Pertinent Thoughts on Sales & What Works

Filed Under (Business) by Rajesh Kumar on 24-06-2009

Should your sales funnel have 100:1 ratio or 5:1? Should you aim only for the CXO connect or even reach out to the Managers and Application Owners?

Inside CRM argues that generating more leads does not necessary lead to more sales, it is the quality of leads really matter. Essential truth about a well differentiated offering chasing dollars based on good understanding of buying behavior in a well segmented market. Blind lead chasing results in tower fabrication company brochure reaching a broker’s mailbox. Don’t compound by following up with a call and seeking a meeting. Stop!

‘Reach the decision-maker’- Am sure anyone in sales selling a high value product or service would have heard this sermon from his boss. CustomerThink poses the question, “Is "Call on the CXO" a Winning Strategy for Salespeople? ” I am not sure I agree with the premise in this article. At least, completely.

The long and short of any complex sale is that there are a set of influencers, a set of buyers and a set of decision makers.Sometimes these roles overlap as well so, it is not A vs B, but A and B.

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Cold Steel is a gripping read

Filed Under (Business Books) by Rajesh Kumar on 23-06-2009

I am reading (once again) a book by Tim Bouquet and Byron Ousey titled Cold Steel which actually covers the Mittal pursuit of Arcelor few years back. The coming together of Arcelor and Mittal resulted in formation of world’s largest steel making company, ArcelorMittal.

The Mittals (Lakshmi and Aditya) were chasing an M&A target that did not see a point in the merger. The CEO was Guy Dolle, who was actually pursuing Dofosco, to gain a scale and not become an Mittal target.

Some very interesting facts. The two parties were advised by two top shot M&A advisors. One worked for Goldman Sachs and went by as Yoel and advised the Mittals, and his counterpart in Arcelor camp was Michael, who worked for Morgan Stanley. Michael Zaoui and Yoel Zaoui were real brothers!

The book is very well researched and written like a story. You feel like you are watching things on the screen. Only one complaint – periodically you come back to real life! A must read!!

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Supply Chain?

Filed Under (Humour) by Rajesh Kumar on 23-06-2009

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This guy was riding atop watermelons. Correction, he was actually asleep atop the watermelons. Supply chain agility, or supply chain adaptability?!

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Google Latitude like App has great enterprise potential

Filed Under (Technology) by Rajesh Kumar on 23-06-2009

Long back, I remember calling one of my friends around dinner time. I did remember he was out of town but wasn’t sure where he told me was going. Those were early days of the mobile phone so I thought what the heck. His number rang for a slightly longish period and then he growled – I am in Sydney and it is 1 AM. What’s it that I wanted? (Later authorities in India mandated that when in international roaming, the caller should be notified).

At workplace many times, not knowing where a colleague is. More so in a multi-time-zone company. A Google Latitude like application, implemented within a corporation could be a great help. Tracking a sales team could be quite a nightmare ( When I say tracking, I don’t mean snooping on their planned vs actual travel, but merely knowing the time-zone for a call appropriateness. It is another matter that many organizations would like to see their guys on a screen just for that, usually fruitlessly).image

Google already has this technology where your location can be shared with friends automatically depending on mobile phone connection. Large organizations buy big number phone connection from one or two vendors.

Maybe the blocks of technology of what I am proposing is already there. Imagine, on your personalized screen in the intranet/extranet, you cannot just look up a person’s contact details, but his current location. You would be wise enough to call a Tampa based colleague an hour beyond his normal time, when you know he/she is in Chicago on business.

Can I expect a reply to an urgent mail? I think that would be cool.

On the flip side, I do agree there are privacy issues. But then technology has to be used meaningfully deployed.. If an organization wants to snoop on the location of its employees, they can always do through other means. This is a cultural dimension and not a technology dimension. Imagine a positive deployment and its potential.

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SaaS/ Cloud Computing versus the perceived disconnect with Data Security

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Rajesh Kumar on 22-06-2009

Since the term Cloud Computing and SaaS gain currency, there has been tremendous excitement in the technology watcher community. The same level of excitement has not seen in the business adoption of these technologies. 

If one were to see the different IT applications, any application with regard to a financial transaction is considered a high risk, compared to one, let’s say, document management. That’s why it is long time since terms such as CC and SaaS are a few years away from online retail, financial services and so on. In comparison, Slideshare, a presentation sharing site and Twitter are hosted on Amazon web services. Risk perception = Difficult to answer the question – Is it a proven and safe?

