S8E19: From COO to CEO, and deciding to focus less on sales, with Rory McKeand (CEO, TSG)

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S8E19: From COO to CEO, and deciding to focus less on sales, with Rory McKeand (CEO, TSG)

Rory McKeand (CEO of TSG, one of the UK's leading IT companies providing local IT services) speaks with Xquadrant's Founder Richard Medcalf.

We are continuing our season "The CEO Learning Curve". Interesting and inspiring CEOs reflect on what got them the top job, what they've learned over the first few quarters in the role, and what lies ahead.

In this conversation, you’ll discover:

  • Why moving from COO, already managing 80% of the business, to CEO was a surprisingly big jump.
  • How Rory would shift his focus, if he had his first year as CEO again.
  • Rory's mission to change the industry around customer success.
  • How deciding to become LESS sales-focused actually improved performance.

 "Fingers out, nose in!"

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Transcript

Richard Medcalf
Hi Rory, and welcome to the show.

Rory McKeand
Brilliant. Thanks for having me.

Richard Medcalf
I'm looking forward to this. You've, I think you've been in the chief executive role at TSG. Now for about a year and so I'm looking forward to diving in into what that first year has been like, I think just before we started recording, you were saying it was a bigger leap, perhaps than you first imagined when you made that transition from Chief Operating Officer. So before we go into that, do you want to just introduce yourself? What's TSG and very simply, what was your path to come into that business?

Rory McKeand
Fantastic. Thanks, Richard. So my name is Rory McKeand, Chief Executive at TSG. We're a tech company that takes customer success very seriously. We're a customer success driven company. We're a UK, Microsoft and managed services partner and we're about sort of three 300 people in the UK and my journey to being chief exec was one of joining the business to help with internal projects, and then a transformation program, looking at some of the some of the basic processes, tooling, and, and culture and that really evolved on a natural gradient to becoming Chief operation officer several years ago and you know, the way that I led the team, some great, great mentoring from the chief executive at the time and I was very fortunate in terms of their timing and what they wanted for them to sort of step back into allow me to become chief exec just at the beginning of this year.

Richard Medcalf
Let me just let me just drill into that because you went over Yeah, I was Chief Operating Officer and other lines I moved on and what did you do? Because there's not every chief operating officer that gets to then step up, in a relatively short timeframe to see oh, and I know, obviously, there was perhaps a succession going on and so forth. But what do you think? What was it that helps you secure that role where perhaps they could look for other candidates? What do they see in you?

Rory McKeand
Yeah, it's a hard question. I think it I think, initially, I thought it was about the delivery of quite challenging projects, and turning around some of our service areas and so we went from when our time slot 100 employer, we've got a world class, net promoter score, and these sorts of things and, and though they are important, and yes, you know, some systems and processes and so on, had really improved, I think it was really my maturing in that role, and, you know, taking on other people's ideas, and, and, you know, being seen as a sort of visible leader in, in, in the business and I think, really, we're very big on customer success but also part of that is about the values and behaviors piece and a lot of people say it doesn't just live on the wall. But I think there's a lot you get through role modeling and I think we went through a number of challenging periods with those transformation projects, and I think was just the maturity that I showed, and that I had some good guidance, but it was the maturity and the pace at which they were driven that made the difference.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, it's making me think about you, I always say, you know, we don't get what we want, we get who we are and then there's this part about, you know, you can kind of get all the tips and try to cut a manipulate the situation. But you know, fundamentally, it's about what I think what we model in the day to day, the day to day, I don't know, maturity, or leadership, or whatever it is that's going on, that probably comes through, I mean, sometimes you can kind of perhaps, you know, for some of the people some of the time or whatever, and and find that shortcut, but I think it's really interesting, you just talked about Yeah, just seeing you in action and doing things.

