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The Effective Executive – By Peter Drucker

Every career has a pattern. For example, if you are an international cricketer your career span is 10-15 years on an average, you make most of the money in this time . You go through the ups and downs, you learn, you get your share of opportunities to excel and then you retire. But everything happens in these 10-15 years before you hang your boots.

If you are an actor, your career depends on the type of films you are doing and the type of roles you get. It’s very random, determined by a lot of people you work with and other other factors.

A career of an IT professional or anyone who is doing a 9-6 job is comparatively long and  have some stability and predictability. You really work hard and work long to make money.  You have a long inning to play before you finally get retired in your late 50s or early 60s.

One thing which remain common in all careers is how long you remain relevant in your professional life.

There is no dearth of people in the market who lose their job because they have got over valued . There is a mismatch in their skill set and the money company is paying, especially in a private sector job.  Companies can easily replace employees with cheaper options and automation.

So sustaining at the same level and making to the next level, both are tough. The people who are in this situation and who have an experience of  6-10 years are called mid-career professionals.

After working for 8 years in IT, I see there are many peers of mine who are in this situation today. Their careers are inching towards saturation, they are making decent money but the question of getting replaced have started haunting them and they are finding it tough to go to next level.

I had a lot of questions and I started actively looking for answers. Consequently, I came across this book, The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker, which was suggested to me by a Prof during my MBA days.

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker delves in to what managers should accomplish and how they should conceptualize their role.  However I find this book relevant to mid career professionals because it helped me to rethink and re-purpose what I am doing.  It essentially answers 3 questions for executives  (I will use the word professionals to make it more relative to many other readers):

  • Why a professional must be effective ?
  • What 5 habits must be developed to become a productive professional ?
  • Why society depends on successful organizations and the professionals who make them so ?

In this summary , I will talk about the 5 habits which you must be aware of .

1. Know your time : By the time you reach your mid-career, you are married, you have responsibilities, if you are lucky to still have your parents, you need to take care of them and you have children. Your personal life has become a lot tougher. Your professional life has its own challenges. You know that your compensation has increased and hence the expectations are obviously high. You also know that unlike your good old bachelor days, you have  financial commitments, EMIs, financial goals etc . 

You are expected to achieve more  and do more in the same 24 hours.



If you have not shown an inclination to  manage your time, you definitely have become a master of mismanaging it. 

I can’t emphasize how important it is to understand that there is only this much time you have and it’s all about how you plan and make use of it.

2. What can I contribute : This question is something which one must ask  everyday, every quarter. But people often ask this towards the end of the year and most of the times, it’s been forced by the manager.  People typically remain constrained to what was expected from them rather than taking a keen interest and ensuring that you go beyond your responsibilities.

I guess it requires a sense of curiosity to understand and be aware of what is happening around and what has to be done. There is always a situation which you and your company will be in and then all we need to focus is what is required  to be done. You may like or may not like the situation the tasks the people around etc. But if you direct your action or focus towards the situation you  certainly know what can you contribute.


3. Making strengths productive: You may be having best possible communication skills, but it’s of no use if it’s not productive. Similarly you might be having best possible coding skills but if it’s not aligned to business priorities, then nobody is going to value it.
 Fact is, you need to keep discovering your strengths and be aware of how is it going to create an impact.  The effective professional always builds on his own strengths and others’ strengths as well.

4. First things first : Multi tasking is a mistake and  never works. You can’t focus on more than 2 tasks at a time. Instead of multi tasking work smartly and quickly on one job at a time. This doesn’t mean working in a hurried dither; it means concentrating and working steadily on the task at hand. 

According to my experience there is always too much to handle and you will definitely have that feeling of missing out on your commitments often. You will almost always be working on important and urgent tasks, which need your full attention. If you don’t have set priorities for yourself and you have not planned meticulously, you will never be able to be disciplined. You will eventually end up working only what is required RIGHT NOW and there is some consequences to face in case you miss out on that task.

