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“I help small businesses improve the customer experience on first time calls, minimize lost opportunities and convert more first time callers into appointments and sales.”

Founded by Kirk Gray, 10 Fold Consulting helps small business owners increase profitability by leveraging an asset they already have – their staff.

Kirk has helped dozens of small businesses in different market segments increase their new customer generation, sales and profitability by working with their staff to reduce lost telephone and web leads and improve marketing ROI.

MO: What inspired you to launch your own consulting firm? Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?

Kirk: I worked in the corporate world for a number of years and learned a great deal from those experiences, but I always wanted to start my own business. I took an inventory of my knowledge and skills and realized that I had a lot to offer small business owners who needed help growing their businesses. I actually started out part time while I was still working in the corporate world. At first I had just a few clients that I got through referrals and word of mouth and things grew from there.

MO: What are some ways that you help clients increase new customer generation and sales without any additional marketing expense?

Kirk: What I specifically do is work with the staff of small, service based businesses and help them improve their phone skills. An appointment or sale very often begins with a phone call, so telephone skills are a critical part of generating new customers and sales opportunities. A first time caller to a small business obviously believes that the company they are calling has the ability to help them, or they would not have picked up the phone and called. If the caller does not agree to an appointment or the next step in the process, it is typically because they are uncomfortable with something about that initial phone interaction. These lost opportunities happen for various reasons – some obvious and some not so obvious. I help small businesses improve the customer experience on first time calls, minimize lost opportunities and convert more first time callers into appointments and sales. There is no additional marketing expense because I am not helping them generate more leads…I’m helping them convert more of their existing leads.

MO: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked well for you?

Kirk: Exceed your client’s expectations and they will become songbirds for you. Most of my new clients have come from referrals from existing clients. I do my absolute best to deliver exceptional service every time and my clients are very happy to refer their colleagues to me.

MO: What are the most common reasons for lost telephone and web leads?

Kirk: The 3 main mistakes small businesses make which cause lost leads are:

1. Relying on a 1 time training event. They may see a temporary improvement immediately after the training, but it is usually short lived and eventually staff fall back into the bad phone habits they had before the training. Permanent change in behavior and learning new skills does not occur from a 1 time event…It requires follow up, practice, accountability and monitoring.

2. Not knowing what the first time caller experience is. Most small business owners have no idea what a prospective customer experiences when they call or email their company. If you don’t know what the problem is or even that you have a problem, you can’t fix what’s broken or improve.

3. Staffing for phones based on industry experience and not on personality. Many small business owners will have an employee with years of industry experience or someone who has worked for them for years as the person answering calls and being the first point of contact with their prospective customers. This is great as long as they have the right personality for the job and have the people skills to be an ambassador to prospective customers. Most skills (including phone skills) can be learned, but personality and attitude are almost impossible to change. It is much better to hire someone who is naturally upbeat, enthusiastic and conscientious and then train them on the proper skills.

MO: What are some long-term suggestions for increasing customer satisfaction?

Kirk: Make sure you have the right people on your team who genuinely want to help and serve your customers and never put money ahead of helping people. People do business with people, not with businesses. Success and money are a byproduct of helping people. If you chase money, you will always be chasing money because your customers will sense pretty quickly that all you are interested in is their wallet. You won’t get repeat business and referrals this way. However, if you focus on genuinely helping people, success and money will find you.

MO: What’s inspired you to launch a new mystery caller program to help small business owners better understand and improve their customer’s experience?

Kirk: There is a need in the marketplace. As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest causes of lost leads is because small business owners don’t know what their prospective customers experience when they are reaching out for help. Even if a business owner mystery calls his or her own business, they are viewing things from their perspective as an owner…not as a customer. They need to be able to objectively experience what a prospective customer experiences so that the good behavior from their staff is encouraged and the bad behavior is identified and changed. Most small businesses have limited marketing budgets so it is critical that they maximize their marketing ROI. This service helps them do just that.


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