Entrepreneurship

Customer Centered Selling 3

Always have the customers decision cycle in mind. The process of persuasion can be extremely powerful tool.

Selling is taking an idea, planting that idea in your customer and making them believe that they thought of it.

Salesman ship is essentially the selling of ones point of view – the ability to start with other fellow point of view and to lead view and to lead his mind to the view point of the seller.

The selling cycle has the following steps.

1) Research Stage.

2) Analysis Stage

3) Confirmation stage

4) Requirement stage

5) Specification Stage

6) Solution stage

7) Close stage

8) Maintenance stage

RESEARCH

Taking time to understand about the customers world is not just good business. It is essential to do business today.

Here, the first thing to ensure is to find out of the person with whom you are taking is the person who makes the decision. Asking like, Who besides you make decision for purchase..?

After colliding at the right person, ensure you make the customer to speak more. That is the only way to win trust. So ask question like

Tell me how your office works..??

Then never ask customers if the are facing any problems explicitly. Since, people knowing that you are coming to sale they dodege you around. The way to ask would

What are the challenges you are facing?

Then play to your strengths. Say if you’re company is strong in services..ask a question like How often the machine is serviced?

At the end of the conversation always ask.. ‘Anything Else??’

ANALYSIS STAGE:

Always remember,

Customers do not fix problems, they fix big problems

You need to probe into the customers mind and make him tell his problems that he has with current system/product. There are three probes

1. Identify probe. 2. Development probe 3. Impact probe.

Identify

– What kind of difficulties are faced in Services?

Development

– How are you managing this?

– What does your employee say??

– Who else is affected

Impact

– How does it affect your over all business

CONFIRMATION

Ask here itself if the customer is willing to CHANGE. There is no point in explaining things to a customer who is not willing to change anyway i.e the customer not in the need to buy what you sell.

REQUIREMENT

– List down the needs said by the customer and prioritize it.

SPECIFICATION

Say if the customer has said that he needs better services. Ask him how does he define better services as?

SOLUTION

Put your product knowledge to display

CLOSING STAGE

– Ask for payment

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Entrepreneurship

Customer Centered Selling – Part II

Because of the wrong training sales people  talk way too much and listen way too little. In the name of training sales people are put through information and more information about products and are then asked to vomit all those in front of a customer. There could be no deadly sin than this in sales.

To give you an example, a sales guy called me for selling a ticket for a event. He asked my name and went rattling about the event. He said what the event is about, who is going to come, how big it is going to be and blah blah blah…never did he ask me if this event would be of any interest to me. After completing all his rattling about the event, he simply asked how many tickets I would need. I coolly said, I need none. No wonder why most sales people fail.

In Customer Based Selling you are taught to PERSUADE customers from moving from one decision point to another and persuade them into buying. This happens with the important point that Customer do not make decisions based on needs. They make decisions based on problems.

In Customer Based Selling first we need to realize where the customer is based on the Decision Point.

For example, consider the following statements with respect to buying a mobile.

  • a) You feel its perfect.
  • b) You feel its perfect but not good enough
  • c) Fed up. But still willing to put up with it.
  • d) Actively looking for new ones.
  • e) TREAT – Brought a new.

As you see, it is easy to sell to the customer who is in ‘d’ stage. And it would be very difficult to sell to a customer who is in ‘a’ stage. But the issue is only 20% of the customers would be in ‘d’ stage. And if you are a sales man who is only in order-taking mode then you end up in Price-war.

On the other hand influencing the other 80% of the customers who are not in mood of buying but persuading them step by step opens up a new world of opportunities.

The ways to Persuade the customer, will be said in the next post.

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Entrepreneurship

Customer Centered Selling – PART 1

Selling happens to be one of the most betrayed professions. Simply because people think sellers as the one who speaks deceptively and manipulates price. But, the truth is selling is an ART. More important truth is that there is no occupation that does not require selling skills.

Today people think that they could become efficient sellers by using some computer or technology. But if you would look closely into best sellers you would find that ‘ People sold – and they sold because based on who they were not how computer literate they were’. The point is that one cannot become a best seller just by depending on computer or technology. But by depending on a skill.   The best way to learn selling is by learning a good technique and practicing it and mastering it.

Through customer centered selling process you would find that customers go through a REPEATABLE , PREDICTABLE process when they make a decision to commit to change or buy. This repeatable and predictable process is what we call is as Customers decision cycle. The key concept is to try and understand where your customers are in their decision cycle and assist them in moving them through a decision. [This process cannot be applied for decisions involving less than Rs.1000.]

