As the former President and CEO of Ascential Intelligence, a portfolio of nine B2B enterprises across a range of markets, Natasha Christie-Miller has unique insights into what it takes to run a successful B2B company. At the FIPP Media World Congress she shared her three golden rules with delegates.
“When a new business came into the organisation the first thing I would think about is whether they are serving a market that’s on the rise,” she said. “Because if it is, you don’t really have to do anything but still get some growth. If it’s not, are there any bits of that market that are growing and can you pivot into those?
“The second thing I think about is – is my product great? Does it actually really give value to the customers who are spending money with it and who want it. Is it different enough and is it evolving and innovating fast enough to be different enough from the competition and to be genuinely valuable?
“And then the third thing I think is that something I can do immediately is sell the hell out of whatever I’ve got.”
Know your customer and use data well
Christie-Miller stressed the importance of B2B businesses targeting an audience they can really cater for.
“You need your customers to have joy when they’re interacting with you in whatever form that looks like, whether it’s buying it from the beginning, whether it’s the renewal, whether it’s experiencing the product. And, certainly, this is true for B2B – really focus on a group of customers that you can delight. Let’s not try and be everything to everyone.”
Increasingly the effectiveness on your data is also crucial. “What you can do with your data really matters based on what customers will value,” said Christie-Miller.
“The real money comes in with prescriptive data. It’s like saying: It has rained for the last five days, it’s going to rain for the next three days, so here’s an umbrella. So that’s what your prescriptive is doing – It’s delivering the solution to you having worked out what you want.
“AI, of course, is going to be, and is already incredibly helpful and accelerating the ability of people who have prescriptive data.”
More from the FIPP Congress:
- FIPP World Media Congress kicks off in Cascais
- AB World’s Angie Byun on how to tap into the massive popularity of South Korean content
- How TMB is combining innovation with 100-year-old values for success in the media landscape
- “We are the original storytellers of what is newsworthy”: Juan Señor calls on media companies to have confidence in an AI-driven landscape
- Part of History: How National Geographic Historia is bucking print trends across continents
Revving up the sales department
With every business Christie-Miller has run she has headed straight to the sales operation to see how she can get it going as quickly as possible.
“I look at how I can get that excitement in the team, to make them feel good about what they’re doing, and I don’t just mean the sales team, I mean the business. We need to create the right environment to be able to get the best out of that organisation.
“It’s incredible how many organisations have really useless commission plans for their sales organisations that drive the wrong behaviour. Sales people want to be recognised, they want to be rewarded and celebrated.”
“There also needs to be a system within your business where you are increasing knowledgeability and giving the sales operation credibility when they’re out in the world with customers. And every layer in that organisation has a part to play, working to drive the business.”
Christie-Miller also revealed the three ‘deal breakers’ she has when interviewing sales people – how much research have they done for the interview, do they have a real attachment to targets, and whether they can describe what makes them successful.