Niranjan N Naik
National sales head - Bosch energy.
Do you alter your sales strategy according to diverse customers? if so, how?
For a given product or service the strategy will vary depending upon the needs and wants of the customer. As sales professionals our task is to identify the problem, the need and offer the solution to meet the need. The first important task is to approach or target the customer by pre-qualification, building value and setting appointments 2) Interview the customer to elicit the core values -people buy feelings and extrinsic needs and this is done by asking the right questions where you will discover values and needs that are essential for making your sales presentation. Based on your interview you prioritise the needs, values and wants/ desires 3) Approach with a solution where you are meeting the highest value needs, wants /desires through a sales presentation which is impactful and well rehearsed with a script 4) Ask for the business and get the Purchase order as fast as possible. Strike when it’s Hot and close the sale immediately. If you have done the first 3 steps correctly , objections are rare as you have already offered solutions the needs of the customer/prospect. The most important step starts after the sale where you start building the trust and convert the relationship with your customer into a higher trust relationship based on how you well you satisfy the problems and needs of the customer. Ultimate aim is to make this customer a lifetime customer and partner so that you get referrals and repeat business. So every customer the approach and strategy will be different .
Does a sales job help with a greater understanding of the market?
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Jeff Bejos “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs . This statement sums up the answer to your question. Sales persons are front line managers who if they listen actively, with empathy and serve customers as per their needs then they build strong trust worthy relationships. You need to stop selling and start helping your customers and your customers will help you in understanding their needs , and requirements . Most customers may not what they want in future very clearly, however if you listen actively you will start addressing their problems and as Steve jobs says you can guide them what will be their next requirement. Offcourse a sales person also needs to be knowledgeable and read on macro and micro factors affecting his industry, competition , close relationship with customer is the most important step . Most marketing / product managers work closely with Sales to understand the market and customer needs, desires and wants. Offcourse these days you can do UX approach to launch products .
What motivated you to choose this career?
I started my career as a lecturer after I passed my engineering and when I really prepared and taught I felt really thrilled and happy. Then after 8 months I joined as a production engineer in a steel company where I realised I had excellent interpersonal skills to handle labour and my communication was great. However I hated working in shifts so I moved to implementing ISO 9001 and TQM company wide . Once again here I saw Myself learning new concepts and communicating the same effectively. Later joined a software company working as a senior customer support manager after which I did a full time MBA in marketing and finance. Here I fully realised what am good in and developed leadership skills, good presentation skills . After this joined as a Product manager/ Brand manger where you are the general manager for the product and you handle the product through the life cycle of the product. This experience was amazing where I learnt excellent marketing makes selling superfluous . During this phase I realised how important it’s to listen to sales people on the ground, how to keep them motivated, how to position your product and yourself in the minds of a sales person who sells a range of products. For a sales person time is money so he will only sell products that move fast. I learnt how to create demand pull, how to enthuse the sale person , to motivate them, create demand pull , and increase sales of the product line that you want. Then how to ensure he is rewarded in the organisation when he has participated in the campaign that you have designed. Later I have handled sales all over MEA and SAARC markets . I have realised all the while that I have always loved meeting and learning from people, unlearning and learning which has been the most important aspect of my career .I have changed my job every 5 years working in different industries, different markets, different countries and all the while learning and believed that your learning curve is always on the growth path when you are doing new things and contributing . Every time I have met customers I have always thought that I need to add value to the customer in every meeting, offer always something more and enrich them . In return you will get sales, richness in experience and learning. I loved travelling and this job I have been able to travel across the world and learning different cultures, appreciating , respecting people as I have realised all over the world people are the same . They all want to be loved , lead a peaceful life and want good things to happen. As a sales and marketing person you can make a difference in every meeting that you have you if actively listen, always think from the customer point of view on how to help and solve his problem and be empathetic. If you can do this with passion , enthusiasm and high energy then you can be an excellent human being and sales person. As a sales person you need to listen, ask the right questions to understand and discover the needs of the customer, then offer solutions that meets these needs. Once sales is done , then your real challenge starts on how to build trust, add value constantly across the customer organisation so that you get repeat sales, referrals and partnership . Most important is to have a strong sense of purpose , your goals needs to be clear your short , medium and life term goals that you need to write it down and follow this . Perperation towards every sales presentation with rehearsals has always been my strength and it always helps. Ziglar says stop selling , start helping. This is very true .Lesson learnt on lost sales is a stepping stone for success. You need have a right perception for failure. Your ego needs to be deep underground , remember customer is the king. You are there because of him. Offer great service and you will get richness in abundance. Trust and service are two things that’s grossly lacking today’s world.
