When a Sales Director says, "No data, no decisions," you know there's an analytics story worth telling. After the Zoho Analytics 5.0 launch, Call Center Sales Pro's Marc Fishman told me how analytics changed their organization - and how Zoho factors in.

Zoho's Analytics 5.0 launch, Call Center Sales Pro, ZohoOne at ZohoDay 2020, describe their specialty

When a vendor does a product announcement blitz, it's rare for them to reach out with customer views. In the case of Zoho's Analytics 5.0 launch, they didn't reach out with one - they reached out with two.

After hearing Premo Group's views on Zoho's new BI platform, I got another take, via a video chat with Marc Fishman of Call Center Sales Pro (CCSP).

I always like talking to Fishman, Director of Sales and Marketing at CCSP. Fishman takes a practitioner's pride in optimizing his company's sales results - balancing the human side of management with the tech. But a few things have changed since we talked ZohoOne at ZohoDay 2020.

Some of that is a corporate story of different brands and company names - and acquisitions to bolster growth. Bottom line, as Fishman told me, they all roll into the Call Center Sales Pro umbrella:

We have a family of older call centers that we have since adopted into the fold... All that stuff kind of wraps up into Call Center Sales Pro, which is the parent.

CCSP provides a range of outsourced business operations services. They describe their specialty as "boutique-quality answering services to meet your unique needs." Businesses turn to CCSP as a way to avoid getting distracted by managing their own call centers. Outsourcing is often perceived, first and foremost, as a cost-control exercise. However, I'd argue "Focus on what you do best" is how to think about this type of outsourcing.

"Everything I do is based on metrics"

Which brings us to Fishman. Why would a Director of Sales and Marketing be my contact for a BI interview? Well, as Fishman admits, he is metrics-obsessed:

Everything I do is based on metrics. I still firmly believe in the mantra of 'no data, no decision.' So everything we do has to be measured somehow, someway. The only way I know how to drive is to take all of the data, throw it into a dashboard, and use that to help inform where we go and what we do.

And how does that translate to better business results for CCSP? Fishman:

When we make decisions in the company, in terms of vendors we want to work with employee onboarding, employee productivity - all of that has to run through analytics at some point; all of it has to be looked at and shared and combed over.

The whole point of running a call center in the first place is looking at the queue at all times, which is nothing but a giant analytic engine. It shows callers in, abandoned rate times and hold times, and all that type of stuff. I always equate it to the one kid in The Matrix, who looks at the screen. He's like, 'Yeah, you see that girl in the red dress?' That's Janet [our CEO] in front of her queue. She says it's like having a TV 24 hours a day, wherever she happens to be. So I try to emulate that for the teams that I run.

Is Zoho Analytics the main interface for all of this?

Yes, I'd say nine times out of 10... I have a main sales dashboard that we look at once a week as a team. It gives me a finger on the pulse. And then it's just a matter of me grabbing my enterprise support tech, when I have ten free minutes, and saying, 'Hey, I have some new metrics I want to throw in there.'

What would be an example of a new metric?

One of the things we started tracking inside the CRM is the productivity of my sales team members individually, by a couple of different standards. And having that up on a graph would be great, too.

Do Fishman's team members access Zoho Analytics dashboards also?

Yes. Most of my team relies on me pulling it up when we're on our Monday morning calls, but it's all available to them. And the platform, internally to CCSP, is being used by more than just me. One of our team members uses it to monitor traffic and completed tasks in Zoho Desk, and productivity of the customer service team, which includes our programmers and a few other people.

So when they fill out tickets, he's looking at a dashboard that he made... I know that's allowed us to free up resources, as they're able to knock tickets out one at a time, then they can see when there's going to be ebbs and flows and say, 'Hey, you can go turn off and work over here,' or 'Go handle the queue, while so-and-so's handling the next account.

