Monthly Archives: April 2013

Teaching yourself to think of what you never think of

Categories: Of Interest | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Teaching yourself is interesting. Most of us go to school, and the teachers cram our minds full with facts, procedures, rules, and mostly boredom. If you go to school in India or the Middle East, their narrow minded approach to teaching will not teach you problem solving. You will know how to memorize a bunch of dry and boring facts, and not have any good ideas how to interpret those facts unless you are from a very fancy family. If you can interpret, it will be a very “by the book” type of interpretation. Americans typically learn to think, but don’t know anything. Technical skills are dismally lacking, and 90% of our technical staff in our country is Chinese, Indian or from some other foreign country. In any case, putting aside the intellectual limitations of each country in question, learning how to think for yourself is a critical skill to have when you are running a business.

If you run a business, you will quickly learn that the type of questions, problems and issues you have are usually not covered in that comprehensive course in business you took in school. You learned about crunching numbers, analyzing trends, best practices, and other bookish subject matter. But, what do you do when your employees are talking back to you, your clients are unresponsive, and nothing is getting done on time? Will your book knowledge help you now? In some ways it could, but god forbid you run into something that “wasn’t covered” in your text book. Now it is time to think on your own.

The big question is how to become a master of the art of thinking for yourself? The art is all about learning to think of what you didn’t used to ever think of. Many people will have an answer within reach, but think of everything except for that optimal answer. So, how do you get good at finding answers?

If you are constantly challenging your mind to more and more problems, and solving those problems. If you are always interacting with others and hearing their input (assuming they are intelligent), your mind and thinking will expand, and you will get those good solutions coming to mind faster and better every time.

Maybe we as business people should write books about handling REAL problems. Maybe the world needs to see case studies about handling real problems.

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Now is the perfect moment

The one out of three rule

Categories: Hiring & Firing, Outsourcing Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It seems to be the case in most companies that engage in some sort of outsourcing. I noticed that 1 out of 3 workers seems to do their work in a way that I like. If I try six workers at a company for various tasks, I will like 2. Is it possible to find a company where everyone is amazing? I wish! Well, my company hires amazing people, so with us, you can have your cake and eat it to! But, we are special in case you didn’t notice (or, at least we like to think we are).

Even at a place that offered chiropractic work, I noticed that I liked exactly 1 out of 3 of the practitioners. Bizarre. So, there is merit to the 1 out of 3 rule. The trick is to make sure you are ALWAYS working with workers who are favorable to you. If you do, the you will:

Have good dreams at night.
Feel happier
Notice that you start whistling for no apparant reason
Do nice deeds for other without your usual ulterior motivations
And more…

Hire the right people and be happy!

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Hiring people who can really think

Roadblocks in the BPO outsourcing profession

Categories: BPO, Hiring & Firing | Tagged | Leave a comment

I love meeting people at new companies and talking to them. Some people are so interesting. It is like opening a box of chocolates with fillings. You never know what you will get when you bite into one. Will it be cherry, caramel, or in the case of some companies — a disconnected phone? But, there are also many roadblocks as well. I have various criteria that I use when selecting a new company. Since I have more experience now than before, I interview more companies and expect more, because I know how happy I will be if I pick someone good!

It all starts with the initial phone call. The salesperson is always so nice (if you can reach them which can sometimes be hard). I skip the companies that don’t answer their phone. I also skip the companies where I can’t talk to a salesperson easily. If they call me back and sound promising then MAYBE I’ll consider them if I’m in a good mood. But, after talking to them, I realize that I need to DIG and see what I find.

My old company started me with a passable programmer. He quit, and was replaced by an idiot. I fired the idiot and the boss gave me another idiot, and then another. There were problems — I asked them to fix the problems, and they said the problems was with the server.

