Dental Marketing Guy

Call Sumo Founder Ahmed Reza Interview

Transcript of Ahmed Reza on The Dental Marketing Guy Show:

Justin: And welcome to The Dental Marketing Guy Show, I’m Justin the dental marketing guy and today we have a guest who is gonna teach us all about how to use technology to track your marketing results. If you're investing in Marketing, let me tell you, tracking is so important. If you don't know what's working, why continue doing it? If you don't know what's not working, you could be spending money, putting it down the drain. What we wanna do is we wanna make sure your marketing is an investment not an expense and my guest today can help us do that. I have Ahmed Reza from, I think I said that right, right?

Ahmed: Yup. Hi. This is Ahmed Reza from Call Sumo.

Justin: Excellent, excellent. Yeah! And you know so you're a tech start up guy and you've been a tech geek for a while now. You started actually at NASA where you wrote the Image Processing Pipeline for the Spitzer Space Telescope. I don't know what that means but it sounds really impressive. And then you worked on Artificial Intelligence for Unmanned Arial Vehicles for the Department of Defense future combats systems program and then you wanna work on some start-ups and man, I'm just so honored to have you on the show. How you doing?

Ahmed: Doing great, great to be here, man. Thank you for taking the time out to do this.

Justin: Absolutely. You know I think we're gonna dealt in some really important things on, you know the other day I had, one of my friendly competitors on the show Wondrous Agencies and they were telling us about how important it is to track your marketing results but you know before we get into the nitty gritty of it, could you tell us maybe a short story of your back ground in dentistry and what caused you to choose this industry as your focus.

Ahmed: It’s really interesting actually because a lot of people ask me "how did you as a tech geek end up getting into dentistry?” For me it’s simple because my best friend, he's a dentist. Best friend since college so at one of my friends practices here, not one of my friends practices- one practice and I'm trying to figure out "Hey what do I wanna do?" so prior to this day I've been working on a couple of start-ups, I worked on kinetics which was bought by NCR and just loved the start-up life. Wanted to do one of my own and i was thinking "Hey I’m gonna write some really cool practice managements software or something". So I might practice looking at the practice management software, looking at the technology that they have there and in asking "How much are you paying for this?" and he said "Oh its 10,000 dollars but it comes with the computer itself". So I was looking and yeah 10,000 dollars is kind of expensive but then I dug more into it, it was really complicated piece of software as most practice management software is. And then as I was looking at another opportunity there suddenly I noticed an almost 3,000 dollars check on his desk and i go "dude, 3,000 dollars a year for yellow pages? And you're complaining about 10,000 dollars for those really awesome software? “He goes "No it’s not 3,000 dollars a year its 3,000 dollars a month". You know and-

Justin: For yellow pages

Ahmed: For yellow pages, right? And I'm going "I’m solving the wrong problem, I’m solving the problem that's interesting for me. What I really should solve was my friends problem here cause after telling me he's spending that much he goes "Actually I spend more on marketing" I have no idea what words but I think this brings me new patients and that's really important for me and as a one off I decided, okay let me see what I can do to help out. So helped him build up a website and did some tracking. Actually did a lot of tracking because i had no clue what i was doing as far as marketing is concern. Never done it before, right? So for my sanity's sake i wanted to make sure that if something was not working and if I could measure it, right? Would the advent of ad words, right? Things are measurable. One of the things that I noticed was it was hard to measure as soon as someone picked up the phone call and that's sorta where the Call Sumo journey started really early on. So I started measuring phone the calls by making sure when somebody calls in then that call gets recorded and that were able to tie the phone number to the specific search charm, the specific search channels. After 3 months we kinda compared what Yellow Pages was doing for him and what the other stuff that I was doing. Most of it was, you know, trial and error and just wanted to see, we've gotten them 1,000 phone call and Yellow Pages had gotten them 56. Our calls were all recorded, I listened to every single one of them. Basically classified every call by hand and it was painful to listen to a thousand phone calls and we continued doing that for a while cause that was the only way I knew for sure that this ad words thing is working or this order thing is not working, right? It’s giving you the wrong kind of issues.

Justin: So did you, I’m just gonna jump in. So when you say 56 calls from yellow pages and 1,000 phone calls from you were you running ad words, were you doing SEO, what direct mail?

Ahmed: We were doing primarily online, right? No direct mail or anything but we're doing we're trying out various things online, paid and unpaid, organic and things like ad words. Facebook ads didn't really exist back then so no Facebook ads. But organic, ad words through Google and we did some Bing ads as well, or Yahoo ads back then. The thousand calls though is misleading because this is where, you know, the tech geek side of me really comes out. A thousand calls but only 100 of those were new patients, right? And that's the benefit of having listened to the calls. I realized a whole bunch of existing patients were calling. Tons of marketers were calling, right?