What was the most challenging moment in your career?
Every failure is a great challenge. When you don’t achieve your business plan targets the sales head is responsible and the whole organisation looks at you on the deliverables. So when we failed to deliver sales in 2017 , the target was to achieve extraordinary growth in 2018 and we successfully did it with almost 250% increase in sales . The thrill and the happiness you get is truly amazing when you lead your team towards overachieving the goal. Every moment is a challenge in a sales and marketing persons career. When your customer is angry and critical of you , how patiently you listen, empathise with them , understand the pain point and offer an excellent solution that delights the customer is a challenge. Ehen a customer reacts he is a bundle of emotions and various people react differently. How strong your emotional quotient is plays a important role. There are times they get personal. Then your attitude plays an important role in how to take this issue based and offer solution and then add additional value is important. Remember you willing give more and graciously receive . This is the law of the universe and it has never gone wrong. Most challenging moments are simple problems with simple solutions if you understand the real pain point and need .
How do you see your job evolving in the future?
With 20 years of corporate experience am looking to be a personality development and sales trainer and consultant. I want to learn , share, coach , mentor and change life’s of people for good.
What's the advice you would like to give to an aspiring sales-professionals?
Customer is the king . Lots of people think that selling is all about fast talking , being smart and pulling a fat one on the customer. The key to selling is not selling but providing and key to providing is knowing in advance what to provide to the customer by asking relevant questions to understand the needs , wants and desires by listening emphatically. Ziglar says key to selling is to stop selling and start helping. Build trust and this what is most lacking thing in sales and build relationships by providing exemplary service. Follow the sales process and prepare and practice your lines and presentation as per the top 3 or 5 needs of the customer. Remember sales actually starts after you get the order , on how you are going to service the customer by providing the service that he required, how you solve his pain point and how you add extra value and build trust so that you start building a strong relationship with the customer . you main objective should be convert this customer to a life time customer and also get referrals as well. Remember “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” – Bill Gates (Founder, Microsoft) .Your first step when he is critical of you is to LISTEN actively and empthasie with him and apologise first after finding out where you failed to meet his need. Look from his point of view why he is critical of you. Normally it will be because you have not met his important needs . Understand by asking the right questions. Use voice modulation in being apologetic and show emotion and understanding . Once your customer has understood you are on his side next step is to see how you can address his pain point after internal discussions . Internally discuss with your company on how long it will take to address the pain point. Convey the same by adding 1 or two days extra on the delivery of solution to his pain point. Follow up to close his pain point till he confirms the problem is sorted. Timely communication, empathetic service, always pick calls and if you are busy send SMS that u will call back and meet the commitment .Your service to him has to be exceptionally great and after this if you add a surprise by adding additional value to them, then you have built a strong trust and relationship for future business.
How did you rise in your role as a sales-professionals, what career hacks can you share?