Rory McKeand
Yeah, I think role modeling has been one of the biggest takeaways from me, actually, just just in general, I think we, I'm an avid reader, you know, four or five management books a month and these sorts of things. And there's so much you go into when you think about the written communication, or perhaps an all an all team update. But for me, it's a little things, you know, it's the role modeling behavior, it's a small things of, you know, if something on the floor, you're going to pick it up and you're walking past or is it a, you know, if you see something that needs some support, you're going to reach out or just a simple thing, if you know, just challenging someone in a in a supportive, but But you know, firm wave, if you see something that isn't quite right, or do you leave that someone else? And I think that that kind of role modeling bit, which I used to think was not as impactful? Really, that's when I talk to people and say, Well, no, what Why do you behave in a certain way? Or what are some of the cues that you get? And most people can't tell me what I said in the last quarterly update, but they can, but they can tell me a particular behavioral thing that I did or something where maybe nudge them, you know, a couple of years ago, which is interesting.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's pretty interesting. I think it's, it's why why I believe so much in role modeling. I mean, I was talking to you earlier about my car community and that's kind of part of it. Because, again, most CEOs They don't have many peers, closely around them to, again to role model and get to the next level themselves. Right, because of mutiny once a year, right, by definition, almost occasionally find co CEOs, but it's rare. And, and so I think you're right, it's kind of caught rather than taught, as you said, so. So okay, so you you got into the role about a year ago. So what was the surprise? What? What did you discover? You already been in the business, you knew the business? You I think you ran a quite a large part of the business already as CEO. So what changed when you became CEO?

Rory McKeand
Yeah. So I think, I think if you if you were to kind of draw it out and say, Well, look, here's how much of the org chart that I had before in terms of the majority of it, or you're here, the number of suppliers or customers that I was, I was accountable for it. In real terms, it was, you know, I was doing 80% of that role, I probably felt like something of a deputy. Anyway. So that step really, for me beforehand, I thought was very well prepared. And I had good guidance, and coaching and so on. But I think it was the responsibility of that leap in terms of how then people treated me afterwards, or would look at me. And I think something around just the the expectation of that role in that, you know, your Chief Operating Officer, you've got a lot of, you know, breadth and complexity in that role. But ultimately, you still have a clarity of what your contribution is. And when you think about 360 degrees of your business, being accountable for all of it, is, you know, that there's a pressure that comes with and it's not the expectation that there wasn't pressure in prior roles. Yeah, I think being chief operating officer during the pandemic was pretty challenging was like a cup final for, you know, in terms of a business. But I think what was interesting, is that sort of imposter syndrome to go, Well, hang on, you know, am I the right guy, I mean, it felt like I was the right guy in terms of transformation and bit bits that we did, but then, you know, you can't help but be your own internal critic, as you said, and, and a real confidence piece around, you know, what should I focus on, and what's interesting about some of the Chief Operating Officer pieces that you can put some of that on rails, so you know, continuous service improvement is fine. But when you're when the when the balance moves from mainly customers, to a byproduct of giving shareholders what they want to then, though shareholders being your, one of your main needs, yeah, it's a different view. So you know, it's, it's some of those pressures and keeping it alive. So for me, there's a really big alignment thing, that if I can get people, customer and, and stakeholders in line that that that that really sort of helps in terms of clarity, whereas I felt that perhaps where I where I needed to focus weren't necessarily in the right places. So I think I think as a year, if I could, if I could have a do over, I think I'd be much closer on, on particular key metrics and worry more about role modeling, then, perhaps, you know, around giving that kind of forward view and where we're going. So I think, I think some was just around around clarity of what the expectations role is, and, and where to spend your time, which sounds like a really simple thing. But it's something about, you know, you really are, you're very have a lot of freedom within it within the chief exec role. So you can choose where to spend your time, and it's, but also with that it's it's then around, there's a real peace around well, am I spending that time effectively, in a different way than perhaps is is more obvious in prior roles?

Richard Medcalf
Did I catch you right? Did you say that you'd spend more time and role modeling, and you took you say about being closer on key metrics? Did you mean focus in more on those key metrics?

