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Welcome Ryan Morrison

Chief Operating Officer
TruNarrative

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Ryan Morrison
"Agencies need to be brave because otherwise you're just going to get lost in that sheer scale of notifications and content."

Ryan Morrison, Chief Operating Officer of financial crime management company, TruNarrative, discusses the company’s mission to make safe commerce simple. Experienced in strategic planning and transaction to enterprise sales, Ryan explores what it takes to be a FinTech B2B solutions provider and how COVID-19 has influenced a digital transformation in market behaviour.

Transcript:

Nathan Anibaba:

Ryan Morrison is a successful commercial leader with over 20 years of experience, helping companies of various sizes achieve their objectives and ensuring individuals unlock their talent and fulfill their potential. His experience covers strategic planning, transaction to enterprise sales, the identification and development of strategic partnerships and leadership of highly successful teams. He also leads global marketing strategy. He is currently building a new global commercial division for TruNarrative having helped build the company from scratch. Ryan Morrison, welcome to Clientside.

Ryan Morrison:

Thanks Nathan. Great to be here.

Nathan Anibaba:

Absolutely fantastic speaking to you, you get your degree from the University of Salford in human geography in fact, in 1999. Typically founders of disruptive tech businesses usually study something like computer science or computer programming. Tell us how you go from a geography to being a commercial director and helping to start TruNarrative.

Ryan Morrison:

Yeah, so I guess it’s one time hopefully my parents aren’t listening to this. But I guess I went to university with no necessarily clear direction of, yeah. I want to be a geography professor or a particular reason why I wanted to do geography. It was just the kind of subject to the time. So I would say my life lacked direction at that time. I went to do a degree and picked to a university in a city that I would enjoy.

Ryan Morrison:

Having I guess going through my final year at university I saw a number of my friends all start career in sales. So I think it was bizarre of all the people I lived with about 8% were starting a career in sales. So I decided that that was the easy route and I found myself going through various graduate programs being selected into those. So I guess I got an early inkling that I was all right, potentially in sales. I then got selected to work for a company called QAS through that process. I kind of asked for a better foundation for my career. I spent just over four years with that business that it laterally got bought by experience, but it had a very, very strong focus on sales and marketing and in particular on training for the sales.

Ryan Morrison:

I moved on from QAS and almost as a polar opposite, worked for an organization that was more unstructured when it comes to sales, and actually I was asked to kind of put some structure into business but that was more focused on marketing services than pure data services like QAS. Then the third step in my career, again, after spending just about four years at that second business I moved to GB or GBG where I spent nearly nine years at that business. I don’t think I ever had a role for more than two years in that company, is it grew very, very fast. Through that process at GB especially, I guess I got to better understand what it took to run a business versus just be a salesperson.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Ryan Morrison:

And that was a big change for me. It had a very flat structure GB and it meant that I got insight into what running your own P&L, what giving ownership to people looks like, what good leadership is. What happened with that business is it rightly became corporate as it grew and I decided that I was still young enough to warrant doing something a little bit more exciting, and that would be push me when I was still just the right side of 40 if you like.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. So let’s talk a little bit about your time at GBG. You’ve held several leadership roles at the company, a global identity verification solutions business looking into fraud and compliance. Tell us what problems you help your clients solve and what was your role and responsibility.

Ryan Morrison:

The problems that GB solved at the time were in particular areas. So when I worked for the IDV business we were helping organizations to make more of the customer onboarding process. We were helping them get more good customers accepted first time, but for very one particular part of that kind of customer onboarding process, if you like. So a lot of it was about a better customer experience. There was an element of reduction in fraud from an IDV perspective, but it wasn’t key focus.

Ryan Morrison:

The last role I held at the business was definitely more focused on fraud. So GB had made another acquisition and I was asked to go and run the commercial part of that business, and the problems that we were solving then were very much around the fraud risk that was seen by organizations. Actually a lot of my time was spent with companies in Asia Pacific and other parts of the EMEA region. So that’s what they did but I was solving very, very specific issues at time and I would say almost certain elements of tactically solving certain aspects of that customer life cycle but not necessarily an organization solve it end-to-end, which is really where TruNarrative started.

