Archive | January, 2009

Blog surfing at its best – love this site

30 Jan

I am sure most of you guys here are familiar about StumbleUpon. If not, check out their site.

StumbleUpon discovers web sites based on your interests. Whether it’s a web page, photo or video,the personalized recommendation engine learns what you like, and brings you more.

Today I literally stumbled upon a blog surfing site called Condron.us. Coldron is to blogs what StumbleUpon is for websites.  Here is what the makers of Coldron claim about their site

Condron.us is a blog surfing website.
(Basically like channel surfing but for blogs).

If a blog surfer finds a blog that interests them they can stop and read it or bookmark it for future reading.

How does it work:

Condron.us provides bloggers with free exposure to large groups of potential readers by pulling recently updated blogs at random from wordpress and blogspot.

If you are a blogger, journalist, PR executive then you must use condron to index your blogs . The forum in the site helps you connect with fellow bloggers from all around the globe as well!

Great social media tool !

Check out the site for yourself and let me know what you think.

I loved the site from the word go!

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Business Development and Sales Management – Best Practices for sales pitch

30 Jan

Never underestimate the importance writing down your sales pitch even before you go about making that cold call which will bring in business.

Here are the essentials

First Rule: Watch and Learn:

Making a sales pitch is an art not rocket science. And to learn art you need to learn it from the guru. So, before you make the first sales call watch how your Senior (anda  successfulone at that) sales guy does it. Watch him, understand the pitch he is using and learn from him. I am not asking you to ape him. I want you to learn is modus operandi and tweak the sales pitch the way you see it fit.

Second Rule: Ink it down:

No point in watching the guy do the stuff, nod your head and walk away! That won’t do. You need to watch him do it form. If you have a VP of sales, in your company, and if he is the amicable kinda guy then watch him giving the sales pitch. I have always noticed that the best sales guys are always ready to impart knowledge. If he is the nice-types, then ask him to show you how it is done. And no, dont ape him. Learn from him. Do it 20 times for 20 days if you have it.
And write your own sales pitch. I mean it.. literally.. Write it down, mono ami. Write down your sales pitch word by word, syllable by syllable. I don’t care how long it will take you to do it. If you are smart enough – 1 day. If you are bright then – 2days. If you are the hard working type- 3 days. Anything more, then you are gonner!

LOL… Just Kidding. Take your time but get it done.

So, get the first draft ready, think about the pitch, the product you gonna sell and refine it.
Dont worry the pitch will get further refined as you go down the lane of selling.

Third Rule: Get the decision maker on the phone:

No use in dilly- dalling with the guys who cant make decisions. At best he can help you connect with the top guy. But when you make the call ask ” Can you please connect me to the head of Marketing” or ” Head of Business development” or do what i did when i made my 10th sales call,       ” Can you connect me to the Chairman of your company , please” .. Of course you wont be connected to him, but if you aim high you are bound to hit couple of inches down that, right? So someone will connect you to top dog in the company. Make sure he is the decision maker.
And go ahead and make your pitch, Sir!

Fourth Rule: Get Rejected:
That’s right! If you get the sale done in your first call then where is the fun, dude? You need to get rejected like zillion times to become the great sales guy you wanna be! So go ahead and fail and fail royally! But make sure you learn your lessons from it. If you dont know where you are going wrong, then ask your sales head to sit with you when you are making the call. That ought to do the trick. He will point out the mistakes to you. Now, he may not be the best judge but at least you will get a start, right?

And throw out your blasted ego and pride here… will ya?

Fifth Rule: follow… follow.. Follow-up:
This is really important. If you are gonna be the sales guy in your company, dont ever forget the cardinal rule.

