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Does your Brand have a Brand Song?

18 May

Very few companies have kick ass accessories (Manchester). Many Companies have great tag lines (Nike). Loads of companies have Jingles (AIRTEL). Almost all companies have a recognizable Brand Logos (Apple).  Now ask yourself this question:

How many companies do you know which has a Brand Song?

I got thinking about this during my Organizational Behaviour class last Saturday. Thinking about it for some time, I connected the thought process to the brand I was working with previously – BODYFUELZ. BODYFUELZ has great products & accessories, no tag line and no recognizable brand logo. The name in itself is the brand logo. And it definitely dint have a brand song. Come to think of it, I find very few companies have brand song.

In the lingo of tourism marketing, a nation has a brand song which is used to woo customers both from abroad and domestic. For India, the national anthem is a great brand song. It is one of most loved brand song ever made. The minute you hear the national anthem, a sense of pride swells into your heart. You connect yourself o India. And if you have heard it enough, as foreigner, you would know the Indian anthem anywhere. It’s a beautiful song.

Even, Vande Mataram , though not the national anthem, is a brand song in its own right in connecting it to Brand India ( thank you Lataji & ARR  for taking it to the world)

The big point is this: If a nation of billion people can be moved with a great national anthem, usher in patriotism and loyalty, why can’t an organization have a great brand song?

When are you going to get a brand song for your company and its brand portfolio?

A great brand song:

  • Immediately connects the customer, the employee, the stockholder to the brand and its attributes.
  • It is a great differentiator
  • Will make the customer feel part of an elite group whose products they use which has a kick ass brand song.
  • Builds brand loyalty
  • Gives the customer a sense of pride in owing the product
  • It also gives you a chance to go viral

Brand Song, Social Media, Word of Mouth:

Do you need a Bharth Bala or ARR or Black Eyed Peas to get you a great company Brand Song? Fo-fo… Not at all! You can get a great brand song from your customers. Better still; go ask the whole world to make you a great brand song. Go Open Culture.

All you need to do is to ask them. Nicely.  Politely. And you better be sincere about it.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Create a separate webpage in your website inviting people from all over India/world to contribute to a great brand song. You will have budding artists, visual communication and music students, potential bathroom singers, husbands, housewives, your own customers, someone from Somalia may upload a brand song for you if you give them the opportunity.  This is crowd-sourcing
  2. Ask them to upload their brand song in YouTube and pull it to your website and invite people to vote for the brand song.
  3. Use public relations not advertising to spread the word about this campaign.
  4. Invite famous people (see if you can get ARR or Chitra) to judge the brand song.
  5. Invite comments from other people about the brand song.
  6. Recognize and honour the brand song maker by putting up their name in your website, press releases.
  7. Not many people want money, they want to be respected for they do. Acknowledge them for their effort. You may pay them but see if you can give them a platform to showcase their talents.
  8. Next, short list and give exclusive access to your customers and ask them to choose what the song they like. This is interactivity. No point in having a brand song which your customers hate.

Done? Then, produce the song yourself. Again, you don’t need celebrity artists to make it for you. Go to colleges which run visual communication and media courses and invite students there to make that brand song for you. I know of many engineers working in big software companies who are weekend music makers with their own band dying to get a chance to be part of something like this, so find them and ask them to make it for you. You are not going to pay them a bomb here; instead they will thank you for the opportunity.

Finally, unleash the Idea Virus (as Seth Godin so eloquently puts. Thank You Seth!) :

  • Release your company brand song in your website.
  • Go ape in Youtube/vimeo/metacafe
  • Create ring tones and pass it on to your company employees and customers and request (not ask, mind you) to spread to others. They will. You know why? Because they built that song. You made them part of the process. You recognized their value and contribute. Heck! You even made them feel great!  So, why won’t they spread the song?

Spread the song and the brand name spreads.

Journalists love the juicy stuff and will start writing about your company and what the company has done in newspapers and websites. Treat these journalists with respect. Give them the info what they need.

You are not done yet though.

Go to the bloggers. Ask the bloggers to review the brand song in their posts.

Go for barter system here. Exchange your product or service for their review. And if you tell me that you don’t have anything to give them, stop reading this post, get to your R&D and make a kick ass product and then follow the thoughts above.