Nathan Anibaba:

Let’s talk a little bit about TruNarrative then, the company was set up in 2016. Your mission is to make safe commerce simple. Talk a little bit about what some of your customer’s biggest problems are and how do you help solve them?

Ryan Morrison:

Th strike line for us says it all really, and often you can not talk to the strike line, right? Because it just becomes something that people don’t notice.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Ryan Morrison:

The real important aspect of it is the balance there between the term safe and simple. There are a lot of organizations out there and whether you call yourself fintech, or they call themselves fintech or rectech or whatever the latest term is. They are promising to make it simple for organizations to onboard, to manage customer risk. But actually a lot of the time, those organizations and those different suppliers don’t necessarily focus on the safe. So it’s all very well going and making it really easy for a customer to onboard with an organization.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Ryan Morrison:

But actually at the same time, it needs to be robust and it needs to make sure that the regulator’s happy and that you’ve got a very, very clear view of the risk, as well as making it simple. So that makes safe content simple is really important and powerful for us as a message to the market, because it’s all about the balance between those two things. Moving on to the second part of the question around what problems we solve. So perhaps there are lots of problems we solve because we sell a platform that does lots of things through one single API.

Ryan Morrison:

But perhaps the biggest problem we solve and perhaps one of the biggest reasons why we started the business was the marketplace is very broken up, and every organization we speak to typically has different processes, different technology partners, they’re wrestling with, how do I get these systems to talk to each other, to deliver a coherent decision process for my customer, to make the experience a really, really positive? That’s really hard to do with legacy processes.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Ryan Morrison:

What we do is we help that organization move from that broken up desperate siloed process, where there’s lots of inefficiency. There’s lots of customer referrals, people dropping out of process, good customers having friction, bad customers getting through the process to join the app. So the experience for good customers is great and we identify the bad actors, if you like at the same time that do it very quickly. That’s the biggest problem we’re solving in the market right now.

Nathan Anibaba:

Just on that then, you transform financial crime management processes for banks, lenders, and eCommerce businesses. Why do financial crime management processes need to be transformed? Is it because of what you said earlier? The fact that there are more and more bad actors now that slip through the cracks and at the same time you want to improve the customer experience for your customers.

Ryan Morrison:

Yeah. I think look, ultimately regulation isn’t going away. Fraud risk, isn’t going away. Fraud risk, especially we’ve seen during COVID is more dynamic than it’s ever be and regulators come out very, very quickly and stated that they’re not going to ease up on the regulatory requirements of organizations. Why do they need to be transformed? Because I think more than ever organizations are looking for competitive advantage in modern day. There are lots of competitors to the legacy providers. So whether it’s the FinTech organizations that are proportionately more agile than the tier one banks.

Ryan Morrison:

We as a society demand everything to be quicker and more instantaneous at all levels of our life and we saw it a number of years ago on personal products. We’ve seen it more and more on B2B products now that people don’t accept that things are going to take more than an hour or more to happen, right?

Nathan Anibaba:

It’s the Amazonaization of the world.

Ryan Morrison:

It is. It is exactly that, and actually financial crime processes have historically been seen as the thing that holds that process back. That you’ve got that classic competition internally between financial crime wanting to ensure the process is robust and marketing and sales, who knew whoever else, commercial entity within an organization just wanting it to be quick. That balance is really, really important and that’s another reason why financial crime processes need to be transformed because of that pressure from those macro factors that are happening in the market, and then those pressures to be more competitive and better than other organizations, but do it in a really robust manner.

Nathan Anibaba:

So let’s talk a little bit about COVID-19 specifically, since you touched on it earlier, talk about some of what the biggest priorities that you had prior to COVID-19 and how have those priorities change as a result of the virus when it first hits in early March and where we need today?

