Since she can remember, Laura Hylton wanted to launch her own business. She just didn’t know how to get started.
After a brief stint in sales and marketing for Business Journal of San Jose, Hylton decided to set off on her own.
Today Hylton serves as chief executive officer of Tactical TeleSolutions, a 100 percent woman-owned company she founded in 1991. The lead generation and event registration business boast clients such as PG&E, Chartis and Nestle Nutrition.
Below Hylton shares a bit of her knowhow and her particular recipe for success.
Ceo-watch.com: Where were you before Tactical TeleSolutions?
Laura Hylton: After I graduated from college, I answered a sales ad for the Business Journal of San Jose. I decided I wanted to be an investigative reporter but had to work my way up. So I applied for the sales position. Instead, I was hired for a clerical position, as I had no sales experience. I was fortunate to have met Don Keough, the publisher and editor. The newspaper was expanding across the country and I travelled around and helped set up 13 business weekly newspapers. I was in charge of marketing and telemarketing to sell newspapers to businesses as well as selling classified advertising. It was a great experience in terms of learning how to run certain aspects of a business, in particular, sales.
Ceo-watch.com: How did you arrive at Tactical TeleSolutions?
Laura Hylton: I founded the company in 1991—18 years ago. I borrowed $27,000 from my mother for the first year and was able to repay her the following year.
Ceo-watch.com: What does Tactical TeleSolutions do exactly?
Laura Hylton: (We) provide lead generation and event registration in the high tech, telecommunications, financial, healthcare and solar industries. Tactical TeleSolutions helps companies generate leads that convert to sales. Our primary focus is return on investment. Specific telemarketing services include appointment setting, lead generation, list building, market research, surveys, customer outreach and event registration.
Ceo-watch.com: What is your blueprint for success?
Laura Hylton: I am driven and, I think, I was born driven. My one role model was my boss in the newspaper industry, Don Keough. He was one of the smartest, charming and inspirational people I have ever met. If you listened hard enough and read between the lines, he was always trying to teach you something. I was fortunate to be able to work for him at the young age of 23 and learned a great deal because I listened.
Ceo-watch.com: What makes Tactical TeleSolutions different from the competition?
Laura Hylton: Experience and seasoned agents on the phone. TTS has been around for almost 19 years. Many of the employees have been with the company for five to 10 years. TTS knows how to make a campaign successful and work diligently, along with the client to ensure this happens. Seasoned employees share experience and strategy with clients to create a successful campaign. Philosophically, TTS believes that honesty, integrity and the desire to succeed fosters a good business relationship with clients.
Ceo-watch.com: How important is your website to generate sales leads?
Laura Hylton: Very important now that yellow page advertising and other advertising methods are no longer effective. Generating sales leads from our website is critical in terms of prospects being able to narrow down what they are really looking for, whether it be a woman-owned company or a telemarketing firm who excels at generating leads for an enterprise-wide application.
Ceo-watch.com: What’s your biggest headache at Tactical TeleSolutions?
Laura Hylton: When I started my business in 1991, I told myself that sales was the key component to a successful business. I still think this is true today. Sales is, and always has been, my biggest challenge. How to retain existing customers and bring in new customers, especially in a difficult economy. We try to surpass this challenge by paying close attention to our existing client base and providing value with continual suggestions for improvement and ways to increase return on investment. The level of value we are able to provide is extensive because we have been in business for many years and have the experience to guide our clients down the appropriate path. But the core component that runs throughout the company is our integrity and honesty with prospects and clients. This component is more important than the sale.
Ceo-watch.com: What drove you to this line of business?
Laura Hylton: I always wanted to start my own business but I didn't know what I should do. A woman who provided direct marketing for the San Francisco Business Times worked with an advertising agency that needed telemarketing. This woman offered me an office at no charge. She helped me prepare a proposal for the advertising agency and I was awarded the contract. It was for the chamber of commerce and industry for Normandy, France. We were to call into computer companies to see if they wanted to meet with someone to discuss relocation or opening a branch office in Normandy. After I was awarded the contract, I went to my mother to borrow money for a year and gave my two-week notice.