Tag Archives: management

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

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 !

We almost missed the Health Care : KPMG-CII report

26 Dec

We did .. dint we ?

So here is Big Question – How many of you guys read the India Health Care marketing report released by KPMG ?

No , I am not talking about the press article on the relase of such a report . I am talking about reading the actuall report. I bet , you haven .. All busy with your own life – job, family, gf, bf .. all that stuff..

But you should have ..

Why ?

First check if you have a good health care insurace. If you dont , then may i suggest you get it immediately .. ASAP .. check Star Health Life  Insurance or Apollo DKV, LIC  or better still, pick Outlook Money mag and they have some good info to help you chose . Recession or no recession. That is no excuse for not getting a well covered health insurance policy.

You dont need a more better reason than that .. like duh! … It is your health in question here ..

But, here is the Big Idea :  you should know where India stands in the Health Care sector. If not for humanitarian reason,  why not look at it with a corporate eye ? Health Care in India is a un-organized sector . But here is the catch. It is more lucrative than than next-big-thing Retail Sector which hogs the media floodlights almost everyday .

why arent we more concerened on health sector as much as we care about retail boom in the horizon?

Dont ever forget that following sectors are completely recession proof , any day :

  • Health Care/Hospital Management
  • Integrated PR
  • Doctor
  • Education ( this includes teaching)

It would do us good if we can help in anyway to do something for the health care sector in India . You may be a IAS officer, a marketing professional, PR specialist , web designer.. any profession. Just do your bit ..

See ya around ..

Meanwhile , read the report here :

Health Insurance Inc, The Road Ahead – 2008

News report here :

Health Insurance Inc- The Road Ahead KPMG – CII report

Will write more on Health Care management soon


How the Rs 10 soup selling gal gets its right and Satyam doesn’t on customer service

19 Dec

The race to MBA degree is mind boggling. In India especially, it is craze sometimes rivaled only to cricket. You can see it for yourself the hordes of mba wanna- be’s and the media coverage peak during the Nov-Jan season every year. What a spectacle to watch . Almost every magazine worth its salt come out with b-school suvery giving a list a top 50 colleges “you should study at ” . Some even bring out a separate book to cash in on the boom. And, hey .. don’t count me out.. I am in the race too .

A degree in MBA teaches you to understand cash flow statements, how to come up with great marketing ideas and all that jazz. But I wonder how did Shankari ,a 1 st year B.com student from a low rung women college get great ideas on marketing and customer service.

Let me give you the story first .

I love soup and for having that one or two cups of it  I go all the way to Ananna Nagar park where this guy sells really mouth watering , pipping hot soup ( completely natural ) at Rs 6 per cup. He has good stuff. You have to give him that credit !

These days( 3 months approx) ,  I drink soup from one of the Fresh retail outlets i visit. The soup is sold in small kiosks at Rs 10 per cup. You would have seen similar kiosks selling sweet corns and popcorn’s at a retail store near to your house. Small enterprising men/women take franchise contracts from the company which sells these products , then pay rent to the retail store and put up a kiosk outside and sell it. Great business idea . Has the ideal ingredient of entrepreneurship, job and wealth creation and good products to customers at affordable rates.

Now, getting back to the story . Shankari is a 1st year student studying for B.com at W omen’s College. She sits at the kiosk every evening with a book in hand selling Rs. 1o per cup soups. I have options to chose as well – Tomato, Plantain, Mushroom, Vegetable. For reasons unknown to myself I always buy Plantain or Mushroom. I knew what I was  buying but never gave it much thought to it. I just go up ask  , say , Monday it is plantain soup , Tuesday it is Mushroom. It is cyclic.Till the day – about  3 weeks back – shankari popped the question at me , ” Sir, why do you always buy Mushroom and Plantain soup, why don’t you ever try Tomato and Vegetable?” …

I dint know what to tell her. I muttered and gave some lame answer about my preference for mushroom and not liking tomato taste and stuff.. the next question caught me by surprise.

“Sir , other than mushroom and plantain, what other variety you like ?” ..

I gave her my options. And then asked what is she gonna do about it . She said , ” I will ask my brother to check if the company can give us the soup of your choice” ..

That bowled me out completely . Why did she bother to find out what my taste are ? why didn’t she just sell the soup at Rs 10 and continue to sit and study with that book in her hand ? why ? why ?

Normally, unless you pack it to your house, one drinks the soup standing there right next to Kiosk. There are 2 advantages to it – One , the soup remains hot and two you get extra corn as second helpings. I love the corn which comes with the soup , so I stand there and finish the soup then drop it in the dustbin and go back home.

That day,  while I was standing there drinking the soup ( I was drinking vegetable soup with lots of pepper. I had cold and shankari said drinking that soup with lots of pepper helps) she was asking the same question to lts of other customers of hers. Not every one. But a lot of them . Similar questions . In her own ingenious way she was conducting a survey. Maybe she realized what she was doing . Maybe she dint. That is not the point. She was proactive. She tried to understand her customer.

Later when i asked why she only asked the questions to a select few customers , she replies , ” They are my regular customers” ..

