The "J" of J. Teleconnections Inc. is founder and Chief Executive Jody Weinberg. Based in Plymouth, J. Teleconnections is a firm other businesses hire if they want help getting appointments set up for their sales representatives. Weinberg describes it as a "boutique," with fewer than a dozen people working for it, so it does not operate as a call center. The staffers are working for businesses to reach other business people, and only to get an appointment and see if there's genuine interest in learning more about a client's product or service. Much like the fans of handwritten notes, they argue that in 2020 they have become more effective now that so much business communication is over e-mail and electronic messaging, Weinberg is a champion of using a telephone to fill a pipeline of potential sales contacts.

Q: You have been at this for a while, so when did you launch?

A: I was an employee of a couple of big insurance agencies, doing commercial insurance appointment setting. I did that for about 10 years. I went on my own in 2000. We're going to be in our 20th year in March, and what we are known for is setting very high-level sales meetings, that are qualified, with hard-to-reach decisionmakers.

Q: Does hard-to-reach decisionmakers mean the owners and managers of small companies, officers and executives of big companies or all of the above?

A: We don't do a lot of small-company work anymore. The large enterprise is kind of a niche of ours. We're talking about reaching C-suite level, vice presidents, directors. Once in a while we call a manager-level contact if the client feels they are a good target.

Q: Your tool is the phone?

A: Yes, we do use e-mail, but primarily it's the phone.

Q: A lot of people won't even answer their phones anymore, so in 2020 using the phone still seems to work for you?

A: The answer is unequivocally yes, but this is only achieved with the right skill set. We have even had decisionmakers say to us "Thank you for calling me to ask if I am interested before sending me something. I can make time for a meeting."

In addition, because it takes longer in our modern age for people to pick up the phone, you have to be able to make the most of those rarer conversations. By combining winning personalities, persistence, wit and good hunting skills, we are able to capitalize on this change in the marketplace.

The reason it works is really our people. They are very experienced. There are fewer and fewer who will pick up the phone, but the ones that do, the most important thing is the conversion rate. We don't hire out of any call rooms, this is not telemarketing. This is real live business development. Typically when we get a decisionmaker on the phone, we are converting one in three.

Q: Is that in line with the industry norm?

A: That's way above standard. That's ... the reason these executives are not picking up the phones, because everybody sounds the same. We get to the point, it's 2 to 3 minutes getting their attention, getting them interested enough, excited enough, that they will take a meeting to learn more. And then we qualify, just two or three questions to qualify.

If we do that, they are open to talking. But we're also targeting pretty sophisticated businesses. We are not doing financial services, banking or insurance. We're doing technology, wellness programs, things like that. We do work for venture capital and private equity, too.

Q: Is this a crowded and growing market segment?

A: There are more people [competing] than when I started. But everybody thinks of this as telemarketing, and it's just so not. Telemarketing is more [business-to-consumer] work, like roofing and siding, follow-up on your car service or credit card stuff. More people are doing it, but they are trying to do it with technology. They are trying not to use the phone. They are only doing e-mails, they're only doing LinkedIn messaging. We do e-mail, too, but if you don't back it up with a telephone call, it's a waste of a dollar. There's not enough people who want to do the telephone anymore.

Q: As CEO, do you still work client assignments and find making calls rewarding?

A: When you have a lot of business, and not enough callers, guess who's on the phone? Me, my chief operating officer and our client services manager. I had a caller just the other day, and their sales are already going, but regardless they're just in business a couple of years now. So I gave them a low hourly rate rather than a high hourly rate, because if I do that the money will come later. I said, 'Let's get you some appointments, let's see you close some deals.'

I feel really good about helping people. And it's really rewarding to see these people believe in what we do.