Ryan Morrison:

It’s an interesting one. I’m not sure our actual priorities necessarily change too much, it’s how we went about them that probably changed. So the priorities are always to better serve our customers, right? So that’s in terms of attracting customers, chatting leads, converting business that we want write and then serving the customers to ensure that they get the best possible services in the market and don’t want to ever go anywhere else, and we do that through having the best product and the best people that we can.

Ryan Morrison:

So the priority for the business is to scale, but scale responsibly, which is important to us. We have scaled it at speed, we want to continue to scale at speed. You see so many organizations do it with big chunks of money where actually customer service takes a hit for a while as they scale almost too quickly. So we wanted to do it in the right way and drawing on our corporate background but with a fintech outlook is a nice balance that we feel we’re achieving well.

Ryan Morrison:

So when COVID hit, we were in, I guess a, would you call it luxurious position? A position where we were able to adapt very quickly. We have 40 odd people in the business. We don’t have big customer service teams with people at the end of the demographic scale where they might still live with mom and dad, they don’t have space work, they sat with laptops on their knees. We don’t operate that kind of model. So we were able to move very, very quickly. I think we actually ended up doing business continuity testing well ahead of any other of our peers and customers and we were proactively sending our customer results of that business continuity test earlier than when we needed to. So we moved very quickly.

Nathan Anibaba:

And by that you mean, you were able to move people to remote working environments relatively quickly, set them up with devices and connectivity. There wasn’t really too much disruption to the running of the business.

Ryan Morrison:

Not to the running of our business, no.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s great.

Ryan Morrison:

The outlook that we have is then, okay, so that’s done, let’s make sure our staff are looked after as much as possible. Let’s make sure the customers are clearly looked after as well. So once that was in place, it’s right. What do we do next? How do we need to adapt our business model? So not the priorities but the business model to maintain those priorities and certainly from my perspective, it was to quickly look at selling online and remotely is very different. So the principles of the sales process or the buying process is still broadly the same, but the way that you go about it and the interaction with customers is totally different. So we needed to adapt to that and bring out different levels of best practice to make sure that we maintain that bestselling principles really.

Nathan Anibaba:

Then just finally on the COVID question, what does the future look like? What is the next sort of six months, two to three years look like? Look into your crystal ball, please, and tell us what sort of conversations have you guys had about what the future of the business looks like in this new normal that we’re all in now?

Ryan Morrison:

Well, selfishly for me, probably in this room for a little bit longer yet, we’ve not been invited to any client. I’ve not been invited to client site in the last month or so. My colleagues have been to a couple of meetings. We are back as a business in the office. So the development teams and operational teams are back in the office on a rotor basis. So we’ve made those first gentle steps back into the office environment, because I don’t think any business needs to, or should lose that completely, certainly a business in our market.

Ryan Morrison:

So we definitely want to maintain the right balance when it comes to office and remote working. Me and the commercial team, we’re not moving back into the office anytime soon, we don’t feel we necessarily need to. So like if I get out to see some clients soon, fantastic because I miss it. I miss being out and about.

Nathan Anibaba:

We all do, yeah.

Ryan Morrison:

In terms of broader considerations, that kind of post COVID. I think there’s some interesting changes we’re seeing in the market and the behavior. I talked a little bit earlier about those macro factors that drive that you call it the Amazon factor, right?

Nathan Anibaba:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ryan Morrison:

So interestingly we didn’t necessarily see a drop in the projects that were going to happen when COVID started, have really come to fruition. So we didn’t see a lot of people dropping priority on our kind of projects. We then saw a dip in new projects emerging clearly because there was a natural delay.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Ryan Morrison:

What we now starting to see is we started to see an acceleration in certain markets, which has been really interesting for us especially in those, we call them offline markets. The markets that historically have not had a demand for digital optimization or digital transformation programs, and now starting to accelerate some of that because they realize they have to, to survive almost.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting.

Ryan Morrison:

So if you look at the mortgage market and the B2B market, things that have typically and historically gone, you know what? We’re right if we take a bit longer to make [inaudible 00:17:31] and make it with people, we’re safer and we feel a bit more comfortable, that is changing.

