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Unscrupulous practices & useless contracts!

That was one of the big IT Companies in India. People there had devised unscrupulous & unfair trade practices.

This story dates back to 2003-04 times. That was the time I had just started my business. I was into pure play IT Consulting. But it didn’t take off. Some clients asked me if I can help them find people. That’s how I got into the recruitment business. I wanted to create a niche for myself and focused on few areas – like Technical Architects, Business Analysts, Technical Writers, Testing Professionals etc.

When I was searching for Technical Writers, I accidentally found a lead. As the story goes, I eventually worked with that client.

I started working on their Technical Writer position. I found a candidate, shared the CV with them but they didn’t shortlist her. I had to convince them to shortlist her. They shortlisted & then interviewed the candidate & found her fit for the role. I signed a contract with the client. My contact was a Project Manager and his boss, who was the Practice Manager, signed the contract.

I rolled out an offer to the candidate & the candidate started work. It was a contract position. When it was time for billing, after one month, the HR people called me up and asked me to route the transaction through another vendor. I refused. I was stubborn. I am a rebel.

The practice manager called me up and asked me to kindly agree to what the HR says. He said, “Kannan, it’s a small world, why do you want to create enemies?”. So, I agreed & routed the transaction through another vendor.

After 3 months, they hired her directly and I didn’t get any conversion fee.

HR said, they will offer me an opportunity to work with them directly, in future. And they did. What I didn’t know at that time was this: There was an understanding between HR & the vendors. You won’t be successful here if you too didn’t have an “understanding”. Whatever you infer from this is entirely up to your imagination. 🙂

They wanted resources on contract & asked us to submit the profiles online. But some vendors got heads-up & they finalized on the resources before they opened it up on the portal for other vendors. The rest of us spent valuable time & effort on it only to see the positions getting closed after few days without any updates on our candidates. This went on for several months with no results whatsoever.

I walked out & blacklisted that client.

This was the same client who later had asked another vendor [a friend of mine] to mark up 5% on the salary they pay to their candidates. The justification given by the client was that the vendor does no value addition whatsoever. I asked my friend to ask that client to share their client contracts and tell them that they can deduct 10% from the sale value and pay the balance to them. After all, all of us are only in recruitment business. What value addition does that client do to their clients? Nothing.

Learning:

  1. If some sales situations are not profitable / sustainable, then we should walk out of that situation at the earliest.
  2. If a client abuses a seller then that’s not a healthy relationship.
  3. Not all that glitters is gold.
  4. There is more power in doing business in a no-nonsense manner, even if it means doing less sales.

Happy Selling!!

#b2bsales #entrepreneurship #kkrocks

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My worst experience with a Prospect!

My worst ever experience with a prospect.

Like everybody else, I too write about only my good experiences. But the truth is that the bad experiences teach us what they don’t teach at Harvard or IIM. But still we don’t talk about it. Though the bad experiences are more in number comparatively, I still write about only the good experiences since I want to be seen as a hugely successful person on the Planet. Who doesn’t want to be? Right? 🙂

A friend of mine called me up few years ago and asked for my help. He said that they were having some trouble with their existing system. Their system was not capturing all the information required & so, he sought my help.

I suggested a CRM product [that we sell & implement] and told my friend that it can be addressed efficiently in this product.

Since he was my best friend, I gave him the solution upfront. I said that this issue can be addressed by creating a new pipeline.

He spoke about their process. I didn’t write down anything. Nor was I recording the call. After the call, I documented the whole thing. Then, I sent him a detailed email with my understanding. He accepted that my understanding was right.

He asked me for a proposal and a demo. I usually qualify a prospect before moving them to the next stage. But here I moved a prospect to the last step in the process – the proposal stage, without any qualification.

I submitted a proposal. Then, scheduled a demo. My friend and his colleague participated. The demo was so detailed, my friend said it was as good as a training / workshop. That was the last I heard from him. Post the demo, there was no response at all. End of that demo, he said that the product was good & solved their issues. So, where was the problem?

Till date, I have no clue.

