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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 at 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!!

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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.

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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!!

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Going the extra mile in customer service!

Those were the happy days of my career. I was just then starting off in Sales and beginning to learn the ropes. One thing I was very clear right from beginning was that I would deliver on the promises I made and see to it that the customer benefits from the association. And “business is not always done for profit” is something I truly believed. In every interaction I wanted to provide value.

There was an account, a Public Sector Bank, which I wanted to break into. [No, not as in “I wanted to break into a bank”.] Jokes apart, it was pretty difficult. Then an opportunity came by. I did everything I should and won the order. It was an order for a software with multiple licenses, one for each location. That must have been during the year 1996. The Software was available on CD but this client requested for floppy disks. Well, we had an option for 3.5″ disks. But the client had only 5.25″ floppy disk drives in all locations. I committed to the client that we will deliver the software in 5.25″ media that can be installed. Of-course after checking with my tech support executive.

Going the extra mile to satisfy the clients.

I was fortunate to have had colleagues who would back me up and deliver on the promises I made to the clients. One day rather one night, the tech support executive and I stayed back in office. My colleague cracked it and created a installable copy on 5.25″ floppy media. All I had to do next was copy that set onto blank 5.25″ floppies. Though it was a very laborious task, I did that. We must have been awake till about 3 or 4 in the morning that night. Finally we delivered on our promise.

Do you have such stories to share? Please let me know in the comments.

Happy Selling!!

#customerservice #salestips #sales

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Sales professionals are positive thinkers!

I am passionate about Sales. I truly believe that Sales is one profession that is unlike any other. No business can survive if Sales does not perform and perform well. Come to think of it, all the sales folks across industry verticals share some common traits. They are all performers. They all think they are born to win, lead, educate, help, bring about a smile, change the way anything is done, change the world. They all generally treat people very well. They trust others. If you look closely at Sales people, they will not discourage other sales people. I answer my phone with courtesy and talk with enthusiasm to the caller and answer her questions in the most polite manner even when I know that I have no use for what she is trying to sell – be it a personal loan or a credit card or a car loan. It is a frame of mind. Positive one at that. If you are a true sales professional you will get what I am saying. That positive frame of mind is what makes us different. That’s what makes us go out in the market, do prospecting, meet clients, build relationships, build trust and finally truly help customers achieve what they want to. No pitching. No “Sales”. No hype. No “Marketing”. What I am good at is what I will do. And leave the rest to the professionals who are experts in the respective areas.

Now you know why I love Sales.

Let me tell you a story. Week after week I was projecting a very big number from one particular account in my reports. My manager asked me not to project it. But I continued projecting it. That was a time I wouldn’t listen to anyone. And speed did matter to me as well. Usain Bolt wasn’t known then, else I would have considered him my role model. In this particular account, things were moving at the speed of a tortoise. But I wasn’t ready to give up. We had a meeting with our Principals [whose products we were selling] and I continued my projections even in that meeting without naming the account since there were other competitors. So much so that the Country Manager asked for a meeting with me and my colleagues after that session. Obviously, when the number I quoted was far higher than the sum of all the other numbers quoted by all of them [present there] put together. I was confident. I was asked what was my plan, how will I make it happen, how did I break up the numbers and what are the billables. I answered them all. Our Principals promised to work with us in that account. Eventually we won that order. It was huge. One of a kind. Record breaking during those days.

The message I am carrying with me all these years is this: I am a successful sales person who strongly believes in helping customers. There is no other sure shot smart way, I can think of.

Hope I pumped up your energy levels. You have it in you. Don’t forget your past successes. There lies the recipe for your success. Feel the raw energy in your veins. I listen to peppy music. I keep a hand grip on my table and keep pressing it from time to time. More importantly I keep a list of accounts on my table that I have won so far in my career starting from my first job. That inspires me a lot than anything else. Try it out for yourself and let me know.

Happy Selling!!

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15 Tips for Winning a Sale!

How many times have you been so close to closing a sale but lost it in the end? I have been there many a times. But I didn’t lose the lesson. Let me sum up my learning and guide you to make a successful closing.

1. Ask for the order:

If your prospect keeps postponing the order without any real reason then they are trying to avoid you. You need to have the courage to ask them for the order and hear their real objections.

2. Qualify, Qualify, Qualify:

In the prospecting stage, we all make this mistake. In order to have as many prospects as possible in our pipeline, we try to qualify in a hurry and let some prospects into the pipeline but in reality they aren’t ready yet or do not have the need or money or both.

3. Probe, Probe, Probe:

Ask as many questions as possible during the sales process. Questions only lead you to find the real objections, find the real needs, know the budgets, get to know the decision makers and buyer’s perspective of your brand / product / company.