After you make you sales pitch send in a follow up mail saying – “It was great talking you. I will connect with you (at time at Date) as agreed. Meanwhile, you can reach me at the following contact coordinates”. And then go ahead and give your contact details.
And if the sales call was a successful one then follow up it with a mail on the details of the product/service you are offering in the form of pdf format. send in your details in your pdf format only!
And hey, remember the rule, follow up.. Keep doing the follow up thingy. If he doesnt reply then mail him after couple of days (you will instinctively know when). If he still doesn reply, then call him . Remind him. Be nice. Be polite. Sound enthu (not over enthu).

Big Idea: Crying child gets the milk

Seventh Rule: Maintain a pipeline report:

Always maintain a proper pipeline . It should have the following fields:
Company name, Web address, Phone number, Mail id , point of contact name, and the decision maker, status of the sale, expected closure time.

I am not really a sucker for CRM. I rather put it in my excel sheet and share it with my team. And no, am not advocating that CRM is bad. But this is my personal choice. You take the call on this. Most companies insist on using CRM solutions. But my advice to those companies is that they need to get their sales people get familirize on how to use a CRM.

Most sales guys use Ms Excel anyway!

Eighth Rule: Keep in touch:
Your job is not over once you are done with the sale. You need to keep in touch with your client. Build relationships of trust. Do not disappear from your client’s radar.At least once a month shoot him a mail asking him what he thinks of your product find out profile of the  end users of the product are etc. If you give a analysis to your product manager it help me improvise on the product/services your company is offering.

Dont give him a chance to come to you when there is an issue. At the same time let him know where he can reach you and that he can reach you any time he wants.
This ensures that you have already a solid groundwork done before you go ask him for a sale again.

Ninth Rule: Build Trust:
This is paramount. People dont do business with products or company brand name. They do business with people. People who they can trust. So make the right moves for him to trust you.

Be fantastically good at giving him world class service even if you are not a world class company. You don’t have to be HP or WPP to give world class serice. Gain his trust with good service. Simple things will do – prompt reply to his mail, regular follow ups etc… Find your own ways to keep him happy.
These days almost everyone is Linkedin, facebook or Orkut.
Go ahead and connect with him there. It is ok to get a bit personal. Social Networking is ok these days !

The Tenth Rule: Love your customer’s, customer.

I dint say “love your customer”  … Read it again! I said – Customer’s customer. Your client’s end user.
The book by Ram Charan ” what the customer wants you to know” was not exactly the best sales book ever written but i did like what he said – Understand your customer’s end user. If your product can make that “customer” happy then rest assured your client will call you to give you the sale.

So what is it that you’re waiting for? Go ahead and do your research!

Here is an article from the business week which caught my attention and upon which i put up this post –

Sales Stuck?  Try Sticking to script

Other blog posts for you to read :

Successful Sales Starts with Listening

Tips To Being A Great Sales Person
Look forward to your comments on this…

Insipring article on rural bpo in india

29 Jan

yesterday’s editorial by Rasheeda Bhagat – Where money has new meaning , which appeared in Business Line has become one of most inspiring and important article in my life.  it practically changed the way i treat a BPO/Call Centre employee and more importantly it once again showcased  the power rural Indians have in shapping our country.

i request anyone …nay .. everyone who reads this post to follow the article link and the read it. that is not enough.  Pass on the post/link to your friends , relatives, managers where you are working and let them know the potential of rural India.

why is the post important to me ? you need to know my insignificant story first .

the story :

on the first week of Nov 2008 i quit my job at the advertising firm where i was working. i quit suddenly .. just like that ! one reason was due to a pressing  family emergency which i cant write it here for obvious reasons. the other was because i started hating the job. it wast not like that before, though!

i used to love the advertising field. i used to dream of working for an agency  for couple of years, finish a MBA degree . then join main stream marketing , enter Brand Management field with specialization in digital media communications. I was clear in what I wanted to do . But working in the company for close to 5 months I just got too stressed out. I dint have time for my family and friends . Even more alarming was that I dint have time for myself. working Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 9pm drained me out so completely that I was too exhausted on Sundays to do anything. I couldn’t read a book , felt lazy to go out and meet friends, dint have time to visit British Council library ( i used to go there every Saturday for 3 hours from 4 pm to 7 pm ).  i was tired to get up early morning to go out for a run/gym/yoga/meditation etc .. i just couldn’t .. so i quit! Call me a wuss but hey .. I have no regrets .

