Laura Kall Laura Kall is a living reminder of the enduring enigmatic question, are leaders born or made? Laura was and is both. The daughter of networking legend Richard Kall, Laura grew up in a whole different world than her friends. Mom and Dad were always around, home when she left in the morning and there when she returned. The lifestyle was one continuous vacation, always with the best of everything. Rather than resting on the laurels of her lineage, Laura went out and hit the streets--literally--and did it the hard way. Today she is a networking icon herself, a million-dollar income earner who has pioneered a new technology, the "integrated online office," intent on leveraging and liberating networkers to work with greater ease and effectiveness than ever before. She grew so passionate about the technology that she went beyond the context of her own company and created a "generic" tool for any and all networkers. We recently spoke with Laura about what led her to her pioneering adventures with technology.

--JMF

Laura, how did you get into the business?

I knew I was ready for network marketing when I was 14 years old and went door to door selling the product from my parents' first company.

I had watched network marketing change my parents' lives before my eyes. My father had been in real estate; when he wasn't physically at his office, he was there mentally. Trips and family vacations were very limited and always based on what was happening in his business.

When they got into network marketing, everything changed. Our lives were based much more around quality time, really enjoying family vacations together and things of that nature. So when I was still young, I clearly knew that I wanted to do network marketing.

When I went away to college, I kind of lost track of that and started thinking more along traditional business lines. About a month before I graduated, I went home to visit, frustrated,

didn't know what I was going to do, wasn't loving the opportunities in the job market. I went to a meeting and said, "Oh my gosh--this is what I want to do with my life!" I joined and never looked back.


How did you get started?

 

I'd go stand in front of Penn Station or Grand Central Station and talk to strangers. I'd stop people and say, "Excuse me sir, can I ask you a quick question?" I caught people so off guard that they would give me their card; I averaged 20 to 25 business cards an hour.

Being the daughter of a famous networker has certain advantages--and disadvantages. I had no problem with belief: I knew unequivocally that the business works. That conviction carries through when you talk to people, and so much of the business really comes down to that.

The disadvantage I had was that everyone in my circle of influence already knew about our company and was either in it or knew they weren't interested. I had to build in the cold market.

So I'd go into the city--


This is New York City?

Right: I'd go stand in front of Penn Station or Grand Central Station and talk to strangers. I'd stop people and say, "Excuse me sir, can I ask you a quick question?" Some would just run by, but most would stop and say, "Yes?" I would say, "I know this is going to sound totally crazy, but I am expanding a new division of a billion-dollar company and I am looking for people who are open-minded to give me their business card, name, telephone number and would love to get back to you when we have more time to talk about it."

I caught people so off guard that they would give me their card; I averaged 20 to 25 business cards an hour. The next day I would call up and say, "Hi, remember me? I was that crazy gal who stopped you on the way to the train. I just wanted to let you know that I was serious about what I said."

I built my whole business that way, what I call "walking and talking."


On the East Coast, we call that chutzpah!

That's exactly what it was--and that's the problem: it wasn't duplicatable.

 

After years of talking to strangers in the middle of New York City, I realized that while this came naturally to me, it was impossible for most people. I started looking for good lead generation sources.

For me, the rejection was nothing; I'd just say, "Hey, they're strangers, if they say no, who cares?" In fact, I used to bring in teams of people and teach them my routine. I would station them all over in groups of two, and we'd meet back every hour to see who collected more cards. We made it a contest. And this worked--but these were all young, fearless individuals who had no problem talking to strangers in New York City!

After years of talking to strangers in the middle of New York City, I realized that while this came naturally to me, it was impossible for most people.

Most new distributors quickly exhaust their limited circle of influence, and say, "Now what?"--but they aren't going to go way outside their comfort zone or go hitting the streets of Manhattan.

I started looking for good lead generation sources, for ways that my distributors could find people who were already interested, already looking for a business opportunity.


What prompted you turn to the Internet?

Advertising in newspapers was saturated. Every time I ever placed an ad in a newspaper, I was competing against dozens of other network marketing companies--and often some of my own distributors! But when someone clicked on a banner I'd placed on the Internet, that didn't mean that they'd clicked on 500 other opportunities. The banner popped up and they were intrigued enough to click on it. I wasn't chasing after them with ten other people. I liked that.

Then there was the rejection factor--that is, the lack of it. People always feel very uncomfortable being rejected by someone they know, but it's not so bad getting rejected by a stranger over the Internet.


What you've done with the Internet goes way beyond lead flow; what made you start looking at "total integrated Internet solutions"?

 

I've learned that it's best to build things at the lowest common denominator. If there's a great way of delivering information but it's accessible by only five percent of the market, don't waste your time doing it!

I also found that most distributors were very poor with follow-up. Even those who were good at prospecting had their information on their prospects scattered all over the place.

As I was building my business, I'd create an index card for each new prospect, and keep everything--where I met them, information from every conversation--on that card. If a special meeting was coming up in New York, I would pull out my New York file. If there was an event in New Jersey, I'd pull my Jersey file. If I knew I had a number of potential customers for weight loss, and my company comes out with a new weight loss product, I'd know who to get that information to.

But most people don't take the time to be that organized with their prospects, so they don't have the adequate tools to stay in touch effectively.

An integrated Internet-based "office" lets you create a powerful database for all your prospects, so you can pull up those prospects from a specific locale, those who share a specific interest, or whatever subgroup--and then shoot a targeted e-mail to that group.


Laura, can say more about what you refer to as "good follow-up"?

Most new distributors simply don't know how to follow through with communication. We created a series of auto-responders so we can constantly trickle information to prospects; new information is always in front of them.


