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Organic growth 25 profile: Tim Trotman, Director at Tangible Benefit

Tim Trotman, Director at Tangible Benefit, explains how identifying the business's key differentiator - the level of service it provides - has been a key driver to its growth. Read on to find out how Tangible Benefit became one of the UK's fastest organically growing businesses.

Revenue growth: 109%

Sector: IT services

Region: London

Tangible Benefit is an IT solutions provider and systems integrator focussed on the mid and enterprise market, supplying infrastructure, software, client device products and services. Simple adherence to the basics of customer service and avoidance of the latest fads allows the company to implement workable solutions for its clients, and fix the delivery and deployment problems endemic in the industry and that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Has your business changed since it started in 1997?

At our heart we are a business that services corporate clients – we would argue that in many ways these business fundamentals haven’t changed.

There have been necessary adjustments as we’ve evolved – scale, breadth of technology and style are the standouts. The business grew tenfold in the last 12 years and that brought its own unique challenges as we moved from a small business to a medium-sized organisation.

Most of these changes are surface-level – working from home, automation of some internal processes, the expansion of our logistics operations. These aren’t fundamental transformative changes – but they are all geared around enhancing the Tangible Benefit ethos – and that has remained unchanged – competitive price with professional execution and fast delivery.

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Tim Trotman, Director

How has your business achieved its growth over the years?

Through a careful strategy of client retention and development, balanced with investments in internal training, recruitment and enhancing relationships with suppliers. And again, our focus on the Tangible Benefit ethos – we will always be a ‘can do’ business.

With our clients, we’re obsessed with the highest levels of service – fundamentally the product (be it hardware, software, security) is the same and many resellers worth their salt hold similar accreditations – so the product is not a variable – the key variable is the supplier.

By identifying service as the key differential between us and our competitors, we focus on consistently being slightly better in many different fields. We do this by drawing down on our strong relationships with vendors to ensure we’re more technically savvy, more urgent and more cost-effective. This is key to our growth – by demonstrating value to our existing client base this allows us to expand our product and service offerings and in turn increases sales.

We have a deliberately lean management team, which has a lot of benefits. It means we are more agile, quicker to respond, more adaptive, and also more profitable – because we are more profitable, we can invest heavily in developing our team – we recently acquired a second office for our growing Sales Academy. Getting the right people is crucial – we are dependent on talented and motivated individuals.

Allied with account retention and cost control is an unremitting new business drive. We have a disciplined methodology for new business acquisition. This means we win carefully targeted accounts regularly rather than a scattergun approach where the client might not match our strategic goals.

By identifying service as the key differential between us and our competitors, we focus on consistently being slightly better in many different fields. This is key to our growth – by demonstrating value to our existing client base this allows us to expand our product and service offerings and in turn increases sales. 

Did you specifically choose to focus on organic growth rather than growth by other means? 

Largely, yes. We made the conscious decision to create an empowered and autonomous team who embody our ‘can do’ philosophy. We’re focussed on developing and investing in our team – all our Team Leaders are ‘home grown’. 

Some of our competitors have grown through an injection of capital or through acquisitions. Should we have done this? I don’t know – but it might have compromised our ethos of service first. Can you provide the service you want when you are answerable to outside investors? 

Since you started there has been a huge shift in technology and the needs of businesses – how has this impacted what you do?

Obviously, the proliferation of technology has grown dramatically since 1997. Information Technology is a large field with many facets (end user devices all the way through to cyber security, datacentre, networking, infrastructure etc) – we’ve seen a growth in big data, cloud, automation, and subscription-based selling in the last 5 years. 

How does this impact us? As a value-added reseller it’s our job to work with clients in a consultative capacity, listening carefully to their requirements and facilitating a relationship between them and the manufacturers. To some extent this is the same process whether you’re providing a single laptop or a datacentre refresh costing millions of pounds. Our role is as the intermediary – a careful balancing act between working closely with the customer to understand their needs, then with vendors to ensure seamless execution and to control costs for the customer. 

That said, some areas are more technologically in depth which has necessitated the growth of our Technical Architects team (accredited pre-sales professionals) and encouraged us to work more closely with manufacturers to deliver enablement sessions to our team. 

With COVID there was an enormous demand for the ability to work from home, seeing a rocket in requirements for physical product and closely associated services. Whilst we remain agile and are quick to upskill for new technological areas, we’ve always trained our team in the basics – getting kit to clients quickly. We had the necessary infrastructure, warehousing space and vendor relationships to hold physical kit, a massive advantage over many of our competitors. 

We’re good at sourcing, delivering, and implementing – so we have benefitted significantly from the huge upturn in the requirement for physical product and wrap around services.  It’s not a fashionable sector, but it’s been very buoyant, and it shows little sign of slowing.

How else has COVID impacted your business?

We have still been able to grow although it wasn’t without its challenges. The slowdown in the first six months from March 2020 affected us – since then, it’s been optimistic as people are buying more and more hardware, and although there are a significant number of competitors out there, we appear to be getting hold of the kit and supplying it better than them. 

There have always been supply constraints within the sector, but because of COVID, this has escalated. The pandemic emphasised the benefits of an agile team who are trusted by their clients to act decisively to secure stock, and although we have been stretched from a logistical perspective – the results have enabled us to increase our warehouse space and add to our trusted Operations and Logistics team. 

We have a focused mentality of chasing our suppliers hard so we can give a professional prompt service to our clients, so we are winning deals and attracting new clients. 

What are your plans for further growth?

We continued to invest in growing our headcount during the pandemic and want to accelerate this in our new Sales Academy building. This is balanced with our guiding principles of cautious and sustainable growth – tight management – client retention. 

Complacency is an obstacle to progress and we’re always keen to hone, tweak and modify. It’s about continuing to do things a little bit better – you can call it ‘kaizen’ or the philosophy of continuous improvement. Making coordinated steps as a business to ensure we continue to exceed expectations. 

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