Nathan Anibaba:

They’ve had to accelerate their sort of digital transformation.

Ryan Morrison:

Absolutely.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting.

Ryan Morrison:

I’m an eternal optimist in negative situations, is undoubtedly is. For so many people change will be driven and change probably was needed or was always going to happen. Change happens faster, there are going to be new industries and we just need to make sure we’re in the right position to win if you like and serve the customers that need serving.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about fintech and financial services more broadly. We know that open banking has been live in the UK since 2018, but it’s really taken a while to get the adoption that so many expected. Why has it taken so long for businesses to really understand the power of their data to transform their businesses and to be able to better serve their customers?

Ryan Morrison:

Yeah, I think so there’s two elements, almost two questions in there. So just to take you over one thing first it’s an area that’s certainly a real interest to us. We’ve recently partnered with a really good open banking provider called AccountScore. So we now serve up capability to the market for open banking. But I feel and I guess I’ve said this before and in other forums, originally open banking is almost a solution looking for a problem.

Ryan Morrison:

No one goes out and buys open banking, right? They buy a solution to help them with affordability or to help them manage some other part of the process or to use as banking as part of banking as a service capability. Therefore, I think that’s why open banking is a term struggled early on. I also think there is a lot more that needs to be done to educate the marketplace for adoption of open banking. If you suddenly ask a customer to provide you, so you’re one brand and suddenly the customer’s faced with [inaudible 00:19:46] where they have to give access to their bank to a brand that they’ve only just started getting familiar with, that’s a really hard step for the consumer.

Ryan Morrison:

There’s a lot more education on the value to the consumer that’s required and why things are happening and why it’s a secure process. But that’s almost for others to do in a way and then we’ll adopt as that goes forward. In terms of the broader question around power of data to transform businesses, I think it’s quite simple. They’ve not had the right technical architecture and infrastructure in place to do it quickly and with so much legacy, and I talked earlier about siloed processes.

Ryan Morrison:

If you’ve got different technology partners, different processes, different pieces of infrastructure, and you’re trying to tie them together, it’s really hard to adopt new things because you’re constantly fighting with the tangled ropes of the past. So you’re all constantly solving yesterday’s problems and certainly where we’re different and why people choose to work with us is because the speed and agility that our platform provides helps them solve today’s and tomorrow’s problems, which is a really important aspect of it, and that’s one of the reasons why companies haven’t properly adopted and seen the real value from their data to date.

Nathan Anibaba:

Just staying on the fintech and open banking question for a moment and then we’ll get on to the sales conversation. The tier one banks and tier two banks have really struggled to keep pace with the challenge of banks of your Monzos or your Starlings, Tide, et cetera, and banks like NatWest and RBS have set up their own competing products like Mettle, again, targeting the sort of a small business entrepreneur persona. Now are these tier one and tier two businesses suddenly now realizing that actually they’ve missed a trick here and that they need to create competing products to keep pace with the new entrance of your Monzos and Starlings, or are they looking at them as more instead of competition is more co-opetition. So partnering with these organizations to provide solutions to the marketplace to better be able to serve their customers.

Ryan Morrison:

Yeah, it’s an interesting dynamic. So I think at a broader level, it’s interesting that people seem to constantly assume that the new players are doing better if you like than the legacy players. The thing for me, observing it from outside in is that they’re actually using completely different metrics to judge success as [inaudible 00:22:32] first fundamental things. So there’s no doubt that Monzo, Starling and Revolut were often used as that kind of collection are seen as the darlings of the market and they’re doing well, but they judge their business based on the number of people that sign up to the app as is the modern way. It’s all about breadth of scale before you monetize. Whereas the traditional banks are all looking at balance sheets and P&L’s, right?

Nathan Anibaba:

True.

Ryan Morrison:

And they’re still doing all right. So it’s unfair to compare them because-

Nathan Anibaba:

I see, apples and oranges.

