Great Guns Marketing: Liz Jackson
Why the thrill of closing a deal is what does it for the 2004 Young Gun
I’ve always craved responsibility. I’m the eldest of four, and even at an early age I pitched in to help my parents get the dinners on the table and with bedtime as they both worked. My family are probably not what you’d call classic entrepreneurs, but they are certainly leaders. Both of my parents enjoyed work, and I was inspired to do the same.
I worked for an entrepreneur [David Rebbettes at BCMS Corporate] from the age of 17 to 25, and I loved it. He coached me, and was a real inspiration. When I thought about moving on, it seemed natural to go into the corporate world. But after attending several interviews, I realised that it wasn’t for me. I wanted to be the kind of person my boss was. He would have run his company even if he wasn’t getting paid for it. The money was like an effect of the amount of fun we had running the business.
Life is short, and if I was going to spend eight or 10 hours a day doing something, I wanted to do it for me, with people I enjoyed working with. And it had to revolve around my own ethos. I had climbed the ranks as a telemarketer and that’s what I loved doing. I enjoy the cold-calling, sharp end of sales, and like working with the people who do it. They’re fun, eccentric, bubbly and dynamic, and the office environment is never, ever dull.
From the start, our culture was all about the people. The sector had a bad reputation. To a certain extent, I think telemarketing is still viewed as a job that you do if you can’t do anything else. But I’ve always seen it as a craft – something only massively talented individuals can do successfully. By concentrating on attracting talent to the business and then developing it, we were head and shoulders above our competitors.
I lost my sight the year I set up my business. Everyone always thinks that must have been a major challenge, but to be honest, it wasn’t really. I fell in love with my husband that year, I was starting Great Guns and I was loving what I did, so really it wasn’t a problem. There aren’t many horrible things that can happen to you when you meet a lovely man.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you need passion. You have to be able to stay upbeat even if you don’t feel that way; to have a vision, and communicate that to others around you. And you have to show people that what you do is great fun, and empower others not only to catch the vision, but to help you achieve your goals.
The greatest challenge I’ve faced is recruiting brilliant people – reading people to understand what talent they have and then drawing it out of them. It’s a gift that entrepreneurs covet. We all want it, and I’m still working at getting it right. I’m still very hands on through choice. I love selling. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving the thrill of getting someone to sign a deal. It’s better than any kind of drug you could take.
Great Guns Marketing now turns over £2.5m a year and employs telemarketers across the UK. Clients include PricewaterhouseCoopers, BDO Stoy Hayward, PayPal, Smith & Williamson and Dun & Bradstreet. Liz Jackson recently starred in the Channel 4 TV show, The Secret Millionaire.
Liz Jackson was speaking to Steph Welstead.