07 September 2023
For Tinext, being close to its customers has always been a priority. That's how the branch office in French-speaking Switzerland came to be. Set up by Lydie, it is now composed of a strong team of digital experience consultants.
Lydie attended a business school in the north of France. The need to combine practical experience with her studies quickly led her to opt for a work-study program. Two days of classes and three days in a company, in a start-up that had developed algorithms to recreate sound in three dimensions. As a sales and marketing manager in a team of programmers, she learned a lot from this experience and was able to see the company grow. After graduation, she stayed with the company for her first permanent job.
Life then took her and her husband to another region, and they arrived in Geneva. She quickly found a position in an office automation company. It was a real sales school, where she was able to develop a lot of commercial and customer relationship skills, for almost three years.
She then spent a few years at Bechtle, an IT services company, where she mainly did operational marketing before becoming a Key Account Manager. This experience allowed her to further develop her sales skills, with the addition of consulting.
To understand her intentions, her objectives, her vision, we asked Lydie a few questions, which retrace the launch of the Western Switzerland branch.
Tinext came to me with a very interesting challenge, to develop a branch that didn't exist. This allowed me to move away from the digital side and take on much more business-oriented projects, strategically speaking.
They called on a recruitment firm. At that time, I was contacted regularly, but I usually refused at the first contact. But this time, the recruitment firm seemed to be very qualitative, which made me want to go further.
Then, very quickly, there were discussions with Stefano. You could say that this is where I made my decision. Because when Stefano talks about his project, his company, the history of Tinext and where he wants to take it, it's motivating.
Not to mention that I've always been attracted to Italy, so I said to myself let's go. I think that meeting Stefano accounted for 90% of my choice.
Tinext, with its headquarters in Ticino, was already serving three clients in French-speaking Switzerland.
As the desire has always been to be close to the client, it was worthwhile to have someone on site who spoke native French and knew the French-speaking part of Switzerland and the customs of the region.
And then, we thought that if it works for these three clients, there must be a whole market to work on and analyze. So, the goal was to have a local presence.
The first few months when I arrived, so from September 2018 as well as most of 2019, were spent analyzing the market, understanding if Tinext's story could stick to the market, making adaptations if needed and repositioning the competencies a bit.
We had to make an assessment of what it takes for Tinext to grow in Switzerland. One of the main answers was that we need a local team and that's what I put in place.
Very quickly there were two observations. The first was that local resources were needed. The other was that the market was not as mature as it was in Italy and the Middle East, for example.
So first, we had to gain the trust of our customers by providing them with expert support in terms of digital experience. It is necessary to show them that we know what we are doing, to talk to them in a way that is not too technical but still professional to prove that we master the subject.
When I arrived, I didn't have this expertise at all. I hadn't trained yet, so I needed someone who had already practiced this before. I needed someone who could play a dual role. Someone who could both be a project manager for existing clients and continue to follow and understand their projects while serving as a link between the local market and the teams in Ticino. In addition, the person had to be an expert in the field of digital experience to accompany clients through analyses.
For example, with a client who has a project to redesign a website, it's very complicated to position ourselves as Tinext because there are only two of us and we are not well-known. We may come with references, but they are not necessarily local.
So approaching them with an expert's eye and saying "if you want, we'll just do a little analysis for a few days to show you the strong points, the weak points and where you need to go" made it a little easier to determine the future project. And it also allowed them to get to know us. So, it was my need that allowed me to determine the profile I required.
Laura came on board in June 2019. We already had existing clients, so initially she helped me write content. She also helped me with pre-sales to bring in a competency certification.
Then, very quickly, there was a gap because we have two main areas of activity. On the one hand, there's the whole web management part, so digital experience, which can be seen from the outside. Then we have the whole digitalization of processes, and in this area we work a lot with Salesforce. Laura didn't have the required skills and this was something we really needed.
However, it was difficult to recruit this type of profile, especially since we were in the middle of the COVID period. As we are a human-sized company, there was no recruitment possible at that time, and yet we needed to continue to position ourselves on the market and also on the Salesforce side.
As head of the agency, I was promoting Tinext to Salesforce so that we could make ourselves known and say that we had the skills. But without having a consultant on site, we realized that it was a bit of a barrier.
So since we were in a somewhat critical period, but at the same time we needed to send a strong message, I took the certification myself. I trained during the COVID period to reach the first level, which allows you to really understand the platform, the ecosystem, the value, and the way in which you have to position it with your clients.
That's what made me gain skills and become a consulting manager, since the training gave me the necessary skills, but also to understand a little better what I was missing to really bring the level of confidence by going more and more in pre-sales with the Salesforce teams.
This is what allowed me to make a good job description for the arrival of Benjamin, who joined us only this summer, since the whole year 2020 was a bit "sclerotic" by the pandemic. So things got back on track this year and we were also able to welcome Giulia at the beginning of August.