Most important career hack is you need to know 1) Your customer is the king2) Key to selling is not selling but Helping . 3) More you service the customer and give him more than he asked for and build value , the note orders you will get 4) Always answer your customers call , if you are busy message him you will call at a certain time and return his call 5) Never let an opportunity go to meet a customer, it’s always better to meet and customer and listen to his pain points, talk less and ask specific questions about his needs, understand how important solving his needs would be in terms of the solution to problem, how fast does he require the service , what are his motivations , 6) Use key account management approach to connect at all levels of yet buying organisation7) Offer genuine compliments of your purchase contact to his bosses and other colleagues during these high level meetings8) Add value to the buying centre and make them feel really important 9) Always answer calls and if you cannot return back call immediately by first sending an sms 10) Angry complaining customer is an opportunity to address his pain points and make him a life time customer 11) An unstatisfied customer will stop complaining and then he will complain and bad mouth your brand for 20 different customers 12) Always practice your presentation pitch and rehearse the same 10 times 13) Prepare every time you meet your customer and in every meeting offer them value so that they appreciate you for the value provided 14) Moat important part is stop selling and start helpibg15) Remember before you approach the customer and acquire the sale you need to visualise and imagine that sale is already in your hand and be positive by thinking that this customer is yours and start actioning your thoughts . Thoughts - Words- Beilief -Action-Results . this is how a sale gets done. I now head my organistation sales as National sales head with both domestic and international experience across steel, automotive, consumer goods , construction and energy industry . For me it’s been an enriching learning experience that I cherish and every customer interaction am learning something new always. You need to be a great listener.
What is your biggest concern at your job? How do you manage it?
1) Biggest concern is to achieve the business plan targets as your company financials depend on the sales team ability to achieve the target with meeting both top line and making a profitable sale. 2) Keeping your associates trained and motivated 3) Building trust and enduring partnership with your customers which means everybody in your organisation is working towards customer satisfaction . How do you manage it - You need to have strategic planning process where you clearly define goals based on your business plan , clearly define targets, analyse the market, competition, swot analysis, analyse trends and how it will affect your business , macro and micro economic fundamentals , Sales pipeline and order status , risk mitigation measures when you see the gaps , analyse the risks every quarter , weekly or monthly sales tracking, execution of your strategic plans with the help of sales associates so that they own up the target 🎯 and achieve the same. All of you need to work towards the common goal . Adopt contingency plans and be ready to switch to new plans if you fail . Never give up and most important is perfection in execution. When things are not going well , shout for help as others in the organisation are there to support you . Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Organize strategic plans in advance in Q4 middle so you can plan very well. Have an attractive sales incentive plan .
What are the 3 things every successful sales-professionals must-have?
Threes things successful sales people need are 1 ) key to selling is not selling but helping . So listen emphatically to the needs of the customer 2) Building trust : If your product/ service deliverables does not meet customer expectations then say it clearly so that he appreciates you. Do not cheat your customer 3) Questions : Ask your customers a number of questions that will make you understand the needs , wants and desires of the customers . So that you can offer an excellent solution . Paraphrase and repeat the question with your understanding of his needs so that he agrees and concurs.
How has your job evolved over the years?
I have always looked for enriching learning experiences , hence I have changed my assignment every 5 years across multiple industries in product management , sales , international sales and project management when there were problems . Overall lots of learning and excitement when you are responsible for both domestic and international markets .
How was your experience with your first job?
I have worked as a Brand Manager at Bosch India for the Automotive after market where I was responsible for a sale of 300 crores annually . The first few months my boss sent me on a all India tour for 4 to 5 months to understand the market and customers . This gave me an amazing knowledge , understanding customers , listening skills as you cannot talk as you are a rookie so you only ask questions and listen. So my seniors adviced me to prepare for each meeting . For every dealer meeting, I knew of the dealers lady 3 years sales, his pain points, strengths and weakness . So every meeting I tried to learn as much as possible and add value to him by taking his feedback , making a minutes and passing to the right office for redress all and then I followed up as well. As a brand manager we were responsible for launching new trade goods , identifying suppliers , negotiating and launching the product as per the product management process. We were general managers of the product , hence we learnt to handle the product through the product life cycle . How to ensure you position your product Line in the minds of the sales person who has a choice to sell from his large basket of products available , how do you motivate him to specifically focus on your product line and sell, how to create demAnd pull and be with the sales persons during promotion campaigns , training, product recalls , customer related issues etc. This journey for the next 5 years was the most enriching experience as I had all the things that I aspired for which was challenges, travelling across various parts, recognition, and learning and growth as well.
How do you handle customer objections or arguments?
