FOR any company whose business is based on selling, having the right product at the right price is the foundation for succ- ess.
No matter how good the product, however, the company cannot thrive unless it also focuses on sales.
That is the view of Colin Meakin, the new CEO of Liquid Accounts, which offers online cloud accounting software, specifically aimed at SMEs.
“I like the product – it’s the best in class – but it needs some sales and marketing behind it.
“The creators of the financial product aren’t necessarily marketers.
“They have built a house, but house builders don’t sell houses – estate agents do.”
Liquid has been trading for nearly five years and currently has around 1,600 users, but Mr Meakin believes a focus on sales and marketing could see that grow exponentially.
“It should probably have about 10 times more than that for the time it has been in existence,” he said.
“They’ve spent the time working on the product so we’re going to spend the next two to three years getting it out there into the big wide world.”
With a current staff of around 10, Liquid has so far been focused on the technology it provides.
Mr Meakin now hopes to double the workforce within 18 months to help sell the product and even triple it within two years.
Those years spent making the software the best it can be have not been wasted, however – within his first month at the company, Mr Meakin has already been impressed by the quality of what it offers.
He said: “All those people are using it every day and the noise that comes from them is very low indeed – I’ve never known anything like it.
“I think I’ve only heard one word that was anything like disgruntlement in the last month, which is quite unbelievable.”
As well as changing the focus of the company, he plans to simplify the packages available to customers.
“We have taken what was a multiple menu choice of models where customers could click on which they wanted and I’ve cut through all that and said I want it to be more like a takeaway menu at McDonald’s – you get a Big Mac Meal and it comes with fries and a drink as standard.
“You can choose to upgrade to a bigger size, but that’s the basic product,” he said.
What won’t be changing, however, is the price – £15.99 for the baseline product or £39.99 for the premium service.
Nor does he plan to introduce long-term contracts, understanding that the SME customers the company caters for are nervous of being tied in to anything when they are starting out.
“When you’re talking about small businesses – the man in the street setting up as an eBay sole trader – you don’t want to frighten people off,” he said.
Liquid’s software can take care of payroll, HR records and figures for multiple organisations, and means small businesses don’t have to worry about keeping up to date with all the latest developments from HMRC because they are taken care of.
Being cloud-based, it is live all the time and does not have to be switched off while it is updated, like some more traditional packages.
Cloud-based computing is being used increasingly, both by businesses and domestically, and Mr Meakin believes that trend will continue.
“I think it’s mainly the younger generation coming out of colleges and universities, all they will be talking about is cloud-based computing,” he said.
“I remember when everybody used to put invoices and statements in the post and then when the internet came along and people said, ‘It will never catch on’.
“You would have a big franking machine with somebody stuffing envelopes and taking them to the post room. Nowadays, everybody emails this sort of information around.
“If you get left behind it will cost you a lot of money.
“You can resist something as long as you want but if that’s the way things are going, you’ll have to change in the end.”