Rory McKeand
Yes. So So effectively, I did very well at the chief operation Officer role by being really key on and you know, two or three metrics really around, you know, customers, some of the KPI elements, but even ones that were rolled up into, you know, having real clarity of you, I could see where I needed to do dip checks in the organization to say, look, you know, do I think this particular project is going as well, as I'd expect? Or is this service area, you know, this new manager do? I think they're panning out as I expected them to, and I could almost sort of forecast where it expect the business to be in accordance time. And I think what's interesting is that I should have just taken that same learning and apply it across the rest of the business. Whereas I think I didn't do that. I think I got into into a position of actually, I'm in a more of a visionary role, rather than an integrator role, if that makes sense. And so I think if I was to play my time again, and where I've now gotten to at the back end of this year is it's just being closer on a few those key metrics and, and doing more of that dip checking, just to just to make sure that I'm closer to the business. But equally, not wanting to be a micromanager as well, which is quite hard at the wellhead Express actually, the day was, you know, fingers out nose in which I always thought was a nice way of putting it you know, instead of you know, not kind of, you know, not not going to interfering, but at the same time making sure you've got enough of a sense of what's going on.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, I call it I call it the transparency bargain, which is eyes on hands off. In other words, you ask your team and I need to I need to better feel confident that I understand what's going on because I have people over I'm accountable to I need to be able to give a reason that babe but but in but I promise not to then intervene in the individual operational decisions to your property, your responsibility and the danger, you know is, is that when we have visibility, we suddenly feel that we can now make all decisions. But in reality, we don't have all the all the data. But I think is the difference in the Navy and the Army. Historically, in a book somewhere, you know, the, the admirals had a lot more autonomy to make decisions in the name of the king or the Emperor because they were around the world on a boat, right, you couldn't get in touch with them. Whereas the military generals had to send the horse back every night to get to report on them days battle, and they get back the following morning with their instructions. And so they're getting kind of micromanage because it was easier to create this visibility chain.

Rory McKeand
Yeah, I love that analogy, because I often think about that when you're writing, you know, strategy for over the next few years, or when you're talking about a new department or new service. And it's almost at writing that charter for them to say, look, if you're halfway around the world, and we can't communicate effectively need to be able to make decisions, then you've got to have the right context to be able to do that rather than as you say, keep getting incremental commands. That's, that's a nice way of putting it.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So okay, so yes, we talked about the this kind of being focused on the key metrics so that you can get an pulse of the business done the role modeling, we talked a bit about the stakeholders. I mean, it's really interesting, because I mean, I think that's one of the big differences, CEO, there's all these extra stakeholders, perhaps you didn't realize, and they're not always in alignment, and they can almost never be in alignment, sometimes you have to manage the tensions, perhaps.

Rory McKeand
And I think I talked to a few of the other peers who have gone through something similar as you there's a real motivational slump, I think, which is odd, because you almost feel that, because for me, it was it was it was apparent to the business that for at least six months, this was going to happen, you know, probably I knew was gonna happen slightly earlier than that, but But ultimately, you know, it should have been a point of really elation to say, wow, you know, fantastic, brilliant, you know, you know, it's a great, great, great achievement, your real pride in terms of you're leading a business, but, you know, sometimes it's much easier to be motivated when you're lying to customers, or people that it is to be lying to you or to shareholders, which you know, gels are really important, you have a fuel fuel for the business, but it's easy to get out of bed, to go to go support your people or to go and support, you know, a customer than perhaps and it's it's having that, having that alignment really, and I think that sort of motivational pieces is an interesting way I've heard from a few few people where they've, whether it's imposter syndrome, or whether it's just just adjusting to the new role where what should be a real point of elation is actually one of, you know, still finding your feet and uncertainty and actually can be a real slump. And it's, you got to find your way through.

Richard Medcalf
There must be off Jeff Bezos who who said when it's when I think long term, the interests of customers and shareholders align, this is a great thing. Like if I'm managing for the long term, there is no conflict. No, I was pretty happy customers make happy shareholders.

Rory McKeand
Definitely, I think and that's definitely where I think I've now gotten to, which is, because because we're a tech business, sometimes it can feel it was a real complexity and, and in things like the pandemic, as an example, you know, we had to react very quickly with customers. And that led to, I think everybody went from having long term focuses to be very short term for a period. But actually, now, they're coming out from that, and planning of over the next few years has really, really helped create that alignment. And, as I sort of mentioned, we're, we're really passionate about customer success. And so that, and that, that has really helped create that alignment between, you know, the metrics of that creates is great for shareholders, you know, that creates people who want to be part of the business from an employee perspective, and, and it's really hanging on to customers as well. So that as a customer, is really that linchpin for, as you say, over the medium to long term.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, so to talk about this customer success, you said a lot, you you definitely something which is core to you. And, you know, doesn't, he doesn't ever want to say, you know, we want our customers to be successful. And be you know, what does it mean for you like, what are you trying to do when you talk about customer success? Like you said it in the very first sentence, I think of this discussion, why is TST different in this area?