5. Decision making : The dilemma of a person who is in to mid of his career is that he is stuck between two extremes. On the one side you have a leadership who makes all  decisions and you are expected to follow and help them in decision making. On the other hand you are not at the beginning of your career that people will expect you to follow instructions blindly. There is also a good possibility that with your experience, you have developed some wisdom of your own and would have your own opinions in everything you are doing or you are a part of. 

To come out of this situation, Peter Drucker highlights a very important concept. The challenge is to determine when a situation is, indeed, typical or when it is different in some way that needs unique handling. The biggest decision-making mistake is to try to deal with a generic problem as if it were unusual. 

You need to understand the type of situation you are in. Is it typical or does it really require unique handling. Most often you will be able to assess it over the period of time. If it’s a typical situation, then don’t think much and do what is expected. You always have a limited visibility of the entire situation. Your leaders know much more about the situation than you and they will come back to you if there is a help needed. 

There might be just 1-2 situations in a half or in a quarter which would require unique handling. Be smart enough to recognize such situations and then do your best when you get a chance.

There is no one who doesn’t have a mid career malaise, whether it’s a sportsperson, actor, businessman etc . We all have times when we wonder, “Am I at the right company ?” Am I in the right job ? What would be my next big “aha” moment in my career ? As a mid-career professionals we all are searching for fulfillment while juggling demands at home and intense financial pressures to earn.

I believe  “The Effective Executive” is worth your time and you can use this as a reference whenever you need some expert career advice.

How to use Sales Navigator to generate your prospect list

Every seller has two big challenges to find a qualified lead.

1.Finding the right contact

2. Starting a conversation with your prospect when you have their co-ordinates.

The first challenge is more to do with database. To an extent marketing can help you with getting email addresses and phone numbers by doing inbound and outbound marketing activities. But to have a real impactful database which has right information about the clients, you need to get your hands dirty. The second challenge is about how good you are in finding the right sales trigger events.  Sales trigger events are something which can fetch you an immediate qualified prospect.

If as a sales person you are struggling with these two challenges and are not using LinkedIn sales navigator, then you definitely will end up having a bad sales pipeline.

Assuming you have a complete and optimized profile, below are the steps you should follow in order to make most of your prospecting using LinkedIn :

Step 1 : Prepare a target account list : Doing an Advanced search on linkedin can help you to give an approximate size of your database. For ex. in US geo, there are more than 1000 accounts with employee size of 200-1000 and revenue between 100M – 900M for all industries..  You can further narrow down your search by filter the results with industries, growth etc.

Step 2: Prepare a lead list : Save the above search and then start finding the relevant people. You can find them based on their titles, job roles etc.  This will appear in your Lists as below :

Step 3 :  Use TeamLink : You still don’t have any contact information of  your leads. You may think of sending invitations / writing InMails. This may not give you immediate results. For immediate results you should use TeamLink feature of LinkedIn Sales Navigator.  TeamLink feature helps you to utlizie the power of your entire team’s network. With this information, you can easily see who can help you connect with potential leads and make a warm introduction. For example : in the below screenshot the lead can be introduced by 4 people. You can either “Ask for intro” or get their contact information.  You got to be patient with this because there is no instant gratification using this method.

image

Step 4:  Look Sales Triggers :  To begin with use the Sales Alerts feature of Sales Navigator , which is on the left side in the Home Page of your account:

imageSales triggers are the events which can help you start a “meaningful” conversation with your leads. You don’t need to pitch your services/products. You just need to look for an opportunity to get their attention and start have a conversation.

Step 5 : Create , curate and publish content :  You would have heard this many times from many people about the importance of publishing content and being consistent.  We all understand it, but struggle to remain consistent. From my own experience, publishing contents can help you succeed almost immediately. By publishing content in 3 consecutive days, I got a jump of 9% in my Social Selling Index :

imageIf you are really looking for a formula to succeed in Social Selling them then here it is :

The more you interact with people, better the chances are you will get a qualified lead. 

People fail in Social selling because they lack planning and they want instant gratification. Both are detrimental and if practiced for long will soon derail your focus. You got to track the important numbers and you also have to focus on consistency. Remember, sales is all about consistency.