“You’re FIRED”

I tried one company who had a great programmer, but was so BUSY, that work didn’t get done on schedule. How will this love affair continue when I can’t predict their next move and its ETA? My verdict was:

“Indecision and Hmmmm”

A previous company took me on, but then added fraudulent fees to the bill. 3 hours extra for meetings that never took place, and another 6 hours for meetings that took place where the outcome of the meetings was never applied. No consent to pay for meetings was ever given. I’m paying for WORK buddy! Then they tried to charge me 42 hours worth of work to do a project they bid at 12 hours on, but never followed directions on.

“You’re FIRED” — NEXT!!!

At one BPO company, everything was great. I agreed to hire them and all was fine… Until I read the contract. 40 hour minimum — the salesman never mentioned that before. Hmmm. Should I disqualify them from round 1?

I told them

“I like your company, but this is too rigid for this project — maybe next time!”

Another company had a great boss. I talked with him, and we got along. Then, we had a phone meeting with the programmer overseas. The boss kept interrupting and telling the programmer not to answer my questions. What kind of interview is this? The whole point is to get my questions answered, right?
“You’re FIRED!”

The next BPO company was better, but they said they had 40 programmers who knew a particular language. Upon my next call to the project manager, I found out they only had 5. Disqualify? What would Donald Trump do in this situation? But, I liked them, so I gave them the go ahead. Nice people — great communication — super pricing — even better terms! I was able to dial a California number and be directly connected to India where their project manager answered on the second ring and spoke perfect English! Wow! Now that is service!

“We have a winner — YOU’RE HIRED”

There was only one relatively insignificant piece of misinformation here — so far. Everything else was wonderful!

So, as you can see, when you are TRYING to hire a company, and trying to work with them, many companies seem to put a bunch of road blocks in the way of YOU getting your work done. The secret here is to see the road blocks early on, so you can get rid of these bozo’s (American slang for clowns) and move on! I hope you learned something from my colorful experience dealing with the most stubborn and impossible types of BPO Outsourcing companies.

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Power in business is about having choices

Techniques for interviewing outsourcing companies

Each rep gives a different answer!

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

When I interview companies to hire them for various outsourcing processes, one thing always comes true: If I talk to two different people at the same company, the answer is always different. The salesperson tells me one thing and the project manager tells me something completely different.

So, who should you believe? My experience is that salespeople are usually poorly trained. Unless the person doing sales has extensive technical knowledge, I would not believe a word they say, even about easy things. I had one company tell me that they had forty programmers who knew a particular language. When I talked to the project manager, the answer changed to ten. A similar situation happened with another company.

Interview the salesperson to see how they were trained
When interviewing companies, interview the salesperson, NOT to get answers, but to see how they are trained, and how accurate / honest they are. If you can catch them making mistakes, then you know the company is not perfect. However, in outsourcing, NOBODY is perfect. So, if they made one small mistake instead of three huge omissions or blatant lies, perhaps you are in reasonably good hands.

Interview the project manager for actual answers
When I interview project managers and technical managers, they are never as happy or cheery as the salespeople. The answers are often very negative and pessimistic. Interviewing these technical types is a great way to verify point by point what the salesperson said.

Assessing the company
I am very unclear as to whether or not you can assess the quality of a company based on the quality of the sales staff. However, if anyone at a particular company is poorly trained and gives out poor answers to questions, that is a very bad sign. We are all human and people make mistakes, so I would not dismiss a company that has one or two screws loose. However, I would keep a screw count, so that you can compare them to other companies you interviewed. You need to keep track of how competent each person at the company is — that means keep a scoresheet for at least two salespeople per company, and two project managers per company. If you can talk to actual workers, that is good too, because companies normally hide their shameful workers from the public — and for good reason!

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Hiring people who can really think

Are you tired of outsourcing to India?

It is fun to do the impossible

Categories: Motivation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Most people think that they can not do the impossible. But, we have seen sales of particular products skyrocket recently. I hired a new salesperson with a new approach and things are selling like hotcakes. Things that we sold one per year are selling three per day! Wow!

So, after I saw those new sales coming in for several consistant days, I started to believe that the impossible was possible. Yes, it is fun to do the impossible. But, once you do one impossible thing, then you start to believe that other impossible things are possible. It is just that there needs to be a shift somewhere. You could change how you think, or change your approach — which basically boils down to a change in thought that precedes the action.