Justin: I wish you guys wouldn't hang up on me like that. I keep sending you emails, my assistant in India keeps sending you emails. I wish you'd stop cooking spam, please.

Ahmed: So, yeah. The 56 phone calls from Yellow Pages, it wasn't recorded so if it was anything similar to the rest of the data, right? It wasn't 56 new patients, you can bet that much. And then there were others who called to check on the price but didn't come in, right? So there was a lot of data there and more importantly now there was a path to improving it every month and month over month his marketing improved. The funny thing is i still didn't think i really had a solution, you know i was looking for more technically challenging problems to solve which I eventually found in this. There are two other dentist at the Thanksgiving dinner going "Hey you know this Yellow Pages thing isn't working for us. So and so said that you were helping them out, could you do that for us too?” So as I started doing more and more of these I started getting dentists across the country who wanted help and I actually sought out dentists across the country primarily so I could get data points from different locals and different geography's and then I could start classifying those calls and I used the word classified because that's a machine learning term. To me this seemed like a problem that could be solved through AI, through machine learning. Predictive analytic specifically, you know? And we tried out Algorithms to try to automate a lot of the marketing and to give recommendations on what to do. It took about a year and a half before we saw the results. It burned through a lot of money before that but about a year and a half later this one dentist was getting 70 new patients a month through mostly algorithmic stuff and you know the dentist called me up. I thought he was just gonna call and yell at me because I hadn't looked at his account and a little while he called me up and he said "Whatever you're doing its amazing" I'm not doing any of the marketing side.

Justine: What, sorry, when you say Algorithmicly, just for the listeners who are a little less tech savvy. Are you talking about SEO Algorithm? Or are you talking about, explain to us what you mean by Algorithmic.

Ahmed: Algorithmicly meaning, so if you have a whole bunch of calls coming in and from something like ad words were we know which key words got you the calls as a matter of fact in our early days even through organic search we could tell which key words got you the calls, alright. Which something like ad words or most paid ads online you can immediately go back and say "Hey i like these calls, I want more of these so I'm gonna bid higher for these key words." So the Algorithm does, you have to identify initially that which calls you think are good because not calls are created equal. Once you identify that, basically our system can send signals to google ad words letting them know I’m willing to bid more for these key words so as they all start coming in more and more kinda starts to accelerate that.

Justin: So you guys actually, you're developing software to automate the process of bidding on ad words, is that correct?

Ahmed: Well, actually sorry. I went off into a tangent there. That's one of the things our software does.

Justin: Yeah.

Ahmed: Our software, Call Sumo is actually the call tracking system itself. The call tracking system that can tell that this is a new patient, this is an existing patient that was our big break. So remember before we had to sit there and listen to every phone call and try to figure out what it was so the Algorithmic marketing is great except, you know, if you’re sitting there listening to every single call, you know. You're not going to do anything else. So what we ended doing is we ended up integrating what practice management systems like Dentrix, Eaglesoft, and what have you. Integrate it with most of the practice management systems out there and we started getting data out, about for the existing patients so when a call comes in we can do a look up and we can say "Hey is this an existing patient or is this a lead?"

Justin: Right. Now practice management software's open demo?

Ahmad: Yes, Absolutely.

Justin: Okay, Cool. Right on. Yeah, that's really interesting. Okay, so if we could maybe just go over a checklist really quick of all the different things that Call Sumo does.
Ahmad:  So Call Sumo is call tracking, essentially it will tell how many calls you're getting, it records the phone calls, what's different about it from other traditional call tracking system is that it can identify whether the person who's calling is an existing patient or a new patient. That sounds like a really simple thing but it's actually pretty difficult to do. It can then, on top of that, it can give you recommendations, it can stir you towards marketing that's working, you know. Tell you what to do and another big feature of Call Sumo- what our customers are really excited about is the caller ID feature. So before your phone even rings, if you're using Call Sumo, right? And a new customer calls you even before the phone even rings. There’s a dialog box that pops up on your computer and it lets you know that there is a new patient on the line and it lets you know what they're calling about.

Justin: Wow

Ahmed: So before you pick up the phone you know you got a dental implant patient on the line.

Justin: That's excellent. Now, how do you do that? Is that through tracking the key words? So like if you're entering Implant Dentist San Francisco, California and they click on that. That keyword now goes to the office and it shows what keyword they clicked or how does that work?

Ahmed: Right, so one of them is keywords the other thing is as soon as you go to any of our websites we start tracking you. We use cookies to track you as a visitor and the phone number that you'd see we have tracking script that switches the phone numbers around. So the phone number that you see is based on where you're coming from.

Justin: Right.

