Book Review: ‘Sell’ By Subroto Bagchi

“To sell is human”. But I used to hate sales and sales guys; because their commitments to customers have caused me and my team spend days and nights in the office working like crazy. Now learning and doing sales myself, I understand the importance of this profession and what it is NOT about.And what sales guys in my previous organizations were missing in their approach. And what we need to improve as a team on the sales front at qilo.

Copywriters Hachette, India
Copywriters Hachette, India

Read this book, if you are able to correlate with my challenges.

Who should read this book: The book will help people who want to improve their understanding of the B2B sales, specifically about technology B2B sales. This book will be more beneficial if you have been involved in sales function from few months, but looking for understanding it more from the perspective of

  • How to improve your prospecting, funnel management and sales process,
  • Importance of consultative approach in B2B sales,
  • EQ management in sales,
  • Impact of your company culture on your sales.

This book is not for: This book is not for people who are specifically looking for a manual or how-to guide on understanding and improving your sales process. But then you only need nuggets from the master like Subroto to tell you what is going wrong in your sales process or what you are missing in your approach.

My learning from this book:-

  • Best sales people never give-up on follow-up’s & having conversations. And in you are an introvert like me and lacks the ability to have conversations, you will have a tough time initially in the sales job. Read a-lot on different topics, about your prospect and what’s happening in the world in general. And slowly you may learn the art of sales.
  • Don’t take rejections at heart. You will get plenty of that in your sales life.
  • Your funnel size decides your conversion rates.
  • As a salesperson, you need to be good at understanding people and what makes them successful.
  • The best line of the book is “The prospecting process has changed. Your future customers are already doing prospecting about you and your company“. Read the book to understand this in detail.
  • There is a thin line between selling and helping the customer find a solution. The minute you sell, your prospect goes to the shell of not sharing their problems and challenges. People like to buy the things rather than being sold the things.
  • Be yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously. Customers want to buy from people who are genuine and comfortable being themselves.
  • The best read is when Subroto shares story “The Naked Burger” when he attended the Apple sales conference. I will buy this book again just to read this chapter.
  • Never ever lose hope while making a deal. But you should have a strong belief in your product and its value, if you don’t have, don’t sell it.
  • We may be living in a digital world with bots and AI, but people still buy from people. Simply quoting data and facts will not appeal to your customer. Humans are beings. Connect to a being to allow your customer to open up. Best line “Authenticity is in short; hence in demand”.
  • Another gem in this book is this chapter “DO IT LIKE SWEDES”. It talks about how progressive companies around the world are embracing the different set of behaviours to influence their organizational culture. Customers want to buy products & services with a certain culture at its core.
  • To build a successful profitable organization, it’s not enough to win few wars (customers). You have to do it for many years to come without excreting yourself. A successful salesperson learns to be effortless by planning well, choosing their turf wisely and prepare themselves to play a long game.

There are only few books on B2B technology sales. And specifically from those who have done sales, and that too large deal sales. It’s definitely worth a read without much heavy weight jargon.

Blitzscaling 15: Diane Greene of VMware on Scaling Product & Culture

This is my 12th  blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling sessions. In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University.Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. And its also about why organization culture is important for Blitzscaling. Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

The previous blog related to Blitzscaling is here.

Diane Greene was a founder and the CEO of VMware from 1998 until 2008. Currently is senior vice president for Google’s cloud businesses. VMWare was the pioneer and the first successful company to provide software that can enhance the utilization of computer resources, called Virtualization.