Finally, use social media, facebook fanpage, twitter, social bookmarks and take it to greater heights. But like Jeremiah( my mentor cos of who I fell in love with social media ) says – Always have a social media strategy when using these tools.

So, who says you can’t have a Brand Song?

[If you like my thoughts here, i would greatly appreciate it if you spread it around with your twitter/facebook/orkut /linkedin account. Thank You, Very much]

Co Creating Value with your customer. How a Saloon can use social media to build its brand reputation

21 Apr

I was waiting for my turn for a haircut at the regular saloon shop when I started talking to the guy in charge also who happened to be the brother of the owner. We were discussing latest mobile phones, laptops, fitness etc,When I asked him – “Is that computer connected to net?” He replied with an affirmative.  I asked him if his saloon had a website or a facebook fanpage or an orkut community group.  No, his saloon did not have any online presence.

So I ask him – “How many branches you have in this city”.

Reply: 12 branches in Chennai. 3 in Coimbatore.

“What kind of customers do you get here? Age group? “, I ask.

Reply:  Customers come in all age groups.Male and female.

I understand from the cost of basic haircut that the shop reaches out to middle and upper class.

I tell him – Guess what? I can help you expand your business. Grow your customer base, improve sales and more importantly build brand loyalty which will generate word of mouth.  And you don’t have to spend tons of money. Are you interested?

Reply: Absolutely…

I became a Social Media Consultant for him.

Here are the points I discussed with branch head. Maybe you can use it too…

Website:

Start with a simple website. Simple content should suffice. Don’t worry about SEO and SEM. You don’t need that here. First, cover the basics:

About the company, who owns the company, History of the company, what are the services you are offering, prices for each of your services, meet the barber

Let us focus on 2 features:  Services offered and Meet the Barber page

Services offered will have different hairstyles with pictures for the customer to identify each hairstyle. Also, why not a video testimonial of a satisfied customer? Host the video testimonials to a youtube page which will have other similar customers giving you 3 min testi of your services.

Meet Ur Barber Page: Will have the name and profile of the barbers you employ with ratings section. Your customers can rate the barber in an open transparent system. Every month the barber who gets the maximum ratings gets incentive. Thus, you also build morale and a healthy competition which in turn will improve productivity.

The website can also have a page dedicated to latest hairstyle in vogue. Your customers can chose the hairstyle, get the name and when they visit you next time, then can mention the name and get it done.

Let your website also have a space for your customers to submit ideas. This is your UGC (user generated content). This is important. UGC has power. Give your customers power and give them platform to share. That is why you need…

Facebook  Fanpage :

Your facebook fanpage should be integrated to your website so that your customers can connect and collaborate with each other online. Here are the things you can do:

–      Post pics of latest bollywood, Hollywood heros and heroines with their latest haircut. Ask questions and generate interactivity with fans.

Eg: Post in your fanpage wall – Check out Brad Pitt’s latest hairstyle ( post the pic). Kool huh? Who wants this hairstyle? The first 10 people, who wanna have this haircut, comment here and get 10% off.

Or,

Eg : kareena latest haircut ( post the pic) . You can get it done at any of our branches. Just drop a mail with your details to fix an appointment.

Or,

Eg : Our new facial for summer is out. It’s a blend of (this and that). The first 10 who post a comment here get 30% off on this new natural facial.

–      Post videos of your customers in youtube and pull it to fanpage

–      Offer tips on grooming

–      Offer sneak peak and special discounts exclusive to online customers

–      Ask your customers to directly post pics or videos of their fav good/bad hair moment

–      Invite your customers/fans to post ideas, seek advice on hairstyles, good hair maintainance tips etc…

All this will go in building a good brand name and generate word of mouth buzz.

Twitter:

Twitter should be next in agenda. Use the content which you have and post it to twitter. Today, loads of Indians have twitter handle, why not connect with them?

Twitter is important because Search Engines now give importance to social media feeds.

Use blogs: Start a corporate blog. Comment on other blogs which has content on grooming, facials, hairstyles etc…

Write to online local/citi portals to feature you.

There are huge load of things you can do with social media.

( if the reader of this post wants to discuss more ideas, get in touch)

The branch Head then had a big question for me:

“Vikas, how to bring fans or bring customers to facebook fanpage?”

Answer:

Simple! From now, every time you give a bill to a customer, ask him for his name and number, mail id, and ask if he has a facebook, twitter or a blog presence .

