Friday 30 December 2016

Sales Kit: What You Sell Is Secondary, What Is Primary Is Why You Sell?

I wrote a blog a couple days back to explain why 90% people hate selling
When I hinted at my extensive experience in sales, I am sure a dozen pair of eyes checked my LinkedIn profile to find out what I sold because all that is visible there are fancy labels doing training, transitioning new business or managing operations. Where is the sales profile?

Including my pet projects which I did apart from regular jobs, I have sold high value products, service and mere ideas. 

1.   Selling a Service

I was leading the customer service team then in a leading courier company and this product was launched – where you can send flowers/ chocolates/ cakes to near and dear ones on their birthdays and anniversaries across India. As I was made to attend the launch of this product/ service I had to own it up to show my team a live demonstration with a real client how to sell it over phone. It was actually easy, because the concept then was new and the price was reasonable. The impact on both giver and receiver was immense. I cant recall having sold anything before that.

2.   Dress Materials

That was my first pet project with two more friends. I have soft corner for two things – Textile and Spa. We invested roughly Rs 1500 each, bought dress material, strategically tied up with a tailor close to our sourcing market and sold the finished product to friends, relatives and couple of shops.

Reason to exit: The group had to split due to marriage, job, relocation and family concerns. 

3.   Multi-level marketing

If you know one of them end to end, you know them all. How can you not be involved with at least one of them when you had so many of your contacts trying to rope you in? I loved the seminars and still give complete credit to my mental shift (from income to asset) to those leaders.

Today, after I have achieved almost everything that I had aspired then, I can reflect and confirm - that was probably the turning point as far as thinking horizon was concerned.

Reason to exit: Any reason I give here would look like excuse. I did not understand exponential marketing then perhaps, which I do now. 

4.   Photocopiers:

As Defined Account Manager, I had to manage sixty accounts end to end – service to sales or make it the other way round. It means the same. The company had then launched a photocopier that acts as a digital printer and who do you think made that much needed breakthrough sale in eastern India, yours sincerely of course. By now I began to enjoy sales as I never found two sales experience same. 

Reason to exit: I moved to Bangalore

5.   Apparels/ Furnishings: 

Apart from my regular job, I had a boutique for over 5 years where I sold through retailers to two markets (Bangalore and Kolkata). The collection included different types of sarees sourced from Chennai, Surat, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow; dress materials, tops, furnishings and a small team who did embroidery. 

Reason to exit: Relocation to Suburbs

6.   Bid Management: 

My KRA was 20% conversion and 5% win. What I maintained was 45 % conversion and 20% win. For those of you who think Bid Management is not sales, try roping in 22 stakeholders including pricing, operations, risk office, hiring, training, technology, real estate, transition teams for one proposal, front end with client and then preparing the proposal – If you do not have sales bent of mind, you will end up just putting boiler plate information in those documents. Each win/ sale means multi-year service contract in BPO environment or across both BPO and applications.

Reason to exit: Bid Management was Pre sales. I wanted to experience post sales activities - Business Transition

7.   My Books

Though the book stores did the selling for me but then what is critical to know here is - as the book I authored and published all by myself without a literary agent, who do you think took it/ sold to the stores? – Again, yours sincerely! 

8.   Selling an idea

The toughest sale was to sell an idea that I was not sure of and find seven members to register an NGO with just that idea (nothing concrete to show, not even a rough plan) with no financial backing and with half-baked knowledge about even the next step. It took me one full year to source like-minded people to register Ramosara Foundation.

9.   Selling Services again

Today, I sell my skills as services to international clients. Those who want to learn how I do what I do, buy the beginner’s guide. As a startup enthusiast and content strategies, I sell business plans and social media plans

If you enjoy sales, the product is never a problem. What drives me to do this repeatedly is the fact that I know I always fill a gap through a sale

Thursday 29 December 2016

Freelancing Kit: 9 Top Reasons Why Some People Fail To Build Online Income

This is a very different world and a great leveler. Someone with extensive corporate experience and someone who is yet to create an email id - both have equal chances to succeed. A seasoned professional and a fresh graduate can both do well here.

The point is, regardless of your past expertise or credentials, you have to start here from scratch. Your experience can be an advantage or give some competitive edge however the beginning is the same for everyone – a user name, a profile and a portfolio.