3 ways of making an unresponsive prospect speak

I have always believed, prospecting is the toughest part of sales. When you have closures and qualified leads, you are ecstatic, you are focused and just everything in the world seems perfect. You think you can do wonders in your career. But when you don’t have a pipeline, that’s when you start feeling the pinch of Sales.

So the question is why prospecting is the toughest part of sales. Because it’s frustrating to find a person who has a genuine need and most of the times prospects don’t turn up. They will not answer your call, they will avoid your emails. And you will end up making that “one last attempt” when a prospect will answer your call or email.

So in this post, I am going you 3 tips to make a prospect speak.

  • Understand the purpose you want to talk to that person : Quite often it happens that we end up putting a lot of efforts behind a prospect without even knowing why do we want to talk to him. Sometimes we wan to talk to them because he of his designation, because of the brand of the company, because he might have responded to our marketing campaigns or may be even silly, because we have the phone number.
    That shows disrespect to the prospect and the lack of  preparation at your end.  Remember the purpose of  prospecting depends on products/service you are trying to sell. There should be namely 3 purpose of you reaching out to the prospect :

    • Fixing a meeting
    • Establish familiarity
    • Getting more info
    • Closing a deal
  • Try different touches and tactics  : Don’t call any customer to an extent that he will not just respond to you, but he become unresponsive to your entire organization and want to blacklist it . If you think that prospect is so valuable, try other channels like Facebook, linkedin, their blog etc.  It’s also important to add a value to your conversation on social media.  What you are doing is trying to find a trigger event in the conversation where the customer finally notices you and thinks you are not trying to just sell something to him. For example you can do following :
    • Send him a whitepaper
    • Send him an invitation to a marketing event related him industry or topic of interest
    • Keep your LinkedIn timeline uncluttered to get updates only from the people truly matter to you
    • Join their groups
    • Send personalized birthday wishes etc
    • Contribute to the content they post
  • Stick to the basics : LinkedIn is not a tool which will give you closures or where deals are possible to be closed. That’s very unlikely. Use linkedin to grow your brand value, establish yourself as an expert in your field. And you do that curating and creating content. There are sellers who don’t update their linkedin profile for ages and just keep on sending linkedin requests, which is of no value. Some of the best practices which you can do are :
    • Try to find the Teamlink connections and request your colleagues to introduce you to the person you are trying to get in touch with
    • If you have any shared connections, use them as reference to break the ice
    • Use InMail as the last resort to get in touch with the prospects, as you will lose credits if you don’t get a reply and they will not reply you if there is no value for them.

Prospecting is painful but this is the cost you bear to earn success in Sales.

How to start “Insight Selling” ?

Consider you got a call from a sales person.

Hi Sir !!! I am calling from a company ABC and do you have plans of buying a TV ? It’s a 50” TVs, on which you can play YouTube, browser internet, check emails and we will give you a 20% discount.

After sometime you got another call from some other sales person

Hi Jai, I noticed that  recently you went to see your favorite movie, but you missed it because of traffic.  How about creating a theater like experience  for you at your home and that too without compromising on your holiday plan.  All I need is 10 mins to discuss to tell you how.  Would you be available in the evening ?

Which one you think has more chances of a positive out come? Which type of seller are you ?

A lot has been changed in Sales because of internet and technology advancement. There has been 3 types of Selling techniques :

1. Alligator Selling : Selling happens based on features and quite honestly how loud you can shout in a market place. 

This is an old style selling technique only because it’s difficult to achieve competitive differentiation. Competitors can easily come up with the same features and quite honestly in no time they will bring something better than you.

2. Solution Selling: Selling happens because of your understanding of customer’s issue.

That’s what’s happening right now. But this selling technique is becoming archaic because there are lot many who are doing this. To understand customer’s issues sellers ask open-ended questions and trust me there are many who are asking lot of questions to the prospects. They have got irritated with them because they themselves can find the answers online and they don’t have time to be questioned by many.

3. Insight Selling :  Selling happens because of your intelligence.

As I said, there are lot many who are asking questions to the prospects to an extent that they just don’t want to give time. To be heard you need to say something which is useful

Insight selling is based on 4 factors and how well you understand them.  And to excel in these you need 4 qualities: persistence, knowledge, patience and building your own brand.