Then tell him, this – Sir, we have a facebook fanpage and we have plans to have a website, may I invite you there? Is it ok if I send you an email invitation? You can also give us your ideas on what and how the website should be

If the customer agrees, then later send him a mail. This is Permission Marketing. You are not blasting spam; you are asking the customer his permission.

This is social media at its best and the customer will appreciate it.

Crowd sourcing:

The saloon has all sorts of customers who use their services. Why not run a contest inviting web designs? The best web design will become the official web design and the guy/gal who wins get 3 haircuts free with the name featured in the website.

Some of you who read this may argue , why is that I am going to such lengths in discussing social media for a saloon.

You are obviously missing the point.

The point is – Social Media is not confined to big brands. Social Media is sometime best suited and most effective for small business owners who wanna build big brands.

I am always open to crtizism or better ideas.

You can tweet me @spartanvikas

If you like my post, may I request you to share it in twitter, facebook or Delicious?

Dedication :

I would like to dedicate this post to C.K Prahalad, the pioneer behind the idea of Co Creating Value with the customer. He inspires me to give the best I can give to my customers.

1:9:90 Theory of Online Brand Marketing

21 Feb

I was reading a newspaper today when I came across the idea on the 1:9:90 Theory. Not sure who was saying this in the newspaper but I am definitely not going to claim that this theory is mine. I am only going look at it a bit deeper.

The 1:9:90 Theory is simple to understand, profound in thought and difficult to implement. But thou shall reap immense rewards if you execute it.

The Theory says:  Among your consumer group (or target audience if you will):

  • 1 % should create content
  • The content created by the 1 % should engage 9% of your audience and convert them to Brand Evangelist or to use the Facebook phraseology – Fans.
  • This 9% of brand evangelist should then take the content, connect and collaborate with 90% of your target group. Of course, the 90% who will absorb the content is important but marketers in the online space would do great by focusing on finding the 1 % content creators.

These content creators are what, if I may borrow Seth Godin’s terminology –  Tribes.

Find the Tribe:

Seth Godin in his remarkable book Tribes talks about how it is important to find and engage the members of a  Tribe. The Tribe are your diehard fans. He/she is the one who will do what it takes to get and use your product/service ignoring all others in the market. All you ought to do is make space for your fans/core consumers to create content. Democratize your company. Give them the tools. Let them create content. All you have to do is channelize the tribe by being the Leader.

Let the fans create the content, find and touch base with the 9% of the brand evangelists who in turn will share the content with 90% of your target audience.

Your job is to basically find the content creators.

And it isn’t an easy job. But it is definitely better and more effective than creating million dollar advertisements targeting everyone out there and praying to Almighty that someone watches the ads and respond to it.

Finding loyal fans and content creators is tough but it is long lasting, just like true love. Finding true love is not an easy job. But when you find it, engage with that person, nourish the relationship; it becomes bliss and long lasting.

It was exactly this point Geoffrey Moore was trying to tell us in his seminal book Crossing The Chasm.  The book is all about the importance of Early Adopters of technology.

Find the Early Adopters.  Give them the importance they deserve. Give them the tools through which they can play with your product/service. Show them how you value their passion for your products. Then politely ask them to create content for you. Ask them nice and be honest about it and guess what? They will give you the content. And since they are doing it out of passion and love for the product and not you, you will get great viral content.

The word Viral is important. It is word of mouth. It is something you will get by Co-creating value with your customers as C.K Prahald articulate in his books.

Building Brands Online:

Today it is far easier and better to build brands online than using traditional media. It is easier because online activities can help you engage with your audience. It is measurable and accountable.

More importantly it can be used to target the your real serious customers than every tom,dick and harry ( no pun intended of course). When you launch focused advertisements or campaigns the reach is better, ads can be tweaked, mistakes can be made so that old rules are broken and new lessons learnt.

Simply put: The status quo can be challenged.

When you do that, you somehow will manage to create The Purple Cow (I love Seth for what he stands for  … you ought to read his blog). From then on use innovation to sustain and feed the Purple Cow

Digital Marketing Agencies:

The agencies of tomorrow should not be stand alone Advertising and Public Relations companies. Instead they should become an Integrated Digital Solutions companies which should have core team of people who can come with digital strategies and how to use such tools (like me … lol) and people who can create engaging content ( not necessarily award winning creative’s) and solid tech cum web team who can implement your communication ideas in the most optimized way.

