Biotechnology Symposium

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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the September 25, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Dialing for Dollars

<d>Amanda Puppo spends a substantial portion of her

days on the phone. The founder of MarketReach, a Cranbury telephone

marketing company, she specializes in getting busy decision makers

to agree to sales visits from her clients. It can take four, eight,

fifteen, or twenty calls just to get Mr. or Ms. Decisionmaker on the


Are there days when every receptionist is rude? When she is stonewalled,

sweared at, and lied to? Days when she hears Mr. VIP is in a meeting

for the 20th time in six hours or that Ms. VIP will be on a conference

call until Tuesday next? Does she get discouraged, depressed, even


"Never," says Puppo. "Most people aren’t rude because

I’m really nice. It’s a mirror effect."

It is impossible not to believe her. She is just so up, so friendly,

so brimming with youthful enthusiasm. A telemarketer a prospect could

love? Could it be true? Actually, Puppo prefers the term "telephone

marketer" to "telemarketer," and does appear to have an

approach that deflects the animus that automatically attaches to most

individuals who make a living by using the phone to persuade others

to do or buy things.

She shares her secrets on "Expanding Your Business Through Telephone

Marketing" on Monday, September 30, at 4:30 p.m. at a free Trenton

Small Business Week event at the Mill Hill Playhouse at Front and

Montgomery streets in Trenton. Call 609-396-8801 or register at

It is common to hear about entrepreneurs who started their businesses

after a decade or two of corporate experience. Puppo did not hang

around in corporate corridors nearly that long. A 1997 graduate of

the State University of New York at Albany, she spent a little time

at payroll giant ADP, learned one key lesson, and set out on her own.

"ADP is a $4 billion business built on kids right out of college

running around, collecting business cards, and calling prospects,"

she observes. If the system works for ADP, why couldn’t it work for

her? She quickly decided there was no reason it could not, and in

2000 founded MarketReach (609-448-6364; in Cranbury.

Less than one-and-a-half years old, the company has two part-time

employees, and is growing.

MarketReach does surveys, trains telephone marketers, and creates

lists of qualified prospects. But the bulk of its work is in setting

appointments for clients, many of which are in the IT industry. "Clients

used to knock on their doors," she says of this beleaguered group.

"Now it’s tough out there." She also has a specialty in representing

food and beverage clients, and especially coffee vendors.

You will never hear Puppo’s voice when you rush from the dinner table

to pick up the phone — and run headlong into a sales pitch. She

does only business-to-business telephone marketing. Her secrets for

success include:

Be persistent. "You need persistence, enthusiasm,

and the tenacity to plug away," she says. Forget about reaching

a prospect on the first try. Bagging a chat on the fifth or fifteenth

try is more realistic. "It’s tiring for some people," she


Keep excellent records. There is software, including ACT,

Access, and Goldmine, that tracks calls and sounds alarms when it

is time to make another call to a prospect. Choose one — Puppo

swears by ACT — and use it. A prospect may say "`Call back

in two months,’" she says. "If you do, you gain credibility."

Make the receptionist your friend. You need to make the

receptionist your ally. Many people look right past the receptionist,

or worse, treat her badly. Don’t. Learn her name, and use it. Make

her your friend, and chances are she will be honest with you. "Get

slightly personal," is Puppo’s advice for getting in good with

the gatekeepers. "They want to be treated well, and often, they’re


Lead with an assertive line. Breaking through to a decision

maker is the most difficult part of telephone marketing, no question

about it. Once you’re through, you can’t afford to blow the opportunity.

Start off with a simple statement of who you are, what you want, and

how long it will take.

Use benefit statements. During this short, sweet introduction,

let the prospect know what you can do for him. Puppo gives this example:

"I have clients in your industry; I’ve raised their bottom lines

20 percent."

Ask engaging questions. Keep the intro short, point out

the benefits of your goods or services, and then move quickly to questions.

Asking whether the prospect, for example, is now outsourcing IT consulting

or his employees’ coffee service engages him in a conversation. Following

up with more questions leads him further into your presentation. This,

says Puppo, is far better than trying to force him to sit still during

a monologue detailing all the advantages of your wares.

