Phy-gital Roundtable: Breakfast Roundup from Germany and Netherlands

02 May '15 | Debjyoti Paul

German Shoppers: Meet Them in the Fast Lane to Phy-gital

15 January '15 | Ralf Reich

Shoppers Will Share Personal Information (But They Don’t Want to be “Friends”)

15 January '15 | Anil Venkat

Modernize or Perish: Property and Casualty Insurers and IT Solutions

14 January '15 | Manesh Rajendran

Benelux Reaches the Phy-gital Tipping Point: Omnichannel Readiness is Crucial

13 January '15 | Anil Gandharve

The New Omnichannel Dynamic: Finding Core Principles Across Industries

13 January '15 | Debjyoti Paul

Technology does not disrupt business – CIO day 2014 Roundup

02 December '14 | Anshuman Singh

Apple Pay – The Best Is Yet To Come

02 December '14 | Indy Sawhney

Digital transformation is a business transformation enabled by technology

01 December '14 | Amit Varma

3 Stages of FATCA Testing and Quality Assurance

06 October '14 | Raman Suprajarama

3 Reasons why Apple Pay could dominate the payments space

18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

Beacon of Hope: Serving Growth and Customer Satisfaction

05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

What You Sold Us On – eCommerce Award Finalist Selections

17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

04 June '14 | Koushik Ramani

8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

13 January '14 | Ramesh Hosahalli

What does a mobile user want?

03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

Customer Selling Principles

Posted on: 17 October '11

What is selling? – Is it the art of understanding the customer’s exact requirements and then offering our solutions? Or is it using the customer’s business language (business problems, new revenue streams) to make a deal? Or is it just spitting out whatever we have in terms of our capabilities in prospect meetings and visits? Or is it trying to persuade the customer to give us one chance to prove ourselves?

Many mid-sized services companies face these questions when they try to break into the billion dollar club. In this article, I will try to explore the problems faced by mid-sized companies in the sales process and then I will present some solutions to change the situation.

If we look at the evolution of some of the mid-sized companies, we will find that most of these companies flourished when India was offering cost and labor arbitrage advantages. During these times, selling was just selling your profiles and nothing innovative was required. Some part of the business was also acquired due to management’s prior contacts and well-wishers. However, the situation has changed drastically in recent years. Today, companies who outsource do not require just “helping hands”, but “helping hands with minds working”. MNCs and product companies require their partners to give feedback on their product lines, help them open new market segments, advise them on how to create new revenue streams for them, etc. Needless to say, the selling process also needs to change on the same lines.

Let us look at our past experiences and ask the following questions:

  1. How many times have we analyzed our customers’ products, compared them with their competitors’ products and asked hard questions on the relative strengths and weaknesses of their products?
  2. How many times have we prepared solutions based on customers’ requirements and presented it to the customers?
  3. How many times have we provided important industry insights and trends to our customers which they were not aware of?
  4. How many times have our testing teams presented critical analysis of customers’ products (including suggested modifications), apart from the normal test reports and results?

If we do deep introspection, we will find hundreds of these questions cropping up, which we blissfully ignore. Still, after a customer meeting we pat our backs and project our winning probabilities in the CRM. We cannot justify this flawed selling process on the basis of the fact that we are still winning some business and generating revenue for the company. This is similar to whether the cricket match is won because the bowlers are taking wickets by skillful and intelligent bowling or because the batsmen from the opposing side are throwing away their wickets. If our situation is the same, we are certainly heading towards disaster. Someday, a skillful batsman will come onto the crease and we will struggle to take his wicket.

However, all is not lost. Things can improve if we bring new dimensions to our selling process and learn to speak in the customer’s language. We need to invest our time and energy in understanding our customers, their products, their needs, their competition, their problems, their future plans, etc. and then pitch accordingly. Unless we change fundamentally, things are not going to improve. Last but not the least, we need to educate our pre-sales and sales teams on the principles of selling and if required, bring fresh people into the system.

 

 

  • Geetha Chandar

    Dear Mr. Amit,

    Thank you for this lovely article! The cricket analogy is very interesting especially because 9/10 times bowlers struggle to get the wicket of ‘Our Wall’ aka Rahul Dravid!

    I find that Selling has been explained beautifully in the book ‘Go-Givers Sell More’ ~ Bob Burg and John David Mann:

    ‘ “I’m no good at selling!” Have you ever heard someone say that, or perhaps said it yourself? We hear it all the time. Everyone who is not in sales thinks, “I could never sell.”

    Truth is, most people who are in sales secretly think the same thing.

    There is a reason people feel this way: most of us look at sales backward. We may see it as convincing people to do something they don’t want to do. But it isn’t; it’s about learning what people do want to do and helping them do that. Or, we may think it’s about taking advantage of others – while in fact, it’s about giving other people more advantage.

    But the biggest inversion of all, the great upside-down misconception about sales, is that it is an effort to get something from others. The truth is that sales at its best – that is, at its most effective – is precisely the opposite: it is about giving.

    Selling is giving: giving time, attention, counsel, education, empathy and value. In fact, the word sell comes from the Old English word sellan, which means – you guessed it – “to give.”

    A pitch is me-focused. A serve is them-focused. ‘

    So, as you have rightly mentioned, should selling be to “serve” and not to just “pitch”? Should we make that paradigm shift to consider selling as an activity to “build relationships” and not to merely “complete transactions”?

    And I remember reading this somewhere:

    “At an international meeting of company executives, one American businessperson asked an executive from Japan what he regarded as the most important language for world trade. The American thought the answer would be English. But the executive from Japan, who had a more holistic understanding of business, smiled and replied, “My customer’s language.”

    Thanks and regards,

    Geetha

    • Thanks for your wonderful words of Appreciation. The words used, examples quoted and the parallels drawn are amazing.