Read this awesome blog by Seth Godin on Viral Growth to understand on how important it is to connect with core fans and creating great content

An open letter to HBR team

1 Jan

To,

India Today Group and the HBR team

Extremely sad and shocked at the increase of the price of HBR from Rs.500 to Rs.750! Not sure why this suddenly increase in price. Is it cos of the new design or because it is a double issue or it is New Year?

What is the point in making the new design more accessible to reading when you are making the magazine less accessible for people to buy?

As long as the price was at Rs.500 I used to eagerly wait for the magazine to come out. Cos Rs.500 for me was an opportunity cost in financial planning. Rs.500 was a sacrifice I made for a movie outing with my finance. I used to think – even if I missed a movie with her, that’s fine! I get to read HBR management stuff. She understood.

Now, I can’t give her that reason. I can’t tell her that I sacrificed my time with her for a book which cost Rs.750.

What about the rest of us? What about new managers climbing the corporate ladder who may not have big salary but have big dreams and want to learn management ideas and thoughts from icons of HBR but cant because of the increase in price. Others may get access to HBR cos their HR would be good enough to buy it for them in office. Student’s studying MBA may get access to it from the coll library.

So what happens to the rest of us? Are we to be denied the pleasure of reading HBR?

The Entrepreneur (India edition) is Rs.100. that makes sense. That makes big sense to buy. And the content is good. Not as classy as HBR but good nonetheless.

So here is my big question: Why on earth did you guys raise the price back to Rs. 750?

If you are charging HBR print edition so much, why not give free online access to your articles and archives?

You know what is even more sad? Me not buying HBR won’t make any difference to you. It won’t cause a dent in your brand, sales or the policy you follow.

But hopefully there ought to be more ppl like me out there who will read this blog, nod their head and voice out their concerns as well… That may probably be a wake up call for you guys to rethink your pricing strategy in India.

A Dejetced Big Fan!

Sri Vikas

aaah! clarity finally.. In my journey

15 Apr

You know .. I just figured how i am gonna drive business in my company. Havent even informed Ryan yet. You know .. Ryan , Business Head for BODYFUELZ – my boss.. So he had asked me this question the other day – Vikas , how are you gonna drive business in this company ?

Been mashing up my thoughts for a quiet a while now . Actually a month . Close to a month …

Well , when i did figure out I kinda had this englightment inside me . Like this – “Boom! thats It ! This is what i want to do . this is what i should be doing. this what i am good at . Or i could be good at but not yet there.”

So ahem .. here is what  I would be doing with my future . At least the discipline I gonna dedicate my career.

I will put it in points just in case i read this blog couple of months from now when i need direction.

– Economics + Digital Media : I am trained economist. Rather : trained to understand economics. So no matter what others think ,  I tell ya folks,  Economics is so KOOOOl! Seriously it is .. It makes you compare and understand and figure out how a consumer spends or how he/she is likely to spend, with the money earned. It is fasicnating. It is human drama and it is has all the ingredients to make it a pot-boiler.

Now if I marry economics to digital media , you have a Blue Market Career. Fancy words, fancy titles .. you know the drill!

–  Social Media Communitions : You have heard of social media marketing but this is new. Social Media Communications is the package of social media technologies , corp comm and public relations. I haven tried it yet but something tells me ( it is the guts i say , MIND IT!) that this concept is gonna rock.

–  E Business : Get the word right . It is not e- commerce. It is E- Business. Watch this space to know more on what is the difference between the two.

– Connected Marketing : Word of Mouth, Viral  and Network hubs. String them together and you have a great campaign. Figure out a way to convert that to sales. Man, you will rock the boat!  You know,  I actually wanna rock my life, my relationships and my company once in a while .. Shake out the toxins and bring in fresh air. It will do good.

Word of Mouth : This is repetative. But I love this concept so much  that it needs to be revisted in my list.  If i can crowd source, buzz market, social network, tech process, thought lead, create hubs and start a wom plague then connect with a sale. I get done more with less.

heads up : Digital Branding is here to stay . What it lacks is a  Jermiah kind of a guy who will walk the talk and talk the walk. I mean , who is will  talk about it ( become a thought leader… ) and walk the talk ( …and show how it is done) . I am gonna be that guy or die trying . I am no technologist . I dont code. I observe  ( i am a buddhist by practise you see..) and i will be the “watcher” and then make my move from behind the scenes .

