Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Part 2 of my mentoring questions: Selling stuff

I know how easy it is for entrepreneurs to be obsessing over sales — especially before you have any, and especially if you don’t know how to sell. And many entrepreneurs don’t. They are enthusiastic experts in their field, but rarely do they have the benefit of having gone through a career in sales and marketing (I consider myself VERY lucky that way, and that’s why I have decided to Pay Forward what I’ve learned.). 

 (Missed the first 5 questions? Click here)

The Anti Crow Rule

I asked my Twitter followers a while back if Marketing or Sales was harder to get right, and the majority said Marketing. I believe the two are closely linked, and if you get your marketing right, your sales will come. I strongly encourage having a clear image of who your customer is, and to segment your market. MAKE CHOICES and stick to them. I call it the Anti Crow Rule: stay away from the shiny objects! It is VERY easy to get distracted, and as an enthusiastic entrepreneur we are flattered and grateful when someone wants our stuff. Don’t get me wrong, do sell….just stick to your overarching plan. 

 

Bank people DO make good friends

If you don’t have finance experience, I strongly encourage you to collaborate with someone who can build you a solid budget, including cashflow projections. Not only will it save you eons of time, it will also ensure you won’t find yourself in a situation that you have a profitable business but no money o pay people or buy stock with. In addition, it will also make any bank conversations you will have a lot more productive. (I never borrowed any money to start my companies, but I do recognise that it is very common to have to do that. And even if you don’t need a cash inflow at the start, having your bank team well informed is a plus should you ever need their help and/or advice. 

 

I am done for tonight, but I do want to talk Exit strategy (because you need not just one but several, and I don’t mean just different versions of you selling your company to the highest bidder and taking off to Aruba) and what/when/how to abandon your plan. 

 

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(No spam, no selling of your data, no me selling to you. I #neversell and am just Paying It Forward. Why? Because I can.) 

The 5 First Questions I Ask When I Start Mentoring An Entrepreneur

When I talk to people who are just about to start their own company, they usually have one thing in common: they are experts at what they do. While that is a GREAT thing to get you to where you can deliver a FANTASTIC PRODUCT OR SERVICE, it usually is NOT what you need to get started.  

Why? Because you should NOT BE SELLING ANYTHING yet!

Let’s start in the other end, shall we? Here are the questions I usually ask.  

  1. Don’t tell me what you’re going to do first as you try to sell stuff. Tell what problem you will have solved 10 years from now? (Someone said “To make aviation have zero environmental impact”. Another one said “All clothes will be made to measure”; Excellent!)
  2. What do you need to have accomplished in 5 years to make that happen? (As you can tell, timings here are arbitrary — that depends on who I am talking to. Point is, it starts from the future and goes back to today.)
  3. How will you bridge the income gap until you are into your core business? And how will you make sure you don’t get stuck in that “bridge business” as people start knowing you?
  4. What is the vision in your head (and we all have one — once you start talking about it you realise you know more about your future business and plans than you thought!)? Do you have employees? How many? Where is your office? Will you employ people or work through contractors? 
  5. And then, my favourite question of all: Describe your customer to me. Is it a person or an organisation? (If you say organisation, I say Dig Deeper. It is ALWAYS a person. Always.) Who is she/he? What does she do? What does she like? What is her motivation? Is she a cat or a dog person? Does she do team or individual workouts? Heels or sneakers? You get the point. DESCRIBE your customer, and THEN start thinking about how to package and sell your product, what marketing channels to use, if social media is relevant (and which one?!). 

RELATED: 7 words I don’t allow in Customer communication

That’s it for tonight. More on this, plus the selling part and some thoughts on bank solutions next week.

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Why I Sacked the Sales Rep

Medical Device world is filled with them. Two categories, with the same goal: sell stuff. Either the seasoned professional who has been around since “the good old days when we could all go drinking together” or the new, slick, shiny looking rep determined to prove themselves in their first job. Measured to 90% on their sales results, they are quick in, eager to make a deal…and will move on within 18 months.

