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The PPP Loan Extension Offers the Gift of Time: Use it Wisely

On March 30, 2021 President Biden extended  the PPP loan application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program.  The extension pushes the deadline from March 31, 2021 to May 31, 2021.  It includes PPP loans for nonprofits as well. In addition to the PPP loan extension, this also allows for an extension of the SBA PPP processing time to June 30, 2021. 

This is a major win for small businesses, as the program’s PPP loan forgiveness provides businesses a way to keep going despite the ongoing economic fallout from the pandemic. 

The PPP Loan Extension is a Major Win For Small Businesses in More Ways than One

This serves two purposes. First, it allows more small businesses time to get their PPP loan application completed and turned in. At the same time, it gives the Small Business Administration more time to deal with any technical issues that may pop up with SBA PPP loans funding and processing. 

Why Is a PPP Loan Extension Needed?  

An extension is necessary to provide more support for businesses while the U.S. population is getting vaccinated for COVID-19 over the coming months.

It will give businesses more time to apply loans.  This includes both first-time loans, and even a second draw PPP loan if applicable.  The second draw is a second PPP loan available to some businesses that have already received one Paycheck Protection Program loan.  Those who have issues with the application process will also be able to spend more time working through those problems.

Other PPP Loan Changes

Other recent changes will help even more applicants.  This includes the smallest of small businesses, as well as minority-owned businesses and those located in rural communities. A two-week period in March was set aside only for businesses with fewer than 20 employees to apply.

That time is over, but still helpful is the fact that the administration is also now calculating the loan formula for sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals differently.  Furthermore,  gone are the restrictions that prevent business owners with prior felony convictions not related to fraud, or those who have been delinquent on federal student loans, from receiving assistance. 

Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN.

What Can You Do In the Meantime? 

There is no question that the PPP loan program is a savior for many small businesses.  Still, the money doesn’t come automatically. What if you need money right now? What if you can’t wait for the sometimes long PPP loan application process? Maybe the PPP loan won’t be enough. How can you supplement it? 

Here are some ideas to either bridge the gap or take the place of a PPP loan.  

Credit Line Hybrid

The credit line hybrid is business financing that does not require security.  It is available to pretty much anyone for any type of business expense. You can use it for real estate, equipment, working capital, and even startup expenses.  Furthermore, there is no down payment, and you do not have to provide income documentation. It is completely no-doc financing. 

You need to have personal credit of 680 or above, but keep reading if you don’t because there are still options. .  Also, there cannot be any late payments in the past 12 months, there can be no open collections or bankruptcies, and there should be less than 4 inquiries in the past 6 months on your consumer credit report.  There also have to be at least 2 open credit cards with a $2,000 limit or higher with 2 years of good payment history. 

If you do not meet these requirements, including the minimum credit score, you can take on a credit partner who does meet them. 

You can get up to $150,000, and often interest rates are as low as 0% for the first 6 to 18 months.

401(k) Financing 

The 401K financing program offered by Credit Suite is a flexible and powerful way for a new or existing business or franchise  to leverage assets that are in a 401(k) plan or IRA. These are assets which are tied up in stocks. 

It doesn’t take long either.  In as little as 3 weeks you can actually invest a portion of these funds into your own business. Then, you not only have more control over the performance of your retirement plan assets, but you also have the working capital you need.

This type of program even has the blessing of the IRS. In fact, they  have their own name for it. It’s called a Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS). 

Do You Qualify for a ROBS? 

Surprisingly, this type of financing is pretty easy to get. You do not have to submit financials or have good credit to get approval. In fact, all the lender will ask for is a copy of your two most recent 401(k) statements.

If the plan has a value of more than $35,000,  you can get approval. This is true even if you have really bad personal credit. You can get however much of your 401(k) is “rollable.” Sometimes, you can secure a low-interest credit line or loan for 100% of your current 401(k) value.

The plan you use cannot be from a business where you currently work. It will have to be from previous employment. Also, you can’t still be contributing to it. 

Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN.

Business Revenue Lending

If your business has consistent revenue of $120,000 per year or more, you may qualify for business revenue lending. Lenders verify revenue using bank statements.  There can be no recent bankruptcies, but the minimum credit score to qualify is as low as 500.  

A business must also be in operation for a year or more, and they must do more than 5 small transactions each month to get business revenue financing. 

Merchant Cash Advance

If your business accepts credit card payments and you have at least a 500 FICO, you could get up to $750,000 in a merchant cash advance. Credit rates are usually lower compared to traditional financing as well.  

There must be $100,000 or more per year in credit card sales, and typically you can get approval equal to one months credit card financing volume. 

Account Receivable Financing

Outstanding account receivables can also be a source of funding for your business. Get as much as 80% of receivables advanced in less than 24 hours. You get the rest of the accounts receivable amount once you collect full payment for the invoice. Closing takes 2 weeks or less. 

Receivables should be with the government or another business. Getting financing with receivables from individuals is not as easy. If you also have purchase orders, then you can get financing to have those filled. You won’t need to use your cash flow to do so.

Enterprise SBA Loans

For these loans you have to have collateral worth up to at least 50% of the loan amount, but you only need a FICO of 620.  There also can be no bankruptcies in the past 4 years.  Only for profit companies qualify, and they must have positive trends in sales growth. Generally amounts are available of up to $12 million with terms up to 25-years. 

Credit Suite can help you get funding with these options and show some other possibilities.

Use the Time Allowed By the PPP Loan Extension Wisely

Getting funding for your business is not always easy.  There is more to it than just applying for a loan. Business credit can get sticky.  Having expert help can save you a lot of time and money.  While you are waiting for your Paycheck Protection Program loan, consider working with a business credit expert to help you better position your business to access the funding it needs quicker and easier in the future.  