What will happen in future with these ideas ? Dont know.  Dont care.. but this is me now ..

The Fear of Deflation in Indian Economy

20 Mar

Today’s Economic Times has the screaming article Indian Economy staring at deflation. Is it good news ? in its front page.  Too late .. I have already predicted and reported on this .

On Feb27th of 2009 I had posted a blog  Inflation down to 3.36%. Nothing to be happy about. This blog was posted when 3.36% inflation figures were released by the government.

Is it good news ? Of course not. Why should it be ? Think about it. Deflation arises when less money is chasing more products. So the question now comes – Is it that we Indians have no money to buy ?

On the contrary,Indians have the money to invest. How else would you explain record number of new mobile connections sold ? How else will you explain Mercedes selling more cars in India than in most of the so called “‘mature”, “developed”  markets ? How else can you explain the IPL commercial values involved? How else can you explain DTH connections sold in drones in the last 6 months?

So you see , we can safely say that we Indians have the money to spend. What prevents us from spending a lot ( unlike last year) is the fear factor.

France , America, Britian has millions of job loses reported . France had 3 million out on streets protesting against wage cutes and unemployment. How many such rallies have we seen in India? I will let you answer that question.

First, let us accept the accept that the Indian economy clocked 9% G.D.P last year and it was fueled by entrepreneurship . But, unlike our counterparts ,Indians are largely insulated by the bad economic troubles. But true to our risk averse mind set we are saving our money and too scared to invest or buy in indulgence. Therefore , demand is low.

There are 2 ways at looking at it. Positive and Negative. Taking the current discussion under consideration, we are forced to look at the negative reasons. And negative reasons are very scary indeed.

What can be done ?  Two things – Awarness and Proactive solutions by the government and private companies and banks.

Self Awareness from the people is hard to come by. The government representatives should come out and talk directly to the people instead of just giving out talks in press conference . TV news channels can give a good coverage by inviting top brass to address people directly.

Address the Nation : When was the last the time we actually sat in front of the TV and listened to Presidential speech on the eve of Independence day ? Be honest about it .. But , this is the right time for Ministry of Finance, Planning Commission, RBI head to directly to the people. We should also have business icons and thought leaders like Naryana Mooorthy, Sam Pitroda, Sunil Mittal, Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni, and writers , celebrities talk directly to the people. The idea is to instil confidence and security to the people.

Go Vernacular : Talking in high jargon filled English is not gonna do the trick. The biggest curse of India is that we have not been able to permeate the growth of the economy to the villages. Few people realise that villages, tier 2 and 3 cities hold the key to super power status of India. They may not be English educated but they have spending power. And like Unilever’s CEO Mr Paul said in a interview , ” We will have to drive people’s habits” . Very True!

But talk to people in their language.

Start spending but in a controlled way . Educate, Empower and set example and spread the word. Be a thought leader yourself. Ask your friends to spend but not in excess. Try to include Indian products in your grocery. This will fuel domestic economy and also in the long term make us a potential market and make it more investor friendly .

Simple things are can go a long way. You dont have to be a Chief Economist to drive change.

Just a thought : We should stop IMF and S&P500 and other agency give investor ratings during recession. Otherwise people are gonna reach such stats and go into a shell and reduce spending and brakes the FDI’s.

ICICI has the worst customer service in India : Personal Experience !

14 Mar

How many of you here, who reads my posts have an ICICI account? I don’t! In fact, after a call from a customer service person today, I have resolved never to get an ICICI account no matter what the situation is.

icici-logo

Here is why:

I just completed my 2-wheeler loan amount Emi . ICICI bank was supposed to send me NOC ( No objection papers) . Yet , I kept getting sms messages from ICICI saying  that I still owe then Rs 2280.

Today , I got a call from a guy called Suresh . He is  in the department in charge of sending out NOC papers.

Here is the conversation – verbatim :

Me : Suresh, can you tell me why ICICI is sending me such a sms ?

Suresh : ( in an extremely rude tone) :  you see , that is not my business. I only want to check your address so that I can send in your NOC

Me : but suresh, can you not tell me why.. ( I get cut short)

Suresh : I am telling you that it is  not my department and I am not concerned.

Me : Suresh, I am your customer. You can have the basic courtesy of talking to me in a decent way.

