CallTower is the leading provider of cloud-based, enterprise-class unified communication solutions for growing organizations worldwide. Impressive, right? CallTower takes the best of the best in business communication tools and integrates them into one reliable, easy-to-use platform. This platform delivers the specific technologies their customers need in a fully integrated solution aimed at cutting costs and improving business productivity.
As the top dog in integrated communication solutions, it’s important for CallTower to continue to offer the tools required by their customers for success. It’s also crucial for them to have internal processes that ensure they provide outstanding customer service.
We sat down with Tom Sullivan, Vice President of Direct and Wholesale at CallTower, to pick his brain on how the company makes it happen:
In your own words, can you tell me a little bit about CallTower?
Well to give you the full background on CallTower, I have to give you the background of SoundConnect. SoundConnect, under the name iCall, was started in 2004 by Shaun Chambers with a focus on content and collaboration. The company was very strong in the audio and web conferencing side of the business. In 2009, I came along to help with the relaunch and rebranding of the company as SoundConnect. The goal of the business itself was channel-directed and really focused on providing a good audio web business model for the channel partners. As one of the largest resellers of Microsoft Office Live Meeting, a web conferencing platform, Microsoft eventually asked us to be a partner and work with them on Microsoft Lync. As we embraced that new partnership, the company really started to grow.
Where did the idea for SoundConnect come from? Was there a need that you saw in the communications industry?
Both Shaun and I had recognized the lack of customer retention and service in the industry, so we wanted to create a company that catered to and served our customers first and foremost. In 2012, we started to see the paradigm shift where unified communications was starting to come into play. Our goal was to meet all the communication needs of the customer while ensuring they had the latest and greatest business communications at their doorstep… and in order to do that, we had to evolve with the next phase of business communications.
There was recently a merger between CallTower and SoundConnect. How does that work? How does it affect your business overall?
As SoundConnect began to grow, we started looking at other partners to help us with our unified communications offering. In order to scale, we had to decide if we would be able to get there by ourselves, or if we could join forces with a knowledgeable partner that had the same culture as SoundConnect. Since CallTower is #1 in the business for integrated communication solutions, we began working on a relationship with them. We started out simply as a reseller for them – but our direct sales for their channel grew quickly. As things progressed, they started looking at us for our conferencing and collaboration services, and we were looking at them for their business offerings with Cisco and Skype. We began to think that this could be so much more than a partnership or a white-label relationship. That’s when the idea of merging the two organizations came into play. Our employees and our customers always come first, so one thing we wanted to make sure of was that our companies were similar in culture and leadership. After a 10 month process, the companies merged in January of 2016 and we will ultimately operate under the CallTower name.
Now that you’re an even bigger company, what tools have become essential for managing your business as well as your growth?
Fortunately, both companies used some of the same communication tools, so there was a lot of synergy there. SoundConnect uses Skype for Business and Lync, but CallTower also brings the Cisco platform into the picture… and that is a big, big plus for the company as a whole. A lot of times we go into meetings with customers and they can’t, for whatever reason, use Skype for Business. But to be able to have Cisco as a side-by-side or secondary option gives us a more complete offering and a greater opportunity to take better care of our customers.
So you obviously do a lot of research when choosing platforms and tools that best benefit your customers. When it comes to internal tools, what made you choose Rev.io as your billing platform over others?
When Shaun and I first started out, we were handling the billing ourselves with Quickbooks. But once we started gaining so much traction in the business, we had several billing service providers knocking down our door. We ultimately settled with a well-known telecom billing company, but after two years we realized the customization and the flexibility that were lacking. Our relationship was strictly a vendor/customer relationship and there was no room for us to grow and scale like we wanted to. So we put out a mini RFP just to gather 4-5 companies and test them out. The one that kept coming to the top was Rev.io. We’ve now been with Rev.io for a couple of years and they meet our needs perfectly. They are willing and able to tackle our requirements, and offer customization that no one else could or would provide. We built the relationship to a point where we refer each other’s services all the time. They work so well with our team — it really is a partnership.
How has Rev.io impacted CallTower directly?
From a sales and marketing perspective, we were able to put bodies back on the team. We had more of our people engaged in the prior platform because it was necessary, but with Rev.io we’ve scaled down to just one employee managing the relationship. We’ve been able to send more accurate and timely invoices to our customers. Billing errors have been reduced to practically nothing. They also provide reporting and auditing capabilities that we didn’t have access to in the past as well as the ability to automate our A/R and agent commission services. We’ve been able to grow our revenue by 130% and double our customer base since implementing Rev.io — without adding additional headcount or resources to the billing process. We’ve also seen an increase in time due to automation in the collection process. Rev.io has really allowed us to narrow down the resources that it takes to continue to grow.
Lightning Round Questions with Tom Sullivan
If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
$20 million at this stage in my life … I would obviously take care of my family, but I would also reinvest in the employees that I’ve been working with for so long and grow the company to help us get to the next level.
If you could have dinner with an entrepreneur, living or deceased, who would it be? And what would you have?
There are many but I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs. He started a company, was pushed out, asked to come back and now look what he’s done with it. I’m also a big fan of lobster, being from Boston, so some sort of lobster dish would be a part of it. It always is.
Do you have any wise advice for how to maintain a healthy work/life integration?
It’s something we preach and do at CallTower. We hold each other accountable for business and personal goals; by doing that, not only do we know everything about each other and our families, but we invest time to get to know how each other are feeling, how things are going, if they’re happy, etc.
What is the biggest risk you have taken in your life or career?
Probably starting SoundConnect. I wanted to go out and start something myself, but I was going from the corporate world to a startup. You never know what will happen until you just jump in.
What are three words you would use to describe CallTower?
We connect people.