A business credit expert can help make the most of the PPP loan extension time.  They can work with you to evaluate the fundability of your business. The stronger your fundability, the more likely you are to get funding with the best rates and terms available. You can get a free consultation to help ensure your business is set up properly to build fundability

An expert can help you evaluate the many factors that affect fundability.  There are over 100.  With so many factors, it can be hard to figure out where you stand without an expert. They can work with you to figure out where your business falls short and help you improve.  Fundability is a tangled web affected by many things, and the time and money saved having an expert walk you through it is extremely valuable. 

Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN.

What Else Can a Business Credit Expert Help With?

They can also walk you through the steps to establishing a business credit profile separate from your personal credit profile. Once that is done, they can help you find accounts that will report to that business credit profile.  

This is key, because many vendors do not report.  Those that do report, do not make it easy to find out that they do.  A business credit expert has relationships with a number of vendors.  They can help you find the ones that will successfully help you build your business credit score. 

PPP Loan Extension: You Still Have Time

Thanks to the PPP Loan extension that President Biden signed, you still have time to get your PPP loan application in.  No matter how fast you act however, some things never change. Especially with the PPP extension on the SBA side, you will likely be waiting a bit for your approval and to actually receive PPP funds.  

If you need money right now, try one of these funding options.  Then, put to good use the time the Paycheck Protection Program extension allows you.  Use it to get in touch with a business credit expert.  It’s a great time to start the process of building strong business fundability. The stronger your fundability, the easier it is to fund your business whatever the world throws your way, even a global pandemic. 

The post The PPP Loan Extension Offers the Gift of Time: Use it Wisely appeared first on Credit Suite.

How to Target Millennials Through Paid Ads

Millennials are something of a mythical bunch in society. Much is said about their behaviors and preferences, yet many of the stories seem to contradict. Even narrowing down what age group millennials represent is challenging, and many people have differing views.

This confusing picture makes it challenging to target millennials through paid ads, but don’t let it put you off. Let’s look at who millennials are and how you can use that data to create targeted ads that will convince them to convert.

When Were Millennials Born?

Millennials are defined as “people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.” The Pew Research Center further defines the group as those born between 1981 and 1996, though that time period has shifted over time.

Millennials are now the most populous group in the US, making up 21.97 percent of the population, and this trend is set to continue well into the 2050s.

This makes understanding millennials crucial to creating paid ads that actually drive revenue.

What Makes Millennials Unique?

One of the key things that make millennials unique is their relationship with technology.

Millennials were born into a world where modern technology hadn’t yet taken hold in daily life like it has today. However, they did grow up in an age where technology was transforming the way we live, so they aren’t new to it.

Generation X adapted to digital technology as adults, and Generation Z have never known life without the smartphone or super-fast internet, but millennials have a foot in both worlds.

The rapid shift to a digital world means millennials’ lives have followed a different path to those generations before and after them. This has influenced them in many different ways.

Of course, it’s hard to ascribe common characteristics to such a diverse group, but some traits seem to be common in this generation, including:

  • connected
  • tech-savvy
  • curious
  • in need of instant gratification
  • collaborative
  • seek transparency
  • crave authenticity
  • care about diversity and sustainability

Keep in mind; this is just a rough picture of millennials. There are still individual people with unique politics, education levels, likes, and dislikes. However, these insights need to inform your paid ad strategy.

Why You Should Target Millennials Through Paid Ads

If you successfully target millennials through paid ads, you’ll engage 21.97 percent of the US population and 2 billion people worldwide. While millennials are more receptive to certain products, this is a huge market for virtually any business.

However, millennials pose several challenges to marketers. First, it is a large, diverse group, and secondly, they’re so accustomed to advertising that some think they’ve become immune to it.

Nobody is immune to advertising, and millennials click paid ads every day. The trick is finding the right strategy.

It starts with understanding your target audience. If your product doesn’t solve the problems millennials have or fit their view of the world, then this group shouldn’t be your primary target.

For example, businesses that provide traditional weddings and razor blade manufacturers have a notoriously difficult time advertising to millennials. This isn’t because this generation is immune to advertising, it’s because the products aren’t as closely aligned to the people’s wants and needs (think of the proliferation of beards in society today versus 20 years ago).

Instead, it’s businesses in travel, tech, fast food, and other sectors where the products match millennials’ specific pain points that are finding success.

If millennials are a key part of your target audience, then paid advertising is an effective option, because it allows you to reach these people where they’re “hanging out.” Ninety percent of millennials are on Facebook, making it exceptionally easy to reach these people with your message.

A key part of marketing is getting your message seen, and millennials give you ample chances to do this.

6 Strategies for Targeting Millennials Through Paid Ads

To successfully target millennials through paid ads, you have to remember this group is very tech-savvy, and they’ve grown up with online advertising.

They see through the cheap gimmicks and aren’t coerced into clicking for no reason. Therefore, you should focus on offering genuine value. The strategies you use to target millennials through paid ads must add to the experience, rather than just serving your own purposes.

Here’s a few ways to successfully target millennials with paid ads.

1. Run Ads on the Social Media Platforms Millennials Use the Most

The good thing about millennials is they are easy to reach. A huge percentage are active on social media, but to make the most of this, we need to understand what platforms millennials are using.

In the past, this was pretty easy. People had Facebook, Twitter, and maybe Instagram. There weren’t many other popular options. Today there are dozens of social media platforms, with new ones popping up every day.

Let’s look at what percentage of millennials use some of the most popular platforms weekly:

  • Facebook: 87 percent
  • Twitter: 42 percent
  • Instagram: 71 percent
  • Snapchat: 52 percent
  • YouTube: 86 percent
  • Pinterest: 42 percent

Additionally, LinkedIn’s audience is 38 percent millennials aside from these platforms, and 19 percent of millennials are using TikTok.

