This class was the first collaboration between SLP and the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Program following a serendipitous exchange of enthusiasm between Steven Hess (SLP) and Tony Young (NHS C Ent). NHS C Ent Fellows picked from SLP’s stack of classes, and chose Customer Development as one of three classes they wanted to learn about.
I signed up to be class CEO naively presuming I would be introduced to entrepreneurs from SLP’s black book and would be there to merely facilitate a conversation. Little did I know that I would be the one sourcing the panel!
After the initial shock, it was a much greater challenge to get quality panellists to agree to participate and I went through several days of self-doubt with no leads and lots of no’s …all whilst meandering timezones during a work holiday in the Far East. Fortunately, my persistence prevailed and after cold calls, prayers and encouragement from the wonderful Steven Hess, we put together a great evening. I tried to design the evening with myself in mind – what would I want to hear and learn to make it a valuable use of time?
I am so very grateful to Sadiq Damani (CEO of Theodo UK), Hassan Ahmad (Founder of Pairoo), Salman Rizvi (Sales Solutions Specialist, IQVIA) and Anna Liddington (Senior Health Consultant, Deloitte) as well as Polly Sullivan and Alex Ganzerla (NHS C Ent) for giving their valuable time and insight.
I learned to value my network more, and realised the panel were equally keen to share their expertise with an audience of like-minded health disruptors.
I couched the evening in trying to make everyone a hero in their own story – this meant the panellists could learn from our health expertise and the NHS fellows could learn about selling.
What I learned about customer development:
- Sales is a science and needs quality in to get quality out
- The importance of calculating customer acquisition costs and categorising as SQL vs MQL
- Knowing who to pitch to, and who not to pitch to (the ‘muppets’)
- Making customers buy rather than selling to them (identify their pain points and get to grip with their problem) – FAB model
- Cold calling does work
What I learned about entrepreneurship and myself:
- Self-doubt and anxiety comes with the terrain. Entrepreneurs need to be resilient and receptive to feedback
- Reaching a critical mass equips you to traverse the inevitable Valley of Despair
- If you find the right people for the right roles and make everyone a hero in their story, great things can happen
- Don’t expect perfection – be proud of what you’ve done and learn how to do it better for next time