Gosl of objection management is to foster a deeper level of trust and captivate your audience. Mostly objections are systems of poor selling process . This happens when we have failed to understand the intrinsic and extrinsic needs of customers . Taking time to understand the root of the objection is important whether it’s connected to the real need that you can solve or it’s just another hidden agenda. If the customer has already a preferred source and he is only getting the details of offer then you need to estimate whether this your potential customer . If he is your future potential customer , then maintain relationship and keep offering value on a continuous basis with key decision makers and stakeholders such as purchase team, user team so that you can come back again into the sale at the right time. There are various steps to handle objections 1) Thank the customer for his feedback and find out the exact concerns and objections2) Empathise with the customer do that they are more keen to open up and help you to discover the root of the objection3) Understand the real pain and root of the objection. Always restate the objection you have discovered to get customer confirmation. You need to build a relationship in the prospect organisation who is your opinion maker. 4) Show value of your offer in quantifying your offer in terms of ROI. 5) Share customer references and experiences . Always note that you need to know that objection is due to a poor selling process and if you wrap your solutions in terms of values and benefits that will uniquely help the customer, then the order is yours.
What role did your educational background play in your career?
An an engineer and an MBA in marketing. My engineering and MBA learning’s played a significant role in shaping my career and achieving my goals. one of the most important aspects is you need to learn and unlearn yourself constantly . learning is a continuos process and it cannot stop . You need to learn always from everybody that you meet . they will be truly good at something they will be doing . So keep learning
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Describe a typical day at work for you?
Typical work day starts with planning the prior day in the night , on activities and tasks planned for next day. Monthly plan broken down into weekly plan and then daily. Day starts by waking up at 5.30 to start yoga , meditation and pranayama till 7 pm. Followed by early morning reading time of 30 mins while heater is on for a bath . Breakfast and cycle to office between 8.30 pm to 8.45 am. Start of the day is spent on the most productive task that is engaging with customer calls to fix appointments, discussions and prepare the first hour and half of the day on reviewing proposals, pricing discussions with customers. Mails were replied after in order of priority - most important mails get replied first - customer , boss , team and rest are taken up later. Priortise the day with those 20% activities that give 80% of the results. Meetings fixed are planned and attended which normally takes 2 to 3 hrs of the day. Before hitting the lunch plan for my official customer trips which takes an 30 mins. Normally I travel 2 to 3 days a week. Fix meetings with sales associates to review pending proposals, strategise on the approach after the lunch for 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs. Lunch meetings planned with associates or colleagues to discuss on important tasks , projects in progress. I try hard to ensure customer focus activities occupies at least 40% to 50% of the time . Firefighting , mails , meetings occupy the balance 50% of the time .I try to plan one on one with associates , stand up meetings reviewing . As a part of senior management our Meetings started just about when we decide to leave - reporting to Germany etc. W Ed start leaving office by 7.30 pm or 8 pm everyday . Travel time is what I loved where you are on your own with your team with customers , the most productive time that I have spent , interacting , learning and evening times were always fun with associates hitting great restaurants and pubs .
When do you stop pursuing a client?
Durng the period-qualification stage you would have assessed the prospects potential for your business in terms of the order size, referral business , number of transactions or sales per year , revenue per year , client life cycle . Based on the above you determine the lifetime client value. This question arises when you have lost an order. If the lifetime value of the client is high and is a high potential client , start studying the client by mapping his needs, buying pattern, decision making people , key influencers etc and start adding value and keep in regular touch based on the clients buying pattern. Based on the buying cycle keep monthly follow up schedule or even weekly and keep adding value to key decision makers so that you are on the top of the mind of the customer. This is you do only when your values and shared essence matches with your customer buying values , systems and processes. For eg if your company is strictly against bribes then it’s better not to have prospects buying organization that expects bribes. Also check about your customer through credit rating reports , vendors on his credibility on payments , financial strength approach of doing business etc. Adopt a key account approach on high potential customer so that you as a brand are always on the top of the mind. STOP pursuing the client if shared essence does not match. If he is a low profit and high maintenance client , this you will find out as you are dealing and getting experienced
How soon do you revise your target strategies?