  1. Organization culture is important when you scale your organization. And people whom you hire should be aligned with the organization culture.
  2. Help your people to leave if they are not culturally fit for your company. One way to check that is giving them the opportunity to be part of critical conversations early on and see if they are able to match with energies of people
  3. Hire ex-military people if you like them, as they are far more disciplined in their approach towards work
  4. How to bring discipline and reduce chaos in teams: Ask each team members of yours to share what’s going on in their teams by Sunday night. And as a manager, highlight what is important, collate all the notes and share it with everyone in the team.
  5. You can share the same notes with new hires so that they come to know what kind of things are going on in the team.
  6.  It is founder and leadership responsibility to put up a plan on how the team and individuals in the company should communicate with each other.
  7. When establishing your partner network, the strategy is NOT to give special preference to any one of them.
  8. If your salespeople are not giving results, its either you have a bad product market fit or your salespeople are NOT able to perform or messaging is NOT right.
  9. If you have a complex technical product to sell, put a team of 3 people in sales chasing same numbers. These 3 guys will be:
    1.  A guy, who is trying to sell product on phone
    2. A guy who is going & meeting clients and explaining things to customers from technical perspective(also called as solution’s guy)
    3.  And the third guy, who will be closing the deal. All these 3 guys should be chasing the same numbers.
  10. Establishing a partner network will act as your another direct sales channel, but make sure you have a win-win model with them. At VMWare, channel sales partners which are hardware vendors like HP & Bell, every VMware solution they sold, it leads to more hardware sales for extra storage and extra servers.
  11. To create a high-performance culture, hire people who are self-driven at all the levels in all the roles. Self-driven people who set high-expectations from themselves have high expectations from their team too.
  12. Appreciate the behaviors showcased by employees which as a founder you want them to display
  13. An advantage of under promise and overdeliver is not just it gives customers WOW, but also you decide your own pace.
  14. Best advice: “As CEO’s you never overcommunicate”

The ABC of Performance

 

winning

Ram Charan wrote in his book execution – the future companies are the ones who will execute well in Strategy, People, and Operations. While strategy and operations are very well defined the challenge has always been in the crucial link “people” – aligning them is the key to organizational success.

Performance Management is a subject where sometimes process’ overwrite people and culture. And somehow we create an environment wherein performance of an individual is judged like a Miss Universe pageant, where you are asked the most clichéd question – why should you be the miss universe and the participants compete how they posses superpowers to heal the world.

 

With so much cacophony around performance management – at qilo we call it performance enablement, the organizations have to first create an ecosystem for an individual to perform and we call it performance ABC driving attitudes, behaviors, and capability.

 

Even if you have best your strategy and process’ in place if your people do not have the right attitude display the right behaviors and are capable to execute their role – growth will never happen.

 

I have heard a lot of leaders talking about lack of readiness in their organization – actually it’s not readiness its fear of change and fuzzy vision of future.

 

So what should be done? My learning so far.

 

1)   Question the design of the performance management framework – it is meant to build leaderboards or create an ecosystem for people to perform

2)   Keep it simple – Business imperatives (strategic) next the role I play in achieving them and how I am doing it

3)   Pay for potential – Build the team that will take you to achieve success in future or lives in the past glory?

4)   Feedback – Tell me how can I improve and do my job better now! Not when I have done it

5)   One size does not fit all – Try to make your performance design align to people, not a stiff upper lip

6)   It’s not a checklist – Do not run a process just for the heck of running it, define the core why you need to do it?

7)   Enroll people not force them into a process – enrollment has larger powers and drives accountability

8)   Start from the top – leaders have to walk the talk, there is simply no way out

9)   Highlight and showcase the positive behaviors even if they are low in numbers glorify them for others to see and follow

10) Make it transparent – there is nothing grey here – it should be either black or white

 

Bring the change now, if you don’t your competitor will.

 

Practical guide to identify and establish your organization culture

ROI of establishing a unique organizational culture is equal to ROI of gaining the intellectual capital. Think of it as you are able to discover a life-saving drug and you can capitalize on that for next 20 years.

The biggest problem is the understanding of what makes a culture. Culture is not about fun Friday’s, yoga sessions and allowing unlimited holidays.Here are the 7 recommendations that can enable you to identify and establish your organization culture.

1. Identify your core: this means answering questions like

  • What you want your customer to achieve?
  • What are the means of achieving your core?
  • What should be the outcome of achievement?

qilo coreCredits: balsamiq

We keep answering these questions within our team as we are evolving. I always thought and confused this exercise with “marketing”. It’s Vipul in our team who is always able to identify and guide us internally on identifying the core.“Identifying your core” will help you to define your purpose, short term & long term priorities.

2. Identify the habits and behaviors that will help you to achieve your core, short term & long term priorities. Identifying behaviors and habits is not an easy part. And there is no standard steps or process for this. But if you have answered the questions stated in “Identifying your core”, it will also help you to come up with those behaviors. You have to keep your customers in the center while identifying your expected behaviors.

