Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Leadership Skills

Hello everyone,

Here I am again with my new post on Leadership Skills. Few days before I was wondering about what skills make people great leaders. Then I did some research and in this post I am highlighting about skills required to become a great leader.

1. Leaders expect great things from their people and drive them to achieve extraordinary results.
2. It isn't how much you know that matters. What matters is how much access you have to what other people know. It isn't just how intelligent your team members are; it is how much of that intelligence you can draw out and put to use.
3. They get more productivity from their currently available resources.
4. They take the time to get to know each person and to understand the capabilities they brought to the team.
5. Leaders identify several roles within the company where they could operate at a higher point of contribution.
6. Leaders studies people. They watches them until they figure out what they are great at.
7. Leaders remove the barriers that block the growth of intelligence in their people.
8. Leaders give permission to make mistakes; people have an obligation to learn from the mistakes and not repeat them.
9. They create space, demand people's best work and generate rapid learning cycles.
10. They better leverage their best salespeople.
11. Leaders develops the talent of the team.

Please let me know what you think about this. Share your opinion in the comment box below.

Reference: Multipliers- How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman with Greg Mckeown.

Friday, March 25, 2011

10 Tips for effective follow up with prospects

In this post I am writing about the tips for effective follow up with prospects. Effective follow up plays an important role in closing a sales deal.

1. To start with the follow up process it is necessary to have a list of all prospects so as to track the status.
2. Keep updating the status after every follow up through email or call. Make a note of  conversation had with prospect, next follow up date and next action plan. 
3. If at some point of time you think that the prospect is not interested at all in your products or services then move on to the next prospect. 
4. If you have sent an email to the prospect then wait for the reply for 1-2 days. If you don't get any reply from the prospect then make the follow up call.  
5. Ask your prospect when would be a good time to follow up with him. Call him on the same day and at the same time as told by the prospect.
6. If the prospect is not answering your calls due to some reason then instead of calling again and again send the follow up email. You can also mention that you were trying to reach him today but could not get him on line.
7. You should have good technical knowledge about your products or services. If you think you will not be comfortable to answer questions raised by the prospect then make sure the technical person is there in the call to clarify any queries.
8. Make sure you are always polite while sending the emails.
9. Always send personalized emails
10. If your prospect is located in the same place then you can also try for a face to face meeting.

I hope this helps, please leave comments if you have any questions or thoughts on this.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Project Management

Project Management is the use of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques, to plan and implement activities to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project.
Project Management includes developing a project plan which includes defining and confirming the project goals and objectives, identifying tasks and how goals will be achieved, quantifying the resources needed, and determining budgets and timelines for completion.
Project Management Lifecycle
The Project Management lifecycle has four phases:
1. Project Initiation
2. Project Planning
3. Project Execution and
4. Project Closure
Project Initiation - The project initiation phase is the first phase in the project management lifecycle. In this phase a business problem (or opportunity) is identified and a business case which provides various solution options is defined. The project initiation phase is the crucial phase in the project lifecycle, as it's the phase in which you define your scope and appoint your team. Only with a clearly defined scope and a suitably skilled team, you can ensure success.
Project Planning - The project planning phase is the second phase in the project lifecycle. In this phase the project manager defines the requirements for completing the project. That means the project manager identifies the number of resources and how much expense is involved in the project, as well as any other requirements that are necessary for completing the project. The project manager identifies the project constraints. Constraints typically relate to schedule, resources, budget and scope.
Project Execution - This phase involves the execution of each activity and task listed in the project plan.The execution phase is where you and your project team actually do the project work to produce the deliverables. This phase involves implementing the plans created during the project planning phase.
Project Closure - The Project Closure Phase is the fourth and last phase in the project life cycle. Project Closure involves handing over the deliverables to your customer. The project closure phase consists of the processes that are performed to officially finish and close all the assignments in a project or phase.  The project deliverables are reviewed by the customer according to the agreed acceptance criteria, and formally accepted.

If you want to know more about project management lifecycle, then please go through this reference:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sales and Marketing Interview Questions

Whenever one wants to learn something or make sure one is competent enough to take any challenge in this field, one should be aware of the topics that one needs to cover, then the next point is how much has already been covered and how much is yet to be covered. Below is a list of roughly drafted sales and marketing interview questions in no particular order. Keep in view that the below list covers most of the questions, it's not exhaustive and it can be used as a reference check to make sure you have covered everything.