The best way to learn customer decision cycle is to analyze our own decision cycle, when we intend to buy something. Try answering the following questions relating to last time you purchased a mobile phone?

1. What mobile were you using?
2. What were the stuffs you did not like about it?
3. What were you looking for in a new mobile?
4. When did you realize that your old mobile was less than perfect
5. When did you start seriously looking for a mobile phone?
6. When did you actually buy the mobile?
7. What other mobile you considered for buying?
8. Where did you get the information
9. Given another change would you take the same decision?

Answer all those questions and think you would find that customers go through the following cycle before purchasing any product

1. Satisfied – Customers are satisfied with what they have.
2. Acknowledge – Customers sense and acknowledge that they have some issues with the product they have.
3. Decision – Then they decide to look for alternatives.
4. Criteria – Then they set the condition/features of the product
5. Measure – Customers define his criteria list
6. Investigae – Comparing solutions
7. Selection – Then they select the best one that satisfies their problem
8. Reconsider – Then he re-evaluates his decision.

Here is the secret sause for selling – People do not make decisions based on needs; they make decisions based on problems. The bigger the problem, the bigger the need. The bigger the need, the more the customers are willing to pay.

There are usually three decision points what customers go through

  1. Should I fix this or not?
  2. What am I gonna fix?
  3. From where am gonna get it?

In the next post I shall post on the essence of Customer Centered Selling.

[ Courtesy : Customer Centered Selling by Robert L Jolles]

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Entrepreneurship

Are social media marketing, CRM necessary for survival of buiness at al??

Today, we are living in the age of social media and mobile revolution. This has given rise to the new age business gurus who champion the cause of social media marketing, CRM etc and advocate why your business should be on Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Youtube et al and why you should do this and why you should do that for the customer etc. Some even go on to say, that your business would get boomed if you would follow their advice or else you would be doomed. And business houses in turn employ such new age business gurus to create lasting relationship with their customers and to engage with their customers and then completely FUCK OFF their customers. Well, read on to see how companies torment their customers.

A year back, I went to buy a jean in a particular branded show room in chennai. After selecting the product, I asked it to be billed. Then the customer service in there requested my name, phone number, date of birth et al saying that by becoming a member, I would get x percentage discount, special this and that blah…blah..blah..So I obliged, and gave them the necessary information they requested. And then got my item billed. Reaching home, I got a SMS from this branded store saying, “Thank you Tamas for buying our jeans”. Well, ‘Thomas’  became ‘Tamas’ for them. ‘ Since then, I am being bombarded with SMS’s, emails etc wishing me on my b’days, christmas and new year and what not??   This has completely annoyed me in such a way that, today I have gone skeptical of providing my co-ordinates to any kind of brand, whatsoever!!

Bereft of this stupid execution,  do you still believe that business houses should be on facebook, send SMS & emails and engage with customers in order to survive today’s market?? Reallly??

Well FYI, there is a kind of a famous shop in Tamil Nadu whose owner doesn’t bother to do any of these things.  Well, the shop doesn’t even have light and it docent even have a name board. Worse, it is just open for only two hours in a day. But the beauty is that the customers would stand in serpentile queue for buying its products. The more amazing thing is that, this is how it is being run for the past 30 years or so.  Well, the name of the shop is ‘irutu kadai halwa’ which is in Tirunelveli. The point is, they make delicious-delicious halwa which they can only do it. They have never tried to make their shop big or add more products in to their product line. They have religiously given everything into making delicious halwa and the result is that the customer line has got bigger and their stock would get over within hours of opening their shop. Do you think that this business need to be in Social Media or do CRM to survive?? Really??

So the lesson is –  Your Product is King. The rest are just costs.

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Entrepreneurship

Shoe shop mentality

Loved this video presentation by Ram Charam

1. Cash generation
2. Profit Margin
3. Velocity/Volume
4. Growth
5. Customer focused

A business would succeed if an entrepreneur can answer these three questions
1. What is the money making model of the business?
2. How does your team contribute to the money making model?
3. Does every one in your team know the answer for the first two questions?

Do you wanna build up a successful enterprise? Then have shop-keepers mentality.

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Entrepreneurship

From Idea To Company

Well,  initially during ma college dayz when entrepreneurial bug bit me… I was of the thought that to build a great company you need to build a great product. I was found of the software industry and was wowed by the biggies like d Microsoft, Google etc. And so all ma thoughts, desire, ambition, yearning and zeal was 2 come out with a generational next software that would Wow the world and make me d poster boy of the media and would goi all the way to become one of the big entrepreneur of the twentieth century. But sadly nothing happened and you would know why.