Rory McKeand
Well, so, traditionally, and I'm paying for a very broad, broad brush, brush, but in into the tech businesses that sit around us very much. And as TSG was several years ago, was very much a sales first organization. So it was very much about, you know, engaging with people who knew what they wanted, and then be able to provide exactly what they asked for, but the complexity of what's of what's available to you, now, you really need someone to work with you and do and do some horizon scanning with you. And so that that's basically built, definitely have to trust somebody. So. So on that basis, if the person that's giving you advice on where to go, is, you know, highly incentivized for you to buy the most expensive thing. That's quite hard in terms of how do you how do you kind of square that and, and I think in most cases, you have to rely on the best judgment of salespeople to find that balance. Whereas what we're trying to do is, is to say, well, actually, let's just not have that balance, let's have a trusted adviser, somebody who is not financially motivated. They're motivated on the customer and what they're trying to achieve. And they can pull on the right sort of knowledge and experts around them. And in some ways, it works. Because in a tech business, it's your many of the things that you buy a consumable, or it's all about optimization of a platform, or, you know, either from a pricing or you if you're trying to achieve achieve a goal. And so, in some ways, I'm very fortunate in the industry that I'm in because it allows, if you're, if you're a trusted adviser, and you work with a customer, and what's important to them, and you have the scale and the resources, you're gonna be bit of a Swiss Army Knife in terms of, you know, do you have all the all the expertise that they might need. But if you have that, well, then you don't really need to sell. You just need to be a trusted adviser, as I say, but it's a huge leap of faith, because you go from what's a fairly consistent sales performance to saying, what I can't guarantee what's going to come in, it's going to come in at the right time for the customer, rather than the right time for me. So that's an interesting leap, where you start to say, Well, what does that look like?

Richard Medcalf
How did you set it to the board?

Rory McKeand
We did the typical thing, you know, we had an away day, you know, so fortunately, my chief exec at the time now our chairman, just is really bought in on it. And I think we're both passionate about about customer success, and doing this differently and changing the industry, not just, you're not just the commercial return. But we just as you said that that Bezos quotes you perfect in that we looked at it, what would this look like in three years time? So what are the advantages of going down this model? And what are the what are the risks, so some of the risks are clearly that, you know, you're not going to get the big inputs, you're more like, big, big one off sales, you're more likely to have, you know, consistent sort of, you know, recurring or smaller bite sized pieces coming through. But then when you think of also, in my industry anyway, some of the big complex projects, these vanity projects from a customer, and when we win it, the issue is, is high risk for both sides. So by sort of de risking many of the projects that were that we're doing, but also, you know, from a retention perspective, and I'm happy to say that we're now in the second year, you know, we're now seeing your attrition of customers has been haft. So that's a, you know, having a high retention rates is so much helps. And so many different levels in terms of efficiency, you know, your reputation referrals you get from those from those same customers, and helps you find a like minded, like minded customers as well. So it's, it was very much a long term plans of St. Showing that we don't want to have that leaky bucket syndrome of, of, you know, great sales performance, but then losing, you know, 20% of that every year, it's just, and what's interesting. So we're, we're sort of big not, in terms of employee engagement, we use be heard surveys are good to the national indicator around engagement of our staff, and so on. And there's been a real halo effect around customer success and pride that people are taking in their roles, and giving that extra discretionary effort. And that helps a lot of other aspects. So if you just listen brutal for the sales terms, your conversion rate has gone up by about 20%. Since following the customer success model, our sales initially were slower, although we started in the pandemic. So to some degree, if you're going to kitchen sink, it was the time to do it, right. But year on year, if we look back on the prior year, you know, we've we've gone up to between 10 and 10, to 30% growth in key verticals. So it's, we're not there yet. So we've got customer success working in in patches, and we've got a great customer success success team, the bit when we will have one is when we have a full everyone in the business is is is engaged, not just in what we need, but in a in the Customer Success approach. And one of the things so I talked for quite a while but one of the things that I think about is when you think of it as a BookTuber, put together by Charles H. Green Room, being a trusted advisor that I really like there's a trust equation within that. And that's something that we used to give to consultants in the business to go out when they were talking to customers. And now we're giving it to like our credit control team or, you know, guys who are in what maybe were more sort of transactional roles and saying, but how can you become a trusted advisor with our customers? And what's great is, isn't really seeing not everyone, but for the most part we're seeing real engagement and those people are getting more from their roles because we're allowing them more empowerment beyond the transactional.