Ahmed: So, I’m sorry, so when somebody clicks on that ad word we know that they clicked on those key words. However, somebody comes in from organic we can tell what they were hanging out on your dental implants page or that they were hanging out on your contacts page or they were checking out the doctor. There's a lot of data that we have available and we use that data to infer what they were likely looking at but the big thing is before you pick up the phone you know you have a new patient on the line and more importantly, let’s say you're on the phone already with the lab and you have an existing patient on the line, you're really busy and you're thinking about not answering that phone call. Those new patients aren't call you back again, right? And for marketers it drives marketers crazy like okay I'm getting you these leads and you're not even answering the calls. This almost eliminates that because it pops up the dialog in front of the front desk and goes "You should take this call, right?" And then the front desk is able to identify that call to us as well after the call is done they can say "Hey this was a really great lead, send me more of these" or they can say "No it wasn't a really good lead because it's an existing patient" or as a marketer that's calling and those take different paths. So the system is intelligent, it's always learning. Learning about call behavior, you know? What marketing's working for you, what channels more existing patients call from?

Justin: Excellent. Now that's really cool, I mean we've got so many dentists who pay for SEO and they do it and as someone that does SEO for dentists I pull my hair out like you said, you know "Why aren't you answering the phone?" But the thing is a lot of dentists think, kinda going off on a tangent here, a lot of dentists think SEO is something you have to do. It’s not something you have to do and it’s not for every dental practice. I mean if you did, if every dental practice is doing SEO and they all have a website that was great. There would be no way to stand out. It would be half those dental practices are completely wasting their money. So, you know, selecting the right medium be it Google, Facebook, direct mail. Whatever medium you're using, ad words, you gotta find the right fit for your practice and by tracing the results you’re able to test this different mediums and see which one works for your practice. So i really like the data driven. I like this, I think that AI and machine learning and all this, I think this is the way of the future. I think the way that search engines are going, it’s gonna become more sentient as time goes on. It’s gonna be more human like, it’s gonna be the real brands. It’s not gonna be the companies that are just like "Hey here's five grand a month, get me ranked for this keyword." It’s not gonna work that way as easily in the future and I think that what you're doing, Ahmed, is really important for dental practices to test different mediums and see, okay whats really working because sometimes you just don't know until you test and you know it’s funny. Even if one of your competitors is, say another local dentist is using direct mail effectively, that doesn't mean its gonna work effectively for you because there are so many variables so you could test it and then say it doesn't work because you tested it and you tracked it and you realized "You know what, direct mail isn’t for us" it works for Dr. down-the-street but it doesn't work for us and the fact that, you know, you tell this story about the dentist writing a 3,000 dollar check for Yellow Pages. Could you tell our guests what year was this. Was this 1862 or what year was that?

Ahmed: Yeah, so. This was about four year ago when this happened.

Justin: Wow, it wasn't even the phone book with like written with the quill and the payers

Ahmed: No it was definitely pretty recently. I was surprised that yellow pages works. Now not to rag on Yellow Pages because being in the whole quantitative marketing space what we started seeing is Yellow Pages does actually work in Florida and in certain places. A lot of retired communities here, right? That will use the Yellow Pages and like you said the whole quantitative approach to marketing is crucial and what we're trying to do is make that easier. When we first started doing it, right? Me being a geek I had to put in like 100% of my time to figure this thing out but that's no longer the case, right? With our software you're able to figure out whether someone is a new patient or an existing patient within, you know, minutes before it used to take me hours to listen to calls, classify the calls, figure out the reports, figure out what to do. But quantitative marketing has been there, the big companies are using it. Amazon uses it, all the time. Algorithmic marketing and something that the companies were using but a lot of these technologies really haven't trickled down to the guys that really needed the most like dentists, like small business sellers, right? On the other plus side of it one of the segments we're really excited about is marketing agencies have taken very very positively to this because most of the marketing agencies work really hard and this really helps them prove to their customers what they're doing and the fact that their marketing efforts are bringing in actual patients. You know, just like you said it might be tearing your hair out- why aren't we answering the phone and also sometimes it out of sight out of mind, right? The caller ID being there makes it much more front and center but hey, you know, my dumb marketing guy is working.

Justin: Yeah, yeah. It’s so important and I really like it. I'd invite the account ability because I have in the past had clients in the past who believed that SEO wasn't working for them and it's because they weren't answering the phone and you know one of my biggest qualms with SEO, I believed that SEO was a really really good way for many practices to build their business the way they want. But one of the qualms I had with SEO is it's tough to track compared to ad words, compared to direct mail, compared to slapping a tracking number on it. It's very difficult to track it geometrically but what you're talking about is really interesting to me because if you're able to see based on the data- this person spent 2 min and 33 seconds on the dental implant page and that affects, you know, what's shown to the front desk. You know I would say, here's the thing, Dental Marketing is an easy sell to dentist but is a really tough sell to front desks that don't have any incentive, who are already working their hands to the bone. They're not gonna see they're not gonna share the profits with the dentists. You know, just coming at you unscripted here, totally unscripted, a question for you, and let me know what you think cause this is really interesting. For the front desk who's watching this show- Why should he or she care about your software?