But, since business is up this year, I wonder how much business could go up next year. So, now I am beginning to believe that my site stats could double in a year. This year we have 25% more unique visitors than last year. So, perhaps we could double next year if we find the critical piece of information which could be responsible for the increase. An increase in quality could make the difference.

I used to think that I was near the maximum potential of what I could achieve. Now, I am beginning to think that there is no end in site. Limitations can really limit your success. And the limitations start upstairs — thats right — in your brain and your consciousness.

So, I look forward to that magical time in the future — whether it is this year, next year, or next month, when we make a breakthrough, figure out how to double our stats, and do the impossible.

What can you think of doing that is impossible?

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What you never thought of is the correct answer

Categories: Marketing | Tagged | Leave a comment

I love to think, and I think a lot — or at least I think I do. Some people say I think to much. But, I enjoy thinking. Should I be a dunce like them to make them happy? Duh!!! But, I have been learning a lot about thinking. The most important part of how you think is what you don’t think about.

Today I was thinking about how my pricing formula for particular areas on one of my directories doesn’t make any sense. The logic I used to calculate prices had been created years ago, when I was in a much earlier stage of evolution in my business. Now, I am realizing that there are so many factors that could be included to make the formula much more intelligent. But, I didn’t — because I didn’t think of that.

So, whenever you are thinking over a problem, ask yourself, what am I not thinking of, rather than regurgitating ideas that you have already thought through hundreds of times.

Step two, is to compare ideas with a smart friend. Do you have a smart friend? I have a few. Each one has a completely different take. But, one of my friends has opinions that just take me by surprise. He says things that I would never think of that kind of make sense. Wow! Mind expanding thoughts by the dozen with that guy. He opens up the windows of possibility within me.

So instead of pricing an area based on how many people have a high position in that area, there are many other analytics which it never occured to us to use:

# of jobs delegated in that area
clicks in the area
quality of the listings in that area

Another analytics that never occured to me was reviews. But, since so many service providers ask for reviews, the only reliable quantitative source of reviews would be negative reviews.

The critical piece of information I learned is: If I compared areas of similar sizes, the areas with a higher number of top notch service providers got more cumulative jobs than the areas with fewer numbers of quality service providers. My assistant guessed that this might be the case. Additionally, I learned that the jobs were shared between the best service providers and average service providers. So, having high quality people in a particular area serves as a type of an anchor to attract business to an entire area of my site that would be shared by many of its members. Fascinating.

So, once again, what I didn’t think of, happened to be the most important piece of information that I learned about today.

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Do you think about the long term business?

How good is your salesperson? How much difference does it make?

Categories: Call Center | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I have been calling around and realizing that the quality of the salespeople I am talking to really varies. The calls I made recently were to the United States. Most of the companies I called had back offices overseas.

The incompetent rep
One company had a sales representative that couldn’t answer even simple questions — yet, he kept calling me.

The unpolished novice
Another company had a lady who called me. I called her back and she announced her name when she answered the call, but not what company she was calling from, so I had to guess. Not very professional.

Misrepresenting your company
It is common for sales representatives to give misinformation during sales calls which can lead to long term mistrust. If you were lied to in the beginning, why should you trust that company? Other salespeople are evasive which is almost as bad as lying.

A seasoned pro
I spoke with a very seasoned sales person who knew all the answers and had a very extensive technical knowledge. He was someone who inspired trust. You need to understand that clients want someone honest, helpful, and knowledgeable. If you hire minimum wage people to answer the phone, you might be doing more damage than good. If you hire dishonest sales people to answer the phone, you might be damaging your reputation. But, what about hiring a seasoned pro?

Can you afford NOT to have a seasoned pro?
The company with the seasoned salesperson had overseas programmers who had similar qualifications to the other companies, but were able to charge more, and have more rigid terms. Why is this? A lot has to do with how they present themselves. Having a great sales person allows you to charge a lot more. It sets your company apart from the pack. Nobody wants to deal with a band of incompetent losers — people want professionals. The question is, do you have the money to pay for a seasoned professional to represent you on the phone? Or, how much will it cost you NOT to have a seasoned pro answer your phone?

