It’s taken me a long time to get here and I like where I’ve landed. I’ve been at Plug and Play for a little over a year now as a Sales and Marketing Manager. My day involves a lot of juggling and I love the variety that comes with this.
As the first point of human contact that prospects make with us, I speak on a daily basis with a broad spectrum of clients from a huge variety of industries. They could be in any position in the business; Personal Assistant or Marketing Manager, Business Owner or Product Manager. During my time here, I’ve met with everyone from bitcoin traders to Christmas light installers. I’ve always been curious by nature and my mind boggles at the number of businesses out there meeting the needs of clients I never knew existed.
I’m incredibly fortunate that we have a flexible work policy at Plug and Play. Having worked a number of years in retail, moving to a B2B office job made work-life balance feel like a boon. To have flexible working hours on top of that means my job satisfaction is especially high. My daughter started school a couple of weeks ago and being given the opportunity to wave her off at the school gates in the morning makes my heart sing. I’m one of the late ones to roll into work and often when I get to the office the majority of my colleagues who chose to work from 8 am - 4.30 am are deep in concentration.
The first thing I do in the morning is to check my calendar to remind me of what my day looks like. Secondly, I check my inbox to see if any inquiries have come in overnight. A surprisingly large part of my role involves checking. Checking dates, times, the CRM system, my notes, my to-do list, spelling, grammar….. Did I follow up with that client I spoke to yesterday?
We use a CRM system that displays leads in a Kanban format allowing me to see where clients are in the sales cycle which prompts me on what steps to take to move clients to the next stage. We have a blanket policy of speaking to every client over the phone and later in person. In the early stages of the relationship, it’s often difficult to recall and distinguish prospects until we’ve established a rapport and relationship. I speak to a lot of people on a daily basis and until that time, they’re a series of links on the screen of my computer. For this reason, I make little notes to remind me about them i.e. they have family in France, their son is at school, they’ve been in this role for 2 years etc. It helps me to create a picture and engage with them more authentically.
Ultimately, business is about positive relationships that benefit both parties. The purpose of the first call is to establish if we’re the right fit for each other. Given the nature of digital, large swathes of the population don’t understand web design, UX, software development or marketing. I represent a team of disciplines which, if combined strategically, can achieve outstanding business outcomes for our clients. Naturally, I want the gigs my team will thrive on (I do sit on the desk next to them if it goes wrong) and I want project outcomes that benefit our clients. It feels good to know we’ve made a meaningful impact for our clients and to be able to proudly and honestly tell prospective clients about the amazing difference we made to other businesses. For this reason, the first call with the client is hugely valuable. As an agency, we tend not to be right for sole traders and hobbyists and we can’t deliver a website by yesterday.
If following an initial conversation, we’re still on the same page, the next steps are to meet with the client. Every business and project has it's own unique challenges and objectives and so inherently, there are a huge number of variables we need to pin down and get a clear picture of.
Firstly, we need to get an understanding of who the client is, what their business does and whom it serves. I might be trying to get to grips with MRI scanner technology and who buys them in one meeting and in the next I’m trying to understand types of tube bending and the profile of car manufacturers that are most likely to buy tube bends in batches.
Next, we need to understand what the overall objective of the engagement is. This is really important for us as an agency and is central to how we differentiate ourselves in our market. The client may say they want a new website, but do they really? Websites are often a means to an end. The real goal is usually more complex and the real objective might be to generate more sales through increased traffic, recruit more staff, comply with regs, increase conversions.
Or, a Product Manager might have approached us for UX design to overhaul their internal legacy systems interface. There’s got to be a strong motivation to implement a change like that. Perhaps the interface isn’t intuitive and really ticks your team off. Maybe the design is so poor that it uses major resources and training before new call centre staff are able to get a handle on it independently? Or perhaps an entrepreneur has an amazing concept for a new technology platform and they need an MVP to prove the concept and market demand. Whatever the scenario may be, we need to understand the big picture as this informs our decisions later down the line.
Once we’ve got a grasp on that we move to the proposal stage. At this point, we’re often in the final and up against one or two other agencies. When preparing our proposals for the client we’re balancing a number of elements. We’re putting forward our recommended approach and methodology that we believe:
a) Will meet the objectives within the restraints of the client's budget and deadline
b) Be realistic, so that the team aren’t killing themselves trying to finish the project
c) Is competitive and gives us a real chance of winning the contract.
This is a team effort and I depend on my colleagues’ expertise to make sure that the recommendation we put forward is a true reflection of what we can deliver.
Before starting at Plug and Play, I sold products that came in units and didn’t change according to the latest technology updates. What you saw was what you got. It was predictable, which made it easy, but also boring. Selling in digital is much more challenging.
If we’ve been successful and the client chooses to move forward with us (great!), we draft contracts, send invoices and I schedule handovers and kickoffs with the team lead.
With all this, I keep a rather lengthy to-do list in my calendar that I update daily. If it’s not written down, it won’t happen! Given the nature of my role, clients can call at any time and the task I’m engaged with will be interrupted. Those tasks that aren’t a priority and I don’t have time for, get moved to the following day. If I think of something I need to do late in the evening, I write it down. It gives me a stronger sense of control and I sleep better for it.
I try to wrap up the end of the day, with a quick check, double check on what tomorrows plans are and what’s on my to-do list. If there’s time, I finish up a small task, send a follow-up email, I try to get as many things ticked off my list as possible. Mostly, there’s time, but sometimes a call from a client scuppers this plan and I only just have time to add tasks to my list before I have to rush out the door.
All in all, working here is great. I love the diversity of the clients and the projects we work with. No day is the same. There’s always something new to learn and I genuinely feel I’m part of a team whose work makes a measurable impact on businesses. The positive effect this has ripples outwards in ways I don’t always have time to fully contemplate.