Transcript: SME Lab - Jessica Chivers, The Talent Keeper Specialists
Jessica Chivers: We're in the process of helping employers hang onto their best women at key times, key career transition times. So it's about saving businesses money, helping them hang on to people who are really key to the ongoing success of that business. What I'm really hoping to get from Ruth today is an insight into the best ways that we can go about thinking about the market that we're playing in and, I guess, the best return on our time and marketing budget to get the kind of business that we want.
Ruth Badger: For the next three hours, what I'm going to pretend is that we're business partners, I own half the business, we're going to talk through all the things that I would genuinely do if I owned the business with you in order to get it sorted, okay? What is the name of the business?
JC: The Talent Keeper Specialists.
JC: And that's a sub-brand of Jessica Chivers consulting, which is a bigger offering, and this is all around helping organisations hang on to their female talent. Huge numbers of women fall away when they've had their first child, their second child, so of course if you're losing women at that stage in their 30s you're not going to have women getting to the top of organisations.
RB: When you look at a start-up, and I've got years of experience in starting up businesses, one thing I'm going to say to you is, any business that I've ever helped start or started myself, where I've sat down and gone: 'Do that, do that, do that, do that' and put all the money it, it's never worked.
Everybody does it differently, and it's about you finding your own niche in your own way. But there's certain things along the way that are really important for you to do, because you're not selling an easy solution, alright? Because people like me get it, but that's because of my background and my education. Not because, you know, would I look at you and go: 'actually, you're going to make me loads of money'? The answer is no. I believe in what you do, I could see a commercial value to what you do, it's how you tell me about it which is the problem.
I'm going to say the first thing, I work on this basis, this is something that I've done all my career, especially when starting a new business, of the three W's. Now this is a powerful, powerful thing to do, even though it sounds the daftest, most simplest, right? Who are you? What do you provide? And what the bloody hell makes you different?
And when businesses walk in, that aren't you, they have been trading for two, three, four, five years, and I say to them: 'Who are you?' And they'll go [chattering noises], they don't tell me anything about them. You have to understand what you provide and actually what you tell me you provide is different to what you say you provide.
So you talk about mat leavers, maternity leavers - I've got 50 staff in an office, and my staff have got no pregnancies. So you're telling me then, if you only work with companies that have got mat leavers then there's no requirement for your services?
RB: So, that's exactly why you have to be careful with your language, because acceptance back into the workplace isn't just about maternity. You don't give me any of that.
When we do the three W's in a business, who are you is not: 'My name's Ruth and I'm 34,' I'll talk about my business credibility, how long I've been doing it for , what I do, how I focus, and what I do is very far. What do you provide? I go straight away from the detail there. I said yesterday to somebody: 'I'm the conversion queen of this country' and straightaway I got their ear, right, I got their ear. They were like: 'Oooh, tell me more about that.' If I'd said: 'Well, I'm the lead-to-sale queen of the country' they would have completely missed the point and gone somewhere else. And this is all marketing. You know, you look at my website and within the first line of my website it tells you who I am, what I do, and what the bloody hell makes me different.
So it's about understanding what your actual, what your elements of it do you need to go to and what do you need to say in order to engage with these people because, listen, there's loads of coaches out there, there's loads of talent managers out there, what makes you different?
JC: Well I guess there's a few things...
RB: I'm gonna give you three reasons as to why you're different. 'I'm not like any other talent manager out there, I'm not like any other coaches, because first of all I'm an educated woman and I'm an expert in my field, and understand legislation like nobody else in this country, which is why I'm seen and recognised by all the professional bodies.
Secondly, what I do works. There's a testimonial, there's a testimonial, there's a testimonial, there's a testimonial; it works. If I say I'm going to do something, it works.
And the third thing, there's the commercial benefit. So, there's a case study, there's a case study, there's a case study.
I really want you to do different things to build the momentum, okay? What you have to do, and this is really important, is... you are the best marketing machine you've got, okay? All the people that you've dealt with, all the people ever that you've dealt with, whether it's in this business, whether it's in another business, to me are sources of sales.
So what I'm going to tell you to do is, every single person who you've ever provided coaching to, ask for two contacts.
JC: And this is a commercial thing, because I am polite and almost sort of rely on people who, if you've done a good job they are going to go away...