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Having good salespeople can help you attract clients for call centers

Don’t interview the salesperson

How to find clients for call centers — good salespeople

Categories: Call Center, Popular Posts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bad salespeople are a curse
I talk to salespeople all day long. Honestly, I am sick of the dishonest ones. I am also sick of incompetent salespeople. Additionally, I can’t stand it when salespeople give me wrong information. I can’t tell who is a liar, and who is merely stupid. What kind of company image do you want? Do you want your prospects to think you are a bunch of liars, bums, or fools? My recommendation is to get honest and capable salespeople, and your company will have a great image and you will find clients for your call center!

Training is everything
Many times I call companies up, and talk to the salespeople. The only question I want to ask them is, “Who trained you?” Of course, both of us know that the answer is that NOBODY trained them. Your company image will look very foolish if you don’t train your sales staff well. If you want to know how to get clients for call centers — start with training your sales staff.

Have redundant salespeople
Most companies make it challenging to find a salesperson. They want to prevent you from buying something. That is a very interesting business strategy. I do not use that strategy at my company — but, if avoiding your prospects helps you succeed — then, all the more power to you! I think it makes sense to have more than enough salespeople at your company. Maybe you should have 20% more sales people than you need. That way, if a great prospect calls who wants to offer you a million dollar deal, you will not miss that opportunity because everyone is out to lunch, dinner, out sick, or talking to another prospective client.

Of all the companies I have talked to
I would honestly say, that with Indian companies, I am unhappy with them in almost all regards. The sloppiness is attrocious. If you wonder why you are not getting jobs, it is because of the sloppiness that goes on in India. Nobody will trust a company in India unless they know for sure that you are whatever the opposite of sloppy is. And most overseas companies will not give you a chance. But, with American companies, their salespeople are usually horrible. Perhaps only 10% of companies that I have dealt with have good salespeople. The companies that are growing and doing well, normally have either acceptable or high quality sales people. I suggest you look into improving your sales staff today!

So now, I hope you understand how to acquire clients for call centers by having great sales people.

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How to get clients for call centers — Contracts!

Categories: Call Center, Popular Posts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

I can imagine that it might be hard running a small call center. Imagine that you have 20 seats, and 5 are empty. Then, the phone rings and someone wants 20 seats filled right away. How do you hire all of those people and squeeze them into your little office? Do you put them on the roof or on the patio? Perhaps the sidewalk? Call centers rely on contracts, and they are necessary when the call center owner has to invest in hiring new staff members and training. However, many BPO companies are too pushy trying to get strangers to sign contracts.

I wanted a small call center process done
I remember that when I needed a small BPO job done, one call center in Bangalore tried to get me to sign a year long outsourcing contract. I said that I didn’t even know them or how good they were. How can I sign a contract? I didn’t know how long the job would last, or how long I would last tolerating them. They basically lost me because they were too rigid about their contract. Sure, big businesses use contracts and we all want to emulate big businesses. But, small clients don’t always want a contract — no matter how flexible it is.

Small clients are valuable
Most businesses want big clients including call centers. They ignore the little clients in search of big ones. Then, they lose the little clients, to satisfy the big client, and then lose the big client, and end up with nothing. My business has almost all small clients. We have three people on staff, plenty of outsourced work on the side, and healthy profit margins. Small clients can be profitable if you manage them efficiently — we do! Small clients have fewer choices of who they can work with because most call centers are so restrictive about their contracts. If you can be flexible, you can attract lots of small clients. You can even charge a little more to offer them flexibility, and they will have no choice but to accept.

Small clients can become big clients if you fertilize them
If you give good service to small clients, those small clients would have a new tool to grow. Remember, that you are helping other people’s companies grow, and not just trying to make money from them. If you help them grow, then when they become a bigger business, they will give you more business as well. They might even sign a contract a few months down the line. Additionally, if you give people good service, you will get referrals which will help you get more clients in the long run.