Here it is just the quotient between you and the client that matters. It takes time to build that. Here I have listed top nine reasons why many beginners fail to make any online income. 

1.   Not ready skill wise

In the corporate world you probably lead a team of ten people. You have closed the best of deals and you were star performer in sales. That’s history. If you cannot identify at least three skills that you can offer as service in this gig economy, you are not ready for this.

2.   Rates

After you have identified your skills, if your rates are not competitive that will definitely hinder your progress. If you set up an hourly rate based on last salary drawn, it may not attract buyers as your portfolio however attractive is not showing any customer reviews or testimonials to build conviction in buyer’s mind regarding how good you are.

3.   Target Market

If you are great in creating websites or presentations or logo designing or writing business planning there is a ready market out there.

However there are many who have skills like proofreading, typing, data entry, customer service or research – it is critical to understand who and how you can support with your service so that your skill, though average and easily available, is valuable to your target audience.

4.   Pay Check Saturation

There is no need to establish this income. Just when the panic buttons are on (company re-structuring, job at stake, work stress, hyper controlling boss, sales target pressure, financial dissatisfaction) , a few sites are explored and then back to comfort zone. As the income here is not steady, many still remain dependent to their pay checks and jobs, little realizing the potential of the opportunity in hand, if built in a planned way. This shortsightedness has a reasonable impact on their state of inertia. 

5.   Habitual thinking pattern

If you are non-reader (Books or even read online) – getting you to read terms and conditions of different sites, how to guides or do research is a huge challenge. Building that discipline itself is a Herculean task. Based on habitual thinking pattern, the moment there is a concern or crisis, seeking assistance from people is the first thing to do instead of seeking answers by reading online. 

6.   Front ended by others

Some people are very good in what they do. They follow instructions to the T and deliver perfect job each time. The only issue with this lot is they need to be front ended by someone as they are not confident to source their own client. They either dread pitching for fear of rejection or are just doers, and not thinkers

7.   No Bids

This can never take off the ground if you do not bid regularly. There is absolutely no point in having the right sell-able skills, a great market out there waiting for you, a well-designed profile and portfolio  - if you are not going make that connect with clients on a regular basis. If you wait for chance, for your profile to pop up in search engines for big orders, that is close to wishful thinking. 

8.   Cut, Copy, Paste Bids

Do not count the bid you do, if they are just cut, copy and paste bids. If you cannot customize your bids according to buyer’s needs, no buyer will be keen to work with you. 

9.   Lack of consistent efforts

These are the ones who are on a roller coaster ride always and with most number of excuses. They bid at a stretch in one week and then disappear for months together. They lack the basic discipline to do things consistently day after day, month after month which is a critical reason to fail in securing any assignment or order.

If you reflect on the efforts you made to create online income and find one of these reasons as the hindering factor, the only course correction would be not to repeat them going forward.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Sales Kit: 90 Percent People Hate Selling Because They Follow Up

Most of them out there with a sales career hate rejection and find the whole sales process extremely frustrating. They have their reasons:

ü  The anticipation a lead triggers in the sales cycle is that of revenue (Read commission) and if that does not materialize, the efforts go waste
ü  They cannot handle the price war with competition
ü  They are ill equipped to manage objections effectively
ü  It is time consuming and the gap is wide between lead and deal

And the reasons continue.

There is a whole crowd out there who firmly thinks, they can win the order only

ü  If their company agreed to give that discount
ü  If their product had that feature - that extra tray or pin or needle which competitor’s product had.
ü  If there was something extra or incentive for the client that is offered for free, along with every purchase.
ü  If there were enough positive reviews online
ü  If company image is gets better in the reputation scale

And the excuses continue.

Being in sales for a considerably long time across industries, the few simple acts that work for me are

           I.        Do not Sell, Just Pitch

ü  People love to buy however they hate to be sold. What is new about this? – Once you switch focus from product to people, you will automatically know whether to pitch or not.
ü  When you just pitch, you act as a facilitator, the torch bearer showing the path, not pushing them to walk on that road.
ü  How do you feel when the same person tells you the very same thing (to buy) every time he meets you – You feel great or guilty or disgusted? You take a call if you want your buyer to feel that way about you.

