We interview Peter Whent, a successful tech entrepreneur on the best strategies for scaling new businesses and when to devise an exit strategy.
Magnet Monster (MM): Peter, you help small businesses and start-ups to kick start their sales using great content marketing. How big a problem do you see with sales in early-stage businesses?
I probably talk to 5-10 small businesses a week. The thing I hear most from founders is that sales are stuck. They’re grabbing any business they can get their hands on because they are short of leads and the business is struggling to consistently produce results. Sometimes it’s because they’ve just got their proposition wrong and it’s hard to sell. But most often it’s because the business has been started by a technologist or a creative type or an engineer. They’ve never been exposed to sales before. They assume their great product will sell itself, or they assume that sales will be easy. It never is. So I spend a lot of my time working with non-sales founders teaching them a reliable repeatable system for building a five of six figure pipeline.
MM: How does your approach differ from some traditional sales approaches we see today.
A lot of people are still hung up on either trying to sell with a telephone or selling through other people – channel sales. Both can work if you really know what your doing. But both are very hard work. I start from the position that everyone you want to attract as a customer is hanging out somewhere on social media. So I teach business how to go about engaging with them there.
I meet lots of founders who are trying to crack social content selling. They’ve tried a few Google Ads or they’re pecking around on LinkedIn sending In Mails. None of it produces any result because they’re not going about it in a structured and consistent way.
You have to understand exactly what you’re selling (oddly that’s the bit people most often get wrong), exactly what your customer looks like and what their pain is. If you do that and put great content in front of them consistently in the right place, then people will start to reach out. I teach the system I used to build three scale businesses. I still use it and get on average 5-10 warm inbound enquiries a week.
MM: Taking a broader view of start-ups for a moment, you've taken several businesses to a successful exit. At what stage of business would you recommend an exit strategy typically be devised/implemented?
I always tell founders who ask this question, not to obsess about their exit. If you run a profitable, growing business that generates cash, then there will always be a buyer for you. Of all the businesses I have sold, all expect one were sold to someone we didn’t expect, who approached us and made an offer.
MM: Changing the subject slightly for a second: a lot of people in business are unhealthy and out of shape. With a background in the army and as a competitive triathlete, what key attributes have had a positive carryover to business for you from those disciplines? And, observationally, would you say other CEOs/entrepreneurs could benefit from emphasising this aspect of their lives more?
Apart from the obvious mental benefits of being fit, I’ve learned a lot about performance in both the Army and triathlon. There is no doubt that great performers get great result because they work hard at performance. Performance is a choice. My overall message is that you are capable of a lot more than ever think. The biggest restriction on your performance is your mind. I’ve done some endurance exercises in the Army and also run several Ironman triathlons. It’s amazing what a positive mind can help you to do, long after your body has checked out.
I wouldn’t recommend CEOs all do an Ironman to reap the benefits of being fit, but there are some simple changes we can all make which result in a free performance boost. Exercise regularly, eat well, sleep well, particularly in the period around big performances.
MM: What is the most underrated Leadership quality in business and how should MD's/CEO's learn to leverage it more effectively?
Communication. There is no problem that can’t be solved collectively if you communicate well with your team.
MM: How can people contact you if they want to know more?
Email me on email@example.com
Phone: 07802 856000
Visit my web site: peterwhent.com
About Peter Whent: Peter is a successful entrepreneur who has led or been part of the leadership team of three high-growth tech-enabled start-ups, which were sold for a combined total of over $100m. He has also led several turnarounds of Private Equity-owned businesses. Today Peter combines his 17 years knowledge as CEO and non-Executive Director, to coach startup businesses in how to scale quickly and successfully.