A few years ago, my brother was in Northern Virginia working political campaigns. During that time, there were periods when he and his coworkers had to call as many people as possible in a short amount of time.
At one point, my brother led a “get out the vote” campaign during which a staff of 50 made around 80,000 calls over four nights. And they did so while working only a couple hours each night, as well as some extra time in the morning. (He does note that he had a very efficient team.)
The only way they were able to accomplish such a high volume of calls in such a short period of time was through using software to help them make the calls.
There are other professions in which people need to call a large number of people in as little time as possible. One of them is sales. And a solution that is streamlining how people in sales do their jobs is PhoneBurner, a power dialer that reduces delays and increases engagement. Brothers John and Paul Rydell cofounded the company, motivated by a desire to help salesmen and women do their jobs more efficiently.
Saving Precious Time
PhoneBurner eliminates valuable time you might otherwise spend looking up numbers and dialing them by hand. You also avoid wasting time leaving voicemails for every person who does not answer your calls.
Instead, PhoneBurner leaves your pre-recorded messages while you move on to calling your next contact. That, however, is just one main advantage of a software that organizes and manages all of the pertinent information you need to know regarding each of your clients.
I signed up for a free trial with PhoneBurner and found the platform user-friendly and helpful. It’s also conveniently cloud-based, so it’s not necessary to install anything to use it.
With the free trial, I received 60 minutes of calling time and was able to test out all of PhoneBurner’s basic features. I also benefited from a free webinar that helped me become more familiar with the software.
I only used up my minutes when actually dialing people. They did not count toward any of the time I spent adding contacts, creating and uploading voicemails, or configuring my settings.
My first step with using PhoneBurner was to record several voicemails for various groups of customers. I don’t own my own business, but I am more than a little obsessed with coffee. So I pretended I had my own coffee roasting company.
I divided my contacts into three groups: one that likes extremely dark roasts, one that likes light roasts, and one that likes expensive, rare varieties of coffee. I then created three voicemails to leave for each group.
There are two ways you can upload a voicemail to your PhoneBurner account. One option is to call the number PhoneBurner provides and then enter your PIN. You say your voicemail over the phone, and the software uploads it to your account. Simply refresh the page and then you can play back the voicemail and name it.
The other way you can save voicemails is to record your own audio file and upload it yourself. I had some difficulty with this method since the required format is MP3. I struggled to find a way of saving an MP3 file that had a good enough quality—my recording sounded very tinny. Still, because it is easy to create voicemails by using the first method, I don’t see the second as being a significant obstacle.
You can delete your voicemails at any point, as well as rearrange their order. Just don’t forget to save your changes each time you alter something.
I next added contacts to my account. If you decide to add them individually, you simply click “Add Contact.” A box pops up where you can fill in the person’s information. There’s also a place where you can write any notes you have about your contacts, which is a very useful feature. For example, in my brother’s situation, it was important to have an idea of people’s party affiliations before calling them.
Because I had not yet created folders for my groups, the software automatically saved the information in the generic “Contacts” folder. Once the contacts are added, PhoneBurner displays each person’s location and the local time. This feature is advantageous since timing is important when it comes to calling people.
After adding my contacts, I created three folders and sorted my people into each one based on the type of coffee the groups would be likely to buy.
Import a List
Your other option for adding clients to your account is to import them from somewhere else. This method is obviously a lot more efficient if you have hundreds or thousands of contacts already saved in another location.
PhoneBurner can import info from a variety of locations, including Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo!, or Excel. I tested out Excel. PhoneBurner doesn’t accept XLSX files, so I simply saved my list as a CSV and had no problems uploading it.
After I added the file, PhoneBurner wanted to know what categories of information I had for each contact (phone number, location, etc.). I could add a custom field if PhoneBurner didn’t already have the option I needed. Then the information was added to my contact list in my account. The process was easy and smooth.
Another useful feature was having the option to save my categories as a template for future lists I might need to import.
Configuring Your Settings
As a new user, you’ll want to set up and customize your dial sessions before you start calling people. You can do so by going to Dial Sessions and clicking on PhoneBurner Settings.
In your settings, you can choose details such as how long you want the phone to ring before moving on to the next call or whether you want to hear the phone ringing while you call.
The Dispositions section allows you to determine the actions PhoneBurner will take when you press a button (e.g., send an email). PhoneBurner has a No Answer set of buttons, which include Busy Signal, Voicemail, etc., and a Live Answer set of buttons. You can edit and delete the buttons, as well as add your own.
Other features under PhoneBurner Settings are DNC, which is where your contacts will go when you click the Do Not Call or Bad Number button during your dial session. The Message Library lets you manage phone scripts (should you choose to create any) and follow up emails. Caller ID allows you to control what number people see when you call.
Dial sessions are, of course, the whole focus of all of your preparation.
To begin a dial session, you’ll go to your contacts and select the ones you wish to call during that session. When you click the “Begin Dial-Session” button, a box will open with a number for you to call to connect with PhoneBurner, as well as a PIN to enter after you do so.
PhoneBurner does not immediately begin calling your list once you’ve entered your PIN. Your session will start when you click the “Start Dialing” button.
Once you click that button, PhoneBurner will start calling the people on your list in the order in which you have arranged them. Your first contact will pop up on the screen with all of his or her information, as well as the buttons for you to choose from, depending on whether or not the person answers. Below is a screenshot of one of the test contacts with which PhoneBurner provides you.
During this process, PhoneBurner once again proved to work extremely well. I experimented with talking to people live, leaving voicemails, and clicking other buttons (such as Busy Signal). PhoneBurner then recorded the result of each call.
As you continue using the software, you can click on Dial Sessions in your account and see a dashboard that summarizes the history of your activity. Your Home Page also depicts your call history as in the form of a graph.
PhoneBurner does not require an annual contract and offers a free trial for both its individual and team accounts. What’s more, there is no credit card required, something I particularly appreciate. I recently paid an unintended fee to Audible because I didn’t keep track of when my 30-day free trial was ending. It’s nice not to have to worry about that happening again.
Once you decide you want to purchase PhoneBurner, you can opt for one of three plans. The most inexpensive plan is the 7.5 Hour Account. It comes with 7.5 hours of dialing and costs $67.50/month. This plan includes the features I’ve already described, as well as additional ones, such as integration with Salesforce.
The Unlimited Plan has unlimited minutes, includes the previously mentioned features, and also comes with three premium features. With the Unlimited Plan, you can record live calls, use your own email server, and have access to SmartSender. SmartSender is an email tracking feature that provides retargeting and includes real-time alerts.
The Team Account allows administrators to manage login data, assign and suspend seats, and brand their accounts. Naturally, admins will also be able to configure the account content and settings. The more seats you purchase for a Team Account, the more you save per seat. The prices range from $371.01/month for three seats to $3725/month for 50.
Making It Easier to Do Something Difficult
Sales is hard. Even when you know your product is great and believe in its value, it’s still challenging to convince someone else they should buy it. And that’s just part of the difficulty. Maximizing your efficiency is of the utmost importance. John and Paul Rydell both still work in the sales industry and have practical experience of the challenges salespeople face every day.
They have also prioritized improving their product. Frankly, that fact shows in PhoneBurner’s ease of use. If you’re an individual or small business looking for an affordable, user-friendly software to facilitate a high volume of calls, you need look no further.
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