Today I believe that core marketing and PR has better chances revolutionizing brand management theories than advertising can ever do. I am looking to enter the Afro mentioned fields.

3 months hence I  still havent joined a new company yet. worse ! i dont have money to pay my credit card bills. now comes the call from bank bpo employees cordially asking me to pay my minimum due amount. i tell them i cant pay because i am out of work . i will pay it later with the interest .  but when they keep calling , i get irritated and blast them. i forget for a minute that they are just doing their jobs. they are collection agents and they have to collect and close accounts every month  which are due on late payments.

I forget that they could have been Shahida!

after reading the article yesterday, i realized i could have blasted Shahida or some one like her and now i am reeked with shame.

so .. who is Shahida ?

you will meet her when you read the artcile . here is a snap preview of her …

name : Shahida – age: 25 – location : Tirupathi (A.P) – education : B.A Economics , Telugu medium – occupation: bpo employee at Atlas Documentry Facilities Company Pvt Ltd started by HDFC bank – job profile : backroom processing of banks data’s in fuctions as opening of new accounts,credit card related information,foreclosure of loans ,etc.

pay : rs3,700/month – expense : Rs2000 sent to parents,rs 1,500 for hostel and lodging – for personal expense : rs 200 ( balance amount) – other income : after work shift , she makes 3oo rupees from weaving embroidery sarees.

Total amount on hand : Rs 500/per month.

Money sent to parents which helps in paying for her 2 brother’s college fees – rs 2000

her father earns – rs 60-70 a day .

Compare that with mine :

2-4 movies per month at Satyam Cinemas ( when i go with a friend or with my girl friend ) : rs 500 ( tickets alone)

a meal for 2 at Subway – veg patty sandwhich – rs 201- includes coke under “special offer” scheme . I go there almost every week.

other expenses – very very studpid unnecessary expenses – rs “more than 3000” .

Does that mean, I could /can help educating 2 young guys every month by paying their college fees ? does that mean i can uplift India in my own way in providing education to these students ? Does that mean, if I sacrifice a bit ( do i really have to watch 2 movies every month and eat at subway every week ?) i can make differece to a fellow citizen ?

Do the math and find out how much you are wasting …

And if HDFC or other bank’s marketing people are reading this post. I would like to ask  – why dont you take initatives and reach out to people like me directly to fund education of students – like that of Shahida’s brothers?  I am ready ..

As a customer/client I am ready . The question is whether the people from the bank/govt of india core management team ready to bring out innovative policies to tap working class people like me from urban india to educate the rural india.  I will never call them poor. They are more hardworking, more resourceful, more dedicated than most of us ( including me). They may not have money but I dont give a rat’s ass to money if you have diginity .

This is my clarion call to all the banks in India.

Here is an important line from the article which shook me to the core and changed me as a person.

” They have to fight for what most of us take for granted- a college education,a secure home loan, enough food on the table and a job in an air conditioned office…”

My Salutations :

to Shahida and her coleagues in that bank : My humble pranam to you . you inspire me in a way like no other other “self help” books or the monks who sold their ferraris. from you i realize the value of hard work , money and pride. if you ever read this post i want you to know that you have my sincere admiration and respect . you rock !

to HDFC bank : I am not your customer . I dont know how good is your service to your customer. I won’t comment on that. But this initiative you have undertaken – Kudos to you!  Great work and i wish you guys will go ahead and replicate this kind of work all over India.