If there was an issue with budget, he would have told me that prior to the demo itself.

This was a worst experience & one of its kind.

I wasted a lot of time on it. More than time & effort, I divulged too much information for nothing in return.

Normally, I turn all the prospects into my best friends before I do business with them.

But if my friends ask for help, I drop my usual process. I don’t do any prospecting. I don’t qualify them. I don’t check if they have the money, authority & need. I take everything for granted.

Learning:

  1. Never get overwhelmed / carried away just because the buyer is your friend.
  2. Follow your Sales Process always. Stick to your process. Don’t ever deviate from it for anybody or anything.

Happy Selling!!

#b2bsales #kkrocks #entrepreneurship

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How to become a consultant?

In my first job, I used to sell two or more competing products in any category [MS Office Vs Lotus Smartsuite, MS Exchange Vs Lotus Domino [notes], MS SQL Vs Oracle WG / Ent, Scala Vs Oracle Apps etc].

In such a scenario, I was more successful, when I probed deeper & then suggested a suitable solution than just quoting for the product the prospect asked for.

When I probed, I became a consultant & was treated differently. And I controlled the deal.

So, what questions should you ask:

  1. What makes you look for such a solution?
  2. Why are you having this need?
  3. What’s the problem?
  4. How are you solving it currently?
  5. Why would you go for product X?
  6. What are the other cheaper alternatives?
  7. Can you not live with the problem?
  8. What’s the cost of not solving the problem?
  9. How long do you think you can avoid solving the problem.
  10. Have you done your research on us?

And talk prospects out of the deal than into it. That way, your conversion rates will be much higher and you will be saving lot of time by qualifying the prospects. Those that qualify will have lots of respect for you and will close for sure.

Those that don’t qualify too will have respect for you and will get in touch with you in future.

Happy Selling!!

#happyselling #b2b #b2bsales #sales

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How to connect with prospects on LinkedIn?

I send invites to prospects on LinkedIn to connect. Most of the time, I write a note. But I never try to sell. Do you know how will it be at the receiving end?

  1. Let’s say I received an invite from a person I don’t know. Just because I don’t know him/her, it doesn’t mean I won’t accept the invite.
  2. I do business with complete strangers but I make them my friends first.
  3. Whether I buy product/service or sell product/service, I need to build rapport first.
  4. I need to trust or become trustworthy as the case maybe.
  5. If you are not interested in investing your time and effort in building up this relationship, this will get nowhere.
  6. Do not forget to personalize the invite. Address the person by name. Understand what they are doing and talk about it. If they were in news recently, connect with it.
  7. GOLDEN RULE: Never sell anything without building rapport & trust or without getting to know the person offline.

Take a look at one of the invites I received recently. It teaches you what you shouldn’t do.

#HappyLearning

#HappySelling

#b2b #b2c #sales #marketing #prospecting

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What makes a good story?

My wife, son & I are big fans of Mr.Harold Finch, Mr.John Reese, Ms.Root, Ms.Shaw & Mr.Fusco.

These people save people who are in danger by risking their own lives. They are selfless, true patriots, good at heart, efficient & fast. We will not hesitate to recommend them to anyone.

We finished watching the last episode of the last season of #PersonOfInterest on Prime yesterday.

That’s, only the second time so far. With Covid-19 still restricting our social lives, that’s not a surprise.

We love the series. Yet, we are unhappy with certain parts of the story. We wanted the team of protagonists to win all the time. I hope #JonathanNolan takes note of this. 🙂

Here’s the snapshot of the #Story:

Harold builds “The Machine”, an AI that gets its feed from the Gov data, public cameras et al. It watches people, sees violent acts of terror, identifies the danger to people & then segregates those numbers [social security] into relevant & irrelevant [b’cos gov considers them so], sends relevant numbers to the Gov & irrelevant numbers to Harold’s team, who then get into the act of saving them.

The storytelling in this TV series keeps you on the edge of your seat & is definitely worth emulating in our marketing stories, to capture our customers’ attention.