There are plenty of opportunities out there to target millennials through paid ads. The ability to reach this group isn’t difficult; the tricky part is getting your medium and message right.

These platforms rely on marketing revenues though, so they’re constantly innovating and finding new ways for advertisers to engage their users. For example, Pinterest Story Pins, or Instagram filters let you offer the experience millennials are looking for.

2. Create Paid Ads That Appeal to Millennial Values

Many studies point to millennials closely held values, and three that are commonly referenced are personal responsibility, diversity, and sustainability.

It’s no surprise, given that millennials make up such a large percentage of the population that these values are being highlighted more in advertising. We often see ads that reference issues that are close to millennials’ hearts, such as climate change and equality.

If your brand is active in these issues, then this is something you should be highlighting in your advertising.

Take Allbirds shoes. they entered the highly-saturated shoe market in 2015, where they faced huge competition. Through a highly-effective advertising campaign that played on their shoes’ sustainable credentials, sales have exploded, and today the company is worth $1.4 billion.

How to target millennials through paid ads - allbirds facebook ad

There’s no crazy marketing strategy, it’s just clear messaging that hits on people’s (millennial’s) values.

3. Be Upfront and Honest in Your Paid Ads Targeting Millennials

Millennials grew up in the digital age, and for the most part, they’ve seen all the tricks. They’re used to gimmicky advertising tricks to get their attention, and they learned to filter these out.

What cuts through the noise with millennials (and this is closely related to their values) is being honest and upfront with your advertising. This group knows if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is, so there’s no point in over-promising and under-delivering.

This ties in with creating paid ads that appeal to millennials’ values; if you’re not serious about sustainability, or equality, or whatever it might be, then millennials are more likely to hold you to account.

This group grew up in a world of big (often faceless) corporations, but thanks to technology, they have a chance to see behind the branding and see the values behind a company. This can be a great opportunity for your advertising, but it’s got to be done in a clear, honest way.

For example, Allbirds doesn’t just use convenient slogans about sustainability in their paid ads. It’s a theme that’s central to its entire customer journey, and it delivers on its promises.

how to target millennials through paid ads - allbirds website

4. Create Funny Paid Ads to Target Millennials

Fifty-five percent of 13 to 35-year-olds send memes every week, and 30 percent do so daily. That’s a lot of memes!

Humor plays a huge role in millennial culture, and it’s something you can use in your paid ads. Funny ads are nothing new; just take a look back at some of the classic TV ads, but for some brands keep things very straightlaced online.

When used in content and ads, memes can have many benefits:

  • They allow you to be creative.
  • It’s an easy way to show your brand’s personality.
  • They increase engagement.
  • They’re easy to use.
  • They are shareable.

People enjoy humor, and there’s certainly a place for it when you target millennials through paid ads. Just make sure your ads reflect the values of your business and resonate with your target audience. Otherwise, it can backfire.

5. Take Your Cue From Millennial Trends

The boozy brunch, avocado toast, and emojis are just some of the reported millennial trends in recent years. When 21.97 percent of the population enthusiastically gets behind something, you can bet it’s a factor to target with your marketing.

If you keep seeing something crop up in popular culture, then check it on Google Trends and see if it’s worth factoring into your marketing.

how to target millennials through paid ads - google trends

Remember that millennials are cynical consumers of advertising, so if it’s a reach to link your products to the trend, it’s probably best to leave it alone rather than look like you’re just trying too hard.

6. Ask the Millennials in Your Office for Help

One of the best ways to learn about your target audience is simply to ask them questions. Millennials now make up the largest proportion of the workforce, so there are bound to be some in your office.

Obviously, your co-workers have jobs to do, but it won’t hurt to run a few ideas by them. Millennials are a very diverse group, so they won’t be able to speak for everyone, but they might be able to give you some ideas about what works and what doesn’t with this generation.

Examples of Paid Ads Targeting Millennials

Brands are always trying to reach millennials through paid advertising, so there are lots of examples, some of which have had tremendous success, and others that are best forgotten. Let’s take a look at the best and the worst of the bunch.

The Good

Here are a few ads that nailed millennial marketing.

NFL and McDonald’s: Bad Lip Reading

This is a great example of brands capitalizing on millennial trends in a positive way.

In 2013, a series of YouTube videos found huge success by taking video footage of normal events and overlaying them with “bad lip reading.” One of the most successful videos was “The NFL: A Bad Lip Reading,” which has over 72 million views.

Rather than take offense at the light-hearted fun, the NFL embraced the trend and teamed up with McDonald’s to create their own version.

how to target millennials through paid ads - bad lip reading

Airbnb: Belong Anywhere

Airbnb was founded in 2008 and was valued at over $100 billion when it went public in 2020. Part of its success has been a product that is closely aligned with the values of millennials, and its advertising continues to capitalize on this.

Messages such as “Let’s Keep Travelling Forward,” and “We Accept” fit perfectly with the ideals millennials respond to, and this has helped bring the company great success.

The Bad

What does it look like when millennial marketing goes wrong? Here are a few ads that missed the mark.

McDonald’s: Fish Fillet

It was widely accepted that McDonald’s missed the mark with its fish fillet ad because it’s seen as emotional manipulation.

Emotion is a big part of any ad, but it’s got to be done in the right way. This ad just seems like McDonald’s is using a child’s grief to sell its sandwiches, and that’s something millennials will see through.

Pepsi: Kendall Jenner Protest Ad

Millennials tend to feel a personal responsibility to make a positive change in the world, but brands that exploit that drive will suffer. For many people, this Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner did just that.

Aired during a time of heightened tension around America, the ad seemed to trivialize the cause of the protests and struck the wrong chord with millennials.