I second what Mr.M Durgaprasd ,Assistant Vice-President and Head Operations (BPO), “……. I find them sincere,disciplined and hardworking”.

to govt of india :  most of the policies introduced is rampant with corruption. consider : the amount of money politicians would have pocketed set aside for NREGA.  But the EGMM ( Employee Generation Marketing Mission) initiative is something you will have my complete support.

most corporate look at rural india from a CSR perspective. it is nothing but one form or sympathy and empathy. people from rural india are not looked as someone who can bring in money for the growth of the company and earn a livelihood for themselves . Instead , companies open such initiatives and give it a CSR tag. I think that is stupid. given their dedication to work,opportunity for self empowerment and at the same time contribute to the growth of the company in terms of good service and revenue generation , corporate india should consider them at par with other employees from urban india.

that is why i always consider c.k prahald’s book – fortune at the bottom of the pyramid very important in its concept and execution to change  India.

I have earlier 2 articles on this :

About time we looked at rural india

Is india still in recession

Spread the good word !

How to write a good Resume

21 Jan

Here is an good blog post  which gives you thoughts,tips and ideas on how to write a good Resume.

I am sure lots of people in India and Abroad and running pillar to post to secure a good and stable job and to get a good job you need to get a good,crisp resume which is top-notch so the you will land up with a plum interview . And the rest is in your hands to convert the interview to job on hand.

So use the ideas given here, click and follow the links available in the article to check out some good templates on writing effective resumes.

Good Luck on your job hunting !

Notes from Chennai Book Fair – good initiative but not well organized

20 Jan

3 days before the Chennai Book Fair got over I visited the place – Venue : St George Anglo Indian School , Poonamalle High Road . It would have been criminal had I not gone for the fair. I am a book worm, an aficionado of books and above all I just love spending time with them- looking or reading.It was the 32nd annual Chennai Book Fair and i have been visiting it religiously for 6 years now .

I may break this ritual from next year!

It is not that book fair was a failure. It was by all accounts a resounding success . The citizens of Chennai should be proud to host such a prestigious event. I am proud of it. I am a citizen here. Lived here all my life.

But the thing is of the rows and rows of book stalls i visited ( for about 3 and half hours) I just couldn’t find a single stall where i wanted buy a book. Sure the books were all there. But then I would also find the same books in a Landmark or Crossword bookstore. Save for the 10% discount offered there was nothing special in the fair. Absolutely nothing !

So why then do I need the Chennai Book fair ?

But here are the key insights which you may find very interesting :

  • More people visited the cafeterias to eat samosa, popcorn’s, cone ice creams and soups than the book stalls.
  • Those who did visit the stalls spent more time ,again, eating out Sri Krishan Sweets and less time at the stalls.
  • The book fair is a heaven for people who are read Tamil books. Less interesting for people like me who love to buy books which are otherwise hard to find in the regular book stores.
  • It was an ideal place for parents to buy books for their kids. Just wish that they had used the stalls properly instead of herding the kids to eat at food stalls.
  • It was badly organized.

Ideas for the organizers :

  • There should be a cap to the number of stalls : I visited close to 400 stalls. No wonder people dint find it interesting. By the time they reached the 50 stall they would have walked around a lot, got tired, thirsty, hungry and bored to death. It then kills the purpose of the fair .
  • Ban food stalls inside the stall: It is insulting to see people sit in a corner with their kids clamouring around drinking tea/coffee and eating samosa. I dont blame them. The attention span of kids is like 1o min or thereabouts. You cant expect them to drag their parents to visit the stalls when their eyes feat on delcious loking straberry ice creams? If one kid sees another of his brethren enjoying a popcorn or samosa, you know what is gonin to happen next.
  • Segment the stalls into different verticals :  All the books stalls were packed like cards. Shuffled around and completely disorganized. If I wanted to find a English book stall I dont want to walk around 30 minutes before I found one. It pisses me off ! I would like the organizers to segment the book stalls in some order. English, Tamil , Kids Corner, Spiritualism . This is just an example. It could be in some order. Any order ! Just make it easy for me to find the stall relevant to me . Thats all
  • Dont give permisson to every food seller in town to open shop in the fair : I saw people who had opened mobile kiosks to sell –  Groundnuts, Cup noodles, ice creams.. blah blah… What the hell ? I am sure someone in the goverment made tons of moeny sigining permissions to open stalls like that .I am at the fair to buy books, maybe drink or eat something . I am not at the fair to indulge in eating! Jeez!

