phone number. It sets a trigger to generate an immediate call to the sales department. Have you guys worked and had any experience in that area?

Maddy Martin: Yeah. I mean, it can be very technical in that way. It can be very basic where they sort of forward the emails automatically based on the subject line to us. However your system works, we can pretty much operate with that. It can be a form fill triggers a call or a chat triggers a call. You sort of tell us what you're looking for and we're known for figuring out solutions based on the systems that you're already using to make it less friction.

Doug: Right. I guess I framed the question incorrectly. What I want to know really I guess is what's the appropriate time to respond?

Maddy Martin: Oh.

Doug: I'm sorry, I was thinking about four or five different things in this space and I know that when the form fill happens for example if you go to this company's website and sign up for their service, you'll get a phone call immediately as soon as the form is complete. I don't know if you have any experience or best practices or any comment on how quickly you think is appropriate to phone somebody five minutes, an hour. I know I think of the old saying that in sales time kills, so I always think sooner is better, but I'd really like to hear what you guys think are best practices.

Maddy Martin: My jokey answer would be never is better if you have chat because you might prevent the phone call in the first place, right?

Doug: Okay. Yeah.

Maddy Martin: But let's say that the phone call is happening, the person sees the chat and disregards it and still fills out the form. My sense is the same as yours, which is get back to them as soon as possible and not only get back to them but what is so frustrating is the let down of expectations when you get that call. It's just someone who is qualifying and really not qualifying effectively, right? They're just like, “Oh, do you want to have a call? Great. Let me schedule you. Okay, you're all set. You just got the invite.” Right? That's not super effective if you actually want to know a little bit more about your clients.

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Maddy Martin: Obviously, having that information to the person who's on the phone so they're informed and that potential client doesn't have to repeat themselves so they can have an efficient conversation, that's good. But get back to them as soon as possible with one caveat. I mean, it depends on your business area, but you probably want to set parameters around the hours and the days that you're calling people back.

Maddy Martin: I was just having a conversation with Sam Glover, who runs Lawyerist, which is… Now I'm just repeating myself, but a lawyer community for solo and small firm attorneys, right? They talk a lot about tech and responsiveness and all that good stuff. We were talking about, well, if a form fill happens and then you make a callback, do you really want to make that call back at eight o'clock at night?

Maddy Martin: He was saying that he doesn't want to call back if he fills out the form. He is sort of leaving them a voicemail for the next day. That's really up to you. But it depends on your business. Are you in bail bonds, like you're probably making a phone call and not filling out a form, right? But that would be an instance where you call back 100% of the time right away. Or is it I'm looking for a wealth advisor. Maybe it can wait till the next day and you know your clientele is of a certain echelon that they only want a 9:00 to 5:00 and you're sort of denigrating your brand by calling so uncouth and unclassy to call it 7:00 PM. It really depends on your brand, right?

Maddy Martin: What do you know about your clients and what responsiveness they expect? Is it inappropriate to call at 3:00 PM on a Saturday or is it the best service in the world and they're going to be so delighted? That instruction should be provided to whoever is making those calls for you, and it really depends on your client.

Doug: Well, that's a really smart answer. Thanks for that. That totally makes sense because we've had this debate and people go, “That's too quick. Don't phone back so quick.” To your point, you'll see foreign films coming in the middle of the night and do you really want to be calling somebody back at 11:00 PM just because they filled in a form 11:00 PM? They might be then they're sitting in their pajamas with their laptop computer and they really don't want their cell phone ringing at that time of night.

Maddy Martin: Doug, so one other thing I will say is that if you don't know, the best possible thing to do is to ask or to give them the option to elect for what they want. If you have a form on your website, guess what? You can put a check box on the form and it says, “This is urgent and I would like you to call back as soon as possible.” Or, “This is not urgent and can wait until the next business day.” Or you just give them the one option to flag for urgency, right? We work with a criminal defense attorney who says, “Put in your court date. Oh my gosh, it's tomorrow. You crazy person, what are you thinking about finally.”