Ryan Morrison:

Yeah. But that said the competition is absolutely the right thing for the market. I think more than ever, I don’t necessarily see it from tier one still. I still think they’re genuinely wrestling with that co-opetition competition and so on. More and more, you see certainly with the banking as service providers that are out there and making things so easy, like [Railsvak 00:23:37] and Modular and organizations like that, that you will continue to see a hell of a lot of cooperation or at that tier two down level as people need that speed to market with new products.

Ryan Morrison:

I think the tier ones may continue to struggle primarily because the biggest thing for me, holding them back isn’t their will to get a new product to market and be a bit more risky with brand and product, it’s actually that they still hold those soft brands is as you might refer to them to the same level of due diligence in terms of supplier setup, procurement governance policy. So it’s almost like you’ve got this young child straining at the leash to go out and be different but is being held back by these more legacy, big cumbersome processes.

Ryan Morrison:

So it’s an interesting topic for us we’ve to date and not necessarily moving forward, but to date we’ve kind of avoided, proactively engaging too much with tier ones because they can swallow a startup business and really absorb your time and your focus.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Ryan Morrison:

We’re of a scale where it’s probably the right time to start looking at the market. But if you get that engagement wrong as a startup, it really is quite difficult to get back from that person.

Nathan Anibaba:

Let’s talk about sales and the commercial aspects of your career, because as we mentioned earlier on in the conversation your career is very commercially focused and every B2B supplier is ultimately selling change, but it’s exactly that sort of change that every customer really wants to avoid within their business. They want to minimize the amount of change that they have to expose themselves to, unless as we’ve seen with COVID-19, that change’s thrust upon them. So they want to move cautiously, they want to avoid risks, they want to avoid disruption and save money. Now, how do we get people to change as a B2B, a solutions provider as you are when they don’t actually want to?

Ryan Morrison:

Yeah, it’s difficult one, isn’t it? So I think not number of elements there, but the fundamental one is that what we try to do is to identify both the people and the businesses. Because that’s a very different question when you’re selling is identifying the people that want change and why do they want change? Then the businesses that culturally need or want that change. So it’s the difference between selling to individuals, stakeholders and finding champions versus finding businesses that naturally need or want that change.

Ryan Morrison:

So I think that’s one of the things we spent quite a lot of time on, on the qualification processes, does this look like a business that’s going to want what we have and going to need what we have? The more specific answer to the question is, it’s through helping them, it’s adding value to their business, helping them understand where they can change and what the value of that change is and how they can do that safely and securely.

Ryan Morrison:

And again, that’s another area where we spend a lot of time in, in terms of not necessarily just accepting that an organization says, “Well, we don’t need to because of X.” Why is that? If you did it this way, what would that mean to your organization? Almost I think B2B selling certainly much more about, you need to help educate the customer to help them understand where there is more value they can get out of their business, how they can be more competitive, our job isn’t just to say, “Here’s a product. Do you want it?”

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Ryan Morrison:

So it’s about creating the value with them.

Nathan Anibaba:

So that education of the customers is an interesting one because for a long time in B2B, we’ve been told that thought leadership is the way to go, create content, educate the customer, create eBooks and white papers and webinars to position yourself as a trusted advisor and as an expert and the customer would ultimately sort of see the lights. But in a world where every B2B supplier these days is creating content and thought leadership, does content really confer advantage anymore in the sales process as it used to in the early days when content marketing and thought leadership was still relatively new?

Ryan Morrison:

Yeah. So an interesting one. I can’t respond with this, there’s a set of facts that say, I know that content led thought leadership, led marketing absolutely has its position because of X. The interesting thing for me, and we do constantly look at this, is, do those bigger, more thought leadership lead pieces help you generate more interest? Or actually, are they more useful as you have got to lead and then you manage that sales cycle moving forward, and you’re keeping the customer updated on new things that are happening?

