In this interview on The Logros Show – in association with The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce – Lee Dinsdale talks to Danny Williams from marketing company, Next Level Consultancy, about sales, marketing and running a business.
Interview with Danny Williams at Unity Radio – The Real Sound of the City.
Interview with Danny Williams at Unity Radio – The Real Sound of the City.
Lee: Good afternoon. My name is Lee and this is the Logros Show in association with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce only on Unity Radio – The Real Sound of The City. We are broadcasting live here from Media City UK. I’m here in the studio with Danny Williams, how are you doing? Danny tell us about your company.
Danny: My Company is called Next Level Consultancy and we work in Spinningfields. It’s been going now since October 2017.
Lee: For everybody interested in sales, marketing or maybe who has a business, we’re going to be hearing about Danny’s best tips on websites, social media strategy. Also what he gets involved in helping companies and sharing his advice on marketing strategy and sales and also a little bit about how Danny got into business working for himself as well. If you are thinking about doing that stay tuned.
Danny: Next Level Consultancy was founded in October 2017. It’s purely around working with a range of businesses, whatever level they are at to take them to the next level. It focuses very much on the sales and marketing strategy within those businesses.
Lee: Where are you from?
Danny: I’m from Stockport so born and raised. I kind of feel adopted by Manchester and obviously the business is based in Manchester.
Lee: What kind of companies do you look after at the moment?
Danny: It ranges from a sole trader who is looking to progress and grow his or her business up to a corporate business that has a ten or fifteen million pounds turnover a year.
Lee: Let’s get into marketing. You do digital marketing don’t you?
Danny: Yes and it’s a big part of any business‘s marketing strategy. I offer the whole strategy which includes quite a number of things like networking, the website strategy, social media, branding and the graphic design aspects as well so it’s a big part of it.
Lee: And what kind of strategies do they come for you to help them with?
The biggest challenge certainly for small businesses is they don’t have a strategy being honest.
Maybe they don’t have that experience in marketing; they are just really good at what they do. Helping them create a strategy then implement it is a part of what Next Level Consultancy does.
Lee: I get confused as to what is digital marketing.
Danny: Essentially for me digital marketing is a combination of things and certainly things such as pay per click, search engine optimisation and social media all combine that with a strategy in place.
Lee: Who do you speak to in terms of companies?
Danny: It’s quite a wide range of different sectors and different sizes. I’m doing a lot of work at the moment with small businesses based in Manchester who are looking to grow. They are really good at what they do but perhaps need a little bit of support.
Lee: What kind of problems do they generally come to you with?
Danny: Generally one of the biggest issues is lack of understanding around social media, lack of understanding of how to leverage that and how to promote what they do in a way that is engaging with real authentic content.
Lee: Big word this, authentic. What is your view of the word authentic and how do you know when a business is being its authentic self, or even an individual, let’s go deeper.
Danny: Absolutely I think it’s a really key hot topic. As a society we are all pretty good at switching on to when businesses are authentic and when actually it’s the typical marketing fluff. Certainly with people, with what they post and how they post and what they share about their personal lives these days, is actually becoming more and more in a sense intrusive but actually its authentic, it’s real and its raw. I think that is a good indication of when someone is being real and honest about what they do and how they do that.
Lee: In terms of business what do you think authentic content looks like for a business?
Danny: I think for a business it’s important that they understand who they are as a business and why they are valued.
Lee: Let’s use an Instagram platform as an example. Instagram obviously is a bit more visual, everyone is judging the pictures. What would you suggest when people are posting whether that’s on an individual perspective or even a business perspective. When you are advising on a good authentic social strategy on Instagram, what kind of things do you suggest that people should be aware of?
Danny: There are two things; there are personal Instagram’s and there are business Instagram’s. I think having separate accounts with different meanings and different strategies is important. There are a lot of business owners that almost portray themselves through their business account which isn’t necessarily the right way to do it. I think also with the business accounts it’s not just about what you do in terms of services or products, it’s also about how you do it and the value that you bring into your clients or customers.
Lee: On Instagram you can set up a personal account can’t you and a business account? What is the benefit of setting up a business account on Instagram because I’ve been looking at this for something else and it goes into all the metrics of reach etc. versus the normal. Why wouldn’t as a person person you just have a business account that gives you all those metrics?
Danny: I think again it comes down to the uses of Instagram. For me I have a personal account which is purely around sharing with friends and photos and videos and so on.
For the business account you need those metrics to understand, is your content engaging, is it working and are people interested in what you are doing?
Lee: Is it sector specific that you get involved in or do you say, right this is the platform that is best for you?
Danny: If anyone is listening from a marketing background everyone will have so many different feelings on this. Personally I focus on LinkedIn certainly for business to business. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and then YouTube/video channels for visual platforms; these for me are the core platforms that every business should have at some point.
