Defending your value will stop you from saying yes to things that slow down growth

The core reasons behind SFG20´s steep growth over the past two years.

Kirsty Cogan

Managing Director of SFG20

Kirsty Cogan

Managing Director of SFG20
SFG20 is the industry standard for building and facility maintenance specifications. It´s smart software, Facilities-iQ, empowers building owners, managers, and maintenance professionals to control risk, stay compliant, and keep buildings safe and efficient.

MD Kirsty Cogan has identified several core reasons the business has been on such a steep growth trajectory for the past two years, and many of them are underpinned by one key learning: defend your value.

If you build this into the fabric of your business, she says it will galvanise the team, improve efficiencies and help you focus on what your customer really needs.

Defending your value will save confusion over pricing

One issue was that we had an unprofitable legacy pricing structure as well as a list pricing structure. Clients were being charged different amounts for the same thing.

One of the first things I did was go after the value we'd left on the table regarding our legacy pricing clients.

We believe in the value of our products and don't feel the need to offer discounts.

Of course, everyone likes to try to get a better price. The answer is to train your teams to communicate how well your solution meets the customer's needs so that they understand the value and price isn’t the main driver.

So don't be ashamed or embarrassed about sticking to your fees.

If you need flexibility, there may be other ways to get a deal over the line that has client value. Things like access to a training course.

Defending your value will help you define your market

If you are committed to defending your value, you better be sure who your customer is – and what their needs are.

Once you really understand these, then inherently, whatever you deliver will be valuable to them.

You also have to size those segments.

You have to consider all of the different audiences or sectors you could target, assess their size, and calculate your average sales value in each.

What's your current penetration? How much headroom is there?

We only target a very small proportion of what we could target – because we want to build a repeatable, scalable route to market which we can then use to target other sectors. 

We focus on what we can do brilliantly today and explicitly park up other opportunities for a year or two down the line.

Defending your value will stop you from saying yes to the wrong things

I came in towards the end of 2019, and it was quickly apparent that our consultancy business in particular was prepared to customise anything.

This wasn't scalable.

Little thought was being put into how long it was actually going to take to meet that specific client request.

There was also no thought into whether or not the tailored solution would be of interest or value to other users of our products.

By saying yes to everything, we were effectively offering bespoke solutions at no extra cost.

Kirsty Cogan, Managing Director of SFG20. Photo: SFG20.

Defending your value will streamline internal comms

In any organisation, if everyone's just doing their own thing and they're not all in service of a greater strategy or vision, then you don't have a clear direction or long game.

It's important to get everybody on the same page so that they realise the impacts of going off-strategy.

We recognise the importance of  really instilling in our teams great knowledge of our customers. That way, our people can help clients see the value in the problems we solve.

We're putting a lot more focus on this process now and starting to include it in our onboarding.

You need to be clear about defending your value as early as the interview stage. And if you have people who are doing things in service of making a quick buck, you need to address that.

Defending your value gives you the freedom to be flexible

Some opportunities are too big to pass up, and you can't say no. To allow you some flexibility here, the trick is to be ruthless on all of the other stuff.

That way, you have a bit more bandwidth when something incredible comes along.

If you can't easily create the space for this unexpected opportunity – for example, you can’t bring more resource in – but still want to go for it, it all comes back to communication.

Be clear with the team that this is a huge opportunity. While it might mean we’ll all have to put in a little extra, set out the reasons why it will be worth it and get buy-in and support.

Six questions panel.

1. What’s the most impactful project you’ve ever worked on? 

Launching our new product, Facilities-iQ – for two reasons. Firstly, seeing how what we have built truly solves real problems for our customers is amazing. Secondly, the business delivered this as a team, and everyone gave their all – for which I am immensely grateful and proud.

2. What is the one piece of advice you wish you had before coming in as MD of SFG20? 

Always be a step ahead on recruiting the next people that are going to be key to continued growth.                         

3. How do you think B2B sales will change in the coming decade?

I think it should be more around solutions and not just a case of, "I have a specific product, and I need to convince you that you need it." It's about not being scared that your product maybe doesn't answer everything, but it might still play a really important role. Businesses sometimes try to promise that their product will solve everything. I think seeing where your product fits into the broader ecosystem is hopefully the direction that B2B sales is going.

4. What impact do you think AI will have on sales in the coming years?

It will really hone the sales process. Being able to have the right conversation prompt or resource served directly to you in a split second so that the conversation still feels natural, and you are adding real value to a prospect's specific needs or answering their question using the wealth of information from every customer interaction that has gone before, is unbelievably powerful. It should lead to much more tailored and impactful conversations with both prospects and customers.

5. Which entrepreneurs do you get inspired by and why?

Founders who have a brilliant idea and put everything on the line to pursue something they passionately believe will change the world for the better. That is so inspirational as it takes real guts and tenacity to keep going in the early years when it is hard to get funding, and often, it is just them and their families doing the work.

6. If someone took over SFG20 tomorrow, what would be the first thing they would change? 

Possibly quite a lot! Everyone brings fresh perspectives and the benefit of their experience. There isn't only one strategy to growth.


/ Kirsty Cogan

Managing Director of SFG20.

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