Richard Medcalf
To most we have I think it's the theory of preeminence. I think it's by Jay Abraham white brands, I think. And it basically it's basically very similar. I mean, it's the trusted advisor here but the way he describes things is a great example where it's like the bar man who refuses to give you another drink you You know, because actually, if your highest good, you know, now of the time that you need a glass of water, you know, or whatever and, and it's going to not just saying My job is to sell the person, the next, the next drink, but actually to optimize their overall, you know, to have their, their best interests at heart even more than their own, which is really interesting. We're looking at it. And it's great that you're scaling it out across the whole team.

Rory McKeand
But you're not that that that refusing drink is actually a really good proof point, I'll be honest, that was one of the points where it was we had a particular very complex pitch that our team decided to walk away from at the tender point with a with a potential customer was really interesting, that customer then came back, and then said, Oh, we understand, you know, you'll get this other bit of technology. You know, is this something you could do? We said, yeah, no, we feel very comfortable, we could absolutely deliver that for you. And would they didn't even tender it? They just went right, brilliant. It's yours? Can you work on that for us? And there is that the trusted advisor piece, it's, it's you need to trust your technology partner, ultimately. So if when we when we get it, right, it, it is quite powerful. And we're now in the second year effect. So I'm, what's gonna be interesting is, is, as I hope it will, this is sort of this sort of virtuous circle that we're following where this impact will then start start to flow. But this year alone, we've seen that, you know, a quarter of our new customers have come from referral of existing customers, and next year, expect that to be about half of our new customers. And, you know, we bear in mind, we have a part 1000 customers in total, we probably find 5200 new customers in a year. So if we then find that half of our new business isn't through marketing and other aspects, but actually customers referring you it's so powerful, not only because you then find like minded customers, but it's, it's a great, it's a great seal of endorsement if someone recommends you in that way. That yep, I mean, I think our win rate something like 80 90% of the introductions we get so it's, it's it's great it would you be careful is not not reaching a complacency. So what God has here was a real fear of the risk of moving from a sales to Customer Success model and, and really being focused on those sort of key metrics and engagement. And just about making sure that we now move that the next step, which is beyond engagement to real to really understand well, what what is success for that customer? And have we actually attained it for them? Which, which is quite, which are the next step really, which is that risk and reward bit to say, Well, look, I'm gonna, I'm going to, I'm going to share that risk and reward with you, which is a very different model.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. When do you need trust on both sides to make that happen? Yeah. Hey, this is a fascinating conversation, where we let's move on and move on to our quickfire questions. And as we kind of started, think about the the end insights, favorite quotes, what's a quote that's kind of shaped your, your leadership or your approach to your job?

Rory McKeand
Yeah, I think it might sound directly relevant. But I really like that the Roosevelt quote about comparison being the thief, thief of joy. For so many people I meet in terms of their career journeys or pieces outside where they, they're always comparing themselves to somebody else. They just if needed, rather than just experiencing their life and enjoying it for what it is. Yeah, keep keep keep keep keep comparing themselves. Yeah.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Yeah, that's it. Yeah. wise, wise words. Yeah, it can be so easy to look at right shoulder and I'd say, you know, we're all climbing our own particular mountain in their own way. And you know, we have to be always at Forge that path, right? And that's why you can't always take you can't copy and paste other people's strategies, who is absolutely working through for you? What's the favorite app on your phone that makes you more productive or more informed? Or whatever it is?