But here is something what I really liked :

Opposite to the school I saw roadside book sellers hawking duplicate copies of the same books which I found inside the fair. They were selling ” Imagining India” by Nandan Nilekani for Rs 120 ( MRP : Rs 700), ” Hot, Flat and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman for Rs 140 ( MRP : Rs 500) which i bargained it to Rs 100, just for the kick of it.  Almost all the latest books released in the market today has found its way into the hands of these roadside books sellers – all duplicate copies.One guy actually gave his visting card and asked me to contact him later for I had asked him for old copies of HBR. The guy even had a website . How cool is that ?

But here I found old , original copies of “Arms and the Man” by Bernard Shaw, “Future shock” by Alvin Toffller, “The Blind Assasin”  by Margret Attwood, ” For whom the Bell tolls” by Ernest hemingway, ” A thousand Splendid Suns” by Dominique Lappiere and Larry Collins, ” As a man thinketh” by James Allen, ” The Road less traveled” M Scott Peck, ” Short Stories” by Anton Chekov and scores of other original , old copies of classics. I bought most of them. I spent close to Rs 500 and bought more than 70 books . Not a  single duplicate copy . All the books I bought were priced around Rs 10, Rs 20 and Rs 40.  I even saw an original copy of ” Build to Last” by Jim Collins priced at Rs 60. I dint buy it because I already had a copy  bought a year ago for Rs 300.  You get the drift, dont you ?

The point is :

  • Why dint I find a single second-hand book shop at the fair selling old, original editions of  the classics?
  • How come the police allowed these people to sell printed,duplicate books right opposite to the fair ?
  • I thought more books were bought at the roadside stalls than what was actually sold inside the book fair .

The Chennai Book Fair is a great event . I did find some good stalls like – British Council Library, The American Library , Krishnamachari Yoga Mandiram, Isha Yoga, Art of Living, Osho etc. They were very focused on what they were selling to the customers. People knew what to expect in the stall unlike other publishers trying to sell almost all books and titles under one stall. It just creates too much of confusion and also very time consuming for the consumers.

The Bristish Council and American Library were promoting memberships at discounted rates. They dint need the money . They were just promoting and encouraging people to read good and more books. Ironically, I saw very little walk-ins to these stalls.

By the way , I did eat “Bread bajji” and ” potato bajji” inside the stall . Damn it !  🙂

Currently Reading….

18 Jan

Fiction :

The Hard boiled wonderland and End of the Earth by Haruki Murakami

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

Non -Fiction :

Blue Ocean StrategyW.Chan Kim and renee Mauborgne ( all about creating new uncontested markets )

Magazines :

Massacre of Innocents Front Line

Harvard Business Review – March 2002 issue

Outlook Business ( Current Issue )

Thoughts on Chennai Sangamam : Great Marketing and Novel initiative

17 Jan

I recently visited one of  shows, part of Chennai Sangamam Open Festival program and I was completely floored by it.

Few notes and thoughts :

Great Initiative : A fantastic initiative by Department of Tourism and Culture , Govt of Tamil Nadu to provide a great platform for rural artists to showcase their talents in music and dance . A great place of convergence where urban meets rural folks. But most important of all a great eye opener on the great , rustic music and dance culture of India , sans borders.

Ingenious Marketing : One of the ways the organizers used to promote the Festival was to paint the Govt buses with images of the artists performing for music and dance numbers. But the icing of the cake was – and i must say this was really ingenious – to let artists sit inside the buses and play their music while commuting.