I felt privileged that day to  be a customer of hers.

Her brother has taken the franchise contract from the parent company. While she sits at the fresh outlet , her bro is doing the same thing some other part of the city.

I wonder if  she had read any of those management books? did  she read “The New Age of Innovation: Driving C0-Created Value through Global Networks” by C.K Prahalad on how to serve customized products to a customer in a collaborative environment with the N=1 , R= G rule ? How did she get this idea what a Univerity of Michigan Author did after much research ?

By the way, The New Age of Innovation has made it to the top 12 books on innovation given out by Business Week.

Read it here :  Best Innovation & Design Books 2008

But how come Stayam Computers dint get it right ?

The big fiasco of merger/buying Mayatas infra and properties which caused ripple of appalling magnitude among the investors across the table is there for everyone to see.

I read somewhere that the ISB’s dean was also part of the board which took the decision to buy out the two companies ( run by Ramalinga raju son’s). I am no authority to question the merit of the proposed buyout. Nor am I an investor. As a rule i don’t directly invest in Sensex. No speculative, sentiment prone gambling for me..No Sir.

But what I would like to know is how come such highly educated ,the creme-la-de creme managers and CEO and CFO of the company dint have the inclination to ask its investors and clients their opinion before taking such a decision? How come the MBA’s of IIM and MDI and blah blah dint know the tenets of customer service when such a proposal was mooted in the first place?

But man, what a PR and Corp Comm nightmare they should be having right now ? I cant but feel sorry for the guy who is handling the company’s PR account. He must be literally running pillar to post to get things “done” . The green horns must be having a great time in learning the art of crisis management. what better case study can they get .. ?

By the way , I loved the new Idea Cellular ad . About asking the people first before taking a political decision. The creative guy and the copywriter deserve full marks for the new ad . The previous ads were highly creative but not practical . The new one is very creative, very practical and got the execution right . kool Ad huh ?

IBM has a great caption going for its print ads – “STOP selling what you have and Start selling what they want”. Now, they get it .. Bingo ..

You get the drift ?


UGC Grants Commission ( Public Notice )

17 Dec

In case you have missed /dont read Employment News then here is an important press release which you ought to be aware of .

In the interest of the  public and students I ask you to either pass on this blog post or inform them about this notice. I counldnt find the  link for the article online so I am quoting it here as give out by U.G.G 

 

” It is hereby informed to the public at large and students that Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), New Delhi is not a university withing the meaning of Section 2 (f) of UGC Act 1956,. Further as per Section 22 of the U.G.C Act 1956, the IIPM, New Delhi does not have the right of conferring of granting degrees as specified by the U.G.C Section 22(3) of U.G.C Act.”

The article then goes on to inform the students that the universities established by a Central Act or a State Act or an Institution deemed to be a univeristy under Section 3 of the university Grnats Commission  Act can confer or grant only those degrees which are specifiied by the U.G.C  Act,1956.

The list of degree can be found in this website U.G.C

If you know anyone – friend, son, relative – just about anybody , ask them to think twice before applying for IIPM

 

I will share my thoughts on this issue in my next blog. Meanwhile, you can read :

The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) advertising controversy

IIPM: Tall Claims

what creativity should be…

5 Dec

Read a very interesting anecdote in one of the leading newspapers today which got me cracking .

Let’s see the anecdote first:
Back in the 1960’s American space agency NASA was faced with a major dilemma. Astronauts needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. NASA got cracking into developing the $1.5 million gravity-immune “astronaut pen”. At the same time, the Russians too were faced with same dilemma. However, they used a pencil instead! The lesson is a valid one. Anyone can have a creative idea, but if it comes at the cost of simplicity and common sense, it probably isn’t as creative as it seems.
Fantastic, isn’t it? The anecdote got my juices up and running first thing, early morning.

I don’t care if you are a product manager (like me) , advertiser, brand marketer, sales head or just about any of those fancy titles you hold (there are dime a dozen available in the English Lang lexicon thickets) in your current job. Let us get the idea straight to our head point blank. If u have a product out there in the market or an idea churning in your head which you want to put in play, always (I cannot say enough of this one)… always put your customer first. Your customer can be from any vertical or any parameter but things are beautiful when they are simple, straight and easy to understand. If you don’t have that, you have lost the war (not just the battle) in the game.
Any product you launch in the market should have these elements in place:

  • Great UI : retailer can call this visual merchandising.
  • Easy navigation : your customer should be able to use your product without checking the user manual continuously.
  • Relevant content: you better get your target defined or else, as the old adage goes, if you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there. So, identity your audience, define him, and then deliver what he needs (exactly what he needs to see, read, hear) . The brand has to penetrate him in all the six senses he has. So, your content should be topnotch.
  • Easy accessibility (what you call customer service): your customer should know how to reach you and he should be able to do that fast. Call it support team, feedback team, customer backup, client servicing etc… The point is simple- keep your customer happy and satisfied and he will bring you more.

This is not an all inclusive list but these are the basic points you need to cover . feel free to drop in your points, ideas and opinions here!