Posted: Wed 20th Oct 2021
After a very successful 17 years in the world of corporate sales, Rachael Howourth decided it was time for a change, and has since founded two brilliant consultancy brands: Momentum South West & MySalesMentor. She is also one of the most popular and sought-after advisers on Enterprise Nation.
Rachael talks us through her background, her businesses, and how being an Enterprise Nation adviser has taken her consultancy services to the next level.
Be sure to connect with Rachael today and request a free discovery call!
How have you made the pivot from a long and successful career in sales to founding two brilliant companies focused around business support?
“So, I worked for Autotrader for around 17 years, and although I loved that company (I was completely indoctrinated into that organisation), like many people in a longstanding corporate career, I didn't know there was a world outside of Autotrader - I thought LinkedIn was just a recruitment platform. I didn't know about networking, I didn't know about anything, I just was very focused on my career in that business.
“There were a number of reasons why I left, but the main one that probably a lot of the Enterprise Nation community can relate to is I just had a baby, who was 18 months old, and I couldn't balance life and work and travel.
“So I left, and luckily, I managed to leave in a really good way, with a bit of a pay-out, being really honest, and that bought me some time. So I went networking, and I started to hear what my local community in Devon really needed, and all the small businesses were telling me that they couldn't grow their sales, they couldn't hire good sales people, and even if they did hire good salespeople they couldn't train them, they didn't know how to induct them, they didn't know how to bring in a CRM system to manage sales data to hit sales targets.
“And my background was exactly that: hire salespeople, train them up, coach them, make them high performers, and empower them to go out and do an amazing job, and my weekly sales target was just under £2m, so I had 60 staff out there, visiting 13,500 car dealers, selling them advertising - that's what we were doing: selling them digital marketing solutions, advertising, helping them to sell cars.
“When I left and I started to hear what the local market needed, I just knew straight away that I had to set up a training consultancy that helped small and medium sized businesses to hire, train, coach and create high performance sales teams.
“I actually got headhunted by a local company who wanted me to go in as head of commercial, and I did that for eight weeks and I doubled their revenue in that time. But I needed to get out of there as fast as I arrived because their culture and values weren't aligned with mine and it just wasn't a good cultural fit. But the fact that I doubled their revenue was all the confidence I needed to just go out and start on my own.”
That really shows the power of being proactive and networking!
“It's absolutely vital. When you say networking, I think a lot of people visualise a crowded room of people drinking tea and coffee, or beer and wine, whichever kind of networking, but a crowd of people huddled together, buy for everybody in that space feeling comfortable, there are two or three that don't, and a lot of people fear networking
“But for me, I just see a room of people that need something. That's all I see: a room of people, whether that's an online room or a face-to-face room of people that all need something, and unless you ask the right questions, you're not going to know what they need and you're not going to know why they need it.
“So, the key thing about networking is you've just got to realise that you have value to give, other people have value to give, and you're not going to be able to collaborate and work together if you don't ask the right questions. So for me, that's all it is: just showing up and making friends, asking the right questions to find opportunities, or allow opportunities to find you.”
In terms of starting your own business, did you always have that bug since you were young? Or was it a sudden epiphany?
“I didn't have that bug. My dad was self-employed, and he would come home every day and talk about earning money, buying and selling and that just didn’t ever occur to me.
“I had a very academic school. I went to a girls’ grammar school, I went to college - it was all very academic and going into corporate seemed like the right thing to do.
“So you know, I would always be looking for promotion and looking for the next pay rise, looking for the next way to add value in that environment, but I didn't ever have the entrepreneurial bug until I started networking, and I could see how much there was, people that needed my services, but there were people everywhere that needed every service!
“It was just a case of joining the dots and introducing the right people. And so I got the title of a bit of a connector because yes, I was out there looking for business for myself, but I would be able to hear other people's opportunities and say: “oh, you should speak to them, you know” and I would introduce people, and the more that you do that the more people want to hang out with you, because they say that if you hang out with Rachael, she's going to make something happen for you.
“So, yeah, there's opportunity everywhere but it wasn't always in my blood. I’m not a natural risk taker. I'm not somebody that would gamble with my money or take big risks, I tend to only stay within the boundaries of what I know I can be successful at. Well, that's how it used to be, now I'm a little bit more gung-ho.”