Ryan Morrison:

As I said, I don’t have an answer that is based on these stats, this is the way to go. It absolutely has its place. I think we’ve already talked about people’s attention spans. What you’re not seeing these days is you’re just not seeing the big white papers that people sit study for an hour or so. It has to be, and this is the way we manage our communication strategy is, is there is a bigger message, but it’s broken down over a series of chunked messages, if you like, that takes the customer through an engagement over time and helps almost change your mindset that way, rather than one single big, big piece of thought leadership.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. So just on the sales question then, because so many people ask me, “Nathan, are salespeople born or are they made?” Because there are some people that try to sort of study sales, become good salespeople and for one reason or another they just don’t get it. They see sales as slimy and manipulative and all the negative connotations associated with it. A lot of people feel as though you need to be naturally imbued with this skill of the gift of the gab and be a natural born sales person. So in your opinion, are sales people born or are they made?

Ryan Morrison:

When we’re looking at hiring and we’re looking at salespeople and managing their performance, you look for behaviors in people, and there is no doubt that you can quickly identify whether someone can become a good salesperson or is a good sales person based on their behaviors. If someone has the foundation of the right behaviors, they can learn to be a good salesperson undoubtedly but there are some foundation behaviors you look for in the person.

Nathan Anibaba:

What are those behaviors?

Ryan Morrison:

So for me, this is a personal view. If you’re looking for the number one thing I look for when I’m hiring salespeople, is does this person have room for growth? Do they recognize that they need to grow and can grow as an individual? We will finish our careers because it’s not a skill where you get to the point where you’re 10 out of 10 or 100%, know your [inaudible 00:31:56] matter. We will finish our careers needing to learn more and more all the time. You never top out as a sales person.

Ryan Morrison:

So the person needs to be self aware, they need to be self motivated. So it is one of the hardest things to do when you have two or three days of not getting the result you want, because you control it. In many jobs, you can 100% control your input and your output. In sales you can’t, you can only can control your input, and if you’re out is off for a few days, you need to have that motivation and be pretty goal driven.

Ryan Morrison:

I think the other aspects in terms of behavior are that you need to be able to, and I hate the term, but communicate effectively. But what I mean by that is you need to be able to talk on so many levels, but you need to build trust through the way that you speak to people and you don’t speak at them, and that you get them to talk about themselves. You don’t just direct things at them. So there is no doubt that salespeople need to be good conversationalists, but I don’t buy that whole gift of the gab thing. It’s certainly a different behavior.

Nathan Anibaba:

Interesting.

Ryan Morrison:

So one of our most successful sales people at TN has actually never done sales before, and he came from a banking background and the whole interview process was just around identifying whether we felt we had the right behaviors.

Nathan Anibaba:

I see.

Ryan Morrison:

Because we knew he has the, and again, when we look at individuals, we look at four aspects. We look at, do they have sales capability and competency? Do they have product knowledge? Do they have market knowledge and do they [inaudible 00:33:57] knowledge? It’s almost the full aspects what makes up a really good salesperson. Clearly this person didn’t have any necessarily sales competencies, but scored really well in the other quadrants. So it was our job to make sure that as long as those foundation behaviors are there we can help them with the sales competencies.

Nathan Anibaba:

Interesting. That’s really interesting. Legendary tech investor, I’m blanking on his name now, but he’s the developer of the early web Andreessen Horowitz, he said on a podcast recently that he would rather train a developer to be a salesperson than train a sales person to be a developer because it takes far too much technical knowledge and knowhow and years of training to become an expert developer than it does to become sadly to say a sales person, as important as that skill actually is.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s sort of going back to what you said there about your hire, having a lot of technical knowledge and the expertise, and you can train the sales ability later, really, really fascinating. So for those salespeople that aren’t performing, as well as you would have liked or expected in the early days, how do you give them feedback? How do you work with them to help them improve their results?

Ryan Morrison:

Well, ideally if you’ve got your processes right and you’ve got your structure right, you shouldn’t always have to get to the point where you’re given [inaudible 00:35:31]. If you’ve hired the right people and you’ve got the right processes in place then as I said, they should realize almost before you realize, and they should be [inaudible 00:35:41] but that’s a luxury position to be in. I’m really lucky at the moment that we’ve certainly gone down the route of hiring much more experienced people initially to get the business moving. So you get that a lot.