Doug: And driving to the court that's-

Maddy Martin: “Oh, I guess I'm not going to represent myself.” Okay, well, we have someone who has her system so automated that she's cornered the market in Colorado by using these systems to actually automate not only the screening, the initial form, and assessment, the calendaring. The retainer agreement is all automated through a form fill online with pre-populated merge fields. The agreement is signed. She starts getting to work and she can turn around cases and become an attorney for that potential client faster than any of her competition. I mean, that is amazing.

Maddy Martin: So guess what? If you've got a form give them an option to say, “I would like a call back right away. This is urgent.” Or, you can have the option to once they fill out the form, the next page that loads is the calendar for scheduling a time to have the call. It really just depends on your business type.

Doug: Your business like I said your business flow.

Maddy Martin: Yeah.

Doug: Walk us through the process for you onboarding a new client. What does that look like? What are the requirements and the times? I'm asking this because often as entrepreneurs and this would be my survey of one. I often want things done yesterday. I often have thought about them for months, right? And saying, “Okay, I need to do this, I need to do this.” Then I phone you say, “Okay-

Maddy Martin: We get a lot of that.

Doug: … it's really good to connect Maddy, but can we have this up? It's Thursday, can we have this up and running by Monday?” Set a realistic expectation so we can have success when we engage you.

Maddy Martin: Yeah. It's funny because I'm so much like the consumer and the provider here. I think about sometimes how I've got people on the hook and then I finally engage them. Some of our content writers who I work with. I'm like, “Oh shoot. Can you write this for me right away?” That happens in life all the time. You've been deliberating and then finally there's a situation and you're like, “Oh, I need this right now.”

Maddy Martin: In-service businesses that happen very often. Obviously, if something is shipped that's not always the same expectation. What we do is you can sign up online Smith.ai. If you sign up for the chat, you're going to be able to go right through the signup process and online you'll see directions to install it yourself on any website or we'll install it for you.

Maddy Martin: If we do it for you, then it's going to take maybe a day. Then on the phone side, we ask that you fill out a form that tells us a little bit about your business. Then within one to two days, we'll set up your free trial where we can do 20 calls or 20 chats if you're on the chat side with the staff service and we'll sort of send you the conversation logs and summaries. You'll get a sense for how we represent your business. We can make any changes or tweaks initially or obviously over time. Then you'll sign up for a plan based on the expected volume. You really only pay for a monthly minimum that includes a certain number of calls or chats.

Maddy Martin: Then from there, if there's overage, you just pay that same per call or per chat price, which is five to $7 per call or per chat and not including any spam, which we bought for free. Then if your volume increases, then you get closer and closer to that $5 per call or per chat level, which again, if we're screening and scheduling for you, just think about how much time that saves you and what an incredible value that is. To answer your question, a couple of days you're going to be up and running.

Doug: Well, I mean that's really quick. Yeah, I think it's pretty quick to be up and running. That's one of the things I liked when I looked at your website and your pricing model thinking, “Well, this is kind of a pay as you go and then grow.” I don't need to start with a full-time wage of an employee. I can start with a half-day wage for the employee.

Maddy Martin: Oh, way less. Oh my gosh. I mean, for the guy who's getting like 30 calls a day to a finding of his private jet, yeah. It's going to be at that high volume, lower per call per chat level. But even if you're the person who's getting 20 calls or 20 website chats a month, right? I send one a day, you don't want to miss a single call because those are precious and they're precious no matter the volume, but they're really probably especially precious. Then you can pay that $140 a month. It's month to month. You also get that free trial. And plus, I mean if you use your promo code, which I'll share right now, I might as well RMRF 100, you get an extra $100 off. I mean, we're talking about a full-on full service, not lite, L-I-T-E, trial, right?

Maddy Martin: You get to see it before you put a credit card down at all and it's month to month. If you want to say, “You know what? I've got this running and I need to press pause for a second, can you hang on to my directions and the phone number and I'm just going to take a month until my marketing campaign ramps up.” That's totally fine. We are quite flexible. If you want to pay upfront, if you're like, “Man, this is like the best thing since sliced bread, I'm going to pay you for my lifetime. I'm never going to hire like the full-time employee because I don't see a need or I'm going to spend that money in other ways for someone who's really specialized.”