A sale is impersonal and fleeting. It doesn’t on its own create a consumer. A loyal customer believes in you, not only your product. The days when we did a sale and moved on are long gone, and we need to let go and take a new shape.

Read more on communication here

Nobody likes being “sold to”!

I have never met anyone who likes the phone sales people who hang up as soon as they realise you’re not buying. Ever been in the position when you’ve bought something you didn’t really need or want, and walked away with a bad taste in your mouth? Well, in medical device world it is coupled with moral.

How on earth can someone with a Marketing or Economics diploma tell a doctor how to use a medical device? Makes absolutely no sense (unless we consider 7 years of medical school a complete waste of time…?).

Don’t chase a sale and make sure you know your facts.

In the medical device world, it is absolutely crucial that we remember where the responsibility lies for each role. Pharma and medical device should inform about the facts of a product…and be 100% accurate.

The customer has the responsibility for what product they buy, but also for how that product is being used and what the outcome is for the patient. Don’t aim for making a sale, and never EVER attempt to treat a patient. Aim to inform and educate. Once you shift your focus, the entire process will transition into thinking for the future, not just for today.

Changing the thinking and approach ultimately drives ROI because cultivating repeat customers is less time-consuming and less expensive than creating new ones. Focusing on your customer experience in EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION increases the likelihood that people will come back. If you want a good ROI, spend as much time and money on improving the customer experience as you would on conversion.

Related: 4 Vital Lessons Sales Teams Should Take from Customer Service

What keeps a consumer coming back for more?

For medical device and pharma it is obviously all about patient outcomes — this translates to managing expectations in the customer so they know what to expect. The medical device is only as good as the customer is, so education and information plays an enormous role in the end result.  And then, whether it’s convenience (making it easy and reliable) or company culture (donating products to charity), customers need a compelling reason to choose you time after time. Be clear, honest and objective. Never push a sale, but focus on observing needs and match it with your offering. And that is exactly why I made the decision to completely eradicate our sales team. I don’t hire sales people anymore.

Focus on what’s most important: create trusting relationships. It is more relevant, more cost-effective, much easier and a lot more fun!

How I Run 3 companies and Work Part Time: 2 Lists

I run three fast growing organisations, with in total 12 employees. None of them have been around for longer than three years, and all of them are growing double- or triple digits. As you can imagine, life doesn’t stand still.

I work part time. Why? Because I firmly believe we all need balance.

My partner has a high profile job, and we have two lovely children, eight and two years old. I also spend time in Sweden to see my father as much as possible, and to help with his care (he is a prostate cancer fighter).

How? Simple. One simple but crucial rule… and the lists of things I do, and things I’ve decided to stop doing.  But first:

The Rule: No guilt. Ever. I am where I have chosen to be, and guilt has no place.

List of things I do:

  • Drop off and pick up at school most days
  • Uninterrupted playtime with kids between 17-19
  • Share 50/50 with the kids’ father (it is 2016. Par for the course. Come on.)
  • Mow the lawn every Sunday.
  • Hire people who are brilliant and let them do their jobs
  • Maintain responsibility for hiring, new product development, finance and strategy.
  • Start every day by thinking “What is the thing I can do to make the businesses more successful today?”. And then I ACT on it. Relentlessly. Every. Single. Day. I don’t have time to fiddle around.

Click here to read why I sacked the sales rep

Things I don’t do:

  • Cook
  • Clean
  • Laundry
  • Work in the evenings or on weekends
  • Micromanage my staff
  • Have a gym membership (I sneak in exercise with the kids. I do awesome cartwheels by now)
  • Watch TV (apart from BGT!)

I am the first to admit that despite my fairly straight forward plans, it is far from perfect. I get distracted and enthusiastic (a couple of weeks ago I spent over 10 HOURS on making an App. Completely stupid. Not ever a GOOD app….!) and sometimes I read emails during my sacred Kid-Time, and almost always at bedtime. But I have to be proud when I look at the overall picture, because I can see it works. I spend quality time with my kids every day, and I get more done during my limited office hours than most other people I speak to.