RB: Okay, let me tell you where I do it. I would write a list of everybody I've provided coaching for, and I'll ring them and have a chat, that's how to do it.
You could turn around to me and say: 'Okay, Ruth you want me to go and have coffee with everyone I've ever done coaching with?' and I'll say: 'Absolutely', because it's the equivalent of spending twenty grand on marketing. But the difference is the leads that you get from them will actually be hot because you've got the lead-in.
And there's three things I'd ask them for, I'd say: 'Listen, I'm starting a new business and I really want your help. What I'd really love for you to do for me is write, just a paragraph, a testimonial of what I did and what an impact it had on you.'
The second thing you're gonna say is: 'I need your help. Have you got two or three personal contacts who don't even need to know, I mean it'd be great if I could actually say: 'Ooh, such and such passed me your details on', if you don't want me to do that, don't worry, just give me their details and I'll contact them.'
And the third thing is you're going to look to say: 'Listen, if I get anybody who's similar to you, and they say to me have I dealt with anyone similar to them, is it alright if I get them to call you?'
JC: What's your view then, give that you're a business owner, on how do I go about finding those SMEs?
RB: When it comes to your SMEs, how you profile them is you do exactly what I'm doing with you and you say: 'In order to have a requirement for what we provide...' , you have really, I'm going to say three criterias, okay?
You can do first of all on turnover, and I'm gonna say for your purpose you can say two million, or one million, okay? The second thing you can do is you can do it on staff numbers. So I would say for you, thirty plus, possibly, really, if you don't want to waste your time, fifty plus. So I'm looking really for an organisation who turns over two million quid, who has fifty plus members of staff and potentially is within a say fifty mile radius of a specific postcode, okay?
But what I want to sort of get into your head is, wherever you go, whatever you're doing, profiling that customer and understanding actually their need to have two million, their need to have fifty plus, we're looking for a radius in relation to mileage.
If you're chatting to somebody on the train back today, or doing that, you say: 'Ooh, what do you do?' I have picked up more business travelling from London to Manchester on the train than anything.
What you've got to be able to do is, you're obviously a nice woman, but you've got to be a commercial nice woman. And when you meet people, regardless of where it is, on a Saturday night or wherever, have those three things in your head: Have they got a business? How many staff have they got?
JC: And I guess I do that, but I don't do it with the same structure, like 'How am I going to follow this up?'
RB: But that's selling. You know, I will walk up to somebody and, everybody likes to talk about themselves, right? So I would go into a situation and I would encourage it actively to join up to, not your networking events for people who sell banner stands and one-man bands. Go to lunches, join the CIPD, get involved in what they do, go to their networking events, and when you walk up to them, it's a reverse psychology, right?
So you walk up to people, and this is what happens at networking events: people sing what I call the Me Song, they go: 'Me, me, me, me, me, me'. I'm not interesting, I don't want you to know anything about me. Because in my head I've got three things: Have they got intent? Have they got income? And have they got females? And if they've got all three, God help you because I'm going to sell to you.
JC: So the most valuable things I think I got from the session with Ruth today was thinking about the way that I talk about what we do to businesses in a way that makes it compelling for them, also being much more commercial about what it is that we do.
And Ruth has helped me think about the key practical things that we can do to generate activity, generate sales leads.
And getting me to think about exploring the value of working with small and medium-sized enterprises, and I think the final thing is: How do I make good use of the people that have worked with us and can see what we do has been really valuable, has been really helpful, how do we then use that to grow and then grow our network, and I realise there's just no substitute for hard working, it's just about putting the time in, picking up the phone, having conversations, and in a way it's really simple, but it's nice to have it reinforced from someone like Ruth who's like: 'That is all it takes, that is all you have to do, there are no magic bullets or panaceas.
RB: The actions that I've left Jessica with is: first of all, to look at exactly who she is, in relation to verifying her experience and why she can provide the service, what she provides in a sales-friendly language, and what the hell makes her different, to look at the commercial benefit, to verify with testimonials and recommendations and to use that and to actually come out and start seeing activity. To actually look at all her existing customers and say: 'Who can they recommend me into?' and then take an action.
To start to network in relevant areas and most importantly to start to go out there and actually talk to people and generate a sales lead, turn it into a pipeline and wash it through. And I think that is the key thing, action is the key word for Jessica. And actually starting to build that, because that is the confidence and actually start the activity in the business.