Maddy Martin: Then we offer 15% off for annual prepayment and things like that and then the price is just ridiculously well. It's cool in that way. It's also cool if you're doing anything business to business where this could be a service for your own clients because we have a $25 a month account credit for every client you refer. You can probably bring your bill, especially as a small business owner down to close to if not zero if you just bring in a few clients of your own, right?

Doug: That's really cool. Just a different question. Stealing a Tim Ferriss question, what's the bad advice that you hear in the industry? When you're in the general business population in terms of people say, “Hey, I wouldn't want to have somebody answer my chats or answer my phones.” What is the bad advice that's driving that conversation?

Maddy Martin: I think that that's a very good question. What is the bad advice that's driving that conversation? There's not a lot of right now advice that I see and just have this visceral reaction of, “Oh my gosh, I need to jump in and save or protect this person.” Often, the bad advice goes back to the voices in your head that are telling you why it's so risky or scary or out of reach to use a service like this. Because if you're like me and you grew up in a household where there was the wall phone, and telemarketers, and call centers and that just boomed over my childhood in life, you have a sensitivity to the idea of outsourcing, right?

Maddy Martin: I mean, I was an econ major. We talk about all the off-shoring that happened in the '80s, '90s, 2000s. There is a sensitivity, I think, in the generation of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, to get around the expectation that if you outsource, it's lower quality, it's going to not sound like your business and then the fear sets in. I'm not saying that there's a lot of bad advice out there, but that voice in your head is not necessarily serving your best interest, if that for you like me is your reference point oftentimes when people talk about outsource services.

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Doug: Yeah. Fair enough. My experience has been that my offshore consultants or people I work with and I'm talking about off-shore, I mean, okay, out of the office or remote workers has been good. It's actually been better than often having internal staff. That's been my experience for a whole bunch of reasons. Yeah. I've had no issues in that.

Maddy Martin: Yeah.

Doug: What are you most excited about in the next six, eight, 12 months? I mean, it's interesting that we're having this conversation because I spend so much time online and I've never come across a service like yours. I'm going to like, “Why have I not seen this before? I spend hundreds of hours looking for innovative ways to help my clients generate leads, qualify leads, generate sales.” This is exciting for me, but what's exciting to you and your industry and what you guys are doing?

Maddy Martin: What's exciting to me is just the level of connections between business software and how lightning of a load that's for small businesses. If in the past you're like, “Oh, I've got a CRM, and a calendar and I've got a Facebook profile, and I've got Twitter, and all of these different things and I'm using Slack in my business,” right? The most amazing thing is the integrations and collaboration. What I'm seeing is omnichannel, where no matter where someone is contacting a business, it's funneling into this sort of dedicated resource. I'm also seeing collaboration tools that are facilitating efficiency within small businesses. Tools like email collaboration, front, and things like that, where you can actually have a conversation within a thread without exposing that to the recipient of the email, right? Things like that are extremely powerful.

Maddy Martin: I also see a lot of benefits to these systems like Slack, where you can give someone limited access when you're working with contractors so that you don't have to switch yourself the channels that you're using for your business. In Slack, I can talk to a contractor on one channel, and they don't have to see all the other conversations that are going on that I may not want them privy to. That to me is a very powerful tool for protecting, but also enabling and speeding up the conversations that happen within and for your business. It allows you to operate a lot more effectively with outsourcing teams, right? Because what you don't want is the whole onboarding process. It's not just the cost of staff. It's also the training, and the facilitation and the software install, and all of this stuff.

Maddy Martin: If you have software that's lightweight and flexible, that allows you to give permissions at the right level, that is going to be a huge unlock, I think, for your business. Similarly, the data entry that you can eliminate when your systems talk to each other, or when you have workflows that trigger automatically. Those are things that will give you the peace of mind that when you've written that five-step email drip to that lead that didn't get scheduled a consultation or didn't convert from the consultation that you've written that well, you took your time, maybe you spent a Saturday writing that and then it runs.