Industry

What you need to know ?

Focus on how the industry is changing, where is it  heading and what are the influencing factors ?

How can you do this ?

The best way is to create a list of few players from that industry. Then try to connect with them on LinkedIn.  Also, if you have Sales Navigator save those accounts to get regular feeds from them.  You should also think of finding a mentor from that industry if possible.

Technology

What you need to know ?

If you are a seller, you still need to be technical and have good understanding of the technology. I went to a TV store and asked the person what’s the difference between a Smart TV and  an Internet TV. Similarly if you  are in IT let’s say you are handling a Blockchain consulting services, you must understand Blockchain. You ofcourse don’t have to be a programmer.

How you can do that ?

Just develop the curiosity. You can find plenty of resources around. You can use Udemy, Udacity, other MOOCs, or you can get a book, magazine etc. The only thing you need is a curiosity of how things work.

Competition

What you need to know

Your understanding of your competitor’s offerings should be as good as yours. Customers do a lot of research online and they are already 70% ahead in their buying journey. You can’t fool them.

How should you do it ?

If there are certifications available, do it. If possible consume their offerings too. Don’t ignore the people who are already using your competitors’ offering.

Buyer

What you need to know ?

The more you know them, then better it is.  You should atleast know about their past experience, their job profile, their education and their personality.

How should you do it ?

Connect with them on LinkedIn.  Try to find a reference.  Follow them on Twitter and yes, if they don’t have an immediate requirement, just be updated with what they are sharing and keep the interaction going on.

HCX on IBM Cloud – Intro

Typically in a hybrid cloud implementation CIOs have the below concerns:
  1. I don’t have a compatible vSphere version
  2. My network architecture is different from Cloud Services Provider’s network
  3. My applications have a lot of complex dependencies and they interact with various other entities in my DCs like storage/DB Solutions, DMZs, security solutions  and platform applications
  4. They have created their own governance and control and they are concerned if they will be able to do  the same in a Cloud environment.

Is there a way they can get away from these complexities and find an easy way out ? These are the concerns which can be easily taken care by HCX. Below are some of the very important use cases of HCX .

  1. Extending to the Cloud :   when you want to extend your application may be because of the requirement of additional storage or compute.  This can be a short term requirement or even long term in case you have hard fresh refresh due.
  2. Disaster Recovery : Typically customer wants to have the shortest possible RTO and RPO for the on-premise DR site. This can be easily achieved if you have a vmware virtualised infra.
  3. Modernize on-premises DC : If you are planning to move entire DC to the cloud HCX can help you to migrate 100s of apps with just a single reboot and no change to the OS or application.

 

IBM Cloud provides the foundation to extend on-premise workload seamlessly and with minimum efforts required.  HCX enables this by extending on-premises network in to the cloud through an optimised software defined WAN.  VMware workloads can be moved to IBM Cloud from on-premise without any modifications required and without any downtime.
HCX establish a secure WAN optimised  hybrid interconnect which sits between cloud and on-premise environment.
Below is the architecture of the implementation :
Hybridity Services :  It has two parts. Target side and Source side. Target site is IBM Cloud DC and source site is on-premises deployment.
Product : VMware HCX.

Cloud Management : A centralized platform for managing the entire software-defined datacenter.
Product vCenter

Virtualization Admin : Responsible for maintaining the cloud services and environment.

Here is a step by step explanation of what needs to be done to use HCX
Step 1: VMware HCX is deployed in the cloud instance in an IBM Cloud DC
Step 2:  HCX is deployed on-premises
Step 3:  Virtualization administrator uses the HCX user interface in vCenter to establish the network connection
Step 4: The two HCX deployments establish a software defined WAN connection to extend the on-premises layer 2 network to the cloud instance.
Step 5: Virtualization administrator uses the standard vSphere user interface to initiate migration of on-premises workload to the target site in the cloud.
Step 6: HCX uses WAN optimization to efficiently migrate the workload to the target site, maintaining the current workload IP configuration
If you want to read more about the Solution architecture click here

