Director & Co-founder
Market strategy, cold-calling techniques and lessons of a business owner
James history did not show an obvious link to recruitment or online timesheets but essentially along the line, he met with his business partner Jeremy who similarly was a contractor like James and wanted to build something. The seed idea was timesheets from his partner and after a not long meeting, they decided to go into business.
Since then the business has come along massively, even after a slow to market strategy and what he terms a not great first product. But now it is something he and James are very proud of. It’s a simple product but people love it.
He started his career out of university as an aircraft engineer, ended up in Toulouse working at Airbus. After this, he thought about going into website design but didn’t see himself becoming an expert in this. He went on to start a cleaning company but hated it. His logic was to get a client, put a cleaner into the company and that was the end of the chain. Over time this should accrue. He thought this couldn’t be so hard but you are competing with multi-million-pound companies and they’ll charge any price but not really deliver.
This sounds a lot like recruitment for me?
His staff ended up being paid more than him so at that stage he lost the energy to keep training his staff who would leave after being trained so he sold the business.
When it comes to selling James took the same approach as me. The do you want a pen debate James like me took a no as a no. Even if he knows they need it, he tries to be pushier but he doesn’t like the style of twisting someone’s arm. He’d rather someone came to him who was interested as at that stage you aren’t selling, you are presenting. That’s why he was interested in partnering with us.
For James, LinkedIn plays a significant role in how they do business because the recruitment business is so heavily focused on LinkedIn. It wasn’t a natural platform for him and it has taken time to fully understand how people correspond because it’s kind of a halfway house between professional and social. Some people are using emoji’s all over the place, some people keep it strictly professional and it’s finding that balance between both. With time James did a combination of what worked for him, just being natural.
Moving from aircraft from timesheets seemed a little unsexy to me! But none the less James has a passion for timesheets. They smooth out the process for everyone, if you are a contractor it cuts out the paper reporting in the physical sense and the stress-related. We still see that people are printing out digital copies making it just as laborious and slow.
It’s a similar situation to Henry Ford saying do you want to upgrade to this car and the person replying with a bigger and better horse. It just isn’t really an upgrade at all.
But people are starting to get it. For us, COVID has highlighted the need for changes into tech and marketing and how to speed up their processes. James similarly has had conversations with clients who are looking to adjust their processes and waste less time – the forward-thinking people. After working to adjust their SEO James has seen a positive turn in business during and now moving out of the pandemic.
He has tried to avoid cold-calling similar to me who finds it difficult. We both don’t handle the rejection well!
The way he’s trying to make changes to his love-hate for cold-calling is to use two glasses, one filled with marbles and one empty and as he makes a call he moves the marbles across. It was interesting because as soon as you dialled the number you move one across and due to it being visual it encourages you to do more. If you go into that call having achieved the answer at least, it gives you greater confidence to pick up the phone and start.
I’ve seen a change in cold-calling strategy since the pandemic as people start using empathy as their new strategy. People are genuinely interested to have a call with you if you talk to them about more than just what you are selling. Something I believe my sales team do very well. Although cold-calling the market has changed, it can be successful if you talk to the potential customer about their problems not just your products solutions.
I often see on LinkedIn people talking about starting a business and having every excuse not to. I send them my blog on how I started Paiger at the wrong time personally with a second child on the way and a mortgage to pay. I often encourage them to just start the business, especially when they are commitment-free.
For James, he would tell himself to have started the web design business. After speaking with his friend who completed a masters and how he was gutted for starting the cleaning business. But his friend pointed out that he had spent 20 grand doing his course which you got the same if not more out of the business without losing any money and a tiny bit of profit. I got all of the real-life lessons I needed, whereas he learnt the theoretical side of things.
He knows he has made a lot of mistakes, especially with the number of staff he hired at the cleaning company. He learnt massive lessons around employee commitment, billing and cash flow, all things he brought into his plans for SaveTrees. Does he regret it? Yes and no.
James does have such a varied background including an AdWords certification. This came from working with a big marketing company for over a year and after being a small business owner to go on and sell to other small business owners was something he found strange. On the side, he was working on AdWords and selling his services to the person who bought his cleaning company for a hefty price too.
After an accident, James used his time off to brush up his knowledge with marketing lessons from Isaac and put those lessons into place for the cleaning company website. One of these being AdWords which he got more confident and better at with spending.
James’ joined his business partner after being introduced by friends on a night out. After he sold the cleaning company they connected over the idea of partnering up with his expertise in code that is way beyond James. They both designed the UI and UX, but James focuses on the design ongoing.