There are 528 million entrepreneurs around the globe. But only a few are able to make their mark and keep their business afloat. Praveen Singh is one of them. He not only manages to establish his business but also made his name in the tech industry.
Find out about his journey in the ‘Sales Wala Show’ when he is in conversation with Sanadh Srivastava from MyOperator.
Q: “From a QA engineer you shifted to becoming a founder of multiple companies, so what made you switch and how did you take such a big step?”
Ans: “First of all thank you for having me here. I am really excited. So it is a journey of 18 long years and in 2003 when I was starting off my career name the only names you could remember were Oracle, Infosys, and Java. So I have been through that journey and after 8 years of corporate, I kind of started 99 tests which is a crowdsourcing platform for testing where every user was rewarded for every bug.
So the reason for this craziness is that I have always been taking a different way. All my friends were jumping their career ladders from smaller to larger companies I was going reverse. I started with a company with 50,000 people and then went into 2,000 people company. I was like no I need to do better work. So then I went into a 20 people startup company and then started my own eventually. So my journey has been reversed.
But I have always been chasing some trends starting with databases then enterprise service bus was hot at that time and then virtualization was just taking off when I joined Logic and which was acquired by Citrix.
Then outsourcing was taking off when I started 99 tests. So that has been my journey and I thought the next 10 years are going to be all about founders so I thought I should be in this group.”
Q: “How has founding your own company and then talking to so many founders helped you with sales process?”
Ans: “That’s a great question thanks a lot for that, being an engineer it does take a big transformation to become a salesperson also I had to tell my family that I want to start a company and they gave me two years and it took 10 years (chuckles). So the sales process starts with understanding the other person, the conviction, and it is a learning process.
So If we look at the situation now, most people know how to sell. Selling essentially is understanding the context of the other person and positioning yourself for how you are going to add value to hi/her life at that point of time. So, it has been my learning journey. As an engineer, I always built products so that has been my training. But as I started the company, talked to investors, and raised about a million dollars in just 20 minutes. So that’s where you understand what they are looking for and how to position yourself in the conversation and not just go by scripts. That takes a certain amount of skill, practice, and confidence. Once you get that now you can sell to anybody and anything.”
Q: “How do you tell your sales team to convey what you are doing so that your clients are convinced with your product?”
Ans: “See most salespeople approach from their point of view that this is my product and this is my feature and we end up spending so much time in explaining that solution that we forget the problem state. So when I personally sell, my approach is very very simple to send the right message to the right audience. If you just remember that much and there is the right audience so for them the right message will resonate. Your deep understanding of the problem space of the audience differentiates the top 1% of the salespersons from the rest 99%. Not just telling about the product but a deep understanding of the person, his position, and his problems. Spending time in the problem space and connecting it beautifully to the solution is the right way to go about it.
Let’s take a simple example, I want to sell you a water bottle, what will I say? I will say Sanadh how are you feeling today? How is your hydration? Are you okay? Generally how much water do you drink per day? How many glasses of water have you had since morning and would you like to have this amazing sparkling Himalayan water?
So it is simple, of course, all this learning comes from your experience but connecting the problem space with your solution is what I tell my sales team to do.”
Q: “For selling a technical product do you need to have a background in tech?”
Ans: “Understanding technology is the prerequisite for selling a technical product. Based on top of that if a person can pick up technological terms and understand that at a conversational level and actually connect that to the human touch of the person is what I personally look for. I would go for someone who has selling power along with a basic understanding of technology instead of a person with complete technical knowledge but without any understanding of sales.”
Q: “Since you are in tech background and sales is driven by calls. So what is your take on-call management system in any organization, have you implemented any, and if yes, what has been your experience with it?”
Ans: “So a call management system is very very important. Just like the message should be right as per the audience the right salesperson should also be linked to that audience. So how do we connect that? A call management system including toll free number and IVR number helps in connecting the right salesperson to the right lead. It is very very crucial for the sales of any company. For calls, I would definitely suggest MyOperator so that for every lead you can connect the right salesperson in the right time zone.”
Q: “How to motivate your sales team because it can get hectic as well as daunting?”
Ans: “It is 60 to 70% an individual’s responsibility to stay motivated as they pick the organization themselves. As a salesperson, you have to get up and be shining every day with a smile. That is a part of your job. If it goes down you have to figure out is it the individual motivation or the group or company thing that is resulting in the same.
If a person is not willing to take the same calls 40 times a week then his personality might not match with the organization. So it is the organization’s responsibility to find out the right person for the job who is ready to do what is asked of them.
It is primarily the individual’s responsibility to take up the task needed and then the organization’s responsibility to support you and provide a healthy working environment.”
Q: “So there is no sales-related or sales-specific course available in India so how can one learn sales as a beginner?”
Ans: “Haha, they should learn themselves (chuckles). Jokes apart I learn it all from books there are several books out there to help you. I personally have put in a lot of effort to learn sales and what it takes for a person to change and evolve his mindset as per the situation and how to motivate them to buy something.
So a lot of reading, practical courses not the theory ones and that’s how one can learn. Keep yourself updated and learn from the expert practitioners who are posting about it these days.
I learn from Subodh Subramanyam, he is my mentor, you can follow him too.”
Q: “Last thing I want from you is to give your expert opinion. What are your 3 tips, for sales managers who want to step us and become good managers?”
Ans: “ My Take on this would be, firstly do what you do at best and give your best performance. Secondly, do whatever it takes for your team to be successful and then help your company. If you do it in that order you will see immaculate results. Rather than having a tactic focus on adding value to your team, to your customer as well as your organization and then your growth would be automatic.”
We also got some insight into his life, work journey, and the struggles he faced during our rapid-fire round.
Q: “What is your favorite part of the sales job?”
Ans: “Understanding the audience, their pain point, and their positioning.”
Q: “Do you prefer working from home or working from the office when it comes to sales?”
Ans: “Hahaha, I prefer working from home only.”
Q: “So would you prefer a difficult but big client, or an easy but smaller client?”
Ans: “It depends a lot on the company targets and revenues. If I have to generate a revenue of a million dollars in 3 months then my priority would be my time. Like how much time do I need to invest in follow-ups? So it depends on the company as well as the salesperson. I prefer doing larger deals where I have a deeper relationship with the client. So it’s a very contextual question that depends upon the client, product, and the company.”
Q: “When a client asks for discounts, would you prefer giving him the discount or some extra services instead?”
Ans: “The first thing I think about is, do I want this client for my company or not? Will it be valuable for both of us, and I am not just selling for the price. So I will give the discount if needed.”
Q: “One question, that you always ask while hiring?”
Ans: “So I ask them to tell me one of the most interesting things that they have done in their career and also how you did it. So that gives you an idea about how a person approaches a situation”
Q: “If you could give one piece of advice to yourself 18 years back in time then what would it be?”
Ans: “ Haha, definitely save 10% of your salary. As an entrepreneur, you put everything on the line. Suppose it did not work out, there should be some safety so for that save 10% of your salary.”