Posted on Leave a comment

My initial days in business!

Those were the days I didn’t know where to start.

I had started my consulting business and I was struggling to get clients. I was into pure play IT Consulting. Also, I had partnered with two software product companies then. It wasn’t easy.

That was the time, I was asked by some customers if I could help them find talent. I hadn’t thought of Recruitment / Placement as a business until then. I jumped at the opportunity. Like any normal sales guy would. I was and am a die-hard optimist.

My team & I went on to build a great name for the next several years. My company Gyanagni Consulting was synonymous with QUALITY. We found only highly talented people & spoke to them about our clients first. We didn’t speak about the opportunity first. Our approach was entirely different from the rest of the market.

I am a Sales guy. So, like any typical sales guy, I sold the jobs to the job seekers but only after I sold them on the Organization. I sent them an email with the JD and a list of reasons why they should consider joining my client. I doubt anyone did that during that time and many candidates had told me that that helped them take a decision.

Similarly, at the client’s end, my team & I wrote a summary page for each candidate. The summary page would have all the details and a note on the awards, certifications, attitude etc.

Several clients had told us that the summary page was phenomenal and that helped them save time. The profiles we shared with our clients were looked with great respect.

Take away:

  1. One leads to the other. Treat all the small opportunities that come your way with utmost attention. Who knows, what’s in store.
  2. Add value howsoever small it is.
  3. Be human.
  4. Say thank you, as often as you can.
  5. Smile always.
  6. Spread the cheer.

Happy Selling!!

Posted on Leave a comment

What’s that you are reading?

Before I buy any book, I find out what other books customers have bought.

This has become a habit for me from the time Amazon started telling me “customers who bought this also bought this…”.

That sends me back to the time I was selling Data Warehousing solutions back in 2000. And the example everyone was quoting back then was: “why are infant’s napkins selling high along with beer bottles on a Friday evening and when placed next to the beer bottles”. We have grown much from that these days with big data.

Coming back to books and why I look at other books: That gives me an understanding on what to expect. Also, I read what others have had to say about the book, in the first two pages or on the back cover: It is like watching a trailer on Prime Video or Netflix to assess the quality that you can expect. You may even find one or two of your favorite authors talking about the book, for sure, and that will immediately help you decide whether to buy the book or not. Mostly, you will read it. With a good outlook and mindset. And you will get what you should get out of the book.

What has been your experience?

Share it in comments.

Also, are there any tips for quick reading?

And what are you doing to retain what you have read?

Are you taking some notes or writing some take away from your reading?

I have had people ask me “what’s the new book that I am reading” or “what’s the best sales book I have read” etc. The take away and how the book has impacted will help in this kind of a conversation and you will always have many interesting things to share with your customers.

Happy Reading!

Posted on Leave a comment

Establish your personal brand!

Now is the time to build your personal brand. You are an expert in your field of work. If you want everyone in your field of work to know about you or become popular for the work that you do, then you should start writing.

1. You can write articles on LinkedIn. [Great publishing tool]

2. You can write posts on LinkedIn. [Char limit: 1300]

3. You can have a blog site say www.yourname.com and start blogging.

4. Back links: You can build back links. What’s that, you ask. Other websites carrying your blog site link or even a link to your LinkedIn profile page. Why would they do that? If you write for them, they will allow you to write a small bio and there you can have the link to your company website or personal blog site or simply LinkedIn profile page. Who should you start writing for? That’s a good question to ask. You know better. In your field of work, which organization or association is considered as gold standard? Start writing for them.

5. You can write on Facebook too. You can write in the status update area or write “Notes”. Notes is a great publishing tool as well.

6. What to write about? It can be anything that would help your customers. Think of FAQs. “How to” guides. Customer stories.

Happy Writing!

Happy Selling!!

Posted on Leave a comment

Stay Safe! Happy Working from home!!

I was living in Singapore then. Until I got a job in Singapore & went to work there, I had only seen Singapore in movies & it is needless to say that I was fascinated. From Chennai, I took the noon Air India flight, landed in Singapore after 3.5 hours & it was already 6 pm local time.

There was a pick up. The person who picked me up was doing the driver’s job as a part time one & he was working full time with the Singapore Radio. He was a Tamil, spoke to me like a long lost friend & dropped me in the guest house.

From then on my daily commute was in the MRT to office & back. Found my own PG acco later. The entire city was beautiful & I loved every single day.

I found a Punjabi Restaurant in City Hall & loved Singh’s Aloo Paratha meal for Lunch. I would be doing injustice if I don’t talk about my experience at Hotel Annalakshmi. My boss, Bala, took me there first & I instantly fell in love with the food & experience. Definitely not because of their policy that states “Eat what you want, Pay what you like”. Definitely not. I am not that kind of a guy. I just love good food & ambience.