Dissecting it further, I think, the framework for a story is:

  1. You need a purpose. [borrowed that term from Harold].
  2. You need problems to solve.
  3. You should become God. Ok, you become a saviour of sorts.
  4. But let them be the hero of your story. Or identify themselves with the hero.
  5. Show proof, maybe case studies.
  6. Be honest. Let truth be told. Flaws can remain. We are just humans after all.

Happy Storytelling!!

#HappySelling!!

#b2b #sales #marketing #business

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New Sales Playbook post Covid-19!!

Covid-19 has altered the business landscape. Forever.

Sales playbook that we used so far does not work anymore.

Post Covid-19, I don’t think we are going to return to the previous style of functioning.

Right now, customers expect us to #bemorehuman.

Some food for thought:

  1. Do we care for our customers? Genuinely?
  2. Do we understand their feelings?
  3. Are we treating them like humans?
  4. Are we helping them solve some real problems?
  5. Are we making them feel special?
  6. How are our products going to help them during this pandemic specifically?
  7. Or, are we selling our product like we used to, by talking about our “product” & the “benefits”?
  8. Are we making the right connection between the buyer & our brand during this pandemic?
  9. If yes, what are we doing to achieve that?
  10. Are we helping them smile during these difficult times.

If the answer is a resounding “YES” to at least 7 / 10 questions above, we will sail through this period safely.

If not, it is time for us to take a re-look at our Strategies. Did I say “strategies”? I am sorry. That’s not the word right now.

….re-look at the way we connect with the buyers – would be more appropriate.

#HappyConnecting!!

#HappySelling!!

#covid19 #sales #business #newsalesplaybook #care4customers

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Create a fast paced business climate!

I had just then begun to settle down in Mumbai. I started liking the place & the food. I fell in love with the business climate more than anything else.

What were the reasons for the fast pace in business?

In one word: Prospecting.

A forced one, that is. Due to lack of time.

You had no time to waste. Hence you did tight prospecting.

Customers didn’t have any time to waste too. He was crystal clear on his needs, budgets etc.

They meant business.

Is it possible to create the same climate anywhere else?

Definitely.

To recreate that fast pace:

1. Do prospecting well.

2. Value your time & prospects’ time.

3. Keep yourself extremely busy.

4. Squeeze more into your calendar & just get it done.

5. Plan the logistics & the route. Start early.

6. Keep the meeting agenda clear & concise.

7. Work like there’s no tomorrow.

8. Keep yourself fit.

9. Some rock music [like another one bites the dust / those were the best days of my life by Bryan Adams] will help you get into the groove.

10. There’s an opportunity around every corner. It won’t come to you. You have to GO GET IT.

You can say I was plain lucky or the stars were in my favour. Within days of my moving to Mumbai, I closed a big ticket ERP sale @ Johnson Controls.

“Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” – Jack Canfield

Happy Selling!!

#happyselling #setthepace #gogetit

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LinkedIn Tip: How to network!

If you want to connect with someone you don’t know, here is a tip:

First follow them. They will get a notification that you followed them. They will look at your profile and if they are interested, they will follow you back.

If they follow you back, you know they are interested.

Now, you can send them an invite to connect.

They will not say “I don’t know”, instead they’ll accept your invitation to connect.

I used to see a veteran walking his dog every morning in our neighborhood. First, I saw him. He saw me. Then I smiled at him. He smiled back. This happened for several days. Then we started saying “Hello, Good Morning”.

We then became friends and spoke to each other. He eventually became someone whom I trusted and consulted for advice. He treated me like his son. I treated him like my dad.

He and his wife even visited our home and invited us for their younger son’s wedding.

Learning:

  1. It is possible to get to know & network with anyone. Did I say anyone?
  2. You can sell to complete strangers [who else will you sell to], but make them your friends first.
  3. Sale happens when there is an exchange of value & reward. Prior to that become likeable.
  4. People buy from people. They know. And like.
  5. Whatever we did offline to crack into an Account applies on LinkedIn as well.

Happy Selling!!

#b2b #changethegame #sales #marketing #likeable #network #linkedin #tip