I talk to a lot of small business owners, consultants, agencies, and technology companies to learn about what they are facing and to see how our services compare. I am always looking to provide offerings that complement our core services so we can add additional value to clients and prospects.

 

Chris Wallace is the president and co-founder of InnerView, a marketing consulting firm that helps companies transfer their brand messages to their customer-facing employees and partners. InnerView ensures that the people who represent your brand have the tools and strategies to tell your company story confidently and consistently. Chris has nearly 20 years of sales, marketing, and corporate leadership experience.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

My partners and I have extensive experience working in sales — in fact, we had our own sales effectiveness consulting company for over five years. After selling that business and staying on with the parent company for a while, we realized that we were not getting to the heart of the challenges that companies were facing. Rather than build sales skills, we believed the bigger need was to help marketers tell their brand story more effectively to internal audiences. We kept asking, “If brands are spending millions of dollars to get customers to believe in them, why don’t companies invest to get the people who talk to the customers to believe in them.” We believe the people talking to customers (aka brand representatives) make up a critical audience that marketers need to reach and influence.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I schedule my week first thing Monday morning, so I don’t have a lot of unstructured time. On a typical day, I spend my morning tackling priority projects, including client work, prospect and partner outreach, marketing projects, and budget and strategy planning. My afternoon is usually spent on prospect, client, and partner calls; content creation; team strategy meetings; and social media engagement.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I think in headlines. An idea pops into my head for the headline of an article, and I write it down. If it is an idea for an article or piece of content, I create an outline, conduct some online research, and see where that steers me in terms of fully building out the idea. A lot of my content ideas come from reading, talking to my team, and hearing feedback from the front lines of our engagements.

If I have an idea for the business, I usually bounce it off of my two partners during our morning sync call. We catch up three days a week before the day gets started and discuss burning topics. If the idea passes their smell test, we bring it up on our weekly team call with all key personnel.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The explosion in focusing on the customer experience is very exciting but also a little scary. The customer experience needs to focus on human interactions because that is where the true connections are made with customers. However, so much of the focus on this topic is on the “digital” customer experience. We think there is a lot of risk for companies if they put too much emphasis on digital assets and neglect their people.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I talk to a lot of small business owners, consultants, agencies, and technology companies to learn about what they are facing and to see how our services compare. I am always looking to provide offerings that complement our core services so we can add additional value to clients and prospects.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself to have the courage to take more risks and see things through. I sold a business too early because I was afraid. While it cost me some money, it put me in a spot to start InnerView, and now I have a second chance to do things the “right” way.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I really can’t stand Billy Joel’s music. That is not a popular viewpoint.

In terms of business, I am a bit skeptical of the role and value of technology in the modern workforce. Obviously, it is needed and useful, but I think a lot of technology is deployed without any strategy or plan to get employees to adopt it, so money is wasted with no tangible ROI.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I am maniacal about my company’s finances. I always have a view into how we are performing, what we will do in the future, and what the bottom-line impact will be. Any time I ‘m stressed, I go to our financial model and get clear on the numbers. It makes me feel better and clears my head to make strategic decisions.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I have always found good talent through friend and family referrals. That has given me the trust and confidence in my team that we can deliver for our clients. While it’s not entirely scalable, it has served me well.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I sold my first business to a larger firm earlier than I should have. The company we joined ended up going in a different direction than we anticipated less than two years into our time there. My partner and I maintained a set of principles and conditions that needed to be met for us to continue, and we faithfully stuck by those. When those conditions were not fulfilled, we decided to leave the firm. It created a lot of uncertainty for us and our team, but it was the right thing to do.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would love to start a business that offers “adult recess” in major cities. Not a fitness center — gym class. This gym class would offer dodgeball, floor hockey, volleyball, etc., that you can play in 40-minute sessions against other professionals. While going to the gym is fine, I think something that is more fun and can shake off the stress would be attractive to a lot of workers, especially Millennials.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

It was a shade over $100, but I bought high-class customized note cards for my business so I can send handwritten notes to people. I love the way they look and feel, and I am proud to send them. I know they will make a great impression.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I use Evernote religiously. Any idea or note I need to take goes in there because it is searchable and keeps all my notes in one location.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I love “To Sell Is Human” by Daniel Pink. I think it helps build a mindset that is essential in today’s business world.

What is your favorite quote?

“It’s all been luck until now.” This is a song lyric that serves as a constant reminder that I should assume that everything I’ve achieved to date is the result of luck and I need to constantly challenge myself to be better.

In the context of my business, I love this Simon Sinek quote: “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

Key learnings:

  • Do more focused, strategic work in the morning, and save the afternoon for calls and meetings.
  • The customer experience needs to focus on human interactions because that is where true connections are made with customers. Companies should be careful not to allow the digital components of the customer experience to overshadow the importance of relationships with people.
  • Don’t overlook friend and family referrals to find great talent.
  • Read “To Sell Is Human” by Daniel Pink.

Connect:

https://innerviewgroup.com/our-view/

Chris Wallace on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/christopherewallace/

InnerView on Twitter: https://twitter.com/innerviewgroup

InnerView on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/innerview-group/

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