The bottom line about call center contracts
Call center contracts are important to make sure your clients will commit to a term of service. In the beginning, unless you are flooded with huge clients, try to make your contracts short-term, easy to read, and more beneficial to the client. That way, the client will have a positive feeling about your BPO. If the terms of the contract only benefit your BPO and not the client, the client is likely to hire some other call center service. A two month contract seems like a good minimum term to begin with. If your client is satisfied with your service, then you can go month to month, or have them sign a half year or a year long contract.

So, the moral of the story is — think less about contracts, and more about helping clients get what they want. They will be more likely to stay with you if you cater to them. And if they stay, then your business will grow. If you scare them away, then your 20 seater call center will have 20 empty seats!

I hope that answers your question about how to get clients for call centers by being flexible about contracts.


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Now is the perfect moment

Categories: Motivation | Tagged | Leave a comment

Unfortunately in business, we are not in control of the daily functioning of our business. Critical employees get sick, quit, or don’t do what they are supposed to do. We have subcontractors who have pipelines for when they get things done as well. Your computer project might take three months to finish if they are on schedule which rarely happens. So, doing things now is not always possible.

I find that I am doing too many things now. I am good at optimizing my work, to do the most critical task now. It keeps me busy all the time, because there is always something critical to do.

But, what about those things that are of vital imporance that you should be doing now, that you just don’t do? You should do them now!

Let’s forget about doing things, and get geared up for higher consciousness. In the mundane world we always talk about doing, doing, and doing. Do things now. Be successful. Successful people do things now. I say, pick the most important thing that you can do, and do that now. In life, we have limited hours, and can not do everything. your ability to pick the most important tasks and do them first will be a rewarding skill. But, what else can we do now besides active things? Conditioning our subconscious for success. Do that now too!

Conditioning your subconscious is not something that you do. It is a non-activity. It is actively passive, or passively active. Maybe that is how the gurus would describe it. Are you afraid to do something that you need to do? Are you limiting yourself mentally by some thought patterns that you have? Do you have limiting thoughts that prevent you from reaching your true potential? While your subcontractors are dragging their heels getting your work done — work on your consciousness — now!

By evolving your consciousness, you can rise to that next level in business much more quickly than from overworking yourself into a coma. Remember, if you are a head of an organization, you are not the arm. Someone else should be your arm and leg. They should do the doing, and you should do the visioning. Condition your thinking to rising to that next level — I think that is what you should do now.

Getting back to spirituality — now is the only moment that exists — so spiritually there is no difference between doing something, and doing it now. Doing something later = not doing it. On the other hand deciding that you are going to do something, and deciding when you are going to do something is like doing something now, without actually doing the action now. The decision which overcomes the inertia happens now, and hence starts the process. Kabbalistically, once that decision is made — it is already done.

To quote one of the programmers that I fired last year — “It is done”

I heard those words only to discover that my suspicion that nothing had been done was correct. This happened partly because that programmer was a liar, and partly because he didn’t — “Do it now!”

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Do you think about the long term business?

Categories: Outsourcing Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I interview BPO companies all the time. The one thing that I have noticed, is that companies typically are not looking at their long run growth potential. It is all about twisting someone’s arm into a contract that is not beneficial to the client. Or, other companies get you on board and then slack off, and don’t get your work done.

If you want to have a big BPO business one day, you need MORE clients. How can you get more clients, if you scare half of them away before they become clients? How can you get more clients if you are lazy about getting their work done on time? Do you think about that? Try getting all the clients you can keep on THEIR terms, and try keeping them. Hire new people to do their work if it is economically feasable. The next thing you know, you will have a bigger business.

Long term thinking is more than having a formal business plan. It is more than understanding certain analytics and metrics. It is about creating a vacuum effect to draw in new clients and keep them.

A new client is like a seed. They can grow into a bigger client and tell their friends. One client can become ten times their original size if you get referrals, and referrals from referrals.