Ryan Morrison:

So I get people coming to me and going look, “I know this, I know my performance hasn’t been perfect. I think it’s this what you think?” That’s just as a sales leader, an amazing position to be in, but I recognize that’s not always the case, it hasn’t always been the case. So the first thing for us is about expectations, and I think this has helped us certainly at TruNarrative because we’ve got a background in running corporate sales teams.

Ryan Morrison:

We put measures in place measures that are discussed and shared with those individuals, and they are minimum standards, they are minimum expectations. You would hope that you never have to have a conversation about those, but therefore the person that might need the feedback should be absolutely aware that they are about to get feedback and expectations from the start have been very clear. It’s important that you have those, I call them input measures. So what you don’t want to do is to set someone on, so here’s your target, you’ve got a year to hit it and then 11 months in, you sit them down and you go, “Do you know what? You’re not going to hit your target, so why not?”

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Ryan Morrison:

Be able to see after the first week, first month, second month, the third month, whether they’re on track or off track, based on those input measures that you put in place-

Nathan Anibaba:

Leading indicators.

Ryan Morrison:

They should [inaudible 00:37:23] not you. But then you do have to sit down and have that conversation. Again, the first area I personally look at is what have I done wrong?

Nathan Anibaba:

Interesting.

Ryan Morrison:

Sales leaders will put it all on the person. Actually the first place we should be looking at is what’s the business not given them? Or what have I not given them? Before you look at them or look at them all altogether.

Nathan Anibaba:

That’s really interesting actually. I guess very few sales leaders take that self critical view first before approaching the underperforming sales person. Really, really fascinating. Ryan, last question, before we get into our speed round, the questions that we ask all of our guests. This one is around agencies and choosing agencies specifically to help you sort of drive the performance of the business because selecting an agency partner is probably one of the most important decisions that any client can make. It’s really easy to pick up the phone on the spot and hire a new agency. It’s far more difficult to find an ideal partner to really reshape the way that you think about marketing, to propel the business forward. In your opinion, what’s the best way of choosing, selecting and hiring a new agency.

Ryan Morrison:

So look, speaking from personal experience when we started the business nearly four years ago. I think there are certain aspects that you can write down and you almost go through that classic matrix led approach to selecting someone, and then there’s the unspoken or indirect things that you’re looking for. So one of the things that you’ll naturally look for, and this talks to the selling point, as well as you’re looking for that cultural alignment.

Ryan Morrison:

So I know that if someone’s going to be successful in working with us we work at a really quick pace. So we’re experienced in what we do, but we won’t suffer things being slow. We need to move quickly and accurately, and if we get the sense that people aren’t going to operate at the same pace that we’re going to operate at, then that’s not going to work for us. So it’s very easy for us to discount.

Ryan Morrison:

So one of the things we did early on is, is we went and met a number of agencies, and we asked them to reverse brief to us based on the conversation and you’ve got a certain sense that if they were instantly following up, if they were instantly coming back with the documentation, if they were maybe ringing you to clarify something you understand early on, but that’s the kind of organization that’s going to work well with us and then you’ve got those things that you’re going to write down and score from a matrix perspective, which is experience, do they understand your market and how important is that because do you want a fresh look on how you go to market? All those aspects are very individual in the decision making process.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really fascinating. Ryan, I know I’ve only got you for a few more minutes, so let’s get into our speed round. These are the questions that I ask all of the guests that come onto Clientside. A bit more personal questions about you the individual. At times we all hit low points from time to time, I’m probably thinking about COVID-19 specifically, what do you do to motivate yourself in those times?

Ryan Morrison:

It’s probably an uninspiring answer. I guess, it’s ensuring you’ve got a clear focus in goal and remembering the big picture. So you’ve got to remember why you’re here and there is no better time to do that because it is undoubtedly a challenge. I would regard myself as incredibly self motivated and with a strong will, but actually, do you know what? I absolutely have moments where I’ve struggled over the last four months, sat at the same desk and [inaudible 00:41:34]. But everyday almost the routine’s the same.