Tell me a little about your two businesses
“So, the first business that I started was called Momentum South West. It is a training consultancy and when I say training consultancy, I mean that the training is all bespoke, so we have some courses that are off the shelf, and we train companies on leadership, sales, customer service, communication skills, resilience, time management - all the soft skills that people need in business to do well.
“What we did was we would go and work very closely with HR departments and leadership teams, and figure out exactly what was going on with the team that they had and how they wanted that to be different, and then we would build very bespoke, tailored training programmes that were sometimes a half-day workshop, and other times a 12-month full leadership programme, and we would go and build those services for them so that they got the outcome that they needed.
“We also had coaches and mentors that were specialists in particular areas, and I grew a team of associate trainers and coaches, up to about 10, so that we could really react and respond to all the needs that were out there and then of course the delightful Covid came along, didn't it.
“And so, because 90% of the work that we delivered was face-to-face, events, whether they were open events in hotels where we sell tickets to individual entrepreneurs or we would go into businesses and train 20 of their staff.
“Either way, it was all face-to-face, other than probably about 10% of our business. And so COVID came along, and we migrated a lot of our training into virtual classrooms. So, we got very, very good at using Zoom, at using Breakout Rooms, all the functionality that you get in applications like Zoom and Teams and got really good at doing that as well.
“But of course, people were being furloughed, and you can't train people that aren't at work. So we did lose money quite quickly. And so, me being me, got resourceful, and I offered the southwest business community free training for anybody that was on furlough. I built this little training group where people would just dial into calls with me, and I would coach them through how they felt about being furloughed, and they were all really worried.
“They felt like rejects, they felt like their bosses didn't really value them because they'd been furloughed and of course we know that that isn't really what was going on. The companies were just trying to survive, but that's not how it felt to them. So, I put a lot of time and effort into helping those people that were furloughed, and in doing that, I was just staying busy, I wasn't being paid, it was just staying busy and being seen in the community as being somebody that was helpful, somebody that was supportive and helping businesses to survive.
“I started to become very aware of the online coaching space, and how there were a lot of women in the online coaching space who were trying to start businesses so that they could have a family life, look after their kids, balance all the things that a woman in business has to balance. Without being sexist, the reality is a lot of the women are doing the doing the child-related work, looking after the home and that's just the way it is, and when they start a business, they really struggle, they really struggle with their mindset, they really struggle with business skills, they struggle to sell their services and market their services.
“So, I started to become very aware of that, because I was delivering this free training online. And I just got sucked into it. I realised that there were all these women out there that needed my help, because I'd already proved that I could sell my services online and offline - I could find people to buy what I had to offer.
“I started to help these ladies and that's where the second business got birthed. My Sales Mentor is the second business, and I now have clients in America, Canada, all around different countries in Europe, and I help women to set up coaching businesses and consultancy businesses, and to sell their services.”
If you could give your younger self three useful tips, what would they be?
“I’d say the first one is: make mistakes as quickly as you can. Just don’t worry about anything else, messy action, just get stuck in, make mistakes as fast as you can.
“I would say go and find people that have done what you want to do, ask them questions, hang out with them, pay them for their coaching services, whatever it is you need to do to get near them - get in their space, because the fastest way to learn what you want to do is from somebody that's already done it.
“Have them help you, so that would be the second one: go and find somebody that's already done what it is that you want to do.
“And the third would be about self-belief. One of the biggest things I’ve suffered from every single day, is really believing that what you have to offer is worth what it's worth, because there's a common mistake made that when you think about pricing your services that you're pricing yourself, but you aren't, because you're not for sale, and we're not selling ourselves, we're selling the output that we can help somebody to achieve. So it would be about really understanding what your unique gift is and how that can impact somebody else.”
When did you first become aware of Enterprise Nation, and why did you become an adviser?
“Well, it was actually somebody at Enterprise Nation that put a post on LinkedIn. It was Amanda. Amanda posted on LinkedIn, saying that she was looking for sales trainers, and quite a few people tagged me and referred me and said you need to speak to Rachael!
“And so, I got a message from her saying: “I've had so many comments on my LinkedIn post, but you're the one everybody keeps referring, can we have a call?”