Targets are set annually as per the business plan which are sacrosanct. However targets are reviewed on weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly , half yearly basis based on the company policies. Reviews are done on a continuous basis to assess your distance from the target. In the curent scenario Covid-19 all forecast of the targets may need to be revised, reassessed and fixed newly. In any scenario you always do a Risk assessment matrix based on macro and micro economic factors , key trends and other factors that can impact your sale at least 4 times a year and you factor in most situations. Review of target is a continuous ongoing process and forecasts of the target will be revisited based on various factors . Forecasts will be given every two months against your target and you keep it dynamic based on the growth and sales. If sales goes down and no chance of going up , forecasts are revised downwards with risk mitigation measures. Likewise if you exceeding your target forecast of sales are revised upwards, keeping the target fixed. The most important part is to always capture lessons learnt of success or failures so that we can repeat the success and learn from our failures. Target is sacrosanct , however forecasts will change based on business scenario. Hope this helped.
What is your approach towards uninterested customers?
How important is this customer to you . Have you done a proper pre-qualification of your customer/prospect. If the customer is a life time client with high potential then keep in constant touch with the customer with key account approach till you crack the account. Presistence and determination is important trait of an excellent sales professional. Why is the customer uninterested. This could be due to reasons that your company and your offer does not meet his shared essence, values or it could be that you have not understood the needs , wants and desires of customers . Customers are only interested if they find value in what you are offering them, how well prepared you are, your first impact, your customers references and how well you can meet their needs and solve their problems. Please note customers buy ing into feelings and emotions. As long as your solution meets his emotional needs with logic the sale is made. keep adding value to your uninterested customer by understanding his buying center, build relationships with key influencers, share your success stories , new product, adopt key account management approach. DO this only if he is high potential customer. If he is not then there are other fishes to fish 🤪 focus there
What are the pros and cons of being a sales professional?
The greatest inhibitor to sales or any job is ‘ the lack of greater sense of purpose’. Once you identify your purpose with regards to your goals , you will create a strong PULL power , which is the greatest motivating factor for the work you perform. so creating a strong goal, planning for the same and follow through is really important . Pros: 1. Money and incentives that you can earn; 2. Self esteem increase :whenever a sales is made that ecastatic feeling you get for every sale made and the accomplishment and adrenaline rush keep you high till your next sale,3) Flexibility and freedom : to plan your day and able to complete tasks with accountability and responsibility 4) Entrepreneurship : with a Ceo mindset every sales person is an entrepreneur and can achieve his own business plan which is his target 🎯 as long as he is focused on his goal in a SMART way. 5) Relationship building : sales is a challenging job and every time you understand and offer solution to your prospect as per his needs and add more value you build a strong relationship that is very satisfying . this also results in referrals. 6) Networking: meeting new customers and people every day gives you an ability to build a strong network of friends and colleagues who open wide opportunities 7) Learning and unlearning: If you have the right attitude , then you can learn and unlearn from your customers every meeting. Ultimately we as individuals if we help enough other people to get what they want you will never miss a sale. CONS: 1) Stressful : if you don’t make your targets and plan properly you will be under huge stress from your boss and peers . Also you might not make your target income if you don’t achieve your targets 2) Lonely and unforgiving: sales career can be lonely as you need to be an excellent planner and also execute your plan with lots of hard and smart work. Strong sense of accountability and self motivation are really important specially in times when you are hitting the valleys of your sales career. Most of the time you may need to handle a NO from your prospects who not even want to talk to you. 3) Focus on Results only by management : you are measured on the sales top line and bottom line only. Excuses and reasons are not accepted 4) High expectations : expectations of the management is for the sales person to deliver despite all odds , forecast accurately and meet the forecasts, make a sale but don’t give decision making authority and support where required etc. However if the sales persons follows the right selling techniques and process he can make more money in less time with less stress, now that’s the beauty of a successful sales person. High trust selling and relationship building with customers is the key to success
Can you explain the steps you take, from the beginning of the sales process to the end?