Solution components and Reference Architecture

IBM Cloud provides the automated deployment of vmware solution components The offering in the solution portfolio consists of
  1. vCloud Foundation ( VCF) : vSphere ESXi, Platform Services Controller, vCenter Server appliance, SDDC manager, NSX and vSAN. VSF consists of :
    a. 4-node base cluster
    b. 2 Bare Metal Server size options
    c. Upgradable Memory option
    d. upto 27 additional nodes
  2. VMware vCenter Servers : vSphere ESXi, Platform Services Controller ( PSC ),  vCenter Server Appliance, NSX and optionally vSAN.
    a. 2-node base cluster
    b. 3 bare metal server size options
    c. upgradable memory options
    d. upgradable NSX options
The below figure shows the solution components of vmware Solution on IBM Cloud:
Below figure shows the architecture of the solution deployment:
Management : vCenter, A centralized platform for managing the entire software defined datacenter

Workloads : x86 based applications which need to migrated to cloud

Software Defined Networking :  Provides a network overlay virtualizing the physical network to provide a large number of customer defined networks (VxLAN), intelligent network routing, and microsegmentation for enhanced firewall capabilities
Product  – VMware NSX 


Compute : Enables many virtualized Linux and Windows servers to run concurrently on the same physical bare metal server providing high levels of server utilization and capacity.
Product :  VMware vSphere 

Software Defined Storage :  Local storage of the physical hosts are aggregated into a high performance, highly available software defined SAN.
Product – VMware virtual SAN 

Bare Metal Servers – IBM Cloud bare metal servers provide a dedicated, single tenant basis for deploying the clients private infrastructure. Clients can locate their deployment in any of dozens of IBM Cloud locations around the globe.
Products – IBM Cloud 

To learn more about the solution architecture, click here

 

This is blog post is second in the 10 part series of vmware on IBM Cloud. 

 

<- Intro : vmware on IBM Cloud                                                                                              VMware HCX on IBM Cloud ->

 

7 things mindful people do differently

From my childhood I have always wondered what should I do with the constant rumblings which keep happening in my mind. How to control it ? And I have figured out that these rumblings are actually common to many people and it works differently for different people.  Also, these rumblings  affect our productivity. Something which is very much essential  and almost impossible to measure in Sales. You actually juggle too many things all the time and there is a lot at stake.

So I decided to take a course which was available in my company’s learning portal. And I am glad that I took it. After going through that course I figured out below 7 things which mindful people do differently :

  1. Approach everyday things with curiosity and savor them :  Trust me approaching your job with a long face and lack of interest is the saddest most cruel thing which you can do to yourself. Steve Jobs once said that your work is going to take the maximum amount of your lifespan, so it’s very important you do what you love. I say to be productive you also love what you do. There are few fortunate ones who know what they love and very few fortunate people who get to do what they love. So if you are not one among them, it’s important that you love what you do. And one for that you remain curious about what you do.
    You can remain curious for what you don’t know, remain curious to improve things, remain curious to innovate, remain curious to create some best practices. Whatever it takes just approach what you do with curiosity and learn to savor it.
  2. Forgive mistakes big and small :  We often confuse forgiving with forgetting. Forgiving is not forgetting, it just means not carrying the bitterness in your heart.  And to do away that bitterness you take whatever action is required.  Just ensure you develop wisdom to act in a manner which you won’t regret later. I practice this by talking to my mentors and peers  in workplace and with my relatives in my personal lives. Trust me it really helps me to focus on present. It helps me to see things through perspective which I would never have thought.
    Forgetting on the other hand means poor memory. That’s not a virtue. The sweetest and bitterest moments of your life you should never forget.
  3. Show gratitude for good moments and grace for the bad ones : I bet you can’t do it if you have something else going in your mind all the time and you have some negative emotions like anxiety, stress etc.  It takes practice to be in present and appreciate the moment.
  4. Practice compassion and nurture connections : To nurture connection you have to make new ones. We need to get out of that shell, that office cubicle which we get very comfortable with and interrupt people to know them.  Creating a connection is tough and nurturing it is tougher. I have been an introvert and I find very difficult to initiate a conversation. But when it comes to some help I am very good at breaking the ice and interrupting people.
    This happens when I meet someone who has something very interesting to tell me and which is relevant to me.  So the thumb rule is the more things and the type of things you are interested in, the more and better your connections will be.  So it goes back to point no. 1 of being curious.
  5. Make peace with imperfections both yours and others:  I see so many people who are better than me in almost everything I  do. I have been very uncomfortable of my imperfections and I wanted to hide it at all costs.  But not anymore because I have made peace with them by accepting them. I know I can always improve and I will still be lesser than someone.
    Similarly, I have seen people shouting at their peers, picking a fight with them and bosses even humiliate their subordinates when they don’t do things as expected. Yes feedback is required and it’s rare to find a person who don’t want to determine from whom and how should he get the feedback.  If ever  you happen to be at the giving end and if at it’s possible try to make peace with their imperfections.  Trust me it’s more to do your peace rather than the other person’s good.
  6. Embrace vulnerability by trusting others : Trusting others is not very common in corporate world. And by not trusting you  can’t survive. You have to have your own trusted sources. But we become very vulnerable when we trust people. And I guess we must still trust because only by doing this we will learn. So don’t be over cautious of whom to trust and whom not to trust. Trust people but at the same time, be prepared for the deceit. With time you will learn how to optimize the damage.
  7. Accept that things come and go: Come what may, there is nothing which is permanent. Good time bad time, nothing will remain with you forever.  Your success and your failures are relative and dependent only on situation.  So better not to get swayed by the emotions.