Rory McKeand
That's a really hard question. Because you think as a tech person, I'd have lots of apps. But I really try and not use that to try and really switch off as much as possible. But I've got one of these, you tablet devices, a remarkable device, which is a sort of a writing tablet, and using that for journaling, and really switching off. It's one of the few devices that doesn't beep at me or sent a notification or it isn't designed specifically for infinite scroll. So it's a great, so really, the app that I like, is the one that doesn't harass me, but just lets me control the the user interaction.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. Yeah, I agree. It's very easy. I want to think first thing I always insist on my clients do is make sure that notifications are switched off, because it's impossible to do any deep work when you have uhmm...

Rory McKeand
It's Tuesday. I mean, especially especially think of it now you know, you've got presence and, you know, instant messaging email and, and, you know, multiple ways of phoning you, with soft clients, as well as mobiles, and so on. It's saying that concentration time really important.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. What's the book? You said? You're happy reader? What's the book that's really influenced you? Yeah. What's one of your favorites?

Rory McKeand
Yeah, I know. I know. It's a bit old now. And maybe it's not Vogue, but I certainly like Stephen Covey, seven habits, you know, that was really formative for me when I was younger, and it's always say it's like an atheist's business business book. You know, it's a really good way of saying there are no short shortcuts. You know, there is no, there is no hack for life. It's hard work and do the right thing, which is not really what you want to hear. But it's quite nice to sort of have it the way that it sort of puts it out you to say, you know, just do the right thing.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, yeah, I think it's a foundational reading, right for pretty much anyone. What advice would you give new CEOs? Or perhaps what advice would you give your 20 year old self?

Rory McKeand
Please do different things, I think that the 20 year old, would be your just just stay relaxed, I had a view that I didn't have a career plan, I always like to maximize the opportunities that are put in front of me, but just to stay relaxed, and just be focused on the role that I'm currently doing. And just to just reinforce that, I think it's sometimes we can get to head up in Well, where's this going to take me but but actually, opportunities present themselves if you if you, if you just focus on what you're doing, but leave yourself open, outside to 20 year old, and as a new chief exec, I think, just make sure you've got it before you step into that role. If you can go find go find a mentor, you know, really new talks about peer groups, you know, I'm part of a peer group, I just think it's so important. It is a, as often coaches a lonely role, but it is for good reason. You know, you need to keep counsel with others, and have the ability to, you know, you know, be open and, you know, be able to to get outside thoughts. So, a mentor peer group massively important, as well, as you know, the friendship group outside of that, you know, it's a that that's it, make sure you've got the people who keep your feet on the ground.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, yeah. Perfect. Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think assembling a whole, it's almost a whole team, you know, of different people, mentors, advisors, the peers, because they're going to stretch you and stretch your thinking. And often that's the thing, one thing that you might not get enough off, because there's so many operational.

Rory McKeand
Tasks, absolutely keen that that that advisor bit because suddenly, when you make that step, and they've looked at you and says, Well, what do you think about my strategy or my approach, and you usually now need to be an expert on things that you're not an expert in? And clearly, yes, you can coach and work through but having an outside adviser on on areas where you're not, you're not a skill that where you can just check things off with is, is yeah, I've only really started to assemble that more recently. And that's, that's really helpful in terms of to give, you know, you don't double guest decision, you know, second guessed decisions and that sort of thing, if you've got the outside advisors.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, um, for me, the best guests on our show come from referral. So I'm always curious to know you know, is there an inspiring CEO who's made a difference in your life? You know, who you think would be you know, who you admire, you know, who would be a good guest is who comes to mind when you think of people who have inspired you on your journey?

Rory McKeand
Yeah, I mean, obviously have had done it David who go down certain houses he's my chairman now and mentor he's a you've got a very broad set of experiences he instrumental for me in terms of my sort of growth. There's a guy that I've been working as part of the peer group of juice X I'm with cackled. I was poked him about this, but Go Go Richard Rankin I really rate he's a Chief Exec of h&h Group, over the northwest of England, just he's got such clarity speaks brilliantly. Just a really, just a no, no bias, but very thoughtful and emotionally intelligent guy really, really interested. Always listen when he speaks.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, I love it. It's always fascinating to find out, you know, what is it about other people that that inspire and resonate with you? Right? Because I suspect that you've also got that in you. I love asking the question, because when people say, oh, yeah, you know, no, bullshit, I believe you're a no bullshit person as well, because it's really new. That's why it resonates.

