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Working with Brandwatch on questioning and documentation

One of the great things about being in Brighton is being part of a growing network of cool digital businesses – it’s a closely knit community full of friends and ex-colleagues, and so it was ace to be asked by our friends at Brandwatch for some training recently. Brandwatch is a social media monitoring tool, currently enjoying huge growth and a pretty awesome client list.

At NM we’ve known Giles (Palmer, founder & CEO) and the team since day one, and so it’s been great to see their profile rise and the team grow. A large part of this growth has been within the new business and account management teams, and it was this part of the business that we recently worked with for two days of training. We do a lot of training for clients but this was different; normally training is with a customer service team, or a PR/marketing function, and we are sharing digital expertise. But Brandwatch are already digital experts, so what could be teach them? Well, the brief was clear – to equip the new business and account management team with deeper consultancy skills.

Giles, along with Naomi (head of new business) and Caroline (head of account management) were keen to get the teams thinking in a more consultative way, understanding the context in which Brandwatch would be used and what problems it might solve. As social business consultants, we’re used to understanding client needs, using questioning and frameworks to build a complete picture, so on day one Caz and I introduced the team to SPIN, a technique that uncovers:

- Situation – what is happening? What does the client do? What internal & external factors are at play?
- Problem – what are we trying to solve?
- Implication – what happens if we don’t solve the problem? What’s the impact for the individual, and for the organisation?
- Needs/payoff – what happens it we solve it? What does success look like?

It was awesome to really break down and explore the different steps, and encourage the teams to share examples of where they’d had these types of conversations with clients, and when such information would have been really helpful. It was also great for Caz and I to spend time with a similar but entirely different team, facing familiar challenges but also sharing familiar passions and excitement for working in digital.

We made the day super practical and used real-life client examples to bring typical conversations and challenges to life; for example we explored the typical role of a customer service team within a large organisation, using our experience with clients like Nectar and First Group. Together we discussed typical characteristics of a customer service team, typical challenges they face and what types of fundamental benefits Brandwatch could offer.

Good sales people ask good questions. And then they listen to the answers. The SPIN technique gave us a starting point on the questions we need to ask our clients to really understand their requirements, the better to meet them.

The session on documentation then gave us further tools to craft our response to their requirements. A really useful day, and delivered with levity and good humour!

Naomi Trickey, sales director

Day two was focussed entirely on documentation, the rationale being that client documents can sometimes get overlooked, but are great records of a shared understanding and can really help set the right tone for working relationships. Splitting the day into three, Louise and I went through new business, account management and pitch documentation, for each one exploring what makes for a good document from a client point of view, and from a Brandwatch perspective.

We also explored common barriers to good document production; like at NixonMcInnes and in any other business, the Brandwatch team are subject to complex and constant demands, both internally and externally – setting aside time to create a compelling pitch can be tough and so we discussed how templates and internal resources could be utilised.

Like day one, day two was a lively day full of debate; in addition to the creation of three robust templates for use in future, it was great for the team to take some time out and discuss what Brandwatch meant to them, and how they wanted to convey this. There were differences in style and approach among the team, but the culture shone through which was great to see.

As a growing company, you don’t often get time to stop and think about the processes and practises you’ve developed as a team. Taking the time to talk about how we approach our client relationships was super useful – especially as it allowed us to understand and learn from the different approaches that exist within the team

I can’t imagine doing this type of training with anyone other than the NixonMcInness crew because we trust their approach and knew that they understood us and our product. We’re doing an overhawl of our documents now to take on the feedback from the day so it was definitely worth while!

Caroline Goodwin, head of account management

In summary, working with Brandwatch was a great learning experience for me, and a lot of fun. It was also something that I’d like to do more of in future, either with Brandwatch directly or another kind of digital agency; I think in supplier-land there’s an innate sense of competition or secrecy, but as an industry of people doing overlapping types of work, and facing similar challenges, it’s always rewarding to openly discuss things and learn from this.

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