Someone told me I was really lucky. I both agree and disagree. I didn’t get here by chance, and it took a while, so luck had very little to do with it. That being said though: I tremendously appreciate what I have.

If you work long hours, perhaps I can inspire you to get a better balance by prioritising harder too? Or if you have something that works better, please add your advice to the comments? Thanks, and thank you for reading.

 

How Twitter Made Me A Better Leader

Communication is never easy, and I do all of mine in my second language. In addition, I employ several people who don’t have English as their mother tongue.

No wonder it can be a challenge sometimes.

There are many studies showing how different cultures communicate, and how that pattern change under pressure. One of my favourites showed a dramatic difference between Finnish and Italians who were told to give verbal instructions to a partner. The partner was instructed to “not understand”, at the same time as the time to complete the task was reduced to increase stress on the communicator.

The Finnish group made sentences shorter, and included silence. The Italian group increased both volume and words, coupled with hand gestures.

Twitter forces me to really think about what I want to say, and how to make it as succinctly as I can. It isn’t as easy for me to find the emotionally loaded words in English as it is in Swedish, so it makes for a great education.

I have discovered that the extra thinking that goes into that makes me better as a leader. I communicate clearer to my team. Perhaps Twitter forces that extra thinking time that we all need to be really good at what we do.

However….I am not suggesting we all become Finnish. The result of the study was that while there was a big difference in the method, the outcomes were largely the same between all groups.

 

Someone stole our control unit — we went guerilla marketing

Thursday morning. Call from E at the congress. Someone has stolen the control unit for one of our products. The box was sitting under a table at our stand with several other exhibitors in the same location, but we have no idea who else had access to the room.

First I got offended. How rude! And then, quickly….anger. Who isn’t playing fair!? Come on, competition is healthy and good, as long as there is moral and ethics as a foundation.

But then, as the team corralled and started looking for a solution (we needed another unit there asap — the congress was starting, and we needed SOMETHING to demonstrate our new launch product with!), I sat down and though about it.

We would turn it into a Big Win. lisa marie_Missing ball and chain

Marketing made posters with a “MISSING LISA MARIE” theme all over them, and we plastered them all over the venue. We spoke to everyone about it, and we emailed all attendees. Our product ended up being the most spoken about, and even now, a week after the event, people ask how it is going. (It hasn’t been found yet, but if you have any idea where it is located, please email lisamarieisnot@junemedical.com)

Do I have any idea where it may be? Yep. But I prefer to think people are good, and there is no point in making accusations that have no proof, even if there is motif. I will put my inner Sherlock to bed and move on.

 

 

I don’t even have a will…!

Lots of things to manage when you’re running your own little shop. Todays challenges:

  • I don’t have a will. I know that is really bad, and I need to get to it. But as a business owner, anything that isn’t directly or indirectly leading to someone wanting to buy my stuff automatically goes on the Yellow List (Pink List: Today stuff. Blue list: Tomorrow stuff. Yellow list: Later stuff).
  • I have to start a company in Ireland.
    I have absolutely no idea how to do that. Oh, and hire someone too. AND I need to start trading on January 1 2017.

So the first one is pretty simple, right? (apparently my suggested solution to the Financial Advisor of “Not Dying” wasn’t as funny as I thought. Oh well. )

  1. Make list of assets
  2. Make a will
  3. Appoint power of attorney

The second one….good thing I can reach out to my Trade Advisor at UK Trade & Investment for things like this. She will know what to do (or know someone who knows).

In short, on my To Do list for this weekend are:

  1. Don’t die yet; make will first
  2. Don’t get tempted by scruffy looking simple solution on how to incorporate in Ireland; talk to some sensible people who actually know what they are doing.

And on that note: Goodnight.