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Monday, September 23, 2013

How it all began by Joanne Walter.

There I was at the tender age of 10, on the verge of negotiating my first contract.

“Right, I’m going to do you a deal” my mother had said. My ears pricked up, although I was on my guard for the inevitable request to tidy my room. “It’s really simple, if you work hard and pass your 11+ then you will go to grammar school and I promise I will NEVER ask another thing of you.” Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. It seemed like a great deal. What was the catch? A barrage of questions from me later and I couldn’t see one, so I agreed. Of course there was a catch. My mother had been very clever.

Hard work and education were attributes she prized highly and she knew that giving me a goal to reach wouldn’t make me rest on my laurels once I’d achieved it. She knew it would give me a thirst for success and that going to the right school would nurture a love of learning that would last a lifetime. The reason why she wouldn’t ask anything else of me was because she knew I’d ask it of myself.

So I fell neatly into her trap, worked and studied hard and went to the right school. My mother kept her side of the bargain for the rest of her life, somewhat annoyingly at times, never venturing an opinion or asking advice. This had the net result of making me very self reliant. Early on I learned that I and I alone, had to live with the consequences of my decisions which meant that making positive ones became crucial.

The grammar school in question quickly helped me to hone my love of science and particularly biology. From there it was a small step to molecular biology at Durham and later Oxford University. Molecular biology was not a new science, but compared to the other areas of research I was considering, it was riding high on the wave created by the discovery of the structure of DNA some 40 years previously. It seemed cutting edge, exciting and oh so me!

Most of my peers’ interest was on the pure research side of science. Not me. I was fascinated by how people actually develop technology and the systems and processes behind it.

A key project whilst at Durham was to develop a commercial technique for plasmid purification. Again rather than focusing in on just one piece of the puzzle, I had a beginning, middle and end to think about. That focus has stayed with me throughout my scientific career. For me the buzz comes from taking an unproven, never tried before concept through to a successful conclusion. So for a number of years I developed all sorts of technology, focusing largely on genomic and later proteomic techniques.

Whilst my love affair with science was far from over I was keen, as ever, to charter new territory and an opportunity arose to cross into the business world whilst retaining my core interest in science.

Never one to shy away from an opportunity I became an Application Scientist, teaching others about the technologies I had developed and helping them with their research. I gained a fascination with training and with how people learn. In addition to taking on increased managerial responsibility, I wanted to help my customers more. As ever my fascination turned into a quest, which led me into the field of NLP and human communication.

Understanding how customers thought and why they thought like that became the key to fulfilling their needs at a far deeper level. It also made sense commercially. Happy, well trained customers got the absolute most from the products they had bought and were keen to buy and recommend more. I became certified as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP which has since proved invaluable in helping me to forge strong relationships over the years.

My belief in properly servicing customers led to me taking the ultimate leap into sales. For scientists, sales can be a comfort zone issue and so I perceived this as a real challenge. However, I found it wasn’t. Key to this is HOW I sold. For me it was always about properly understanding customer’s needs. I could absolutely empathise with them given my scientific background and so could accurately relay what products could and could not do, before determining if there is was match. If there was, and the time and pricing were right, they would buy. If not we developed a good relationship and a network that grew to sustain future sales. It may sound simplistic, in practice it was often not. However I firmly believe that in the modern world integrity has to be the cornerstone of sales. Those without it may do well in the short term but success gained at the cost of reputation is not sustainable.

Being prepared to walk away from customers whose needs you cannot fulfil allows them to create the space they need to re-evaluate. They feel able to talk their issues through with you as a trusted advisor, safe in the knowledge that they will receive sound advice which can and often does leads them to buy from you in the future.

By this point in my career I had gained the technology, sales and commercial acumen that would enable me to run my own business. The big question was, what should that business be? I wanted to try something new again! After a conversation with a friend who pointed out that my experience and network could be valuable outside of the industry, I spent a short spell as a headhunter with a specialist company, with a focus on helping scientific businesses develop and grow. I soon discovered that I was able to offer far more than talent acquisition. I became involved in business strategy, sales strategy and marketing, in addition to helping them to recruit, train, manage and retain key members of staff.

My new business was born, well very nearly. I had the skills and expertise to offer a wide range of consulting projects to entrepreneurial businesses within the scientific community and strong relationships with a global network of decision makers. The final push to ‘go it alone’ came when a major life event forced me to re-evaluate and I decided that there really is no time like the present!

I made a decision to live my life following my values, working with the people I wanted to work with in a way that was right for me, and so Posichoice was formed.

Posichoice = Success. A not very scientific equation? Well in my opinion success starts with making a decision to do something.

Of course decisions themselves are a double edged sword and can also lead you down the wrong path, however experience and expertise helps you to sort the good from the bad. Positive decisions arrived at using good judgement, create positive actions which result in success. And there you have it!

Sound judgement, positive choices and actions are what I now offer to my clients, alongside a team who I am proud to say share my values. And the last piece of the puzzle? Marketing. What it is, what it is not and how you make the most of it has been the challenge over the past few years. Our approach is ever evolving, like the market itself and communicating using new media and social networks really is having a positive impact on sales and providing other tangible benefits to our clients.

Our methodology takes the best of ‘old school’ marketing and gives it a very sociable human facelift, which means that wherever we are in the world and whatever we have to say, the right people listen.

For more information on Posichoice and our services, please contact us. Please also feel free to follow us on Linked In, Facebook and Twitter.