Suresh : I know you are a customer . I am not in charge of the department , and I can’t help.

Me ( I get irritated) : Suresh, basic rule of customer service is to listen to what your customer has to say. I am in a services business industry … ( I get cut short this time)

Suresh  ( he starts reading out my address  without even letting me finish my sentence) : is that where I should mail your noc ?

Me :  yes

did you notice the negatives in the conversation ? “Don’t” , “cant” ?

Now,ICICI claims to be the 2nd largest bank in India. Second only to SBI !

But t if it was really that great in terms of revenue and all that jazz, how come I was treated so bad? How come the customer service ( front end ) guy dint have the basic courtesy of not having the patience to listen to me ? How humiliated did I feel when I was cut short in trying explaining my problem ?

Why should I conduct my business with a bank like this ? Why would anybody want to have any relationship with a bank like this ? Or is this an isolated case ?

I work for a company which has a very long standing with ICICI bank . I am supposed to get ICICI savings account opened next month. That is not going to happen .

I have no intention of having any sort of relationship with ICICI and instead will continue using Axis account and open a new account with any of PSB’s .

If ever a marketing guy of ICICI reads my post , I request him to make sure that  another customer like me should never be treated and humiliated in a similar manner.

I also came across Arjun’s blog ICICI Bank – bad experience for many also , Vijay Padiyar’s blog reflects a similar experience in ICICI Direct Pathetic Customer Service .

It does stop here . A cursry search on the term : icici bad experience , throws out alarming blogs and forums on how bad banking with ICICI is :

Life is Like this

Hindustan Network forum

Bad experience with ICICI bank Credit card – this is from Indian consumer complaints forum

Anita Bora’s blog : Where is the customer service – Trouble with ICICI bank

Arjun Prabu;s blog ICICI bank- Bad experience for many

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 !

Big Retail Store Vs Mom-Pop store – who wins?

27 Dec

Here is a reason why mom and pop stores are gonna to stay for a long time to come in India.

Was getting back home around 10 pm today.

There is a Heritage Fresh retail store near to my house. I always stop by to pick a Tropicana juice pack before i head home . Usually i get there before or by 10 pm . Today, I got late and reached there around 10.10 pm. The shop was not yet closed. But they were putting out the lights. I stop there and explain , ” Sorry I got late. Can i just pick up the juice ?” .

The guy at the store says , ” Sorry we are closed. Billing is closed” .

I was like , ” what the hell are you talking about ? the shop is not yet closed. the shutters are not down( The bugger  knows that i am aregular customer to his shop. I have been coming here everyday for the past 6-8 months to pick up juice pack) Why cant you just  go in there and get me the Rs 18 juice pack .”

But he wouldn’t budge. He put his foot down and refused to get me the juice pack.

I was determined to get my juice today. I went in search of another retail store. I found most the big retail stores closed. Spencer Daily was closed. Daily Life was closed. But …

But, the small shops were open. I zeroed in on a shop named ” Anna Stores” . Not a sophisticated  shop at all. He sells stuff across the counter. And guess what ? He  has almost everything you would need for day to day household purposes.

He was about to shut the store. It was already close to 10.25 pm. The shutters were  down halfway and he was checking if lights were all switched off.

He saw me approaching his shop, gave me a nice smile and asked , ” enna vennum , sir?” ( what do you want sir?)

I dint get my tropicana juice pack. He dint have stock. I got Appy Fizz drink instead. Not exactly the  juice I would like to drink before I hit bet. It cost me Rs 25. Why did I buy it ? Because , this guy took the time out to re open the shop , just for me, and offered to sell the stuff I wanted. Even before he re opened the shop I told him that I needed the Tropicana. He knew he dint have stock and yet he said , ” I will check and see if I can give you something else” .

He apologetically added , ” I usually keep 2-4 juice packs for my regular customers. But today i dont have stock. Come tomorrow I will keep one extra for you.”

I beamed …..

See ..  The Big Deal is – I was not his regular customer. Rs 25 was not going to set his cash register ringing to a bounty. He could have as well said no to my face and got back home to see his family after a hard day at work. Instead, he knew more about customer service than a professionally managed “hi-funda” retail store like – Fresh.

Now, why did that mom and pop shop owner go about his way to help me out ?

Where do you think I would go tomorrow to get my juice pack, my next soap,Gillette,Maggi noodle purchase?