Ahmed: So we have actually had a, I don't want to say the most enthusiasm but one of the top most enthusiastic users of  our software are the front desk because it makes their life so much easier, right. Yeah, because I think about it, right? How hard is it at every single time the phone rings you pick up the phone and you answer in a very artificial voice, right? And you try to keep a checklist of a million things in your head to say it like this, right? Versus if I knew that just was calling me, right? Just like a caller ID on your phone, you pick up the phone and go "Hey Justin, how's it going?" There are systems like we were able to identify existing patients but you know their system like we have that you specifically go after good customer service. So before you pick up the phone you know that it's an existing patient calling. So the benefit that they have is when should they really bring all of their training to bear, right? When should they really bring their A game when that dialog pops up and says lead, you bring your A game, alright?

Justin: Great, yeah and so by A game you mean it's not an existing patient who's calling to cancel.

Ahmed: Right.

Justin: It’s that you paid to generate as a lead.

Ahmed: Right, and even though some practices do profit-sharing, other don't but regardless I think once when someone works at a certain place they have that pride of working there and making sure that business as a whole team does not well. So as soon as we get this thing set up we see the conversion numbers go up because now they're incentivized by knowing that "Hey this is somebody that the doctor paid money to call. I better pick up the call, answer it well, and make sure they come in, become a patient, right? And you know because if you don't get new patients your business isn't going to be around for long, right?

Justin: Right, and that's something I think there's a disconnect in some dental offices and this is something that you know, a coach who understand internal marketing and team building of things like that. We've had some people on the show who do that sort of thing but you know I think that's something that can be worked on with the dentist, between the dentist and their team. But definitely like you said. I mean when it comes to that cost of raised living, you now that the cost of living raise and things like that, you know? It's like at that time that you go to the dentist and you say you know, look I deserve a raise. Look, here's why, because here's all this data every time someone calls and it’s a new patient. I pick up the phone. That is hugely powerful. I mean that is something that every dentist should respond to. If your front desk and you're watching this, this is something really important to say look of most dental offices. We had Fred Joyal on the show the other day and was telling me "You know a lot of dental offices, they pick up the phone three out of four times" What that fourth call? A lot of times it’s a new patient.

Ahmed:  If you're running a business you really got to be better about it and that's exactly what we're bringing to the table for small business, for dentists is that extra bit of technology that helps you become more professional, more accountable, and you know in the end it help you make lots more money.

Justin: Right. Well excellent man. Well, hey I'll give you a last word here. I'd love to have the viewer’s find out where they can find you and what you can offer them.

Ahmed: So they can find us on, online. And you know we have intercom set up meeting, we have live chat. Somebody has any questions we're happy to answer. We've been having quite a few people singing up ever since we got featured on dental town and we're lucky to be getting a lot of referrals so bear with us for being a little bit slow in responding but yeah, you can find us on, please send me a contact request or just chat with us online. As far as the specials I wanted to offer an exclusive dental marketing guy special.

Justin: Yes.

Ahmed: 50% off on out setup cost and I'm going to send you the code for it so dental marketing guy special fifty percent off the setup costs.

Justin: Excellent, thank you thank you. Man, that's so great and I’m sure the viewers appreciate that. Guys this might be worth checking out because tracking your results. I keep hammering this, this is so important. Yeah, huge honor to have you. It was really educational. I love the story about the 3,000 dollar Yellow Pages. Man that's some funny stuff right there. I mean not funny, it's actually kind of serious but I thank you very much and you know, to you who might have questions, you know if you're not ready to call sumo. Maybe you should just put some questions below. If there's anything that we didn't touch on that you're wondering about. I don't care if you're a dentist, front desk, dental hygienist, dental assistant. Let us know what you're thinking and let us know if Ahmad or myself can help you in anyway. If you find this on the dental marketing guy blog, if you find it on social media, dental town. Wherever you find it please feel free to reach out. There's nothing wrong with asking a question and we'd love to hear from you. So once again thank you, Ahmed.

Ahmed: Thank you, Justin .

Justin: And thank you for watching the dental marketing guy show.

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About the Author - Justin Morgan

Justin Morgan is the CEO and founder of what most of us affectionately refer to as the “DMG.” From all circles within the dental industry who address dental marketing as a topic, Justin Morgan is the dental marketing guy that everyone keeps talking about.
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