Conclusion

Millennials are a diverse, tech-savvy group that were brought up with advertising, so it’s no surprise that it takes some fine-tuning to get your targeting right.

When you take the time to understand millennials, discover what values they hold dear, the platforms they engage with, and the types of content they respond to, then you will find you can successfully advertise to this group.

For some businesses, millennials simply won’t be part of their target market, but with this group making up over a fifth of the population, the majority of businesses are going to have to learn how to target them through paid ads.

Have you had success advertising to millennials?

The post How to Target Millennials Through Paid Ads appeared first on Neil Patel.

Best Auto Dialer Software

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

You’re making a lot of calls, but leads aren’t converting and agents are losing track of conversations.

These are just two of the reasons that any business looking to grow should get auto dialer software. It automates thousands of repetitive manual tasks—not just dialing—and optimizes the experience of everyone involved.

That way, agents can focus totally on customers.

Managers get real-time KPIs at a glance.

And customers never get another 2 a.m. phone call.

What I’m saying is: everyone loves these products. 

Here are the top six auto dialer software options on the market. They’re helping companies revolutionize outreach and connecting agents with a higher number of high-quality leads every hour. 

Which one is right for you? Let’s find out.

The Top 6 Options For Auto Dialer Software

  1. Phoneburner – Best for Remote Teams
  2. VanillaSoft – Best for Outbound Sales
  3. Voicent Cloud – Best Standalone Auto Dialer Software
  4. Mojo – Best for SMB Sales
  5. RingCentral – Best for Compliance
  6. Kixie – Best for Local Presence

How to Choose the Best Auto Dialer Software for You

Auto dialers call a list of numbers from a preset contact list. As soon as a call is answered, the auto dialer plays a pre-recorded message or transfers the call to an agent.

Sounds simple. 

And it is, until you start thinking about multiple agents calling 70 to 80 numbers every hour.

This is why popular auto dialers come with additional tools to help agents manage contact lists, store information, and push trackable leads through the pipeline.

Here are the main features you are going to be looking at as you assess your choices.

Auto Dialer Modes

Most vendors offer multiple dialing modes and several offer the full range.

Preview Dialers call a number as soon as an agent is ready. Information about the contact is automatically displayed on the agent’s screen.

Progressive Dialers call one number at a time in a specific order. Progressive dialers will hang up or leave a message after a predetermined period of time, automatically calling the next number on the list. 

Power Dialers call more than one number at a time and keep calling based on a call-to-agent ratio. You can configure the ratio so that the dialer increases or decreases call volume based on the number of agents available.

Predictive Dialers make calls based on algorithms that minimize the chance of someone answering when no agent is available. Essentially, they throttle the call volume according to predicted agent availability.

There’s a time and a place for each mode. Progressive dialers, for instance, prevent agents from cherry-picking leads.

You’ll also see smart or intelligent progressive dialers. These always call one number at a time, but the contact list is actively prioritized based on real-time customer data. 

So, for example, if a customer fills out a form online, an intelligent progressive dialer will bump their contact info to the front of the list, putting the next available agent in touch.

In-Call Features

Onboarding new agents is a lot easier with in-call supervisor features like:

  • Listen: managers can hear the call
  • Whisper: managers can speak to the agent without the customer hearing
  • Barge: managers can join the call

It can be hard to understand the value of these features if you’ve never used them before. That’s okay. You can still make a good decision about what’s important by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.

Warm transfer is an in-call feature that customers love. Basically, it allows an agent to stay on the line with a customer while they’re being transferred to another agent. 

It’s super simple to relay information during a warm transfer because all three people are on the line and there’s no risk of a caller getting routed to nowhere.

That way, no customer has to waste time repeating information to the next person they speak to.

Workflow Automation

How much time does it take to wait four rings and leave a message? Too long, especially if this happens hundreds of times a day.

With live answer detection, agents are only connected with real people. That saves an incredible amount of time. 

If there is no answer, an auto dialer with voicemail drop places a pre-recorded message in the inbox and begins dialing a new number.

That’s hundreds of hours a year, right there.

Within the agent dashboard, you can kick off pre-built workflows with the click of a button. Initiate an email welcome campaign, send a secure bill, or use voice broadcast to send a recorded message to thousands of numbers at the same time.

So many time-consuming tasks are now simple dashboard buttons that initiate highly-trackable workflows.

Click. The agent is on to the next call.

Call Recording and Reporting

Auto dialer software is going to come with its own CRM, integrations with popular CRMs, or both. 

What it’s going to do is connect all recorded calls with specific customers, automating all of the traditional storage and filing tasks.

If you are already using CRM software you love, find an auto dialer that integrates easily. If not, auto dialer software that comes with a built-in CRM or lead management system is going to work much better for you out of box.

Compliance

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other regulations have put legal limits on what telemarketers can do. In fact, robocall lawsuits can result in five-figure damages for a single call. 

In order to meet all legal and privacy obligations, you want auto dialer software that works behind the scenes to ensure that you are only calling the right numbers and keeping every conversation securely stored for future reference.

The good news is that the best auto dialer software helps the companies who use it from getting in hot water. 

All of the products on this list, for example, have tools to make sure you aren’t calling numbers on the national Do Not Call list (DNC). 

Be conscious of compliance, but don’t stress too much. By picking auto dialer software from the top vendors, you know you are getting a product that has kept many other businesses safe.

The Different Types of Auto Dialer Software

There are two distinct service categories that include auto dialer software. These are:

  • Sales Engagement Platforms
  • Contact Center Software

Just by looking at the names of these categories, you may have a good idea of the type of auto dialer software you need. 

Sales Engagement Platforms

Auto dialer software is one part of a campaign. Sales engagement platforms give you the other tools necessary to conduct effective outreach at scale. Typically, these are outbound dialing platforms, though some come with inbound functionality.

