Welcome to ManageWP.org

Register to share, discuss and vote for the best WordPress stories every day, find new ideas and inspiration for your business and network with other members of the WordPress community. Join the #1 WordPress news community!

×

I'm Tom Willmot, CEO at Human Made; AMA!

Nov. 30, 2016

Hi!

Excited to answer your questions. I founded Human Made 6 years ago with Joe and Noel, we're one of the world's leading WordPress client service firms. We specialise in large-scale WordPress, usually 6-7 figure accounts with enterprise or big media. We run a line of professional conferences, so far based on the WP REST API and remote working. Our work internally has turned into several products, including Nomadbase and Happytables. We're bootstrapped at Human Made but have also gone the VC route with products.

We intentionally put a lot back into WordPress, through our work directly on Core with things like the WP REST API, Accessibility, Polyglots as well as our level of community involvement.

We're 40+ Humans spread across the globe, from the West Coast of the US all the through to New Zealand.

I spend a lot of my time focused on strategy, hiring, Humans & finances.

Ask me anything!

Comment
23 votes   Flag
Mario Y. Peshev

Hey Tom,

Thanks for doing the AMA here. :)

1) I believe the most sensitive question in the field is sales and lead generation. Could you tell us a bit more about what's your sales process, do you employ sales people at Human Made, what's the breakdown of incoming inquiries (say, through WP.com VIP, organic search, social media, conferences)?

2) What do you see as the most essential investment for a WordPress agency in terms of marketing and sales costs which strengthens the brand and generates more exposure and leads?

3) What is the most important piece of advice for negotiating and closing a deal with enterprises?

Thanks!

Reply
Tom Willmot

Happy to share!

1) Most of our leads come to us, around a third referred from WordPress.com VIP, the rest being Product, IT, Digital executives reaching out. The people that come to us usually have a connection to a past project / relationship / Interaction. Social media and organic search are not sales channels for us, enterprise and big media is all about network and people.

On the outbound side, we've had most success identifying companies/markets that would make good clients and then build those direct relationships with the right people internally. Things like sponsoring / speaking at industry conferences (we recently had a booth and drinks event at Digital Media Asia), industry meetups, etc.

We have a Commercial Director/Head of Sales, Ant Miller who owns this internally. In practice, selling is a team effort, often including engineers, strategy, PM etc.

2) Hire people who are used to talking to enterprise.

3) The bigger accounts are about account management and relationships, just being able to build the thing isn't enough. You need people who can talk to their executives and middle managers, use their language, make them feel comfortable and help them succeed. That's often quite separate from delivering a good product.

Reply
Mario Y. Peshev

Thanks Tom, appreciate the insight!

Reply
Dodgers Benny

Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

Reply
Tom Willmot

Easy! 100 duck-sized horses. I'd build a tiny chariot.

Reply
Omaar Osmaan

Hi Tom,

Whom will you hire and why?

(a) Person w/ talents, but may be less experienced.
(b) Experienced Person, but may be w/ moderate talents.

Thank you!

Reply
Tom Willmot

I'd take talent over experience if forced into such an arbitrary dichotomy. In practice, I want both talent and experience and a clear eagerness to further both.

Reply
Omaar Osmaan

Obviously experienced talents are the best. However, talents are more valuable than certain experiences- in the long road where technology changes so often. Thanks, Tom!

Reply
Tom Willmot

> talents are more valuable than certain experiences- in the long road where technology changes so often

Agreed.

Reply
Paul de Wouters

Hi Tom!

What do you wish you could tell your 20 year old self?

Thanks
Paul

Reply
Tom Willmot

- Everyone's making it up most of the time
- Most success is just doing
- Always aim higher than you think possible

Reply
Daniel Bachhuber

Hey Tom,

What are some tough lessons (or lessons you've learned the hard way) in your rise to global domination?

Reply
Tom Willmot

Probably that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, some things will fail. Be that client projects that go south, despite you trying everything you can to stop that happening, or relationships souring etc.

As a founder, it's pretty hard not to treat your company as an extension of yourself and thus take everything personally. People leaving feels like a relationship breakup, etc. I've had to train my self to realise that Human Made exists in its own right.

The importance of contracts, payment terms, etc.

That it's more important to prioritise which balls get dropped than to try not to drop any.

Honestly, I feel like I've had to learn every lesson the hard way :-).

Reply
Ahmad Awais

>Honestly, I feel like I've had to learn every lesson the hard way :-)

HALF WAY THERE! Even after reading about it, and knowing what to do or what not to do, there've been things that I learned the hard way.

Thanks for the advice :)

Reply
Jenny Beaumont

Hey Tom,

Building on your answer to Mario above, what does "talking to enterprise" look like? Beyond scale, how and in what ways is that conversation different?

Reply
Borek Bernard

Hi Tom, it feels like many "Humans" are spending a lot of time on open source projects (REST API etc.) and community events, which is AWESOME. It also feels like you must spend a ton of resources on that and that it internally competes with client projects etc. How do you balance that? Can you share a number of how large portion of your company time that is?

BTW very enjoyable AMA, some very wise words. Thanks!

Reply