Required Reading: Be the BALLS
In today's ultracompetitive economy every business, large or small, and every manager, old and new, needs BALLS, according to Alexi Venneri, chief marketing and communications officer of Who's Calling, a sales and marketing technology and consulting company. BALLS, as Venneri explains in her book BALLS: 6 Rules for Winning Today's Business Game, stands for being brave, authentic, loud, lovable, and spunky. The book shares the stories of innovative business leaders and their keys to success. Filled with useful anecdotes and detailed case studies, Venneri's book reveals the unconventional methods used to grow competitive, wildly creative companies with brands as strong as their organization's values without breaking the bank. CRM magazine's Colin Beasty spoke with Venneri about the book.
You preach taking a more aggressive attitude toward business. How did your years of experience in business and marketing lead you to this conviction?
My experience with Who's Calling, as we grew the company, was pretty amazing. Our technology is very innovative, yet still very authentic. When we first started we wanted to know which advertising is working, and that's very accountable and very real. When you combine that with something as innovative as a new technology--that was the secret to our success with Who's Calling. A lot of the clients and businesses we started to work with were doing the same thing. There are some businesses that are very traditional and not aggressive enough to grow quickly, and other businesses that are too innovative and don't pay attention to the basics of business. You want to be [brave] enough to want to be creative, try new things, while still growing revenue.
One of the rules in the book is that L is for lovable, that by loving your employees they will, in turn, love your company's customers. That's pretty important from a CRM perspective.
It starts with your employees. You have to take care of them and show them the value of what they're bringing to the clients. That makes them so much more invested, and they really buy into whatever your company is doing on behalf of the clients. That's the heart of everything, regardless of what business or industry you're in. By taking care of your people, you empower them to take care of your customers. Too many people specific to CRM think they're going to buy this tool and that's going to solve all their customer relationship problems. The tool is just a piece of the puzzle, but [it's really about] how you implement the process...and empower the people to take action on the information they're gathering--and take action to proactively build those relationships using the tools you're giving them.
The book is centered on your six rules of business. How, or why, did you build the book around these?
I've found that all these rules are a part of our business culture anyway. The most successful businesses that I've worked with practice these rules a lot. It was great to see a company like Salesforce.com practicing these philosophies in their culture--being brave, creative, and willing to do new things while practicing being authentic, going on real revenue, or just practicing being honest or open. Being able to try new things--the longer you can keep that in a company as you grow and get bigger the better off you are.
What do you think readers will find most interesting about your book?
I think overall they [will be] inspired by the variety of different stories that are in [it] and the motivational message of just trying something, be ballsy, get out there and don't be afraid. There's a great quote that says people won't remember your strikeouts, but they'll remember all your home runs. As you're growing your business--any business--as you're a growing manager you're going to make mistakes, but learn from them. That's such a huge opportunity. Don't be afraid to snag a few ideas and try them. I'm personally excited that a number of managers and businesses try some of the specific ideas and then tell me about how they did it.
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