It can be surprising how many other marketing and sales tools are included, even with basic-tier subscriptions. 

You may get an email autoresponder, lead generation tools, and the ability to route calls to other channels like text or chat.

Between vendors, there’s a lot of variation in dialing modes, in-call capabilities, and workflow automation. You are looking for something that’s affordable at scale and provides your agents the support they need.

The questions you should be asking are: 

  • How does this platform fit into your company’s sales cadence? 
  • Does it have the tools your agents need to assist customers and track them from one stage to the next?

You may find a sales engagement platform that works well for a non-sales auto dialing campaign—fundraising comes to mind, or leaving pre-recorded messages for doctor’s appointments. 

Contact Center Software

Contact center software used to be called “call center software”, but modern customers make contact via phone, text, social, chat, and so on. It is set up to handle inbound, outbound, or blended contact centers that handle communication in both directions.

The auto dialer software that comes with contact center solutions is nearly identical to what you get with a sales engagement platform. The major difference is that you are going to have a lot more inbound call functionality.

If your campaign strategy relies heavily on inbound communication, contact center software may better complement your auto dialer than a sales engagement platform. 

Contact center software is also much better at centralizing all company communications in a single place. This can be important in preventing information silos.

If you are not worried about inbound calls and you already have a tool that centralizes communication at your company, a sales engagement platform is all you need for auto dialer software.

If you need more than that, a contact center solution will best fit your needs.

#1 – Phoneburner — Best For Remote Teams

Phoneburner, as a company, has been a 100% remote team since 2008. They know what life is like for a distributed workforce and they’ve designed a sales engagement platform that rises to the occasion.

New leads are automatically routed to the right agent by LeadStream, Phoneburner’s intelligent lead distribution system. 

It’s easy to use and customizable, so you can configure the system to distribute leads according to your business processes.

This is a huge time-saver and a really important feature for teams where a manager isn’t just a few desks away. 

One of the things I really like is how easy it is for colleagues to share content like phone scripts and email templates. They can also share button configurations, instantly setting up new agents with one-click workflows built to fit best practices.

Even though it’s enterprise-grade software, you can have Phoneburner working minutes after purchase. 

The robust sales engagement platform provides everything you need, including:

  • Power and preview dialer
  • Local caller ID
  • Voicemail Drop 
  • Trackable emails
  • Native CRM
  • 150+ integrations
  • SMS support (available as an add-on)

Pricing for Phoneburner is not complicated. An annual subscription costs $1,512, which breaks down to $126 per user/month. It’s a 15% discount off their monthly price of $149 per user.

It’s a higher sticker price than some, but that’s all you pay. 

It offers truly unlimited dialing and there are no extra monthly costs—no setup fees, usage fees, or per-minute charges.

Administrator accounts are free unless they use the auto dialer. They get advanced reporting features like leaderboards, real-time dashboards, and smart lead distribution via a dedicated portal.

One last thing: Phoneburner gives you as many seats as you need during your free trial. That’s not typical and says a lot about how confident they are in their service.

#2 – VanillaSoft — Best For Outbound Sales

VanillaSoft is a cloud-based sales engagement platform with business-class VoIP. Get started with nothing more than an internet connection and watch your sales team make better connections.

They have preview and progresssive dialing modes, both of which pull data automatically from your CRM and make calls based on lead-scoring and prioritization. 

All the legwork is behind the scenes. Agents are always talking to the highest-quality leads.

On top of that, logical branch scripting ensures that every agent delivers consistent, on-brand information to customers. You can build out script libraries that present the agent with guidance and tips for every stage of the conversation.

I really like the foolproof calendar that lets people from any timezone schedule calls and set appointments without any accidental overlap. Never double-book a demo again.

You can use the built-in lead and sales tracking software in VanillaSoft or integrate with your CRM. Either way, the reporting and analytics are there to help you optimize performance. 

Quickly identify which agents are converting leads and which need a little more help.

Some of the other aspects of VanillaSoft that attract sales teams are:

  • In-call supervisor features
  • Voicemail drop
  • SMS texting and email marketing
  • Local Caller ID
  • Skill-based call routing
  • Salesforce integration

You’ve got everything you need to get sales reps up to speed quickly. Once they’re comfortable, there are more than enough tools to help them visualize and improve their performance.

VanillaSoft pricing is broken down into their base platform and add-on products:

  • Sales Engagement Platform: $100/month for first user, $80 per additional user
  • Dialing: $30/month per user
  • Recording: $30/month per user
  • VoIP: $33/month per user

Discounts are available with an annual subscription and you can use VanillaSoft with your existing phone lines or VoIP provider.

This is one of the most recommended products on the market. 

Why? All of the features are easy to use and it’s flexible enough to work for inside sales, telemarketing, fundraising, and more.

There’s no free forever version, but VanillaSoft offers a two-week free trial for up to six users and 2,000 calls.

#3 – Voicent Cloud — Best Standalone Auto Dialer Software

Voicent is auto dialer software that can be molded to fit your situation.

Here’s their offer: Get one of the best standalone auto dialers on the planet for less than $20/month per user. Then, add the specific services you need à la carte. 

With Voicent, you select the exact set of tools that meet your particular needs. No more shopping around and trying to fit yourself into a prepackaged plan.

Features like marketing automation are reasonably priced add-ons in Voicent instead of being confined to an expensive premium subscription that’s bloated with tools you won’t use.

If you just need the auto dialer software, rest assured that Voicent’s base plan has you covered. You get all four dialer modes (progressive, power, predictive, and preview), as well as:

  • Native CRM and integrations
  • Campaign builder
  • Rich agent dashboard
  • Ability to play audio files while talking
  • Calling over SIP, IP PBX, and analog phone lines.
  • DNC compliance tools

All of that and more is included with the Base Plan, which starts at $19/month per user with an annual subscription. 