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • Why do you want to leave the organization you work for?
  • What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
  • Why are you looking for a job in a field that's not related to your major?
  • Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10
  • Where do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now?
  • Sell a product to me. For example: Pen
  • Why have you selected sales and marketing as your career?
  • What major deals have you closed or in other words major clients you have acquired in past 6 months?
  • What targets you were given in this job?
  • How much target have you achieved from the assigned target?
  • Are you willing to travel?
  • Would you be willing to relocate if required?
  • Your resume shows a gap in your work history. What happened?
  • Can you create well written documents?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sales Pitch

A sales pitch is a planned presentation of a product or service designed to initiate and close a sale. The very first thing you need to do is to research about your prospect and their business. Understand about their business and requirements and develop a customized sales pitch to suit their requirements.
Make your sales pitch targeted, simple and focused. It should be easy to understand and should be targeted to your prospect’s business. Deliver the sales pitch with confidence. Good knowledge about your product or service is essential and you must be prepared for any questions that can come from your prospect.
In the sales pitch talk about your prospect’s needs and the solution you can offer for their requirement. Also include the features and benefits of the product and relate these features with the prospect’s requirement. While delivering the sales pitch you should communicate the value you can bring to the prospect or we can say potential customer. Try to capture your prospect’s attention while delivering sales pitch.
Include customer testimonials to make your sales pitch more effective. Last but not the least you should have good listening skills. If the prospect has any concerns then you need to clarify those concerns and any of the objections raised by the prospect.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sales Process

A sales process is simply a series of steps that enable you to close more sales and generate more repeat business. The sales process steps can be summarized as below:
Product Knowledge - Good knowledge about your products or services is very essential. You should have knowledge about your competitors and customers as well.
Market Research - Market research and clear understanding on which industries are growing is very important in sales process. Identifying which geographical regions you want to target for lead generation.
Lead Generation and Prospecting - Collect the leads through different sources by cold calling, exhibitions, seminars, networking, marketing etc. You can set qualifying criteria for leads as I have discussed in my previous post on Sales Reports. Make a database and get all the information related to leads.
Try to find out the key decision makers in functions such as product design, engineering, sales and marketing, and manufacturing. Find out their email addresses along with their contact numbers.
The important point here is that if you have got five email addresses in a day then you should send these mails the very same day. Send emails immediately because getting the response from the prospects takes time.
Give 1-2 days time after sending the emails and then you can start calling the prospects. Keep updating the database from time to time.
Fixing Appointment - Try to fix an appointment for face to face meeting or online demonstration. Confirm the appointment by email.
Presentation - Understand the needs and objectives of your prospect. Talk about the benefits and value you can bring to the prospect.  If you think that the prospect is interested in your product or service then you can send the proposal to take this ahead.
Overcome Objections - The objections from the prospect can come from price, benefits, technology etc. Therefore overcoming objections is very crucial in the sales process.
Closing a Deal - Continuous follow up, building relationship with the prospect and maintaining relationship with the existing customers will help in finally closing the deal.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sales Reports

Here I am sharing with you about kind of reports you can actually generate that will help you to track almost everything related to sales. You can create a database in MS Excel and simply can take a print out to review these reports for sales meetings.

Leads Report - Here you can gather all the information about your leads. The fields in this report are: Company Name, Annual Sales/Turnover, Number of Employees, Contact Person, Designation, Contact Number, Fax Number, Email Id, Address, Location, Website, Email Status and Call Status.

You can set qualifying criteria for lead generation. Annual Sales/Turnover and Number of Employees are the parameters that can be used as lead qualifying criteria. For example: You want to generate leads with INR 10 Crores or more as turnover and with 100 or more as employees.

Pipeline Report - This report is used to create, maintain and manage your sales pipeline data. Pipeline report contains potential customers whom you think can become your customers in specific time period. The fields in this report are: Potential Customer Name, Product Suggested, Proposal Date, Expected Order Value, Expected Order Date, Current Status and Issues.

Sales Projection Report - A sales projection provides an estimate of a company’s prospective sales for a given timeframe. A sales projection can be prepared for each product and/or service that the company is offering. The most commonly used sales projection reports are: monthly, quarterly, yearly. This report includes the information about Estimated Sales. The fields in this report are: Potential Customer Name, Product, Expected Order Value and Expected Order Date.

Proposal Report - Information about proposals can be tracked in this report. The fields in this report are: Company Name, Contact Person, Designation, Contact Number, Email Id, Product Suggested, Proposal Date and Current Status.