4. Face the objections and solve them:

Unless you face the objections and solve them you will lose it to your competitor. If there are no objections, then it means there is no need or you simply haven’t sold enough.

5. Assume you have won the order and talk about the next steps:

When you reach the closing stage in the sales process, ask them if they would need the delivery in a week or can they afford to wait for a fortnight. Would they prefer to get their people trained at their office or at your office?

6. Nurture the prospect:

Create the need if there is no need in the first place. Make them want it. Keep feeding them. Grow the relationship. Become the only face to remember for their needs.

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs

7. Figure out the reasons why they will not buy:

Early in the Sales Process, write down the reasons the prospect may have for not doing business with you or for not buying now. Try to address those. If it’s not possible to address them, drop it and move on to the next prospect.

8. Read the buying signals:

Have you implemented this for any other customer in our Industry?

What’s the RoI?

Can you provide me a cost savings calculation with your solution Vs competitor’s or Vs current systems.

How long will it take for you to deliver?

9. Align with the buyer’s journey:

Understand what stage the buyer is in right now and align with the buyer accordingly. If you are behind, it will be an insult to the buyer and if you are ahead then it would mean you are jumping the gun and in a split second the buyer would have got his reasons to reject you. Now, the prospects do their homework online prior to calling you, the salesperson.

10. Be confident.

11. Be Persistent. This is the key.

12. Build Trust. No one wants to do business with someone who is not trustworthy.

13. Be Patient:

It’s a marathon and not a sprint. Sales is not a sprint but a marathon!!

14. Put their needs before yours.

We get it. You have monthly targets to meet. But that’s not the prospect’s problem. They are not there to solve your problems. On the contrary, you are there to solve their problems.

15. Help them buy. Don’t sell. Ever.

All of us like to buy. Don’t we? We think the product or service that we are buying is going to make us a super hero. It is going to make us look modern. Belong to a cult. Put us in the upper crest. Will help us reach our goals. Make us knowledgeable. Make our lives easier, comfortable and efficient. Now, help the prospect achieve his / her goals and help them buy.

Happy Selling!! [I hear you ask: doesn’t this contradict the 15th item above? :)]

 

 

 

 

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Create Content else Curate Content!!

Today Customers are better informed than the Sales people themselves. They do all the homework before calling you for a discussion.

Content is King, as they say. And Marketing is the new Sales. Though it can never replace Sales, Digital Marketing & Inbound marketing is a given. And businesses need to invest in it.

So, how to create content?

  1. Make a list of what your customers are looking for. And write about them.
  2. Problems faced by your customers and probable solutions for those problems.
  3. Reference guides in your industry – trade them in return for email ids.
  4. Best Practices – will show your thought leadership on the subject.
  5. White Papers – can be completely unbiased on any topic. Need not narrow down to only what you sell.
  6. Approach Papers – what will be your approach for any given situation.
  7. Case Studies – what did Customer A do when faced with a certain issue and how did he become successful with your product or service.
  8. eBooks – helpful resources for various tasks or problems.
  9. What to do in any situation or what not to do – if you help your customers when they are stuck, there is a good chance that they will remember you when they are looking for what you are selling.
  10. Customer speak – not just testimonials but capture in depth customer experiences.
  11. Expert Views – collect views from experts in your area of operation on a particular subject and publish them.
  12. Events – Talk about the upcoming events in your Industry or your experience in a just happened event.
  13. Podcasts – nothing like a talk show and it will be interesting if you can invite industry experts for the show.
  14. Demos – You can have a YouTube channel to give a sneak peak in to your product.
  15. User guides – Let it be easy for your customers to locate them online.
  16. Last but not the least, Curate Content: it is not that you are the only expert in your industry. There are plenty of them out there. They are creating good quality content as well. Curate them. This should add to your credibility.

Happy Creating and Curating !!

Happy Selling!

For any help in Marketing, Sales, Startup Consulting or CRM Software, please contact me at:

kannan @ zignalytics dot com

#marketing #sales #crm #startupconsulting #digitalmarketing #inboundmarketing

Keep your Content Fresh!! Always!

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Your Greatest Weakness is Your Greatest Strength!

Sales People are by far the only ones who do not stop learning. Yet they feel inadequate and identify areas of improvement. And continuously they upgrade, refine & groom themselves.

Your Greatest Weakness is Your Greatest Strength!

Identify your Greatest Weakness / your business’ Greatest Weakness and you will be on your way to achieving Great Success.