Paying month-to-month, it’s $29 per user. 

In addition to the subscription fee cost, Voicent has usage fees, which are charged per minute based on your calling plan:

  • 4¢ Plan: no credit, pay as you go
  • 3¢ Plan: starting at $75, with 2,500 minute credit
  • 2¢ Plan: starting at $130 with 6,500 minute credit
  • 1.5¢ Plan: starting at $375 with 25,000 minute credit

With a yearly Base plan rate of $228, Voicent is extremely affordable, but be sure to budget the usage fees into the total monthly cost. 

Voicent Cloud only supports calls in the US and Canada, though they offer on-premise software that allows for global outreach.

Voicent is a great solution for companies that need really solid auto dialer capabilities, but don’t want a full contact center or sales engagement platform. 

#4 – Mojo — Best For SMB Sales

Mojo is a sales engagement platform that operates on a copper-wire infrastructure. 

Agents call into the Mojo platform from a landline or mobile and it begins dialing their list. From a browser or mobile device, they get the crisp sound of old school telephones.

Mojo makes up to 85 calls per hour with a single line power dialer, or up 300 with a triple line power dialer. Both single and multi line dialers are used by a single agent.

Give a small team titanic reach with Mojo.

The built-in lead management and marketing tools make it easy to track every call, follow up, and stay organized. Navigable dashboards provide a clear view of KPIs and prospecting lists, while preview mode provides extensive customer information before every call.

Mojo helps growing businesses make the most of every answered call. Agents can leave notes, schedule follow-ups, initiate drip campaigns, and more, all from within the platform.

Some of the other great features include:

  • Voicemail drop
  • Roving dialer (share licenses between team members)
  • Live answer detection
  • Time-zone calling guard
  • Leaderboard
  • Mobile caller ID

Monthly pricing for individual users is $99 for a single line dialer and $149 for a triple line dialer. 

I like it for small businesses because there are no hidden costs, no contracts, and no per-minute fees.

For teams, Mojo pricing works as follows:

  • Lead Manager: $10/month, plus you must purchase one of the following dialer options
  • Single Line Dialer: $89/month per license
  • Triple Line Dialer: $139/month per license

Mojo has especially well-developed lead generation and tracking tools for realtors, who make up the majority of Mojo’s clientele. 

Judging from recent reviews, however, it seems like a diverse range of businesses are taking advantage of Mojo’s outbound dialing solutions.

Agents can access the Mojo platform with VoIP, but it may not deliver the same copper-wire clarity as a phone source.

#5 – RingCentral — Best For Compliance

RingCentral can support every channel of communication, providing companies with a full-service contact center solution. 

They offer one of the most feature-rich autodialers on the market, with progressive, predictive, and preview dialing modes.

They also offer TCPA Safe Dial, which allows companies to call unsubscribed cell numbers without risking legal troubles. Additionally, you can scrub campaign lists against your own DNC list or use RingCentral’s integrations with compliance solutions from DNC.com and Gryphon Networks.

The dashboard is user-friendly, letting agents quickly configure appropriate settings based on specific calls. Seamless integrations with top CRM software and compliance tools ensure that agents are only using the powerful auto dialer to reach valid customers at the right time. 

Since this is complete call center software, RingCentral has a host of call routing features that outbound-only autodialers lack, such as real call back numbers, 24/7 reachability, and IVR.

Other great features that come with RingCentral include:

  • In-call coaching capabilities
  • Real time reports and analytics
  • Live answer detection
  • Voice broadcast
  • Intelligent call routing
  • Time-zone conscious technology

Despite offering omnichannel support, RingCentral Contact Center has competitively priced plans that compare with lighter auto dialers and sale engagement platforms:

  • Essentials: starting at $19.99/month per user
  • Standard: starting at $24.99/month per user
  • Premium: starting at $34.99/month per user
  • Ultimate: starting at $49.99/month per user

All plans include unlimited calling and text in the US and Canada, as well a larger number of toll-free minutes at each tier. Additional minutes are billed at 3.9¢ per minute.

RingCentral is a great choice for organizations that want powerful autodialing capabilities and the ability to centralize all of their communications within a single hub. Scale quickly without losing oversight or getting into regulatory trouble.

#6 – Kixie — Best For Local Presence

Kixie is a cloud-based sales engagement platform with phenomenal auto dialer capabilities.

Deploy Kixie in minutes and teams can begin making secure calls anywhere in the world via the Chrome extension or mobile app.

No matter where your customers are, they are going to see you calling from a local number. Several options on this list have a local caller ID, which is super helpful, but Kixie’s AI-powered local presence takes it a few steps further.

First of all, they never spoof numbers. When a customer receives a call from a local number, they can call that number back and connect to the right agent. 

Kixie also automatically removes numbers that get flagged as spam, taking that time-consuming chore off your plate.

The end result is that Kixie’s intelligent local presence has delivered users upwards of a 500% increase in connection rates.

Kixie also helps you connect with leads faster with its AI auto dialer. As soon as a new lead shows interest, Kixie bumps their name to the front of the list and puts an agent in touch right away.

Agents don’t have to change the way they work to take advantage of all these automated features. Integrate directly with tools like Pipedrive to enable click-to-call from within the sales management tools you already use.

Some of the other time-saving and sales-boosting tools included with Kixie are:

  • In-call coaching features
  • Voicemail drop
  • IVR
  • Sales leaderboards
  • One-click integration with Salesforce, Zoho, Hubspot, and more
  • Real-time reporting

Kixie offers quarterly subscriptions or annual subscriptions at a 15% discount. Pricing is broken down into three tiers. 

