Getting to know Vanessa Hunt and why she is the Go-To CRM and Social Media Specialist Consultant for Interior Designers:
How did Vanessa Hunt Consulting come about and how long ago? How did you get started?
Over the years I’d built up a lot of experience working for corporates and consultancies, delivering Customer Relationship Management (CRM) training to marketing, sales and service teams in Europe. However, I was attracted by the variety and freedom of working for myself, and in 2006 I decided to start working as an independent CRM consultant. My first project was a European training consultant role for Pitney Bowes in Harlow, working on behalf of a previous employer, Detica.
Who forms part of your team?
Mostly me, myself and I! Joking aside, I bring in associates to help me as needed, and I sometimes enlist the help of web developers, content writers, photographers, and data migration experts.
Who or what are your biggest inspirations or influences within your own business?
Without doubt, it’s my clients. They ask me to do things that really stretch me – some of the best things are those unplanned. I love that! For example, one client asked me if I could deliver Salesforce training in Italian for them, given that I trained in French and German (a natural segue?!) I was a total beginner, but took on the challenge of daily conversation lessons to get up to speed. I was excited and terrified in equal measure, but I did it – and continued to deliver training for other clients, like IKEA, in Italian too. Another string to my linguistic bow! I’m only sorry I didn’t learn Italian sooner – a beautiful language that I love.
With all your knowledge about social media platforms, what top 3 tips would you offer for a person starting out in the Interior Design industry?
- The first would be to allocate as much of your marketing budget as you possibly can to creating a professional website that includes great photography, well-written content and customer testimonials, and is technically sound.
- Second, make sure you have a profile on social platforms specific to your sector, like Houzz and Homify, so you can showcase your interior design skills, talent and projects.
- Finally, focus on one or two social media channels, like LinkedIn and Facebook, where you can promote your blog, specific pages on your website and your projects from Houzz or Homify et al.
Who is your main customer type and which service do you sell the most of?
I work with small and medium-size businesses so I can really get to know the whole business and team. I help companies implement sales, marketing and service systems to run their businesses more smoothly and ensure a frictionless experience for their customers. I also help small business owners create websites that link to a simple CRM, so they have all the tools they need to grow their business right from the start.
What do you find are your client’s biggest stumbling blocks and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?
Overwhelm has to be the main one, which can lead to indecision – even I’m guilty of that! There are so many things you ‘could’ be doing from a sales, marketing and system perspective, and clients sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees and end up wasting a lot of time and getting nowhere – it truly is a minefield. I always start with one or two exploratory calls and meetings to really get to know my client and their business.
I’m always looking for the simplest solution for them, since it’s far better to start with the basics than never get started at all – to keep with the woodland analogies, from little acorns…. Clients are often relieved after our conversation, since they know they’ll be guided by someone who has their best interests at heart and is genuinely interested in helping them transform their business in some way, however small to start with.
What tools/software do you find indispensable in your day to day work?
My CRMs first and foremost. I use SharpSpring and HubSpot, which are both Marketing Automation (MA) platforms for marketing agencies. I use both for managing my own business, as well as managing marketing and social media for my clients. They’re both leaders in the MA space, and incorporate all the tools I need for inbound marketing, such as lead scoring, content management, social listening and conversations. I also use Microsoft 365, particularly Outlook for email, PowerPoint for proposals, OneNote and Planner for notes and action planning.
What is still your biggest challenge within your own business?
Not having enough hours in the day to learn everything I’d love to know and to implement all the ideas I have. I set boundaries with quarterly goals for things I want to achieve within my own business. Lately I’ve been working on automating as much as possible in the ‘back office’ operations of my own business, to reduce time spent on lower-value but necessary tasks. However, I want to ensure I still offer a personalised experience, so I don’t automate email responses and I still try to meet clients face-to-face wherever possible. It’s a fine balancing act.
What was your lightbulb moment?
I’d say becoming a SharpSpring Silver Partner and a HubSpot Solutions Partner (https://www.hubspot.com/agencies/vanessa-hunt-consulting), which demonstrate how the marketing side of my business has taken off in the last five years. Also, the fact that I’m contacted by much larger businesses for help with their CRM Vendor Selection projects, and that my twenty years’ experience in CRM is recognised and valued. I feel privileged to still be able to do all the things I love, and earn a living from it. Long may that continue…
Do you work globally? If so, how do you achieve this?
Yes, I deliver training virtually. Some of my Insightly CRM clients are based in the US and I run regular training sessions with them via Zoom or Skype. I am fortunate that my business allows me to travel mainly to Europe, because of my languages skills. I love Switzerland, so was delighted to be able to spend time earlier this year in Zürich, interviewing my client’s team members in order to elicit CRM project requirements.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
[laughing] ”Get more sleep!” That’s usually my husband’s advice when I’ve tipped slightly into overwhelm. It’s amazing how much better and clearer things are after a good night’s rest – things really do seem different in the morning.
Did you enjoy your guest speaker appearance at Metier Rendezvous? What did you bring away with you from that?
Absolutely and thank you for inviting me. It was a real pleasure to meet so many creative individuals in one room in Mayfair. I love networking with interior designers and the format worked really well. It felt both productive and supportive.
What are the key benefits for Interior Designers to be working with Vanessa Hunt Consulting?
My clients often say they like how I really get to know their business and goals. So if you’re looking for a technology and marketing partner who won’t bamboozle you with jargon, and genuinely wants to see you succeed, please give me a call on 07967 620215.
What is next for you?
I’m currently focused on helping small business owners get new websites up and running, connected to CRM, using HubSpot’s Content Management System (CMS). I believe it’s a great solution for SMEs who aren’t generating sufficient business from their current website or who don’t have a website presence at all.
Lastly, if you had a blank cheque, what would you be splashing out on for your own home?
High-quality wood or tile flooring and beautiful contemporary flower or butterfly art for my walls – mind you, if the cheque is blank I may go for both!
Thanks so very much to Vanessa for taking the time to come and speak to our Metier Brunch Group and giving us an insight into her world of sales and marketing and making us all appreciate that no business is too small to benefit from her knowledge and advice. Even though the world of technology and social media can seem daunting, there is a solution for every designer – and Vanessa Hunt Consulting is well-positioned to help, resulting in more focused and rewarding relationships with your clients whilst realising the potential of your business to grow.
To learn more about Vanessa Hunt Consulting and her services, you can visit her website here www.vanessahunt.co.uk …. OR … if you are feeling inclined to reach out via Social Media then you can find Vanessa on the many platforms available:
If you would like to join us in one of our webinars and have the opportunity to listen and chat with some engaging speakers like Vanessa, over a delightful brunch, then get in touch to find out how. (First brunch event is always FREE to newbies)
Metier Rendezvous is a peer support network for Interior Designers!
We provide day-to-day pro-active and friendly support for all our members.
Collaboratively, we believe in Community over Competition. We even share business ideas, tips and even brainstorm on projects together.