In the work front, I had never seen such speed & agility. Buying decisions were rapid & coming from a laid back, slow & long sales cycle market, this was a different world altogether for me. I scaled up very quickly.

All this lasted for a while. Then came a shock. It was SARS. Many Indians went back home then. But I didn’t. I stayed back. Singapore Government did their best to contain it. All the elevator railings, lift buttons were cleaned every minute & the admin staff of MRT did their best. Health care people, I read then, were doing a phenomenal job. Unfortunately, many of them laid down their lives in line of service. Dedication. Salute them all.

Such a wonderful place. Suddenly there were many deaths. It was contained soon & things bounced back so quickly.

I am seeing a similar situation now. It has brought all of us together because we have a common enemy. Love & respect for fellow human beings have increased & is at its peak. Did you ever think this could happen?

Stay Safe. Follow advises strictly.
But don’t stop dreaming or creating or taking action or marketing or selling.

Things are going to be fine very soon. Much faster than you think it’s going to take. Will you be ready to quickly bounce back, then?

Happy Working!! [From Home]

Posted on Leave a comment

Match the speed of your Prospect!

I was patiently waiting at a clients place to sell a particular software, let us call “Product A”. I knew before-hand that I am likely to meet a foreigner, a Brit working in India. And I was there to solve an urgent problem. That was a UK company into oil exploration & drilling on the coasts of Chennai.

What happens when you are the last to meet a customer on a given day is he/she would have already made the decision. But there is a distinct advantage when you are not the first to meet him. While I was waiting, many thoughts were flashing through my mind. Suddenly, I saw my competitor getting out after meeting, who else but, my prospect. I normally don’t see him unless he is closing a deal. I decided to roll up my sleeves and stay put there until I get that order that day.

I was called in. He was very friendly. Immediately, he handed over the server [I was a sales guy, technically incompetent, but can do a demo] to me, asked me to go ahead with the installation and demo. I have never handled a server until then. With no-help from anywhere, I went ahead and did a great demo that day. He was convinced.

All the stages of the sales process were started and completed that day. I called up my manager, took an approval to give a discount and quoted the price. Only verbal quote. And he typed the order in front of me, signed the order, got a cheque prepared since I asked for 100% advance. Can you believe this? What’s more? I came to sell one piece of software but sold him a suite of products.

Well, I won an additional order for another product that he had almost finalized with my competitor. And I picked up that order as well after a couple of days.

Take Away:

  1. Always [ALWAYS] match the speed of the customer.
  2. Don’t stick to your process.
  3. Get the problem fixed. Before your customer pays or even decides to buy from you.
  4. Ask for the order. If you don’t, how on earth do you hope to get it?

Happy Selling!

Posted on Leave a comment

Do you want to look good or stay healthy?

They are mutually exclusive, it might seem. Let me explain why and how they are not.

But before that, let us get some facts straight. Looking good is so powerful, the “in” thing to do, to go for. I get that. Not to mention the opinions people might have about you by just looking at your looks.

When “looking good” is approached separately, it may or may not be healthy. Sometimes, you may even be pursuing something very unhealthy. If you know the science behind the fairness creams, for ex, you will know this and you will readily agree with me.

But not when looking good is approached together with staying healthy. When “staying healthy” is the goal, “looking good” happens anyway. It’s a by product. You cannot help it. Even if you don’t like it, it will happen. So, it makes sense to go for good health.

This is a Perfect Analogy for “Getting Business” and “Building Relationship”. Now, if you find & replace “looking good” and “staying healthy” with these two words, it makes perfect sense. Yes or no?

So, there you get it. You go for “building relationship” and the other naturally happens. It has to.

In the initial days of my Software Sales Career, when I was wandering the Tier 2 towns and cities in the State of Tamilnadu, India, frantically searching for customers, I found one automobile dealership that had all the required DNA to become our software reseller in that region. We eventually appointed them as our Partner for the region.

The owner had done his Engineering from IIT & PG in Management from abroad. I bet, you cannot say that when you first look at him. He had that ruffian looks. But after he starts speaking, you may have to change your opinion about him. He inspires confidence, commands respect. When you are with him, you get a feeling that you can achieve anything. Yes, any dam’n thing. What a man, he is. I am yet to see anyone who is like him. My salutes and respects to him. He continues to inspire me till date.

Take Away: Focus on building the relationship. May your interactions with your clients inspire confidence in them & command respect from them. You will get a call from them when they need your services.

Posted on Leave a comment

Dine with your customers!

There used to be light rain almost every day in the afternoons in Singapore. The already clean roads get washed up yet again. Smell of the earth would be evident all around. It makes you feel energetic and more productive.

One such afternoon, I was learning how to hold the chop sticks. From one of my customers. I was a Vegetarian then [Vegan now] but that was a Chinese restaurant that considers small fish as Vegetarian. I had to explain several times to the bearer both symbolically [in sign language] and verbally saying “no small fish”.