Lee: LinkedIn may or may not be familiar to everybody as a business focus platform. What are your top tips on LinkedIn that would be interesting to hear?
Danny: LinkedIn is a fantastic platform. The most recent stats I think are there are over 610 million users and I think that’s higher now as of January this year. Essentially it’s similar to Facebook in the sense of the functionality in how it works, but it is for business. It’s for building connections with fellow business owners, colleagues, leaders and to promote your business as well.
Lee: If you put a LinkedIn post or a Facebook post and then you put in a YouTube video of something, does that then reduce the reach?
Danny: This comes down to the mythical LinkedIn algorithms and everyone is an expert on where to post links and where not to post links! For me as a tip if you will I do post links within the post if its relevant but I do often post links as a comment below, because a comment is also what drives further engagement on the post as well. You can do both, I’m not going to sit here and tell you which one is better, because the honest answer is – I don’t know!
Lee: Okay that’s an authentic answer! Can you give us a bit of background about college, university up to where you are now?
Danny: I went to Cheadle and Marple College Campus as it was then, it’s just Cheadle College now. I studied French, law, geography, and psychology. I dropped geography actually, I went to the field trip in Barcelona and I dropped that because it just didn’t do it for me. So they were the three subjects that I focused on after that.
Lee: What happened after that?
Danny: I was actually going to join the Royal Air Force and passed a selection in 2010 for that, but then there were no jobs so I kind of fell into sales.
Lee: On the back of that you were telling me you are now involved with the Royal Cadets. Tell me about that.
Danny: I started as a cadet when I was fifteen which was quite late, you can start from twelve now. More recently I’ve been in that organisation since 2005 and am now the chairman of 145 Altrincham and Hale Squadron Air Cadets. It’s been a great experience going through the ranks and doing what I’m doing to support that.
Lee: What kind of things do you get to do?
Danny: As a cadet I passed my flying scholarship and flew solo two weeks before I could actually pass my driving test. The responsibility that you get and the opportunities are amazing.
Lee: Now we are going to talk about networking. Danny puts on events, over to you.
Danny: I host Next Level Working events which started in Manchester in June last year actually in collaboration with the Greater Manchester Chamber Of Commerce.
Lee: What do you like about the Chamber?
Danny: What I enjoy is they are there are to support you as a business owner as well as the business. The Chamber has got a huge amount of opportunities and support functions such as HR support, legal support etc. It’s also about introductions, networking events and some of them are sector specific as well especially in the property and construction sector.
Lee: So, Next Level Networking?
Danny: A cheeky plug -the first Manchester event is this Thursday 27th February at All Work & Social in the XYZ Building in Spinningfields from 5.30 until 8pm.
Lee: What’s going to be happening and who’s going to be going?
Danny: It’s going to be a mixture really, but it is exclusively for business owners and business leaders. The whole point of Next Level Networking was definitely around building better connections with that sort of demographic and fellow business owners alike.
Lee: For younger newer employees who get a little bit nervous when they walk into a room full of people that they don’t know, what would you say to those who feel that anxiety a little bit?
Danny: Well I think that’s quite a few people. It can range in genders, ages and that’s why I said there are a lot of different people who feel that initial anxiety about networking, about introducing and talking about themselves and their business and meeting new people.
Lee: What do you do in your events to help people overcome that so that they can come with confidence?
Danny: The first thing is they get a drink, so they get a bit of Dutch courage! It’s in a relaxing environment and that’s the difference; it’s finding the right style of networking event for you. There are breakfast networking events, shout out to F.A.B. Networking who are going to be starting. There are afternoon networking events which the Chamber will run as well. MPostcode is a great networking event in Manchester. It’s finding the right style for you with the right mix of people to make sure you are comfortable when you are there.
Lee: I’ve had to tease this exclusive out of you and you’ve some shout outs to do now.
Danny: Shout out to Coffee4Craig who are a well- known and well established Manchester homeless charity. They do a hell of a lot for that community and have just moved location. They are looking for support right now across a number of different things whether that’s products and appliances, donations, labour. It’s time, it’s volunteering or anything that people can do to support and there is a funding page so I am going to be making them my charity partner of the year for the Next Level Networking events in Manchester as of Thursday.
Lee: What does that mean?
Danny: We are going to be donating a percentage of the ticket sales to them and also working with them on their marketing strategy at no cost obviously. Working with them generally just to promote them and make sure they have everything they need to do well. Best ways to access them is Twitter, Instagram as well but it is coffee4craig.co.uk and if you want to check my socials out I will happily share that as well.
Lee: Great. Now we are going to talk about sales. Your business obviously is involved in sales and marketing which is improving growth of a business for small to medium sized businesses. Some business owners have got to be everything, they have to be the sales person, they have to do the marketing, absolutely everything so it can be quite challenging if you are just setting up in business or you are a young entrepreneur. Can give an overview of the services you provide around sales?