Maddy Martin: If you make one change, then that's reflected in the emails that move forward from there, but you set up these things that demonstrate your expertise because maybe you're the one who wrote it, but then once you initiate that trigger, and you've tested it, you have the work of what would have been many to manually send these things really streamline into almost the work of none when you start scaling it.

Doug: Well, I think the interesting part is that you guys provide a personal component to all the digital tools and give the owner or the senior management a way to hand that off and just try to deal with what seems to be the most important aspects of the business only and then have the rest delegated to someone else.

Maddy Martin: Yeah. I mean, frankly, if you are only seeing yourself on the receiving or further down the line end, there's also a part that gets missed which is way, way, way at the top of the funnel where you can also sit as a business owner or operator and that is with your network, with your business development, with being in the community, with writing and getting yourself out there, being on podcasts or speaking or going to events. No one can network for you. That really doesn't exist.

Maddy Martin: I mean, there are some LinkedIn hacks maybe but really valuable networking happens with you as a human being. That's something you can't outsource. When you're thinking about, “What are the things that I need to protect, in terms of my time?” It's not just a matter of, “Oh, this person is technical support and has this very high-level skill and shouldn't be answering the phone.” It's also like that business owner, maybe they're capable of putting together in a state or a will or some plan, or drawing up architectural schemes, right? That person is also way, way up on the front line able to represent their business.

Maddy Martin: If you consume your time with things, it's just not being able to do the productive work for clients, but it's also a matter of it eats up time for you to explore new avenues for business and expand your network. Those are things that you also can't outsource.

Doug: Yeah, and that's the exact issue that this gentleman is talking about that's getting all these phone calls is dealing with is that he's got a couple of other business opportunities that are huge potential, and he's spending time answering calls and qualifying people instead of leveraging things that would bring him another six figures of revenue.

Maddy Martin: Yeah, the opportunity cost is immense.

Doug: Yeah.

Maddy Martin: I mean, hopefully, we'll be able to help that person because it's sort of like day and night and within 24 or 48 hours, his life has completely changed.

Doug: Well, that's super cool. So, a couple of questions, let you get back to helping out your clients and hopefully you're not running for a plane.

Maddy Martin: No.

Doug: Not today. Who's one guest I absolutely have to have on my podcast?

Maddy Martin: Well, I have to say I really have loved working with this very witty, creative, and production studio Mickey at Adweek. That's A-D-W-E-A-K. You can find him on Twitter. I'm looking at his profile right now. He's got, 74,000 followers. Maybe you've never heard of him, but he is absolutely hysterical. I would love to hear any conversation with him because he is a marketing maven, a very creative, great, funny writer, and sort of just like hiding there, being hysterical. If you discover him, your life is better. I'd vote for Mickey.

Doug: Okay. Now, are you able to make an introduction?

Maddy Martin: Yeah, absolutely.

Doug: That'd be great. The most important question of the entire podcast is, how can people reach out, connect with you, learn more about your services, and sign up for a free trial?

Maddy Martin: Yeah, so just visit us at smith.ai. That is our website. You can call us, you can chat with us, you can email us if you would like at [email protected] As I mentioned, we do a 20 call, 20 chat free trial up to 14 days. In addition to that, we also have the free AI chatbot and $100 off your first month of service with the code RMRF 100. That's RMRF 100.

Doug: Super cool. Thanks, Maddy. I really appreciate taking the time. Yup, my brain is spinning. This is a great opportunity for our listeners.

Maddy Martin: Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me, Doug.

Doug: There you go, listeners. I'm not sure whether I was the only person in the world that didn't know that Maddy and Smith.ai existed but I'm happy to have learned about their services. There are lots of opportunities to look at, look at your business, look at where your gifts and talents or missed opportunities. Is there a way that you could leverage a partner on a pay per service basis to grow your business?

Doug: I hope you enjoyed the episode. Make sure you check out the website, take Maddy up on her offer and we look forward to serving you on our next episode.

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Get in touch with Maddy:

Find out more about Maddy:

Links to other related podcasts and or blog posts:

HOW TO OUTSOURCE AND MAKE LIFE BETTER

HOW TO SET UP A VIRTUAL OFFICE