My guest taught me how to hold the chop sticks and I really learnt it. You won’t believe, I was picking up rice with the chop sticks. It surely helps to eat less quantity in one mouthful and chew it well. May be, a lesson in Sales as well: Take up only what you can chew. And chew it well.

What happens when you dine together? You get to know the person personally. You get to know their interests, likes, dislikes, passion, hobbies etc. You build a strong trust based relationship. You don’t go with an agenda. You go with the flow. Eventually, you build a great relationship.

That was not the first time or the last time I dined with Customers. Even in India, I have dined with Customers. That’s a secret recipe for a great relationship. Customers want to deal with someone who is as much human as themselves.

In the last few years, I have built a style that I follow, when I dine with customers & prospects. I narrate stories from my life and what I learnt from it. That sets up the conversation. I don’t intend to close or anything. But I have probably created a strong emotional buy-in in the minds of my customers.

I am sure you have stories like these as well from your Sales experience.

I think, majority of us in Sales, that includes me, do not stay in touch with customers with whom we had built a great relationship.

Take away: List down some of your old customers and get back in touch this week. You may be in for a surprise.

Happy Selling!!

Posted on Leave a comment

People laughed at him!

A young boy, who was just 12 years old, wanted to start his own magazine. When he said that, people laughed at him. 15 years later, in the year 1984, he was publishing a hundred of them. And he had built one of the first Technology Publishing empires.

He was interested in Technology, Science and Computing and he found that these three areas were converging.

7 years after he founded his publishing company, he sold it to Pearsons. Then he moved to United States and started his new company Business 2.0 and reached a market cap of $ 2 Billion at one point.

He founded a non-profit in the year 1996 to “foster the spread of great ideas”.

There was another company which was started in 1984 which was holding conferences dedicated to 3 things. And our young boy attended one of the conferences in 1998 and fell in love with it.

Eventually he bought that company in 2001. But the remarkable turn around came in 2006 when he distributed the talks [in the conferences] online for free. That was a revolution.

I am sure you have guessed it by now.

The company he acquired is TED [that stands for Technology, Entertainment & Design] and the young boy is none other than Chris Anderson. https://www.ted.com/

So, what dreams are you chasing? Did people laugh at you? Are you passionate about it? For all you know you may be creating a revolution in the years to come.

Don’t underestimate yourself. If you are passionate about it and if few people have found use for what you have created, you are on your way to success.

Happy creating!

Happy Starting-up!

Happy Selling!

#startupstories #startup #story

Posted on Leave a comment

What’s your plan for the weekend?

Mine is simple. I am trying to finish reading a book that I started a month ago. I think I am reading & grasping like a 6th grade student. I need to improve my reading speed.

I have many books lined up on kindle as well. But I love physical books. That feeling of holding the book in your hand is something that cannot be matched.

As I read, my mind starts visualizing the images and the sequences. I am not sure if some of you also experience that.

I am currently reading “The code of the extraordinary mind” by Vishen Lakhiani, founder of MindValley. Vishen is a rebel. You should read his book too. #vishen #mindvalley

In the comments, please let me know what was the book that you read last or are currently reading.

This can inspire the rest of us to read more, to learn more and to do more.

Happy Reading!!

Posted on Leave a comment

My role model & other anecdotes….

There was a senior colleague who commanded respect from clients, principals, resellers and us colleagues. He was there in office every single day before office started for business. He was truly professional, knowledgeable, kept up his promises, always busy, added value to clients as well as partners, a crisis manager, a great people manager and had coffee & biscuits with us every evening after work. The evenings were interesting too.

One day I was preparing a proposal and he advised me to work on the proposals after office hours and not during productive sales time. From then on, all through the day, I was in front of customers talking about a new product or the upcoming workshops or just building relationship or talking about how technology is changing businesses and even lives. I normally simplify technology. It’s quite simple. I don’t get something if it is too complex. So, I question, read, inquire, find out the truth and understand it in detail. And then I simplify it and fine tune it according to the client I meet.

I think I built good relationships over the years with my clients and prospects. Some of them won’t buy anything related to technology without checking with me even if it is something that I don’t sell. Those were the zen moments in Account Management.

My role model has changed with time. Today it is Gary Vaynerchuk. He posted recently where in he taught how to tell a story. He says, if you are a real estate agent, tell me about the town and not just the house you want to sell. If you are passionate about Sales, tell me why you love it, your most interesting clients, biggest challenges etc. In essence, he says, don’t talk about the product / service that you are selling. Instead share the interesting anecdotes around your business. People would love to hear that. The rest will follow soon. Idea is to make things interesting.

Here is the image he had shared:

Happy StoryTelling!!

Happy Selling!!