Danny: I think the key point on that is understanding your strengths as a business owner because you do have to do everything. You have to do sales, marketing, operations, legal, health and safety – you name it. The key thing that I want to emphasise to all business owners of all sizes is there are people out there to support you, you don’t have to do it alone and you can collaborate and get support. I guess from a sales tips perspective it’s having that structure in place and knowing what kind of clients work for you. It’s also understanding what sales targets you have in the business that are going to generate the revenue you need.
Lee: What do you think makes a good sales person? Are there any traits when you go into a business and you think, they may be good at sales just from meeting them?
Danny: Absolutely and the first thing is it is about authenticity and being honest. I’ve been in sales for about twelve years now in different capacities, business development, account management, product sales and now a consultant for other businesses and sales. If you make a mistake be honest about it; you’re not going to be judged on a mistake, you are going to be judged on how you resolve that mistake. That is the biggest thing for me.
Lee: Advice for business owners who may have some sales staff and they need some tips on getting an idea of whether they’ve employed a good person? What are the key characteristics that you could pass over the radio and say look out for this.
Danny: I think, being brutally honest is, are they hitting the numbers? There are a lot of sales people that get through months and months and aren’t hitting those numbers. Equally you’ve got to question yourself as the business owner and actually understand why that is. Is it their fault or are there things you can do to support them e.g. sales training, coaching. Is your process correct? Are your products sellable?
Lee: Well yes that is the other question because, someone is always taking the blame for something and it’s not always the business owner! Do you get involved with cold calling?
Danny: Yes I still cold call people although I think the days of calling it that are old school. What I’m trying to elude to though is, in this day and age you don’t need to cold call because through the power of LinkedIn and businesses online presence, a lot of websites have their board and their names and people on there. It’s not about cold calling – you just don’t need to do that anymore.
Lee: Any tips on a good cold call strategy?
Danny: First thing is to understand that dreaded receptionist type roll that is designed to stop you speaking to someone. Confidence is important, anyone who starts the conversation with hi, I’m this person and I’m calling for this, is a sales call. If you sound like it’s a sales call and don’t have that confidence then people will see through that.
For me, be clear on what you are calling about, who you are going to speak to and know that you have a problem to solve, that’s the key issue.
Lee: That’s interesting, what do you mean by that?
Danny: Ultimately you need to have done the research of the product or service you are offering them and know that client is going to have that requirement for what you are trying to sell them. They have a need and you have a need to solve the problem rather than just sell the product.
Lee: Can you give us some sales basics?
Danny: Right now especially for small business owners there is a lot of uncertainty around who they can actually work with as clients. What I would suggest is really understand, what a good client for you is; what size of business are they, what sector are they and start by targeting the 3 key sectors in terms of your business development. A lot of my clients can work with anyone, but by narrowing down those sectors to really understand how those products and services are going to benefit them is how I would suggest you start that process off.
Lee: Danny, tell us where we can find you?
Danny: LinkedIn is definitely where you’ll find me the most. Instagram is nl_dannywilliams, Twitter is NL_ DannyW. That’s pretty much it.
Lee: Now the final question which is about achieving excellence. It’s all about improving how we live our lives whether its work or whether in health or sport. We’ve had various different guests on the show and they all contribute their view. I’ve noticed there are some trends in what people say and what people believe is the best way to live their lives so over to you.
Danny: The first one for me is about being passionate. If you are not passionate about what you do people will see that and you won’t be as successful, that is my belief. The next one is about resilience. People are going to tell you that you can’t do things. People are going to tell you something won’t work – you’ve got to tell them that it will and make it happen. The third thing is enjoy the journey. People have been telling me that and I do and I enjoy what I do. It’s tough, being an entrepreneur and business owner. It is difficult but like everything has its ups and downs but enjoy it and enjoy the aspects it brings.
Lee: Okay: So enjoy the journey, how do you know you are enjoying it?
Danny: I’m still doing it Lee.
Lee: I’ve asked you that because there are many people in jobs who don’t like what they are doing and stuck with it.
Danny: I know I am enjoying the journey because people tell me that I am enjoying the journey. People can see whether you are happy a lot of the time. They can see you are doing it for the right reasons and that’s a good check I think.
Lee: What do you do to stay resilient? Resilience for me is the key word on this show because if you are resilient you can achieve many things in life.
Danny: There are a lot of angles where people will throw obstacles in your way, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. You’ve got to be really clear on what you want, how you are going to get it and then go and get it.
There is a difference between a dream and a goal and that’s all around the action you take to make it happen.
Lee: A bit like writing your own story.
Danny: I love that that is beautiful, creating your own story!
Lee: We all have obstacles to overcome and there is sometimes a happy or sad ending, so everyone writes their own story.
Danny: I believe that.
Lee: Thank you very much for coming in and I hope everyone has enjoyed the show.
Article Transcription by Terry Capostagno
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