Ryan Morrison:

So I think it’s really important, especially in current times that when people have that clear outcome goal. So what is it? Why am I doing what I do and what’s my role in what I do? So if an organization can’t help you understand what your impact is that you’re having on the wider business, then they’re getting something wrong. If you don’t have a clear goal as an individual, then have a chat with someone to help you do that, because that’s really important. Then there are certain kind of hygiene things that you can do on a daily basis, which is change your routine.

Ryan Morrison:

We were talking beforehand, some days I get up at 6:00, 6:30 and I sit at my desk, some days I’ll get up and go and train and get to my desk at 8:00, 8:30. Some days I’ll have an hour break in the middle and train or go and see the kids, whatever it might be. So I think that change structure is really important in getting those little wins every day as well.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really fascinating. What excites you about your current role and position?

Ryan Morrison:

I think, look, we’re genuinely shifting the market, certainly in the UK where our focus is at the moment. So I’d never started a business before or helped start a business before, so I didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t necessarily sat saying in four years time this is where we want to be, but it feels like we’ve done a good job so far in terms of how we scaled business and the types of organizations that have said yes, and want to work with us.

Nathan Anibaba:

I’d say so, yeah definitely.

Ryan Morrison:

So look, what excites me is more of the same changing the market and getting the market to understand that they don’t need to use the same old vendors and that they can take a slightly bigger risk in perceived risks, sorry, in working with organizations, not just us, but our other peer competitors who are out there starting up as well, because that’s how they get competitive advantage.

Nathan Anibaba:

Really interesting. What should agencies be thinking about now to ensure that they can continue to best serve your needs and those of other B2B technology organizations both now and in the future?

Ryan Morrison:

Macro level, that we as individuals and buyers and sellers, we have so many different pieces of content, different media notifications coming through. I think it’s really difficult time for agencies to make sure that they can articulate or genuinely help an organization stand out or a person stand out from the crowd. So I think for me, agencies need to be brave because otherwise you’re just going to get lost in that sheer scale of notifications and content and media coming through.

Ryan Morrison:

So yeah, I just think it can’t be just more of the same and safe level of marketing that the agencies are going to help with. It’s got to be something that’s powerful and helps businesses like us because we don’t have the big marketing budgets that organizations have. So at least it’s something that helps us stand out and build that brand.

Nathan Anibaba:

My final question, Ryan, what’s the single biggest thing that you’re yet to achieve that you’d like to achieve in your career?

Ryan Morrison:

Other than early retirement.

Nathan Anibaba:

Other than that which we all want.

Ryan Morrison:

It’s a difficult one because it depends how you define career. If I define my career based on being in the technology market, I don’t see myself finishing my career in terms of tech or any other business. So it’s where does TN go over the next X amount of years? And where does that mean that I finished my career. But ultimately I’m not doing this because I want to go and do this five more times, I’m doing this cause actually I probably want to go and have a slightly different career when I’m semi retired, whenever that is, it’s no time soon. So I’ll probably want to go do something else, and then that will be another little mini career in my broader career.

Nathan Anibaba:

Sure.

Ryan Morrison:

But I try and still stay clear of specific goals. My ultimate ambition is to get to a point where I’ve achieved what I want to achieve and that I’ve earned what I need to earn to have choices. It’s all about choices for me, and that choice is spending more time with my family, going to see places that I’ve not been able to because I’ve been so focused on this.

Nathan Anibaba:

There you go, Ryan, thank you so much for being on Clientside.

Ryan Morrison:

I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you very much, Nathan.

Nathan Anibaba:

If you’d like to share any comments on this episode or any episode of Clientside, then find us online at fox.agency. If you’d like to appear on the show, please email millie@fox.agency. The people that make the show possible are Millie Bell and Natasha Rose is our booker/researcher. David Claire is our head of content. Ben Fox is our executive producer. I’m Nathan Anibaba, you’ve been listening to Clientside from Fox Agency.