“So, we had a call, and she asked me to get involved in some training that you guys were doing, and then said you should only do that if you're an adviser. So, can you become an adviser?
“That's how I became an adviser. I was made aware of Enterprise Nation by a few of your advisers, people that have previously won awards and really rated your services. So I guess I was accelerated a little bit to the point where I started delivering workshops and webinars for you, which got good engagement and good feedback, and then that led to me being asked to do a few more so I've done a few interviews for you guys and run quite a few Lunch and Learn sessions, Q&As, and some masterclasses, too.”
Returning to Enterprise Nation, do you have any stand-out success stories from small business owners who have benefitted from your services as an adviser?
“I've got a few actually. I've been working with some ladies who are Enterprise Nation members who've joined me on my group coaching programme, who up until this point haven't been able to design and build online courses, and I've helped them to do that.
“When I say ‘help them’, I mean help them to structure the course so that it's transformational and that people actually complete it and get an outcome, but also the tech involved in online courses - I think a lot of the time people are really attracted to online courses because they can see there's a lot of money to be made, but you then realise that actually there's a lot of tech; you've got automations and emails and all sorts.
“One of your advisers is working with me on my group coaching programme and she's building a series of online courses, and together we're building marketing plans and audience growth plans, and really making sure that she gets to be seen in the market that she wants to sell those courses in.
“Then another one of your advisers is brand new to the online space, didn't have an Instagram account at all, didn't have any social media presence at all. Now she's got it all going on, she's got her social media, she's putting posts up, she's in Canva, she's feeling confident to create graphics, she's in a little accountability group with me, and she's making progress every single week, she set up her email list, she has set up lead magnets – so there are some real good standout stories from some of the people that are in my programme.”
How has being an Enterprise Nation adviser benefitted you personally?
“Well, it's allowed me to grow my audience and grow my community. It's allowed me to win new clients, to sign new clients into some of my services.
“So, the two most popular services that Enterprise Nation has helped me to grow have been my one-hour service, which is all about one hour spent on helping somebody build their online business model.
“A lot of people are very attracted by the online world, but they don't really know how to build a business model to make it in the online world, not just what to sell but how to get the audience to see it, want it, buy it and tell other people about it. And that's what I love to do - I deliver a one-hour service and quite a lot of Enterprise Nation community have come and worked with me on that service.
“The other is usually the people that have done that one hour and realise that they want my help in a bigger way. They will come and join my 12-week group coaching programme; I've got ladies now in my 12-week group coaching programme which is called the ‘Online Sales Competence Accelerator’ which, as the name suggests, is all about accelerating their confidence to sell their services online. I've been able to sign new clients that I wouldn't have been able to sign. It’s excellent. I'm happy. I'm a happy adviser!”
Finally, do you have any parting thoughts about life as an Enterprise Nation adviser?
“I would say that my best tip for an adviser who wants to maximise their membership and their adviser status would be to be very active.
“Firstly, make sure you've got a good profile - your profile on the site has got to be good because it's your profile that people are going to check out first, whether you're doing a talk, whether you're in a networking event with Enterprise Nation or whether somebody's just doing a search amongst the members. If your profile isn't optimised, you're never going to get a message from anybody.
“So, make sure your profile is optimised, make sure your products are on there, make sure there's a picture of you. Make sure there's some personal stuff about you, not just ‘my name is Rachael and I do X, Y, Z.’ You you need to tell people what you do so that they understand, so that would be the first tip: make sure your profile is optimised.
“The second tip would be: get out there! Get visible when in business. Did anybody ever sit on their backside and have somebody come and knock at their door and say: ‘hey I want to work with you!’ - it just doesn't happen. You've got to get out there. So I would say find all the ways that you can possibly find to get visible, to get active, to get connected and to have conversations.
“You can't have a conversation and expect that to turn into a sale because it won't. You have to ask other people: ‘what can I do to help you?’ and they will then reciprocate and say: ‘okay well what can I do to help you?’
“You then have that conversation and you can really exchange ideas with each other and tell them who you're looking to meet and why. Don't see the people that you meet as your future customers, see them as your future referrers, and then your network will just grow and grow your know connectivity within Enterprise Nation will improve and therefore, the return on investment will be massive.”