For annual subscriptions, you’re looking at:

  • Integrated: starting at $29/month per user
  • Enterprise: starting at $55/month per user
  • Custom: contact Kixie sales to create a plan

Calls minutes are billed according to the current rates and vary per country. You can add unlimited calling in the US and Canada for $30/month per user.

The additional cost of local presence will depend on how many different area codes you need and whether you want to include international numbers.

Kixie’s customer support has a consistent reputation for solving problems quickly, which has translated into a constantly improving product over the long-term.

Kixie offers a seven-day free trial for Integrated and Enterprise plans, as well as extended trials for Custom plans.

Summary

Good auto dialer software can save a sales team hours each week and potentially weeks each year.

RingCentral is going to take care of any communication problem you have, providing best-in-breed service in any channel. When it comes to auto dialer software, they offer a robust product that has multiple safeguards to prevent any problems with compliance. 

VanillaSoft is going to be great for outbound sales teams. High agent turnover isn’t an issue because it’s so easy to bring people up to speed and the in-call coaching capabilities are really strong.

With Phoneburner, remote teams are completely set up. The lead distribution system routes calls to the right agents without oversight. Agents can quickly and easily transfer calls and share information within the platform, making coordination easy in the distributed workplace.

For smaller teams, Mojo can supercharge outreach with a few triple-line dialers. Combine that power with reasonable pricing and zero per-minute fees, and you have an auto dialer solution that’s perfect for SMBs.

If you are interested in really leveraging the power of local presence, Kixie is the tool you want, though it’s a really great auto dialer no matter how you cut it.

And if what you are looking for, in the end, is a standalone autodialer, Voicent is the choice for you. It’s a powerful product, and you can add other features one by one without worrying about having to jump up into a new pricing tier.

The post Best Auto Dialer Software appeared first on Neil Patel.

How Business Credit Can Help With Effective Hiring

Effective hiring should be on every business owner’s list.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Effective Hiring and Business Credit

I once spoke with a small business owner who had recently won a multi-million dollar consulting contract with the U.S. government. This contract required him to seriously ramp up his operation with more employees and the additional infrastructure that he would need to accommodate the increase in headcount. A problem most small business owners would like to face, right?

He had a lot of experience working with government contracts. And he was familiar with the payment cycle for the invoices he regularly sent for payment. He knew he would be paid. But he also knew it would take over 30 days. This made it difficult to float all the ramp-up costs with his cash flow.

This is a common challenge faced by many small businesses that need to ramp up to service a new client or meet the demands of a new contract. Fortunately, this business owner could access borrowed capital to meet this short-term need. Fueling growth is a good use case for borrowed capital. His credit profile allowed him to meet the demands of his new government contract without the insurmountable cash flow burden that would have otherwise been required.

Proactively approaching your credit profile today, to turn it into a tool that you can  strategically leverage to foster growth when needed—which often means hiring more employees—should be top of mind for every small business owner.

Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN. Get money even in a recession and put it toward more effective hiring!

Building Your Credit Profile into a Strategic Tool

Effective Hiring Nav Credit SuiteBuilding a strong credit profile isn’t rocket science. But it isn’t something that just happens either. What’s more, if you have a less than perfect credit profile, it isn’t going to change overnight. Slow and steady wins this race.

For most small business owners in the United States, your personal credit score will be a part of every business creditworthiness conversation so it’s important to understand what lenders see when they look at your personal score. Fortunately, so far as personal credit is concerned, your score is easy to translate. Here is what it means:

Above 800 (excellent)

A credit score of 800 or better puts you in pretty elite company. Borrowers in this range are considered consistently responsible when it comes to managing debt. They have a long history of no late payments. Plus they carry low balances on their personal credit cards. They are considered at low risk of default.

740-799 (very good)

This is considered a very good score and tells lenders you are generally financially responsible when it comes to money and managing your personal credit. Although you may have an occasional late payment, most of the time you make timely payments on your personal loans, credit cards, utility payments, and mortgage. It also indicates that the balances you carry on your personal credit cards are generally low (below 30% of available credit).

670-739 (Good)

If your score falls in the upper part of this range, you are a little better than the average U.S. consumer whose FICO score is around 704. Although this borrower shouldn’t have too much trouble obtaining financing, there will be some options unavailable to them. Although they are unlikely to be offered the same low rates and favorable terms of those with Very Good or Excellent credit.

580-669 (Fair)

Borrowers in this range may have a few dings on their credit history, but no serious delinquencies. It’s still possible to get financing. But it will not be at very competitive rates. There will be limited options.

Under 580 (Poor)

This score represents what could be multiple defaults on different loans from different lenders. It could also represent a bankruptcy, which will remain on your credit report for 10 years. Borrowers with scores this low will have very limited business loan options. They should expect to pay some of the highest rates on business financing if approved. Borrowers with a score in this range should focus on repairing and rebuilding their score.

No Credit

Although there is a difference between Poor Credit and No Credit, the results are similar. When building a personal credit history, don’t be afraid to start small. Make sure you pay your utility bills and meet your other personal financial obligations in a timely manner.

Now that you know what your personal credit score means, you need to know how it’s calculated so you can take the right steps to build or improve your score.

How is My Personal Credit Score Calculated?

Most of the personal credit reporting bureaus base their credit scores on the FICO score. Although if you check your score with different reporting agencies there might be some slight differences, the basis for those scores is all the same. Here is the formula:

35% Comes from Your Payment History

In other words, the single most important thing you can do is to make each and every periodic payment in a timely fashion. Most creditors understand the difficulties people are facing right now. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get a pass. It’s important to stay current. Do not let a debt obligation go 60-, 90-, or 120-days past due.

30% Comes from Your Debt to Credit Ratio

In other words, the ratio of debt you use compared to the amount of credit you have. The credit bureaus don’t like to see maxed out credit accounts. A good rule of thumb is to keep that ratio below 30% (lower is even better). But anything over 50% is a big red flag that will keep your personal credit score in the basement.