Some thoughts to help you identify your weakness:

  1. Customers are smart. If you fit the bill, you are in. Else, you are out. It’s that simple.
  2. It is all about Perception. How do customers perceive you? What you think about yourself does not matter. What matters is what other people think of you.
  3. First impressions last longer. So work harder and give a good first impression to your customers.
  4. Dressing up well to give a Professional outlook. Or having a sparkling office that readily proves your worth.
  5. Giving respect to Customers.
  6. Asking for feedback.
  7. Your knowledge on your Product or Service.
  8. Being in tune with times.
  9. Customer Experience. In every step of the buying process and beyond.
  10. Being Sincere.
  11. Showing utmost seriousness in solving customers’ problems.
  12. Ensuring that the excitement that you created around your Product / Service stays forever. Or work on that and keep the excitement on.
  13. Delight: Always having something to surprise the customers.
  14. Easily accessible, no waiting time, more parking space, to the point, forward looking, well meaning, helping & solving problems.
  15. Adding Value. Don’t you want to move up the value chain?
  16. Working with you & your business adds to the Customer’s Brand Value.
  17. Do your existing customers vouch for you?
  18. Meeting your existing customers regularly.
  19. Does your Customer Service team meet the demands of your customers and generate more business from them?
  20. Are you an early adopter of Latest Technology?

Do you have any thoughts on this. Share your valuable thoughts with us.

Happy Selling!!

For any help in Marketing, Sales, CRM please contact:

kannan@zignalytics.com

 

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Sales is not a sprint but a marathon!!

I happened to watch a portion of a documentary on marathon running. What I learnt is that it calls for more preparation than what is required for a sprint. Endurance is key for a marathon.

While speed and agility are important for a Sprint, one should save energy and stay in the game at a consistent pace, to be successful in a Marathon. But both require stringent practice. It’s needless to state that the training is completely different for each.

What can we learn from these and apply in our day to day Sales situations?

  1. Sales is not done on a level playing field.
  2. Techniques are for short term whereas in the longer term these simply don’t work.
  3. While a good start can give us a boost and make us look confident, it is only consistent performance that is going to keep us in good stead in the long term.
  4. Practice makes us perfect. So, let’s start practicing.
  5. Each situation is different. It may be a well laid out road / a pathway / a narrow path filled with stones or thorns / an uphill or downhill and it may rain / shine. Just like running a marathon, Sales situations also call for using our judgement on the ground.
  6. We should use our limited resources in a rationale manner.
  7. Let’s be prepared for the long haul.
  8. We may have to incorporate changes [slowing down or picking up speed] as we go along.
  9. We should focus on the rhythm and keep going forward.
  10. We should have less burn out for maximum productivity.
  11. We should know the route map well and be prepared for the encounters on the way.
  12. Most importantly we should enjoy the journey.

Some portions of a marathon resembles a sprint. So, the techniques will come in handy. We must be trained to handle such sudden sprints as well. And we should respond with speed and agility when the situation demands.

So, Sales is not just a marathon but a “series of sprints” as well. Success in one sprint or couple of sprints don’t guarantee success in the marathon. Marathon is a different ball game altogether.

If we know how to enjoy it, it will be a breeze.

Happy Learning!

Happy Selling!!

Contact us at:

sales at zignalytics dot com

#sales #salestips #crm

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An Interior Designer reveals his secret!

I asked him how me manages his customer data, in the hope that I will generate interest for a CRM.

He is my friend. And it was a casual conversation. He laughed & said “we don’t have too much data to manage”.

What he said after that makes sense.

He said that he & his team complete the interior designing of a flat or a villa or an office space & hand it over to customers. We make sure that they are happy, he said. They refer customers to us & most of our business comes only through word of mouth & referral, he added.

He said, he mostly gets invited for the inauguration of the property. It is there he meets his prospective customers. Now there’s the secret sauce. Hang on for a second. He said, if those people, his customer’s friends & relatives, who come for the inaugural function, like his work, they will take his business card & call him when they have a need.

This is nothing but in-bound marketing coupled with social proof, touch & feel & non salesy approach all put together. What more can you ask for? He has all the relevant marketing strategies with right mix & proportion. It is a well oiled machinery. It will take care of itself.

He should only concentrate now on deliveries, quality, speed & customer satisfaction. Fantastic, isn’t it?

Some pointers for us, to work on:

  1. Be where our customers are.
  2. Be non-salesy.
  3. Provide social proof.
  4. Let the word of mouth spread.
  5. Provide good customer service.
  6. Create a community of happy customers.
  7. Let our customers touch & feel. Test Drive, Free Trial, Freemium, Freebies, what have you?
  8. Get referrals. No sales involved with the referred prospect. Our customers do the marketing & sales for us.
  9. Pick up the phone. Meet face to face.
  10. Be friendly. After all, we don’t live to sell or do business & make money. Only.

Happy Marketing!

Happy Selling!!

sales @ zignalytics .com

#marketing #inbound-marketing #wordofmouth #referral