Successful sales people follow the below steps religiously : The Approach -Prospect identification and Pre -qualification of prospects along with making the contact is the first step. Prospecting is the blood that will keep your sales business alive , not just when you are starting off. It does not matter on quantity of prospects you have what is important is the quality of prospects and how you pre-qualify the prospects .Prequalification : Is the most important step as you need to determine whether your prospect is a time user or time abuser , it’s important to get ready, take aim and then fire at the prospect. steps here are first to find if the essence and values match with the prospect, credit rating of the prospect along with financial analysis, client life time potential of the prospect etc. Next you need to create an approach letter of the prospect. Approach letter needs to evoke a sense of genuine curiosity in your prospects , give an introduction of yourself , give USP , and add more value to the client through the service and ask for an appointment. Follow up within 48 hrs of sending the mail for an appointment and when you call ensure u talk for not more than 90 secs 2) Interview : It’s very important to make an high impact opening . During the interview you do needs assessment of core values that are intrinsic and identifying the highest value needs which are extrinsic - values on why the prospect wants to do business with you. It’s important to ask meaningful questions to understand the needs and prioritise them as there will be more than 3 to 4 needs. The interview helps you ascertain what you must be selling to gain both the trust and business of the prospect. It’s about learning how to serve the prospect in the best possible way. During the time of the interview if you learn you cannot service the prospect then don’t pursue any further. 3) offering solution: The presentation is about offer captivating and fulfilling solutions as per the needs of the customers . Your presentation should offer them clearly and truthfully. With this the prospects themselves will close the sale 4) Closing and objection handling: If your solution has met the prospects needs then prospects themselves will give you the sale. Objections are a result of poor selling process. Identifying and asking the right questions to determine the needs and offering the pain points of objection are important so that you can offer a value proposition that provide the ROI and close the sale 5) Referrals: Real sale starts after the sale is made on how you serve your customer and what value proposition you offer clearly demonstrates that relationship is more important than revenues and the person is more important than profits. With this the customer becomes a life time client with high potential for referrals and repeat business . Ultimate aim is to convert the relationship to partnership.
Can you walk us through the most successful steps you took to land your most successful sale?
We did this deal for 110 cr sale for a 28 MW solar plant for a real estate developer. This was a classic case study where we had been trying to hunt for big solar deals and had been working on 3 to 4 large deals which was over 100 cr. This was the first deal over 100 cr the company did with me as head of sales. Project sales approach its different compared to product sales where you sell the concept and your reputation of previous instalments and this requires different approach where you sell conceptually the building of solar power plant , your reputation, engineering expertise , project execution capabilities etc . Competition is normally intense and you always have players trying to reduce costs, guide customer to different directions. Things we did differently were as follows: Well we applied the lessons learnt on previous acquisitions that we lost. As it’s said to continually move towards success you must have the right perception of failure and learn from the lessons learnt. We got this inquiry through a channel partner that the X company- a software park developer was interested in setting up solar park and we had our initial meetings from which we understood their most important NEED and criteria for selection of the EPC( engineering procurement construction co) was they needed a company that can help them secure land for setting the solar plant and whoever could do it , there was a greater chance to get the order. Offcourse this company also needed to ensure their installations done previously were of great quality and service. In Initial meeting understanding of the NEED was very clear . However we at Bosch normally do not directly buy land or get involved due to ethical and compliance related issues on buying and converting land. So our approach was to identify lands that were readily available and have all the documentation perfect so that customer gets a completed turnkey solution and we are not involved in any compliance related issue. Our previous 3 losses of big projects helped us a lot in this regard as land was one of the key requirements there as well. We were working on a similar project Y where another company could not get financial closure of their project . We used this company land and brought the customer X and the company Y together and facilitated land discussions at the higher management level . The advantage we had was our Brand name which was very strong, also our customer X had expertise on land acquisitions and this was an advantage to us. So we had first passed the first hurdle and had secured entry into the race as one of the shortlisted EPC partners. The first meeting was held in Q4 and we received call during