15% Comes from the Length of Your Credit History

Lenders are trying to make decisions about what you will do in the future based on what you’ve done in the past. So a longer track record is better than a shorter track record. You’ll probably get some allowance for the first half of 2020. But if you have chronic credit problems dating from before the crisis, you need to get to work on making improvements to your credit habits.

10% Comes from the Type of Credit You Use

For example, credit bureaus look at mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and other revolving debt through a different lens. Creditors want to see a mix of credit. So if the only credit account you have is your mortgage, a little diversification will help your credit score.

10% Comes from New Credit Inquiries

While it’s true that new inquiries can impact your score, the amount of impact is relatively small. That is particularly true if you are consistently current with your payments and aren’t maxing out the limit on your credit cards every month.

Before we talk about how to improve your credit to maximize your ability to access borrowed capital to hire new employees or otherwise ramp up for a new contract, we need to address business credit. What makes it different from personal credit and some of the synergies created by a strong personal credit score and a robust business credit history.

Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN. Get money even in a recession and put it toward more effective hiring!

How is My Business’s Credit Profile Reported?

Like the credit bureaus that report on your personal credit history, there are business credit bureaus that report on your business credit history. They consider how you pay your suppliers, your landlord, your utilities, your business credit cards, and how you may payments on any other business loan or business debt you might have.

With the exception of the FICO SBSS credit score, which is a composite of your personal and business credit used by the SBA to evaluate a loan application, you should consider your business credit as typically a collection of scores, rather than one universal score like your personal score. Every business credit bureau creates this profile differently. So no two business credit reports will look exactly the same. Regardless of how long you’ve been in business, you have a business credit profile that includes detailed information about your business and your business credit history.

Your Business Credit Score is Different

Although your personal score is considered private, your business profile is public to anyone who wants to see it. The basis of your business profile is whether or not the majority of your credit interactions are positive or negative. The goal here is to meet all your business obligations as agreed upon. 

Additionally, your credit history is a measurement against other businesses in your industry. And this includes if they are considered more or less risky from a credit perspective. Your history is also compared to other businesses in your region, of your size, and annual revenues. This is to make a recommendation to creditors on your business’s potential creditworthiness.

Improving Your Business Credit Score

Irrespective of personal or business credit, the single most important thing you can do to build a positive profile is to make your periodic payments in a timely manner. If you want to build your credit into a strategic tool you can use to fuel growth, here are 4 things you should start doing today:

Make Sure Your Profile is Accurate

There is a lot of negative credit activity going on right now. Plus, it’s easy to confuse businesses with similar names or addresses. So it’s more important than ever to make sure the things reported about your business are accurate and reflect your credit practices. If you find an error, all the major business credit bureaus have mechanisms to correct the mistakes you can verify.

Keep Your Personal and Business Credit Separate

This can be hard for young businesses that don’t have a lot of business credit yet. But using your personal credit for business credit purposes not only doesn’t help your business profile, it could actually hurt your personal credit score. Since 30% of your personal score comes from how much credit you use compared to how much you have, the higher balances often associated with business expenses can negatively impact your ratios. If you want to keep your personal score as strong as possible, while building your business profile, avoid the temptation to use your personal credit to pay for a business expense.

Establish Trade Credit Accounts with Your Suppliers

This is one of the most underrated ways to build a strong business profile. Most vendors are willing to offer payment terms to their good customers. Although it’s not a business loan, if they report your good credit behavior to the appropriate credit bureaus, this valuable credit will help you build a strong business credit history. This will enable you to borrow when you really need to.

Use the Credit You Need and Stay Current

Businesses large and small leverage borrowed capital to fuel growth and fund other business initiatives like effective hiring of new employees. The biggest thing you can do to build a strong profile is to use the credit you need and make sure you make every periodic payment. Lenders look at your history because they want some assurance that you will make timely payments to them. It helps if they can see you’ve done so in the past.

Learn more here and get started with building business credit with your company’s EIN and not your SSN. Get money even in a recession and put it toward more effective hiring!

Effective Hiring of New Employees Can be ExpensiveEffective Hiring Nav Credit Suite

Effective hiring of new employees often includes expense beyond the addition of another paycheck. For some companies it might be a new computer and workstation. For others it could be something else. Most of these upfront expenses are relatively short term. So many small business owners opt to finance them with either a business credit card or even a small business loan depending on the cost. The business owner I described at the beginning of this article opted for a small business loan.

He had worked to build his credit profile so he could use business financing as a strategic tool when he needed it. So he could borrow the money he needed to ramp up employees and infrastructure to service the new contract. And he could repay the loan once he started to get regular payments from his government contract.

Effective Hiring and Business Credit: Takeaways

As a small business owner accessing borrowed capital has always required a good personal and business credit history. But especially now, many lenders are tightening their qualification requirements tighter than ever. So it will be important to make sure your profile shows you in the best light possible. Of course, it’s no guarantee you’ll get the financing you want. But it will give your business more options to choose from—as well as put your application on the top of the pile.

Ty Kiisel for Credit SuiteEffective Hiring Nav Credit Suite

The post How Business Credit Can Help With Effective Hiring appeared first on Credit Suite.

Five Steps to an Effective Content Strategy (And Tools to Start Implementing It!)

Content strategy can be defined as managing all tangible media that you create and therefore own, including written, visual, downloadable, etc. assets. This segment of a marketing plan is continuously demonstrating who you are and what expertise you are bringing into the industry. There is no niche where content marketing wouldn’t work. It all comes… Read more »

The post Five Steps to an Effective Content Strategy (And Tools to Start Implementing It!) appeared first on Paper.li blog.

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