3.Communication about your core and expected behaviors: Once you have identified your core and behaviors or on the path of identifying it, you have to communicate this with every single person in your company. You want people to inculcate those behaviors while they are achieving your organization priorities and while they are working in teams.At qilo, we are able to articulate in well after 2 year of our journey.

qilo values

4.Recognize your people when they showcase those behaviors: Once you have identified those behaviors, it’s imperative to recognize those people who showcase those behaviors. And do not link it with incentives, gift cards or bounce. Recognizing people is different from identifying an employee of the month because here frequency should not be the criteria. And make sure that the recognition is visible to the entire organization so that it can influence others on showcasing those behaviors

5.Keep evolving your core and expected behaviors: Nothing is constant in this world, not even your core and expected behaviors. They need to be evolved or changed based on the competitive landscape.

6.Define process on how your employees are evaluated: The way you evaluate your people is the way they will perform. Giving performance review is a very complicated and difficult business. And managers don’t do an especially good job at it. The fundamental purpose of performance reviews is to improve the person performance in future. The review process also represents the leadership thinking. Current practices of performance reviews are discovered in industrial age, its not apt for this digital age

7.Share customer feedback (bad for sure) and success stories constantly: Customers are the reasons your organization is surviving. What she thinks, feel and experience should be far more important than anything else. The feedback they are giving should not be just restricted to your customer facing team, but to people at large. It’s your customers who will at the end enable you to evolve you on your core, your expected behaviors from people, internal communication and how people are evaluated.

The concluding note: To identify and improve your culture, you have to think beyond chasing numbers and doing daily transactions. For a while get out of it and spend some time on this. Defining, evolving and fixing culture has helped many companies accelerate the growth, beat the competition and gain more market share. It’s not a theory and it works.

Are you game?

Power of intent

Intent

Dreams, Vision, Strategy and Plans, all fail…. if you do not have the right intent!

An intent is the most powerful thing in the universe. Before anything comes your intent. You need to be honest and genuine in declaring your intent and the universe will work towards it to make it happen.

While we all agree to the power of intent, the paradox is we do not follow the same, when we run our organizations.

Leaders have to announce their intent and ensure to make it loud. Once you do that, magic will happen – your teams will be connected with you. They will work collectively and purposefully in making your intent happen!

Leaders normally focus more on achievements, not on their intent – why are they doing what they are doing and most importantly, what is the intent?

Yesterday I was having a discussion with a CEO and his intent was to make substantial revenues to fund his social venture. And my question to him was has he announced this intent with the team? And the answer was no.

Intent sometimes gets mislead by vision, goals. Actually, it’s the statement you make to the universe at a consciousness level and if you are genuine and honest you will for sure unlock the power of the universe.

Sometimes our reasonable self-becomes our dominant personality. And we start putting logics, connecting the dots and overthinking. Actually, all we need to do is answer a simple question, what’s your intent?

Intent comes from your consciousness not from your brain and at that level you are the clearest and transparent.

With intent comes the purpose, which binds everyone together and everyone starts exhibiting ownership and accountability behaviours.

So, announce your intent to your team next when you speak and see the magic unfolds.

 

It’s Beyond Hari Saadoo

Who can forget Hari Saado of Naukri.com, it creatively stamped that people, don’t leave organisations, they leave their manager.

Leading research by Gallup. In one study of 7,272 U.S. adults, it found that 50 percent of employees left their job “to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.”

But there is another important dimension to this relationship, which is organisation performance. An individual’s performance has a high correlation with the relationship with one’s manager. Stronger the relationships, higher are the chances of achievement.

qilo’s research on work place culture nails leadership as the most critical dimension for a performance based work culture

Relationship with the manager is not of a buddy but of a coach or a leader. Empathy, Clarity of strategy, Communication, Teams Wellbeing, Technical skills, Acknowledgement, Trust and constructive feedback are some of the critical competencies required in a manager. And they form building blocks of the relationship

If these are lacking between manager and team members, your organisation is bound to be on a downhill.

Create a managerial effectiveness score – which is a factor of the leadership competencies, from the lenses of the team members. And this should be one of the Lead indicators for your business.

Low managerial effectiveness score leads to delayed performance achievement or low performance, conflicts, lack of creativity, accountability and most important low participation and belongingness.

For the leaders, it becomes imperative to gauge the depth of the iceberg. And incorporate this indicator in the business dashboards.

 

So next time, when you are doing business review ask for managers effectiveness score also.