It is not that SaaS is completely a no-no in the enterprise scene. Salesforce offers  CRM application as SaaS. Salesforce.com had a revenue of little under 250 MN in 2007-08 which is not small pennies. It surely hosts a great amount of valuable data. Google Apps has found great favour with academic institutions across the world resulting in some extremely large implementations. There are quite a few ERP applications on the SaaS mode. At this stage, it is not really a proven to say that data in a cloud of on a SaaS application is any less secure. One the other hand bulk storage is becoming cheaper, thanks to companies such as NetApp.

It is more of a perception thing. Which boils down to the same old point of consumer behavior- Does your product promise hold credibility to generate sales?

Trevor at Kinaxis blog has an interesting argument. He says one of the big issues in Cloud Computing is if the company hosting the CC goes bust, how do you get the data secured? He argues that the on-premise applications are no more secure than those based on the cloud. He also argues that data can be lost by way of a simple printout, which can happen either way. I go with Trevor. Every year we read about sensitive data lost via misplaced or stolen laptops or disks lost in transit, including credit card data. Why, a senior British law enforcement official recently lost his job because he carried a printout of a plan the cover page of which was visible to the media, thereby compromising on the operation.

In short, it is not A vs B when it comes to on-premise application vs SaaS or CC. Both these solutions will probably continue to evolve in parallel, and address different needs.

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Mahindra Satyam identity already under attack by Cybersquatters

Filed Under (Business) by Rajesh Kumar on 22-06-2009

It is only yesterday that the new brand identity Mahindra Satyam was announced but it seems Cyber Squatters have been on the job for a while now.

 SatyamMahindraAfter ICANN developed a mechanism to resolve such squatting, one would be tempted to believe that it is sunset for squatters of corporate brand assets, but clearly not everyone believes so. For instance the domain SatyamMahindra.com has been registered the same day the new identity announced. Clearly, the expectation is that the natural traffic arriving would get them some revenues on the parked page and also to possibly make some quick buck in case the company gets interested in acquiring this squatted domain.

If the above domain was booked on June 21, 2009, the domain MahindraSatyam.com was booked by a Gulf based cyber-squatter on May 08 itself. 

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This was even before the announcement of Tech Mahindra becoming coming out the eventual winner was made. Clearly, someone was just taking chance in the hope of making good money.

 

What is common to the both the cases that both the registrants have not chosen the privacy protection option usually provided by domain registrars, normally, at a small fee. Clearly, both want to be reachable in case someone gets interested.

Mahindra Satyam should move internet governing body ICANN and dispute the ownership of these two domains for reclaiming these two domains. With appropriate documentation, reclaiming should not be so tough.

Updated: Very pertinent Computerworld article on cybersquatting and how to deal with them.

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Blogger is Dead!

Filed Under (Technology) by Rajesh Kumar on 22-06-2009

I find it amazing that the platform that really taught everyone how to blog is stagnant so badly. I am not disappointed just like that, I just felt so after spending 2 hours trying to get even a basic theme to work. Failed and given up!

  1. Good themes are in terribly short supply
  2. Customizing a theme is quite painful.
  3. Try submitting to Google Webmasters. In the face of inexplicable xml errors, you would not know how to do your site verification.
  4. Circular loop error with Feedburner. If you redirect your feed to feedburner, you obviously cannot use the redirected feed to ping or to submit as a sitemap.

Frankly, when I was setting this up, it looked so archaic that I gave up. Not sure what the product management team of Blogger been upto. Good morning to you.

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Birdwatching!

Filed Under (General Jazz) by Rajesh Kumar on 13-06-2009

Back in the days of our engineering education, we used the word ‘bird-watching’ to mean what an ornithologist like Salim Ali would have violently disapproved. That form of ornithology actually meant pulling yourself on a lazy chair in front of hostel rooms in some highly sought -after locations and watching better creations of God cross the area. It was a sport that one could marvel the latest ‘hair-ishtyles’ , the newest dresses and so on, and for all lazy folks like me, required no effort. You just had to take the newspaper and make a pretence of reading it, while peeping through the holes made so thoughtfully! In the days of single TV channel and no internet, this was one entertainment that no one missed!

Decade and half later, times of changed. This time, the real form of bird-watching excites my family.  Here are some shots we took early morning.

 

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I had to take about five shots from about 30 feet away to get a decent view of this bird.

 

 A parrot

A parrot was enjoying the mango breakfast.

 

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This woodpecker was moving so rapidly from one branch to another that it was difficult to locate and focus. Even though the image is not so well focused, this is the best we could get.