Rory McKeand
Yeah, and I just think sometimes you can spend so much time positioning and it's just better to, yes, there are things some things you have to keep in, in council, absolutely. But most things, you can just be open and honest. And it tends to work, work best, you know, most people want to know what the truth is, even if it's uncomfortable or, or challenging. It's better to go there early, rather than create sharks later. So it's always served me maybe I'm a bit of a blunt instrument at times, but I do like, I do like to be a spade a spade.

Richard Medcalf
So finally, no matter how much we've achieved, there's always a next level to get to. So where does Where's TSG going as a business? And I guess you've kind of talked about that in the sense of really rolling out this customer experience model across the whole company. But as that happens, what are you going to need to do differently to multiply your own impact as a CEO?

Rory McKeand
And that's a really good question. So we've got quite an ambitious plan to have the next few years, we're looking to double that the main metrics around turnover, profitability, headcount, and so on. But we're really, really looking at 10 partnerships as the key so, you know, I'd like we're aiming for 500 partnerships, which is sort of an evolution of moving from, you know, customer experience to the Net Promoter piece to now, partnership, which is the hardest step I can find in terms of a bar to hit. So as part of that, really, for me, it's about assembling the right management team, which I'm sure most of the way they're on. And, and for me, it's actually about more of my role is going to be about becoming an advocate for customer success, becoming more of an advocate about our capabilities. So Not being a, I'm not a big person into PR and that sort of that sort of element. So for me, it's going to be more about showcasing the business and speaking more openly about what it is we're doing, and why we're a bit different.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, it's fantastic. I just love these, this, this focus you have of customer success and actually calling them you know, partnerships, right, and actually making sure that you have long term relationships. That's it, you know, I said to you earlier, one of my own metrics, I realized that in our conversation, actually, is that I don't count a customer has been successful, unless I have repeat business with that customer, because then I know that they're putting their money where their mouth is that it wasn't, they didn't just get, you know, persuaded by me on one conversation, that's something, you know, a year ago, and now regret their choice, but they're kind of actually long term engagement. And for me, that's meant to be universe rewarding part of the business is when I realized that that's a very, very high percentage of, of what I do. That's like, I think it's fantastic that you're trying to do that at scale, right, and create that loyalty and intimacy and yeah, and serving.

Rory McKeand
And that's it, I think you probably hit on it better than which is, I think our biggest challenge is to do it at scale. So I can see it happening in patches, and I can see, but it's having that, you know, just every every existing customer, do they see us in partnership? Do they have trusted advisors? Do they genuinely feel that what I'm talking through? Does that does that lead through the whole organization? And it's bloody hard, isn't it? I mean, ultimately, it's much easier to know to give an output to somebody than an outcome. I mean, it's much easier.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, absolutely. Fantastic. So finally, if people are curious, they want to know more, how do they get in touch?

Rory McKeand
So I'm on LinkedIn. So more than happy, I'm pretty good at replying on there, in terms of the TSG business, then we're tsg.com as our main website, and we'll be happy to speak to anyone around our journey on customer success, particularly, but also just around employee engagement and the bits that have driven that.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's fantastic. You've always been fantastic conversation, you know, I've loved thank you for being honest about the imposter syndrome and showing you around the shift and what surprised you as you went in and the expectations on you? And then I think this whole question about fixing the leaky bucket syndrome, and really being in service of your customers. It's inspiring, and I think it's fantastic that you've been bold, right? And you've said that we're gonna put that first rather than build some kind of technical business that works in on the front end, but actually, it's not giving customers the best experience when you scratch the surface. So thank you for you know, working on the foundations right and really focusing on impact. It's been a fantastic conversation.

Rory McKeand
Brilliant. Thanks for having me, Richard.

Richard Medcalf
Many thanks and stay in touch.

**Note: This transcript is automatically generated.
Please excuse any errors.

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