By having enough people on staff to get your work done, you are creating a metaphysical opening in the universe to let more business in. How can you get more business if you don’t have the resources to handle it? And whose fault is it if you DECIDE not to have the resources to get the work done for your clients? It is your decision.

You decide to grow, or not to grow by how you allocate your staff resources, and how you treat your clients.

If you want constant growth, you need to always have at least 10% more staff resources than you can use. That way you are never too busy for a client. Most people think that is wasteful. But, what do you think? Do you want to grow? How else can you do it?


One famous Rabbi was asked, “Rabbi, I am a small potato who wants to become a big potato in business — what should I do?”. The Rabbi thoughtfully pulled on his long beard and gazed inquisitively at the wall for what seemed like a very long time. He made many different facial expressions during this time. He crinkled his face, then opened his eyes wide, then looked up. Then, it was back to staring at the floor. It was obvious that he was deep in thought. He said, “Hmmm” a few times, and then cleared his throat. Finally, he remarked, “If you want to become a big potato, put more dirt around you!”

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I’m going to succeed because I’m crazy enough to think I can?

Categories: Popular on Google+, Semi-Popular, Success | Tagged | Leave a comment

I read these words on the empowerment network. These words are actually very deeply philosophical despite how simplistic they sound. Most of us do not succeed because we think that we can not. The neighborhood we grow up in has most of the positive and negative attributes that will haunt us for the rest of our lives. If you grow up in a rich area, you assume that you will be rich like your daddy, right? If you grow up in a slum, you assume that as an adult that you will remain there. Sure, we dream of winning the lottery, and many work their way out of poverty. When I turned 23 and graduated from school, I realized that I would be lucky to make a quarter of what my father had made because my skills were not in demand and because I was not valued.

We all have inner blockages within our mind that prevent us from doing many things. So, maybe the topic of this blog entry should be on overcoming those blockages.

I am overweight and have been for years. But, I love nature and love hiking. I go to Yosemite national park in California regularly. It is a long drive, but my passion drives me to go there. I love to hike up the mist trail to Vernal Falls. I feel very winded and exhausted every time I go up that high. Sometimes it is dangerous going down those steps so exhausted because I lose my balance much more easily when tired. My goal had always been to make it to the next waterfall — Nevada Falls. But, I couldn’t picture myself getting that far. So, after several attempts at this monsterous trail, I made it 20 minutes farther than Vernal Falls. The thing which we should note here is that my attempt that got me 20 minutes farther created a new possibility in my mind. The new thought is “I can”. I did not have that thought before that point in time. So, the very next time I went up the mist trail, I made it all the way to the viewpoint for Nevada Falls. I made it! Now, I understand subconsciously that I really can do it, and that consciousness opens up doors to possibilities.

In business most people think that they cannot start a business. Most of them are right because they don’t have the skills. But, many people who do have the skills also think this way. They might need to brush up on marketing and management, but many of these people COULD start a business if they took it seriously. People who do have a business have serious limitations in what they think is possible, or what they are comfortable with. The limitation starts with a thought, or a type of consciousness that you have where the type of success you could achieve doesn’t exist.

So, how do you break this type of limited consciousness. I don’t call it negative consciousness — just limited. You have to try new things. If you want to expand in a particular direction, but going that direction, your consciousness will adapt to include that direction in its set of possible things that you can do. Once you achieve a small success, your consciousness will record that in the consciousness database, and a bigger success will look a lot more possible — just like me reaching the viewpoint of Nevada Falls was not initially possible, and then became thinkable and possible. It was a few months after I thought it was possible that it actually happened.

My parting comment is that I always joke about there being a Starbucks up on the Nevada Falls mountain trail. I always say, “Isn’t there a Starbucks in another 20 minutes or so?”. In real life there are no businesses up there, and only a bathroom building near one of the bridges two miles up. Maybe my goal should be to bring soft drinks up that mountain and sell canned starbucks and coca-cola up there so that my joke comes true. Unfortunately that would be illegal — and I would be responsible for the trash created as well.

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