Sales & Commercial Director
The single most important thing that a business should understand about its customers is what it must be like sitting on the other side of the desk looking back at you as a business.
I hate the term “customer focused” because it implies that your business is looking at your client from the outside whereas what you really need to be doing is looking at it as if you were on the inside, looking out.
This means that you can then work together to find the right solution and hopefully your firm can provide that option!
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1) At the very beginning, I wish I had someone to help explain PAYE and NI and the way it mounts up and builds with every employee, being a start-up these costs have a massive effect from day 1, the trick to running a good business is to stop losing money. But HMRC make it very difficult if you are paying good salaries to hire good people. The costs cripple the business and make so many fail before they have even got started. 2) Getting customers to pay on time is an art in itself, don't bend over backwards to extend payment terms as the customer won't thank you for it in the long run, and it has a knock-on effect across the business with morale, stress, and causing doubt about if that customer is a good fit for the business. So don't be afraid to turn down work, as you are running a business not a charity. 3) Surround yourself with people smarter and better than you. This is a hard one as good people are not cheap, and neither should they be, but they are worth their weight in gold and more. My team are everything and I am blessed to be surrounded by such talented individuals that always deliver.
1. Set a relevant, clear and understandable mission for your business and communicate that regularly to your team (more often than you think). 2. Have objectives that relate to your mission and measure those every week, month, and quarter but understand that it isn't about hitting objectives that count, it's about learning why you did or didn't reach them and putting that learning into action. 3. Declare and live by your company values - don't paint them on the walls, paint them into your operating model and build them into how you decide what to do, who you expect people to do it and how you judge success.
Founder & CEO
Odyssey New Media
1) Passion - Successful founders are often people who don't focus on money but instead are humble and passionate about their business. The money and success will come later. Someone who enjoys their work and is passionate won't view the hard work in the early days as a problem because they will be focused on their passion. 2) Goal Setting - It's vital for any successful founder to set short, medium and long-term goals. When setting goals its also important to put time aside from the day-to-day workload in order to push through other actions to achieve those goals. 3) Being Analytical - There's a saying 'if you can measure it, you can improve it'. In my view and experience successful founders are often those who track metrics and work on improving them whether it is for staff performance, revenue targets or website traffic.
The problem. If you can articulate it better than the people experiencing it can, they will subconsciously associate you with the solution.
I'm from the B2B SaaS world where we need to work closely with our clients to make sure they are getting maximum value from our platform - otherwise, they won't renew. Value means different things and doesn't necessarily equate to $$$$. At Ada, we're a HealthTech platform and we work with our partners to save them money but, more importantly, to help them deliver better health outcomes to their end-users. Find out what value means to your client and work together on a plan to deliver it.
Head of Marketing
In B2B, it's easy to think of your customers as entities rather than sets of human beings doing their best to get things done. Especially as a marketer, it's dangerously easy to get seduced by what you can measure and overlook the fact that to have great, sustainable relationships you need to have good listening skills and a good memory. I'm lucky that I work with a team of outstanding Account Directors who provide me with a consistent stream of actionable information around their customer accounts. Nothing beats regular conversations with customers, but I'd say that the single most important thing for us to understand about our customers is: what are they trying to achieve? We use the Jobs To Be Done concept as the starting point for all our content and sales enablement planning, as it forces us to think of our customers as emotional beings who are looking to get things done - our job is to help make that happen.
Of course, established market players have advantages, but so do small businesses. Usually, it is harder for large businesses to stay flexible and react quickly when conditions in the market change. That is not the case for small companies, which often have better quality control and can provide a more authentic experience by directly contacting their clients. By turning the size of your company into a competitive advantage, you can be more valuable than established market players.
As a lawyer involved in the business and property world the first rule of marketing is to focus on existing client service. It is obvious but so often overlooked in professional services firms who are often chasing the next big marketing idea. Be of service and value to your clients and they will stick with you and recommend others.
Chief Sales Officer
Salespeople must have drive and empathy. They need drive to push past obstacles and risks that customers, competitors, and their own company, put in their way. They need empathy so they can think like the customer, understand what is motivating the customer and so the salesperson can see the customer's problems from the customer's perspective. For superstar salespeople, you need two additional attributes, inquisitiveness to have them search and seek for more information and to fully understand problems; finally, you need intellect because the more you can solve the customer's problem the more successful they will be. What salespeople can do to be successful is to think like the customer so they can understand their customer's problems. They need to take the time to think, not simply react and respond to a customer's demands. Finally, they need to be proactive. It is not the customer's job to buy our products - it is their job to do their job, successful salespeople do a lot of the work the customer needs to do in evaluating our products for the customer.