Dec last week the company was interested in finalising the deal very fast. We created a team of 3 of us with sales, engineeering and design background and approached the customer to understand further needs with regards to their requirements. We realised they wanted a company that could give them ‘peace of mind ‘ during the installation of the solar plant , ‘ professionalism which means no requirement of follow up -updates and speed of execution within 3 months or lesser time ‘ , and excellent quality of work. Discussions progressed in Jan as well and we were hurtling towards deadline that is installation of solar plant before March 31st. So we acted as if the order was ours and started designing the plant before the order was received. We mapped the organisation decision matrix on who are the opinion makers, influencers , gate keepers etc. Discussions progressed fast and we offered the best solutions during the presentation to their stakeholders . We targeted different sales pitch with solution to different stakeholders. To the finance expert we talked about cost optimisation and value in terms of finance that we could offer along with commercial terms, to project manager we offer the engineering and design expertise, execution expertise and experience, quality of raw materials that we would use, to the influencer we offered solution in terms of accessibility and speed to handle project milestones. We had satisfied each of key players and were shortlisted and we realised they had to go on their annual foreign trip . So we realised that the best thing to do was close this hot deal immediately on the same day .So we stayed back and requested for a letter of intent immediately as the time frame was very less as we had just 50 days to build a plant . They would be coming back after a week and it would be very late to start after that. We took a letter of intent with advance payment which was a token advance. They offered this by the next day which was a Saturday before they left for their holiday destination. Most important steps were 1) understanding and meeting the customer needs and by prioritising them and 2) addressing each of them during the presentation while offering solutions to close the order. 3) Closing the order was really important as we planned our approach based on 4) excellent key account approach of understanding customer value systems, timing and vital info that our channel partner could provide. All this helped in building trust on us and placing the order and we closing the sales by insisting on LOI immediately before they leave for their trip with also token advance. 5) Project sales starts after project is secured and that’s where you start working on building and strengthening your trust with your customer, where you ‘walk the talk’. It requires 6) focused efforts to get the advance paid on time, project milestones shared and milestone payments secured as per LC , get LC on time to secure your payment. 7) Project updates given on time and ensure sales is supporting projects in building relationships with customer . 8) Follow up and successfully delivering on all statutory compliance related government process on time . We executed the project faster than our other competition who had secured another project, our execution quality was excellent, feedback’s and suggestions given were precise , receivables collected completely, and we have established a strong trust with this customer now. Customer has also given us additional business in their other locations as well. Overall this was a classic and best execution in terms of the completed turnkey where all payments were collected with no dues and good EBIT as well. Rarely happens in a project sales as some or other payment will be left due to punch points not completed .
How do you deal with criticism from clients?
Customer is the king . “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” – Bill Gates (Founder, Microsoft) .Your first step when he is critical of you is to LISTEN actively and empthasie with him and apologise first after finding out where you failed to meet his NEED. Look from his point of view why he is critical of you. Normally it will be because you have not met his important needs . Understand by asking the right questions. Use voice modulation in being apologetic and show emotion and understanding . Once your customer has understood you are on his side next step is to see how you can address his pain point after internal discussions . Internally discuss with your company on how long it will take to address the pain point. Convey the same by adding 1 or two days extra on the delivery of solution to his pain point. Follow up to close his pain point till he confirms the problem is sorted and remind him you have delivered earlier than the timeline given- underpromise and over deliver. Timely communication, empathetic service, always pick calls and if you are busy send SMS that u will call back and meet the commitment .Your service to him has to be exceptionally great and after this if you add a surprise by adding additional value to them, then you have built a strong trust and relationship for future business. More often than not, the process of learning from your business mistakes can indeed prevent future disputes. Most importantly, archiving this data and flagging down reoccurring incidents can permanently improve your service while creating a far more pleasant workplace. The results are irrefutable: sustainability, scalability, and success. Document Lessons learnt and share. After customer is satisfied and delighted from you additional value you have added ask for his recommendation letter and then referral.