Zoho Analtics 5.0 - DataPrep stands out for CCSP

CCSP has been using Zoho Analytics since 2019. All the senior staff have access to it. But there's loads of new functionality to absorb in Zoho Analytics 5.0. Do any features jump out to Fishman? Number one, he says, is Zoho DataPrep. Zoho bills DataPrep as a standalone product, tightly integrated to Zoho Analytics:

Zoho Analytics users can use Zoho DataPrep from within Zoho Analytics seamlessly. This integration vastly improves the ETL (extract-transform-load) capabilities of Zoho Analytics, as you can connect, clean, transform and enrich data from inside Zoho Analytics itself.

But Fishman has something a bit different in mind. He thinks Zoho DataPrep might be the way to provide CCSP customers access to their own dashboards:

Some of these new tools that they're versioning out with DataPrep, there's the potential for us to pivot and make Zoho analytics become a potential customer-facing app - which would be revolutionary to what we're trying, if I can pull it off.

Give us a sneak preview of that!

So they showed me the demo of what DataPrep is, and what it encapsulates. Immediately when they said, 'You can plug in almost anything to it; you can import and connect with APIs and whatnot.' Well, all of our data right now for the call center side is run through this proprietary app called Fusion. And I just asked the universe, so to speak, 'Well, what happens if instead, we took all the tables, and everything that comes out of our call center data, and we fed that through DataPrep, and built its own analytic dashboard system?'

Then comes the super-intriguing part:

If I had access to the data, if I could pull that down [into Zoho Analytics]. If I had that ability, and we could then create individual dashboards, and say, 'Hey, take the largest customer's data, pull that out, and put that in this dashboard, so that they have access to it.' Because to be fair and honest, Fusion is not designed by designers. It's functional, but it's ugly. Zoho's decidedly not ugly.

If it works well; if it's responsive; if it's quick to set up, we could make that an added service that we could offer to clients of a certain nature. A "John's plumbing" type company might not care about this call data. But I bet you a hospitalist group that might be working with us for five or 10,000 minutes a month, they absolutely would. While they do have access to particular back-end systems, the more we could run through Zoho, the easier and better life would be.

The wrap - KPIs should empower, not micro-manage

Given that Fishman lives by metrics, I wanted to know: which metrics are his favorites? In many industries, old school volume metrics have given way to different types of KPIs. Fishman says he does track email and call volume, but only over the course of the week. They pair that off against the pipeline. They also have a confidence metric, on a scale of 0 to 100 - anything over 80 is a deal they hope to close that month. Fishman is always tracking the 80+ accounts.

Fishman also puts the whole pipeline on top of his Zoho Analytics dashboard. He can immediately see who is in conversation, which clients have been quoted soft numbers, and so on. He also tracks lead cost, and sales by source - to correlate/contrast with marketing spend. Fishman also looks at the age of leads, to better project time to close.

To me, the tricky part of these metrics is making sure your teams feel empowered by them, and not micro-managed and over-supervised. Fishman acknowledged one long time employee struggled at first with the tracking, but he says the key here is to make sure the sales team knows you're a resource to help them, not to hound them:

I'm here as a resource for them; I'm not Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross. This is not "always  be closing." Yeah, we know this is a grind. So for me, all I need is proof that the grind is happening. And that when things aren't working, that we have the tools available to us to assess where we can improve.

Fishman told me about a talented employee they hired a year ago, who had never worked in a call center or sales. But for whatever reason, he wasn't hitting the mark saleswise. After looking at his numbers, the amount of calls and emails were on track. But listening to the calls, Fishman figured out his new team member was rushing through his pitch. Once he slowed it up, the deals came in. Smart use of the tools has paid off:

The team really appreciates the tools that Zoho provides them now. They discovered the email blast tool inside Zoho CRM. We got in the habit on Friday afternoons, sending a 'Have a great weekend' to all the leads that we haven't talked to in as many months. That always shakes loose three or four or five people come Monday morning that are like, 'Yeah, I remember, you guys. Call centers? Yeah, we might need that now.' Just having those tools, having the templates, being able to create? It's hard not to love.

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