                II.        Establish the need

ü  Do this right the first time and do this with utmost honesty to build trust - You are done for the moment.
ü  You establish need not by providing a dozen answers but by asking the right questions.
ü  Your role is to just assist the buyer to think about the needs he is likely to have today, tomorrow and day after.
ü  You need not control the decision making process, you just have to influence their thinking patterns and horizon – Are they able to see that far where you know they will need what

             III.        Position your product/ service

ü  You offer your product or service as solution and leave it at that.
ü  Once you have appropriately established the need or critical pain points, step III is a natural drift and the most predictable conclusion to the first connect.
ü  In all probability the buyer will be eagerly waiting for the solution you have

               IV.        Do not follow up

ü  I know this last bit contradicts age old advice to follow up.
ü  The simple rationale is - the one whose need is more severe should ideally be the person/ entity to follow up.
ü  If you have established the need well in the first place, they will follow up and if you have not done step II right, your follow up will face a flat response.

Do you know your client enough to make the right pitch?

Monday 26 December 2016

Freelancing Kit: On Skill Coaching

Those who buy my Beginner’s Guide to get started with their online income, get to see a few samples of my pitch and conversations with clients. I share many such samples even in my blogs.

One common observation is the dilemma the beginners face, regardless of their background and previous experience in identifying the skills they want to get started with. They take anywhere between 3 weeks to a few months to choose the skills they want to offer as services.

Apparently it looks like the problem is really with skill. 

Well, it is not.

Recently when a beginner proposed to assist me for free with project related research work for the presentations and plans that I do for my clients, I decided to write this blog to call out the potential risk of this approach. The 5 Cs


It does not matter whether you sign the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) or just agree with client, purely based on trust to keep the data they share with you safe forever – this automatically nullifies any option to have a virtual team work for you. You most certainly cannot let anyone else work in the project unless you have sought prior permission from client.


Let us assume my client agrees and allows me to outsource some part of the research or draft or plan to one of my virtual team members (In this case the Beginner) and I engage them for high level assistance. Let us also assume that the Beginner over a period of time gets a hang of it and learns the trick of the trade.

That still does not prepare beginners to survive and succeed in this world as though the basic skill is acquired, the fundamental skill still remains unlearned – the art and skill to source your own clients


By working as an assistant to support another professional’s deliverable, the beginner is not communicating directly with client. By remaining in the background, he cannot build the required attitude to pitch, negotiate and transfer that conviction about their own expertise to a client.


It is seriously not just about how well your write, research or create presentation, how well you follow instruction, how you hone your skills by supporting someone who is front ending the project, there is a lot of learning involved about how you begin to think regarding the entire project holistically, independently and creatively. There are slim chances of a beginner to learn any of these if they pick the easy route


I am sorry to burst your bubble. Being an assistant to a pro only builds your confidence as project member not as a project leader. You will remain a doer and will take time to be a thinker.

The problem therefore is not in identifying the skill, but in identifying the right target market/ client to fit your skills as services.

The faster you interact with client, the better your learning. You want to support professionals for the exposure or experience is okay however the cost you are paying is much higher, than  you can imagine.

Next time you want to support a pro to learn, remember to call out a quote for that. Free can never be a business model. If you trade time, you better get paid for it.

The next problem the beginners face is how to set their rates?

Thursday 15 December 2016

Freelancer Kit: The Shortest Pitch Got Me Assignments For Over $1500

“I love the way this job challenges my thought process already. I want to do it”

That’s it. That was my pitch.
Shortest Pitch

I attached a sample deck Future of Work – 5 slides along with this pitch.


The buyer was a professional instructional designer from Australia who needed assistance with instructional design, research and writing for learning modules and e-books to assist diploma students.


When we think of position we usually mean pitch positioning. Here I tried to gauge the buyer’s position. She wrote a long, very long requirement / work scope including her need, expectations, timelines etc. She wanted to skip long recruitment process which hints at her urgency. 

I therefore kept my pitch as short as possible to save reading time and get to business. That is precisely what happened.

Here is the first conversation:

First Conversation

Profile and Portfolio:

I was new to the site with no profile or portfolio uploaded yet. I do not know how I skipped that or probably I wanted some time to choose my best work. When I coach individuals on alternative incomes this is the subject I dwell on most. 

You exist online because your profile exists. You are in business because you carry a portfolio.


It is not the best of pay however how can I forget the bonus?