Initiate action. After establishing that the prospect

uses — or could use — goods or services like the ones you

are selling, move right on to close the sale or set up the sales appointment.

Puppo can close sales for her own business services over the phone

— and has done so, but she says most of her clients need to set

up a sales appointment. To get the ball rolling, she asks prospects:

"Do you have a calendar in front of you?" The purpose of this

question is to get them in action in response to her directive.

Don’t offer too many choices. While she has read that

it is a good idea to offer a prospect a choice of dates for a sales

call, Puppo prefers to take control of the timing. "If they’re

in Lawrence, and I’m going to be in Lawrence on Wednesday afternoon,

I’ll say `how about 3 p.m. on Wednesday,’" she says. If the answer

is no, she moves on to choices, asking how is Thursday or Friday?

One of the many reasons Puppo likes telephone marketing is that

its results are so easy to quantify. You know just how many calls

it took to make 10 appointments, how many of those appointments led

to sales, and how much money those sales generated.

A person who obviously loves her work, Puppo says she doesn’t have

to psyche herself up for a day on the phone. The fact that most of

the calls she makes are for other people’s businesses helps. Any rejection

she gets is not personal. "It insulates me," she says.

For Puppo, soliciting business by phone is a business. That also makes

it easier for her to cut her losses. Are there prospects who stonewall

her to death? Sure, and when they do, she says it’s time to say "Next!"

and to move on.

No matter what the message on the other end of the line, Puppo’s sign

off never varies. "I always say `Have a great day!,’" she

says, sounding like she really means it.

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Biotechnology Symposium

The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association and the Biotechnology

Council of New Jersey team up to present Biotech 2002: Opportunities

in the Nation’s Pharmaceutical Center. The two-day event begins on

Monday, September 30, at 7:30 a.m. at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott.

Call 800-231-0022. Cost: Workshop, $475; symposium, $600; workshop

and symposium, $975.

Sponsors include the New Jersey Commerce & Economic Growth Commission,

the New Jersey EDA, the New Jersey Technology Council, Bristol-Myers

Squibb, Covance, Merck, Hale and Dorr, GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth, Ortho

Biotech, and the University of Pennsylvania. Among the workshops:

Introduction to biotechnology for the non-scientist. This

session provides the non-scientist with a basic understanding of genomics,

proteomics, stem cell research, and gene therapy. Speakers, including

William Wunner of the Wistar Institute and James Maleckar

of Aventis Pasteur, explain these technologies and their implications

for drug discovery and development and other processes.

Business strategies for biotech companies. This session

examines fundamental business strategies for biotechnology ventures.

Focusing on companies in the initial start-up, early, and middle stage

development, it analyzes the critical issues underlying the creation

and management of life science companies. Speakers include Thomas

Penn of Meridian Venture and Michael Celano of KPMG.

Law and biotechnology. This session examines issues in

the law that executives need to understand to manage transactions

in the biotechnology arena. Recent deals and current trends will be

profiled, and break-out sessions permit more in-depth analysis of

these issues. Speakers include Manya Deehr and Randall Sunberg

of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

21st century technology transfer. This session is created

for university technology transfer officers and researchers to discuss

commercializing life sciences research. Participants discuss issues

with representatives of the National Institute of Health, Small Business

Innovation Research, Advanced Technology Program, and the National

Science Foundation. Topics include alternative funding solutions,

commercialization, licensing, and federal and venture capital resources.

Navigating the FDA approval process. The goal of this

session is to bring together senior representatives from the FDA,

small biotech companies, and large pharma companies to discuss regulatory/industry

interaction and ways to improve the process. Clare Kahn of GlaxoSmithKline


Virtual companies. With limited capital available to start-up

businesses, virtual companies are playing a more important role. Venture

capitalists explain why this concept is important for early stage

biotech companies. Mid-Atlantic area resources for virtual companies

requiring space, including the Port of Technology and the Technology

Center of New Jersey join the discussion.

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