 

 

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The palm fruits are just looking so winsome. If only one could reach them.

It is said that mango loyalties are very strong. So a Mumbaikar does not consider a Maleehabadi equivalent to an Alphonso. Biharis think nothing but Langda as the real one, and perhaps the Bongs think all mangoes except for the Malda are fake.  In Chennai it is nothing but the Bainganpallis/Bangarapallis that rule.

Legends have it that in olden days, when the King sent a basket of mangoes as a royal gift to the neighboring kingdom’s ruler, the royal mangoes were punctured with a needle so that the seed cannot be used to grow saplings (ancient variety of terminator technology!).

But when you get a tree next to your house which is laden with mangoes like these, you enjoy them growing every day. Without looking at the variety or label. Why, my wife even made pickle which are just about getting ready now!

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Yes, this is as good as they were. From the rooftop, I could get a basketful.

 

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As it happens, the best mangoes are always, always, just outside the reach!

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The No-Goog Experiment Outcome

Filed Under (Technology) by Rajesh Kumar on 08-06-2009

As I write this, I wonder whether I should call this as outcome or observations – it surely wouldn’t meet my wife’s scientific observation standards (But then which husband or his work has met his wife’s standards anyway?!).

I mentally had the list of Google services I was using, but when I make a list, I find it has a long tail.

  1. Google Search: Very often, several times a day.
  2. Gmail: At least two times a day, more on weekends.
  3. GApps Mail: Same as Gmail
  4. Google Calendar: That reminds me when to pay the school fee and wish non Facebook contacts birthdays, though I am still very bad at it. See the mail alert daily. It comes in the morning.
  5. Blogger: Ocassionally photoblog.
  6. Google Reader: Is usually open, esp on weekends.
  7. Google News: Several times a day.
  8. Picasa:Multiple times a week. I love playing with my camera.
  9. Feedburner: For those who follow this blog via feeds, the rendering is by Feedburner, which is now part of the great G.
  10. Webmaster tools: Ocassionally I do login to check for any indexing issues on my blog.
  11. Adsense: Never made any real money but runs on my blogs nevertheless.
  12. Google Maps: I find myself using it on my phone few times a month(mostly to boast about my phone!)
  13. Google Earth: When someone invites me to a new part of town, I surely look it up.
  14. Chrome: Tried and hated. Uninstalled.
  15. And how do I forget this – YouTube – we love tuning into Bollywood movie songs here. Couple of times a month.
I endured the two days without using Google for any of the searches. Yahoo! and Bing seem to do a good job of it. My problems started with time-zone computation. Before I made a call to London, I just typed ‘Time in London’ in Yahoo!. It gave me lot of answers, except telling the time. Would be a different response with Google.
By evening of first day, I was back to Google News. It has no alternative. Especially when you have just few seconds of time between things to catch up all things significant.
I managed to avoid Google Maps of Google Earth completely. Not even when I was about to go to a friend’s house first time. He simply smsed me lengthy directions. It worked. I would have switched on Google Maps immediately, if I had found any direction related problems.
And then there was Gmail. Because of long usage, it has just so much of information linkages in that I could do without it only for one day. Second day, I received an sms alert from my daughter’s school that effectively said please check your mail, we have sent a communication. End of the experiment.
The results were simple. My web usage mix is such that I cannot live without Google. I am highly dependent on it. Quite a bit of that dependency seems irreplaceable without some pain of going and looking for alternatives. Bing is nice, stand alone competition to Google search, but the Microsoft (or any other) web ecosystem has not yet become so mainstream and well known that we can think of them that way. Period.
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Short One on Chetan Bhagat

Filed Under (Business Books) by Rajesh Kumar on 07-06-2009

True to the promise in the title,  I would keep this one short. While driving yesterday, I was wondering what’s the matter that Chetan Bhagat is a rage in today’s youth – even among those, who do not read anything on an ongoing  basis. I see his books with college students, trainees level folks, folks in diverse professions who are just a few years into their career, and even with some  ’senior citizens’ like me.

After resisting considerably, I read one of his books – The Three Mistakes of My Life.  It has a historical backdrop, relfections of aspirations, drama, love, religion,turmoil, success and failures all seamlessly intervoven in a fast readable storyline. In fact, you do not even realize when he jumps from one to another aspect and still manages to keep the story alive. 

If you haven’t read anything in a while now, I think its time you did. Even suggest that if you travel frequently, you cannot have a better contemporary company. That’s why I am even classifying this post in ‘Business Books’

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