While I poured all my sweat into fulfilling someone else’s work goals, I accomplished three things:

A foothold in a new platform
I received feedback from an expert while I was trying to get a grip in a new market - Australia
I got acquainted to the Australian training model and can independently create a learning module

That is the avocado to your guacamole - The pitch. There isn't much else. 

The glowing feedback I got after those assignments is here

Are you ready with  your pitch? 

If you want to have a quick pitch dry run, write to me at to evaluate content and have a neutral perspective.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Entrepreneurial Kit: Who Needs The Business Plan First?

I need a simple trigger to write a blog. A simple remark like – Being an employee is better than, or just as good as entrepreneurship. That actually calls for a 4000 words blog. Keeping in view people have the attention span of a gold fish these days shuffling between a dozen gadgets, I will limit this one to 800 words to put the key points across.

A recent post in LinkedIn from an entrepreneur turned (returned) employee got me thinking. His role as an entrepreneur lasted for a brief stint (Not even three quarters). He jumps back to good old paycheck mode and had the following tips/ remarks for all those startups that seemed to be in a perfect state of limbo.

They are in denial mode
They need to listen to their innermost voice
They should be true to themselves

Let us go through the following two case studies:

Employee turned Entrepreneur 1

Employee turned Entrepreneur 2
Cost to company as an employee 
36 L
18 L
Nature of Business
(Entrepreneurial Journey)
Annual Business Projection
60 L
48 L
Revenue Model
Transaction Based
(Daily or Weekly Orders)
Retention Based
(Monthly Client Acquisition)
Start Up Expenses
12 L
3 L
Local to National
3rd Quarterly Review

Current Sales Graph – Low
Great pipeline
Current Sales Graph – Low
Great pipeline
What is the entrepreneur thinking?

After three quarters

Revenue so far: 14 L 
(Target 45 L)

Salary Loss: 9 X 3 = 27 L
Startup costs : 12 L
Running Cost:  10 L
Pipeline Potential - Unsure

Expense focused Mindset
Revenue so far: 7 L 
(Target 36 L)

Client Acquisition made: 10
Signups due in Q 4: 9 L
Pipeline potential: 27 L
Expansion in new FY: Increase service portfolio

Income focused Mindset
What is the entrepreneur thinking:
Next Option

Wind up and go back to Corporate

Shoot up to meet business projection      
Role earned revenue in PR, team size, research, expansion, sustenance
Entrepreneurship readiness 

Entrepreneur was not ready with a business plan or projection.

The monthly revenue he was expected was either wishful thinking or without adequate research and homework.

Shooting in the dark. You cannot say they are off track as there is no track set in the first place
Entrepreneur was adhering to a business plan

Break-even was expected to happen in the last quarter of second financial year, which means this team is doing okay as of now

They are on track

Business Plan

A business plan is not just a fancy, feel good jargon. It is mandatory to have a full-fledged plan in place even before you think of your first client.

The two case studies in the table above are just basic highlights; the details can be better imagined than described. Without a plan, ask yourself,

How can you ensure sustenance?
How can you measure success factors?
How can you call the shots?

After having supported startups/ entrepreneurs in different assignments and having prepared several business plans, the two fundamental issues that crop up while coaching first time entrepreneurs are:

Mental Shift

Even as entrepreneurs, many cannot let go of their habitual thinking pattern. They are often dominated by their old employee personality. 

Ready excuses/ scapegoats for delay, as if reporting to a manager 
    Defense mechanism for failure or lagging behind to justify current stand
        Pay check craving instead of revenue planning
        Social mirror consciousness to measure personal entrepreneurial success with other's corporate levels and labels

Escape Velocity

In physics, escape velocity is the minimum speed needed for an object to escape from the gravitational attraction of a massive body, without the aid of thrust, or suffering the resistance from friction (Source: Wiki)

In business, there is a similar minimum effort needed for a sale to happen to escape from the duck status or business to take off. 

Now these two are somewhat interconnected - If you do not have the right mental shift, you will not put in the minimum effort required for the business to take off.

Net result - We get to read another articles or status update in LinkedIn by a reluctant entrepreneur (who jumps back to a job at the first available opportunity) giving advice to those who are following their passion with conviction. 

The entrepreneurs with a plan are mentally prepared to fail, know what to expect, when to expect, how much to put in and how long to wait.