What kind of information?

It depends on what series they are placed in. We created a generic series that focused on the fact that you have a home-based business opportunity. We also designed our "office" so the user can customize a letter specific to your product or your business. You can create a training-oriented series for new distributors, so they are delivered information in a systemized way, getting this letter on day one, then that letter on day three, then this letter on day seven--so you're not barraging them with all of this information all at once.


What about lead flow, which is where the whole experiment started?

Right, that was the original impetus: providing quality leads. The Internet is the most cost-effective form of marketing; the cost per lead is so much less than it is in traditional media.

We set up our system as a group advertising co-op through which people can purchase leads. Being an ad co-op for so many people gives us buying power, so we can place banners on the largest and most-visited Web sites on the Internet--such as Yahoo!, MSN, Excite!, places like that.

The second a person clicks on a banner, he goes to a landing page where he submits his information, saying he wants to learn more about how to make money working from home. That lead is immediately assigned--in real time--to the next person in line, and goes to a content-specific information site about that distributor's business.

Meanwhile, we send an e-mail from the distributor to the prospect saying, "Thanks for your interest in my business, here's some more information," providing things like an on-demand conference call or a Web site to visit.

At the same time, we send an e-mail--again, in real time--to that distributor saying, "Congratulations, you have a lead--they're on your website right now," so he can pick up the telephone and call the person--and boom! they're communicating, person to person, in real time.

We use the Internet to introduce people, but recommend that they pick up the telephone and get face to face, develop that relationship. Technology doesn't develop relationships--it just heats up the context in which you can create relationships.


Laura, there are many lead-generating systems out there. What do people need to demand of a lead generation program? What should they look for?

Number one: How much time has elapsed before you get that lead's information?

This is critical; it's why we deliver leads real-time. Most lead generators batch the leads at the end of the night and then deliver them; or worse yet, they go through a broker, so that by the time that you get that lead, it might be days or weeks old.

Number two: is that lead exclusive? How many other people are going to get that lead?

Most leads these days are sold many times over--but that's no different from placing a newspaper ad! Our leads are sold to one person on a 30-day exclusive: for 30 days, you don't have to worry about anyone else picking up the telephone to call that person.

Number three: how well is the system automated?

We designed our system so our leads are automatically deposited into the follow-up and prospect management system. We have three series: one that's developed for training new distributors, one for prospects, and one for customers. You decide how to customize your system, and once you've set it up, the leads are taken through your process automatically.


How has your system been working in the real world? Are people getting it, seeing the power of it?

People love the system. We constantly get comments like, "I can't believe I ever built this business any other way." It makes things so much more efficient; it allows you to take your limited time and put it into things that matter the most, which is developing the relationship.

I tried to take the situation typically facing the new part-timer with very little experience, time or confidence, look at every problem I could conceivably imagine--and solve every one of them.

I'm organized--but truthfully, I really don't like the detail work of sending out information. I like to talk to people after they've reviewed the information--but for me, putting stuff together and shipping it off feels like a total waste of my time and energy.


Have there been any big surprises for you in development, or changes in technology that have caused you to have to change your plans?

The system has evolved tremendously, mostly based on feedback from our customers. Every 30 days it looks completely different to me! We rarely get rid of something, it's mostly just adding.

Also, the technology is constantly evolving. In the beginning, we were a little bit ahead of ourselves. For example, when we first launched our system three years ago, we had one of the first really full-blown Flash presentations. But most people's computers couldn't see them--either they didn't have the right software downloaded, or the Flash loaded too slowly. Today that's changed; many more people can take advantage of the technology.

I've learned that it's best to build things at the lowest common denominator. If there's a great way of delivering information but it's accessible by only five percent of the market, don't waste your time doing it!


What kinds of technologies are you playing with for the future?

Mostly things that will become accessible via broad-band. As more people get onto high-speed Internet access, that allows you to do a lot more fun things--delivering movies, two-way communication, having people live on a Web site so prospects can actually see the distributor talking...more applications that enhance the communication.

We're also working on ways to help target the messages, so that when people initially go to a landing page, there'll be more detailed questions that really identify that prospect's needs and desires.

We've introduced video-conferencing to some of our companies, more in a training context; but we'll soon see the ability to do this all the time--opportunity meetings with PowerPoint and audio streaming over the Internet, where the prospect actually asks questions that everyone in the auditorium can see and hear, in real time. Obviously you have to be able to monitor that, so you can control hecklers asking obnoxious questions. But we'll see all kinds of tools to enhance the communication and keep the relationship experience as strong as possible.

The relationship part is still the crux of it; everything we do is with that in mind.

The Internet allows you to stay in front of the computer while you're on the phone with your prospects and put information in their hands--right now! What used to take days, now takes minutes--and what used to take weeks, getting someone signed and trained and ready, can now take days.


How is the Internet going to impact the future of network marketing?

I think it enhances and speeds up the learning curve for distributors, and it allows you to put your time into those things that matter most.

When I first started, people would say, "Do you have any information?" and I'd have to put together a package, go to the post office and send it to them. It would be days before they would actually have the information.

The Internet allows you to stay in front of the computer while you're on the phone with your prospects and put information in their hands--right now!

From there, you can go right to three-ways with your upline and take them through all your other channels. What used to take days, now takes minutes--and what used to take weeks, getting someone signed and trained and ready, can now take days.

I see people achieving greater levels of success in much less time--and then having more quality of time to do what they really want to do.

To learn more about a FREE "integrated office solution" for your business, visit Networking Office at http://www.networkingtimes.com/office.