Laura had an interesting profile because she had previous experience in an agency much like ours. There was just a little less of a service company approach, but more of an agency approach with a creative and web design side. It's very interesting to have this kind of local expertise because all our colleagues are in Ticino, and moreover Italian-speaking, so there is no possibility to collaborate on the French-speaking Swiss clients.
In addition, she had had experience in marketing in larger companies. So she could also help us with advice on how to develop Tinext's presence in French-speaking Switzerland with little things like writing an article or being present on social networks. It was a really interesting side.
And all this allowed us to create a real partnership. You could say that I really brought the confidence towards the client, my very comfortable side to build relationships. And she brought a technical reassurance, a project reassurance. And then, even if it seems trivial, the fact of being able to speak in terms that are the jargon of the field, brought us a lot. It's all this together that has really allowed us to acquire new clients.
The need was to have a second consultant approach. To be able to advise customers, but with a real Salesforce expertise hat and not just a certification. He had worked on real projects and came from a real services company. So with a mindset that is very important for a small company.
He knew how to deliver quality to the customer while remaining effective, efficient and above all profitable on projects. He has this very square side that allows him to deliver quality, but also to ensure that the project is profitable internally.
In addition, it turned out that he had a double hat because he was Salesforce certified but had also been in marketing. He worked in the web industry and was in charge of marketing at a business school, so he knew the entire process.
Giulia was not recruited by me. It was decided by the head office because it was really a need for Tinext as a whole. We needed another five-legged sheep because Giulia's great strength is that she speaks French, German, English, and Italian.
Her presence really allowed us to have this local side since she is based in Geneva and had experience working in the country. This meant that she already had knowledge of the market, and this was a real plus for us. She is also able to collaborate in their native language with the rest of the team and this allowed for a very smooth onboarding.
Laura has an impressive intellectual capacity. She needs to get into her bubble, but once she's in it, it will swarm until something comes out. She has the ability to come up with a lot of ideas and transcribe the discussions we have with clients. It's quite funny because, in the customer's office, she's not necessarily the one to ask the questions or bounce back, but she records everything and takes notes. She then manages to come up with web concepts and that's a huge strength. Her other asset is her design skills, which are sometimes lacking in others. We're a service company, we come from the technical side, so of course, we have designers, but Laura brings a touch of a branding agency, a little more finesse.
Benjamin is a machine, he is able to work very fast and very well. He has very structured ideas, everything merges, but always with a lot of rigor. He also brought a breath of joviality to the office when he arrived, because it's difficult to create an office atmosphere with just two people, whereas with three it's much more fun. And with clients, he has this relationship where he's able to be thorough and professional, but always with a little joke thrown in, which is really nice. His way of doing things corresponds well to the Swiss French-speaking market because you do things in a professional way but it's good if you're relaxed.
And Giulia is a ball of energy, youthful, and with a fresh eye for all the new trends and technologies. She really brings something new, which we didn't have here in the Western Switzerland branch.
First of all, we try to embrace the challenges, to have the right approach to understand the client's needs, and then see if there are proposals and matches. This is also why we have developed our agnostic analysis and support offer. Through our experiences, we realized that our approach and our strength lay in understanding the client and his needs. The goal is to advise and guide them on a path.
And if that path, unfortunately, stops at some point, because we still have a boutique approach and therefore cannot cover all the technologies on the market, we accept it and simply redefine the scope by advising customers in the best way.
I can therefore say that the Tinext touch is our boutique approach, which normally allows the customer to feel confident more quickly than when faced with a huge structure, while still having the necessary talents and experts at his side.
We started by running campaigns to make ourselves known in order to get an answer, out of curiosity, just to find out more. Then we made a first meeting with presales to qualify, followed by a second meeting with a much more targeted presentation on the needs. For example: "From our last discussion, we understood the scope of your challenges. This is how we have been able to support other clients and this is the approach we recommend."
We're now more and more likely to accompany our clients with an analytical approach, because otherwise it's impossible to really frame a project. In parallel, at Tinext, we have worked on explaining our approach and our analysis methodology. So we go to the meeting, we demonstrate this analysis and we show the price. It's fixed and it's controlled, which is quite a nice approach.
Then, once we've done the analysis, we deliver the recommendations. Generally, we know that we can't do everything in one day. Therefore, we suggest a phased approach in our recommendations. We put an iteration number one, then number two, three ... and of course with a budget allocated to each step. This is what allows the client to move forward more serenely on the different stages.
Because we really do have everything it takes to do a great job. Plus, the atmosphere is great too!
Thanks to Lydie for her answers and her vision of Tinext.
See you soon, in our next article to meet the rest of the team.