All these are my experiences being a sales person. I fight hard everything which is happening outside and harder with all that happens inside me.  But now that I know about mindfulness and how to practice it, it just a matter of time and practice to increase my productivity. What about you ?

vmware on IBM Cloud – An Introduction

Hybrid Cloud is a combination of on-premises and public cloud services intended to work in unison to deliver value. Following are the values which can be derived :

  1. You can expand your DC with minimum efforts, expenses and on-demand
  2. You can consolidate your DCs which are located in different geo zones
  3. You can create test environments and DR sites

vmware has a huge virtualization market share. The value which IBM Cloud brings to the customers are :

  1. No new skill set required
  2. One single portal to manage
  3. You can bring your own license
  4. Monthly subscription of vmware softwares

To learn more about IBM Cloud for vmware see the this video .

Here is the complete stack of IBM Cloud for vmware solution:

Not just this depending on the use case you use the below platform extensions and solutions :

Hybrid Cloud Services or HCX : You can establish a software defined WAN between on-premise DC and IBM Cloud DC. Using this service you can move vmware workloads to and from cloud with zero downtime and modifications.

Zerto Disaster Recovery :  You can use Zerto Virtual Replication Technology to provide near zero RTO and RPO

Secure Virtualization:  Use Intel Hytrust TXT technology for secure virtualization simplify regulatory compliance and guarantee data sovereignty.

NSX Edge Services Gateway: NSX Edge Services Gateway provides connectivity between the virtualized software-defined network and its workloads and external networks.

vRealize Automation: Add automation and orchestration tooling for automated provisioning of applications ensuring users have the tooling and services they need.

If you have any queries and need help to get started with vmware on IBM Cloud then drop me a message or reach out to me over here.

 

Recognize Sales as a process

 

My professor used to say “If the process is in place, results will fall in place for sure“. Quite often we the sales community overlook the importance of process and focus too much on what’s the end result.  If you are one of those who really want to exceed in sales and improve the pipeline then you must step back for a moment and think what is it that can  be improved at every stage of the process.

Every sales is different, every company is different and so will be the corresponding pain points.  If you belong to a start up or let’s say you have a niche’ product/ service then for a sales process the typical use case would look like this :

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Engagement
  4. Purchase

A sales person should plan everyday so that all his activities fall in one of the below categories. You can’t just surpass one and step on to next. For this you also need to hone your skills to progress your prospects from one stage to another.

