THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Sonia Rishi joins the 7connections team

At 7connections we are pleased to announce the arrival of our new Business Development Consultant, Sonia Rishi. What’s in it for you? Sonia’s role on the 7Connections team is to use her sales experience to drive a pipeline of new revenue opportunities for each of our clients. We talk “lead generation” every day with Dental Principals and many hours are invested in conversations around web-based marketing, direct marketing, word of mouth, B2B and B2P networking and strategic alliances. Sonia’s primary brief is to facilitate growth in sales by using the client’s existing practice data to build relationships with key patient targets and also by maintaining engagement throughout the buying cycle. “all the money you need for the rest of your career is in the pockets of the people that you know and the people that they can introduce you to” Dan Sullivan – Strategic Coach You can read more about Sonia’s background as an optional post script to this post (below). With Sonia on board we will be strengthening the 7Connections sales offering by adding to our services increasingly important intelligent, data-led lead generation, lead nurturing and data led marketing to further improve your Practice sales and profits. Sonia’s passion is completely focused on selling the ‘WOW!’ in your Dentistry. She has worked with fabulous teams in both NHS and Private Practice as well as consulting to super creative agencies. Sonia’s experience is a perfect fit to 7Connection’s offering. More about Sonia Essentially I am completely passionate about Business Development – about the mechanics involved in ensuring that a business achieves both vision and commercial success. My experience has provided me with the benefit of working with some exceptional, diverse and creative entrepreneurs and in some fabulous sectors. How I came to do this is still a surprise to me but here’s a quick run through my background. I studied Law at Kent University (1991) and did my Solicitors Finals at The College of Law. I chose to work in the Legal Aid sector and specialised in Family Law – dealing mainly with Domestic Violence and Child Protection proceedings. In the process I did my fair bit on duty in East London’s police cells and on my feet in both family & criminal courts too. After eight years of domestic violence I decided I should do something that earned some money. As I was deciding on next steps a very good friend of mine, Nilesh Amin, asked if I could run his Practice while he went to India for three weeks. My answer was ‘no’ and if I’m honest ‘are you mad?’. He clearly is and went on to explain that the changes I had discussed in the Legal Aid process seemed very similar to the changes in Dentistry. He was keen to ensure his Practice was up to date so was installing a new computer system (SOE) and said that as I trained & supervised the team in my Law Practice could I so the same with his team. I still thought he was mad but as he is a very dear friend and needed the help I said yes. It worked out exactly as he said. Although he had failed to tell me that the system was being installed the day he was leaving for India. There was a benefit that his team were very loyal and knew how to run the practice while he was away. In any event I enjoyed it so much that what should have been a three weeks of helping a friend turned into two and half years and a complete passion. During my time at Nilesh’s practice, Park Vue Dental, Nilesh and I worked together to develop the business. He is a talented, ‘magic-fingered’ Dentist and I now realise that he also has a very good business head. He saw where Dentistry was heading and understood his patient make-up. So we set about increasing the Private offering and improving the NHS offering. I worked on staff development, patient care, treatment plans and created the practice manual and Health & Safety manuals. We had lots of fun which I believe assisted in the success. Though very happy at Park Vue I realised I should find a ‘proper job’ so applied for a vacancy at Q Clinic. I was hired as the administrator and became General Manager. It was a great time at Q. There was lots of buzz and I was able to work with many of the UK’s best dental clinicians in the UK at a time – including Professor Harris, Chris Orr, Stephen Sharma, Richard Tucker and a number of others. I managed all the clinicians’ diaries and was responsible for all communication with patients. After two more assignments to help practices, I was approached by John Bird, co-founder of the Big Issue who asked if I would assist in the set-up of his new start-up, Wedge Card. I loved the concept, an idea to try and save independent shops on the High Street while also promoting the community around it. I love where I live in Hackney and believe this has been driven by the independent and creative nature of the shops and residents. My time at Wedge was a great learning curve. I had a team of about 12 to 15. All quite young and though academically bright and talented none with any sales experience. As I was also heading operations with John’s daughter working on Communications it was a year and a half of working nearly every hour of the day. I enjoyed it all and realised just how much can be achieved. From nothing we were able to build the brand, engage with shops, local government and the potential was immense. Whilst at Wedge I defined strategy and realised that when implemented how success can be achieved. This included lucrative and effective partnerships with the London Mayor’s Office, EAST and other festivals, trade association and BID’s as well individual, independent shops. Following this I decided I would continue Consulting and went for an interview with an agency called Cherry. I hadn’t realised that they focused only on new business development for marketing agencies and though I explained to them that I would not be right for the position they convinced me I would be and asked that I give it a go. They were of the view it would be good to have someone from a non-marketing background to understand the client side better. Again, I was fortunate to gain great experience. I was given the new business accounts of Saatchi & Saatchi X, Elmwood and Grayling to manage. I believe my background and my interest in design and communications led to success generating efficient and effective processes that led to meetings with companies such as Kellogg, Shell, the Al Futtaim Group, Diaggeo and Arla. However, although I enjoyed this time immensely and learned a great deal particularly about the sales process and use of tools I remained interested in Dentistry so when Chris Orr asked me to assist him when launching Advanced Dental Practice and Advanced Dental Seminars I agreed. I was able to continue with some marketing agencies at the same time and the mix seemed a good one. And really this is where I am currently, as well as having helped with strategy, direction, marketing and sales and increasing revenue at my dad’s bone china business. For a couple of years now I have wanted to do more in Dentistry. I realised that the techniques employed by communication agencies and the data driven approach now being used has immense potential for the sector – indeed for most businesses. Though utilised extensively by larger corporates there appears to be a big gap in understanding particularly in owner run businesses. They (I would include opticians, lawyers, dentists and health practices) understand the need for communication but do not understand how effective different mediums can be particularly when based around analysed data. As this was essentially a hunch I wanted to ensure that there was some data to back it up so returned to Park Vue and my brother-in-law’s Practice in Kent to test my notion out. It worked, for both there was an immediate impact on revenue and so when I saw the position available at 7Connections I wanted to apply. I really have enjoyed the last couple of years – both professionally and personally but I realise I want to up my game. I had intended to set up a Company to build a business development solution but more so I realised that I find working on my own rather lonely and success is so much more enjoyable when achieved as a team.

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