Decision-maker. Gatekeeper. Office junior. Persuade them all
20 July 2023
Last week, we held a party to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. It was a fantastic event, bringing together everyone from the company to thank them for their dedication and hard work. Together, we have built a business that is set to thrive for the next 10 years and beyond.
This got me thinking about the lessons that you only learn when you run businesses for a long time. Too many business owners think only about the here and now. It’s easy to understand why. When there are new challenges and opportunities every day, it can be challenging to think a year or two down the line, let alone 10 or more. But I’d like to encourage every leader to take a beat and consider that long-term view.
What seeds could you plant now that will bear fruit many years from now?
It may make you think slightly differently about the decisions you make today. For example, in business, we are often told: “Prioritise the decision maker”. It makes sense: he or she holds the purse strings, so their opinion is crucial to making a sale.
“Don’t bother with junior staff.”
“If you’re not annoying the gatekeeper you’re not being persistent enough.”
I’ve heard all kinds of ruthless advice around leap-frogging people to get to the top management. But when you consider this advice through the long lens, as I am, you will see that it is flawed.
Yes, you need to make sure that the top management see the value in your product or service but I would argue that you need to work just as hard to persuade everyone at a prospective customer or current client that your offering is unbeatable and that you are a great partner to work with.
Here’s why: The people who are using BigChange software today, be they engineers on the road, office staff, personal assistants, or shop floor workers, they are the managers, entrepreneurs and decision-makers of tomorrow.
The way you treat these individuals today will ultimately affect whether they take your software on their career journey, or not.
I visited a customer this week and got chatting to one of the operatives using our software. She is smart, switched on, and ambitious. I knew, from a 10-minute conversation with her, that within five years she’ll be running her department. She’ll be calling the shots. If I treated her as though her opinion didn’t matter, I doubt we would keep her business. Instead, I hope that by taking her feedback on board, and letting her help shape the future of our tech, she will become an advocate for BigChange wherever her career takes her.
Making a good first impression can be very powerful, and lead to relationships that stand the test of time. When I met Peter Hawksley nine years ago, we got on like a house on fire. When I bumped into him again recently, we realised that he has taken BigChange with him to three different companies. Thanks Peter!
Junior users may not be decision-makers (yet) but they have colleagues and can be vocal on professional networks. They can influence their peers, both within their organisation and beyond. Never underestimate how this goodwill and word-of-mouth marketing could contribute to the long-term growth of your customer base.
Every person you meet has the potential to be a future ambassador for your business. The seeds sown today will bear fruit tomorrow.
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