Awareness

Building awareness has two components :

  • Awareness of who you are : You want people to recognize you and remember you. This is something which you will live with forever. Who you are as a person ? What qualities you have? The best way to express that is to tap in to Social Media. Don’t think that you will spend sometime on LinkedIn and you will get some leads or closures. Not that’s not going to happen. Use it as a tool to know people and let people know you.   Show your expertise, share your views, start a discussion, contribute to a community by creating some valuable content.  That’s when people will know you and it will be easy for you to break the ice.
  • Being aware about what you sell : A lot is done by the marketing team of the company you are working for. But never assume that what you company is doing is enough for you. People are busy and they are always on to something else until they face some challenges.  You job must be keep people educated about the challenges which may or may not happen. And in case it happen you are the one to whom they should come for solutions.

But can you control this. YES, you can. Make a plan of how you will be spreading the awareness.  Make a plan to enhance your skills.

Consideration

I get thrilled when someone reach out to me out of the blue moon with a requirement without me putting any effort at that point of time. It happened recently to me that one of partner from Mumbai replied to the email I sent to him in 2016 about SAP HANA. We had a casual conversation and after that we never spoke.  Once people are aware of you and what you sell and if you are talking to the right person, he will come back to you. That’s your consideration.

But can you control this. NO. You can’t.

Engagement and Purchase

All that we need to succeed in  Sales is a good pipeline  of qualified leads.  Once you have it you don’t win or lose alone. There is a whole team which helps you out.  Just focus on the dialog to happen and getting in front of someone who is qualified to buy what you are selling.

You don’t have control on every aspects of Sales, but you can certainly your sales process to a large extent. Don’t let anything deter your focus from building a solid pipeline which starts with you reaching out to as many people as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

The 4 objectives of Prospecting

Prospecting is daunting and yes it’s the most boring part of sales. But you can’t think of doing all the fancy stuffs without this. What will you negotiate if you don’t have a deal, to whom will you talk if you don’t have a qualified lead. I have seen sales people craving for validated leads. That’s the only thing they want but they don’t want to get their hands dirty, pick up the phone and start calling.

One of the reason is we don’t know the objectives of prospecting. We don’t know the right way to engage with a customer. I have always found it hard to talk to someone on phone. Not because I didn’t want to, but only because I didn’t know what outcome do I want and hence what will I talk.

But after reading Jeb Blont’s Fanatical prospecting, I have realized that my prospecting has improved a lot and I can’t think of spending a single day without getting in to this activity.

According to Jeb, there are 4 core objective of prospecting :
1. Set an appointment
2. Gather information and qualify
3. Close a Sale
4. Build Familiarity

Objectives will differ based on product, service, sales, industry and your prospect base.

Prospecting is not for building relationships, selling or chatting up your buyer. It’s for setting appointment, qualifying, building familiarity and if possible closing the deal. You don’t need brilliant scripts. You don’t need complex strategies. You don’t need to over complicate it.

Setting an appointment :  An appointment is when a prospect is expecting you. He has accepted your calendar invite and have clearly given a confirmation that he has blocked your time.  Appointment is primary objective when the sales is complex, product and services need a deeper understanding and stakes are higher. I have selling IBM Cloud, which is certainly a complex deal. I have fumbled across many prospecting calls, because I have tend to identify the need from a prospect in the first step itself. It has never paid me off.  I have sent hundreds of emails and so many calls I have fumbled. But ever since I have changed my strategy, I have become more confident in sending LinkedIn emails and calling up the customers.

Gather Information and build familiarity: Jeb highlights a right point that sales people tend to waste too much of time in ugly deals. They fill the pipelines with deals where there is no decision maker involved, no buying window is defined, budget is not clear.  A prospect can fall in one of below phases :

  1. Qualified and in the buying window
  2. Qualified but not in the buying window
  3. Semi-qualified: You know there is potential but you don’t have enough information
  4. Potential buyers but have no information about them
  5. Record in the database is bogus.

This classification has made a huge difference in the way I need support from marketing and my prospecting strategy.

Build Familiarity : 

Familiarity plays an important role in getting the prospect to engage.

Building familiarity is a long term activity and is required a strategic planning. That’s the reason savvy sales professionals creates a strategic prospecting campaign (SPC) that leverages all the possible touches to build familiarity.