This is simple and great marketing at zero-cost . See, the organizers had figured out their audiences. The people who are going to watch these programs are not going to come from those who are driving Honda city’s or Hyundai Verna’s. They are not going to be people who were living the hi-funda lifestyle.Your typical audience is the regular guy who on one hand enjoy beats of A.R Rehman but at the same time bow their heads in veneration when it comes to traditional music. These are the people who migrated from their native districts and villages to Chennai seeking out jobs and better life, leaving behind their old ancestral house,grandma’s thair sadams and green agricultural lands ( reluctantlyI must add ) to join MNC companies, Railways, Public Sector Banks and other govt job.

  • The audience is the guy who catches the9 am , 23c bus from Aynavaram to Life Insurance Corporation and working hard so that he can fuel his son/daughter’s engineering dreams.
  • The audience is the lady who got married and moved to Chennai with her husband and now takes care of her house and kids and 25 years later still reminiscing her grandma’s manga thoku ( homemade mango pickle). She still hums folk songs learnt when she was a kid. She still craves for the traditional foods made by her great grandmother, which is so famed in her native place. I am sure you can see her walking every day in the evening all the way to a small mom and pop departmental store to buy vegetables/fruits and other groceries to feed her kids and husband when they come back home.
  • The audience is also the 28 year old guy who moved to Chennai , to some engineering college, finished his BE in CSE/ECE/I.T etc and couldn’t go back because he got campus placement in TCS and still paying EM I’s to bank which paid his college fee. He could be married and his spouse could be an IT professional as well. He rides a bike or takes a  bus either to his office or parks his bike ( for Rs 3) and takes the train to the IT corridor where his company is housed.The same , boring job of coding, software testing . These days he is not sure when he is gonna be asked to clear his desk for good.Recession triggered pink slips are galore. He still remembers how he and his school friends played gilli danda, ko-ko in his Theni/Trichy/Madurai district. And he can still remember how after coming back from school, he takes a dip at the village lake/river and then goes to folk play/dance programs held under a thatched hut or a wooden stage . He still loves such music and any day prefers it over disgusting women, scantily dressed and dances on stages and gets paid a whooping rs 50 lac for a show ( I will come to that later).

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Now imagine what if one fine day , when the Dad on his way to LIC office in Mount Road, in the 23 C; the house wife on her way to the departmental store; the IT prof guy on his way ( 8.30 am train so he takes the 7.45 am bus) to office; hears the same old , rustic, traditional, familiar folk music and smiles when he sees the artists dressed in bright red/green/yellow colors, majestically holding those from-my-native-land instruments ? What if it refreshes his mind, makes his day, gets him pumped and then he does something which he has never done while commuting in the bus : he taps his foot in sync with the rhythm of the music . The same old , from -my-native music. What if that bus has stopped at a traffic signal and the artists are playing their music and

Now Imagine , my dear friends! –

The Dad and the IT guy in the same bus, the lady is at the same time crossing the road . The bus is waiting for the green signal to come . The Dad looks awe struck at the music, the IT guy taps his foot and the housewife hums the her own native song from her land. This is a micro perspective. What about the hundreds and thousands of buses running across Chennai and millions of Chennai people listen to the artists playing everyday in the morning and evening while commuting in bus? What kind of effect will it bring ? Wont the lady go back home and pester her husband to take her to the festival? Wont the Dad take his family to the festival during the weekends? Wont the I.T guy sms his wife and ask her to meet him at the festival after office?

This is marketing at its best ! If you disagree with me , you are welcome to criticize !

Now how much money, do you think, was involved here, for marketing? What would  percentage do you think the advertising agency would take had they been hired for this ? What other costs do you think was involved ?

Govt would have incurred the cost of letting the artists in the bus free of cost and also paid  the artists who painted the images in the buses.  Any other cost involved ?

Zero! Zilch ! Absolutely nothing ….

I now look forward to the next chapter of Chennai Sangamam !

che-saga1