But now after some hard patches of ma life I do have learnt that you need not have a game changing, revolutionizing product to start a company. All you need is to have invented identified  a problem for which there are customers who would be willing to pay and all d more it is possible for you to offer the best solution.

Many have great ideas but only few own great businesses. Because the journey of taking an idea to a big business is difficult and challenging. Only few can do it. Robert kiowski has given a simple framework called as BI triangle for running/starting a business in his book Rich Dad guide to investing.

Here I have summarized and blogged on the BI triangle.

MISSION :

The first important thing a business needs is MISSION. Because if you don’t stand for anything,  you will fall for everything. And, ideally a business should have two missions. One is a SOCIAL MISSION and the other is BUSINESS MISSION.

To start and run a business, one needs to do a lot of sacrifices and moreover business do undergo testing times now and then. And especially, during the initial years a business can survive only by entrepreneurs passion. And so, to provide the needed drive, enthusiasm and fire to run the business  during those testing times,  social mission is very important as money alone cannot  provide the needed drive.

But having a social mission alone will not pave the way for creating a big enterprise. A clear cut business mission like ‘To be come market leader in communications’ can set clear cut benchmarks to achieve. This would set the business in growth path which is essential for the very survival of the business itself.

TEAM :

Business is a  team sports. Entrepreneurs should not dream of owning a boat or a plane instead they should dream of owning a team of accountants, attorneys and bank managers. A well managed business will have excellent employees,  specialists and entrepreneurs  who would work along side employees and specialists to double the investors money. And remember MONEY FOLLOWS THE MANAGEMENT and not the otherwise.

LEADERSHIP:

Here, Robert says that the entrepreneur must have good leadership skills. He says that Leaders job is to bring out the best in people and be the best person. And also suggests that to gain leadership skills one must volunteer more. A good business man will rely on the advise of the advisers and his team members to help him do well in the business.

But here I would like to twist it a bit. I look Leadership as the need to have a mentor on board for the success of the business. Especially start-ups. Having mentors would save lot of energy in identifying the right path for the success of the company.

CASHFLOW MANAGEMENT :

Cash flow management is the fundamental and essential skill for Entrepreneurs. Most business fail because business owners are not financially literate. Many business fail because people do not understand the difference between profit and cash flow.

Some of the general cash flow tips

1. If you are a start-up delay taking in salary until your business is generating cash flow from sales.
2. Invoice your customers quickly upon shipment of goods.
3. Establish minimum dollar amount for orders before granting credit.
4. Establish late payment penalties.
5. Make sure you pay your bills promptly.
6. Keep your overhead costs minimum.
7. Have  a investment plan for cash on hand.
8. Establish a line of credit with your bank.

The ability to run a business from financial statements is one of the
primary differences between small business owners and big business
owners.

COMMUNICATIONS MANAGEMENT ;

The better at communicating you are and the more people you communicate to, the better your cash flow will be. To be good at communications, you first need to be good at human psychology. Because just something excites you does not mean it makes others excited. The world is filled with fabulous products but the money goes to the best communications. Cash flowing into the business is directly proportional to the cash flowing out of the business. An entrepreneur must learn the following skills

1. Sales
2. Marketing systems
3. Advertising, headlines and copy writing
4. Negotiations
5. Public speaking
6. Direct mail advertising
7. Running a seminar
8. Raising capital

Moreover, marketing is what differentiates between small business and big enterprises. Its important to know that if you have convincing marketing, generating  sales will be easy . To know more about marketing read Purple cow by Seth Godin.

In conclusion, communication is a subject worthy of lifelong study because there is more to communication than just speaking, writing, dressing and demonstrating.

SYSTEM MANAGEMENT :

The human body is made up of systems. So is a business. Every business big or small needs to have system in place. Some of the possible systems are

1. Daily office operating s/m
2. Product development s/m
3. Manufacturing/Inventory s/m
4. Order processing s/m
5. Billing and accounts receivables
6. Customer Service
7. Accounts payable s/m
8. Marketing s/m
9. HR s/m
10. General Accouting s/m
11.General corporate s/m

LEGAL MANAGEMENT

Today, especially in the information age your intellectual property attorney and contract attorney are some of your most important advisers because they help create your most important assets. These attorneys will protect your ideas and agreements. Many a business has been started and has survived by a simple piece of paper. One legal document can be the seed of your business.

Not alone that, there would be times when clients wont  pay after getting the required service. To safeguard your business from those situations, a small piece of legal agreement is all that is needed.

PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

The company’s product/service which the customer uses ultimately is the last important aspect of the BI triangle. Product/service is the least important piece to inspect when evaluating a business. Having a great innovate product or service is NOT important,  the system behind that product/service is what is the most important part of the business.

A business with a defined mission, a determined leader and a
qualified and unified team begins to take the shape of BI triangle.
A business run with honesty and sincerity when built on the
principles of BI triangle will become complete, whole and sound.

To know more about BI triangle read Rich Dad guide to Investing by Robert Kiyosaki.

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Entrepreneurship

The book that I read ‘Every Business is a growth business’

Vanakkam 2011<DOT>!!

  • I say very ‘happy new year’ to our friends A.Raja, Kalmadi, Lalit Modi, Nira Radia because of whom we had JALSA WITH SOME JILPA in 2010.
  • I say even ENTHIRAN did not entertain us to the level these people entertained us. More the budget more entertaining it was.
  • I say All dese kame to light bcause GOD Arnab Goswami only knows.
  • I wish every one a happy and prosperous new year and lets hope for a clean and green 2011.

Guys!! herewith,  I have decided to share whatever I learn and whatever book I read, in this blog. So in this post I would share about what I learnt from reading the book ‘Every business is a growth business‘.

Before diving into dat, let me tell how I picked this book. While shopping for book, I made up ma mind to pick a Harvard review book and this book’s front cover looked as same as harvard review book. Without giving any second thought I picked it. Reaching home I saw that this book was not by published by harvard review and was quiet disappointed. But anyway I started reading it…………………………… And here I am gonna share WHAT I LEARN’T FROM IT AND NOT REVIEW IT . But, anyway I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Here we go……………………….

The book starts by illustrating a business turn around that happened in Coca-Cola. The company Coca-Cola was in bad shape as the US soft drink market became mature and further growth became impossible. And the game was to gain a percent of market share by reducing the cost which affected the profit. It was in this condition a new CEO Roberto Goizueta took over the reins of Coca-Cola. What Roberto Goizueta saw was that the seniour managers in Coca Cola were too much focused on the question of WHAT IS OUR MARKET SHARE OF US COLA MARKET?‘ and were butting their heads to gain few percent of market share. Seeing this Goizueta asked them what is the average per capita consumption of fluids by worlds 1.4 billion people? 64 ounces came the reply. Then he asked them what is the daily per capita consumtion of Coca-Cola? Less than 2 ouncess came the reply. And finally he asked them ‘WHAT IS MARKET SHARE OF THE STOMACH?‘. This completely changed the psychology of the people in Coca-Cola. They stopped worrying about loosing more market share and instead focussed on winning more market. This illustration clearly sets the tone of the book ‘Every business is a growth business.’

But my question is, Is all growth good growth? Because I know about the Subhiksha story. In 2007 they had approximately 300 shops across India. And in the end of 2008 they increased it to 700 and they where retailing everything under the sun from mobiles to flowers. It grew without any focus and grew out of its pocket which resulted in the closing down of the company. Also there is a very famous saying in the business world that ‘ GM makes everything under the sun, but it dosent make money ‘. So, now how should the growth must be. Here in this book Ram charan explains that a company that focuses on growth growth growth eventually fails. The focus should be on Liquidity, Profitability and Growth. And there are two essential things for successful growth.

  • Good corporate value system
  • Operational excellence.

Without these two one should never think about growth. Good growth is profitable and sustainable whereas bad growth is profitless, wasteful of capital and even reckless. The book then explains on how growth should be be acheived. To achieve Growth there are two important things.

  • Leader
  • Strategy

LEADER

Growth is mentally created by company’s leadership. In the above Coca-Cola case study one could find that, it was Goizueta who beleived and initiated the growth. Book explains that Good leaders posses their own teachable point of view like Goizueta’s market share of the stomach. The teachable point of view must posses 1. Ideas 2. Values 3. Emotional Energy and 4. Edge.

STRATERGY

After this comes the strategy for growth. Growth is a creative game. Growth requires curiosity, imagination, and emotional energy. Being so, if people lock themselves up in a room and come up with innovative products 9 out of 10 time its gonna fail. Growth has to be outside in and not inside out. A sustainable growth strategy starts with understanding the difference between what you make and what people need. And this is what often tends NOT to be the same thing.

Towards the end of the book, Ram Charan provides various tools to strategize and execute growth.

In short this is what d book says :

 1. There is no such thing as a mature business
 2. Not all growth is good
 3. Growth is mentally created by company's leadership
 4. Balanced growth is the key to prosperity
 5. Growing is less risky than not growing

I learnt from dis book that profits can be increased easily through GROWTH than through cost cutting.

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