Customer Report - This is basically your customer information database at one place. The fields in this report are: Customer Name, Contact Person, Designation, Contact Number, Email Id and Location.

Projects Report - You can keep a track of all your projects in this report. This helps to track the number of projects you are handling, their status and issues if any that needs to be resolved. The fields in this report are: Customer Name, Contact Person, Designation, Contact Number, Email Id, Project, Current Status, Issues and Action to be taken.

You can include or exclude fields in the reports as per your requirement. The point to remember is that the report should capture all the necessary data.

Monday, February 28, 2011


In this article I am sharing my views all about advertising. Advertising is required to take the product to the market and to get the attention of the customers. For example: New product launches that means if you are launching a new product then you can go for advertising so as to reach the target market. The advertising process starts with creating an advertising brief where advertising brief is a document confirming understanding between you and an an advertising agency on objectives of an advertising campaign, identification of the target market, strategies to be adopted in reaching the market, the time frame of the campaign and its total estimated cost.

The next step is to do the market research about your competition. You need to think on what needs to be communicated and what are the unique selling points for your product or service.

Once you have understood the market and you have all your research done you can start your advertising campaign.

Here I am listing down some of the key points that helps in successful advertising:
1. You should always think like your customers.
2. Doing research for what customer likes and dislikes.
3. The whole idea of the advertisement should catch the attention of the customers.
4. The advertisement should have a customer focus.

The benefit of the advertising is in increased product sales and to give informative knowledge i.e. to introduce the new product and how it is different from other products.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Exhibition Planning

In this article I am writing about how to plan exhibitions effectively. Exhibition planning needs a marketing plan including pre-show, at-show and follow-up plan which I will discuss one by one.

Pre-show Planning
1. Assembling a team of people who have the necessary skills and experience.
2. Exhibition budget should be prepared.
3. Research about the exhibition and about the organizers before deciding to get registered. Check the past exhibitors list to get an idea of what kind of companies have previously participated in this.
4. Register in the exhibition in which you want to participate.
5. The next step is to get the information about the floor plan of the exhibition and the costs associated with it. 
6. Discuss with your managing team and decide about the exhibition space you want for your exhibition stall. Identify what kind of space best suits your sales/product placement.
7. Reserve the space that best suits your requirement.
8. Send email to the prospective customers and existing customers telling them about your participation in the exhibition.

At-show Planning
1. Carry a visitor book to record the information about the visitors and the important information that you can use for post show follow-up.
2. Laptop is needed at the time of exhibition for showing any demonstration or presentation.
3. Carry your visiting Cards to exchange with the people visiting your stall.
4. Develop a presentation in an auto run mode that means the presentation plays in loop so that you don't have to play the presentation all over again each and every time.
5. Company brochures are required in the exhibition to give to the people visiting your stall.
6. Last but not the least keep a visiting cards bowl at your stall so that the visitors can drop their visiting cards in it.

Follow-up planning
1. Create a database of leads generated through this exhibition.
2. Send the thank you email to all the visitors for visiting your stall in the exhibition. This is done to get the direct response from the recipient.
3. Wait for the response and call the prospects next day to follow-up on any requirement or as discussed at the exhibition.
4. Do the continuous follow-up to get more responses.

I hope this helps, please leave comments if you have any questions or thoughts on this.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lead Generation Techniques

Lead generation means creating prospective customer interest in your products or services. Lead generation can be done through various ways as listed below:

Exhibitions - Leads can be generated by participating in exhibitions and making a list of companies and people who all have visited your stall. After the exhibition send all the visitors a thank you mail for visiting your stall in the exhibition. This helps in reaching the right companies and the people who might be interested in your products and services.

Cold calling - Cold calling is the process of approaching prospective customers generally through telephone, people who were not expecting such an interaction.

Direct Mail - Direct emailing also proves very effective if the email is sent to the right person or to the decision maker. Direct mail is generally used to generate a direct response from the recipient.

Channel partners - Channel partners market or sell the manufacturers products or services.

Advertising - Advertising means bringing a product or service to the attention of prospective customers and current customers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Email Writing Tips

Here I am focusing on tips for writing professional emails. Writing efficient and effective email is always useful in terms of productivity and responsiveness. You should keep the following points in mind while writing emails.

1. The subject line should be meaningful because the recipient gets an idea about the email from the subject line. That means subject line should convey the message clearly to the recipient. Also the recipient might be receiving lot of emails and decides after seeing the subject line whether to reply, forward, delete the email. Never leave the subject line blank.

2. Use an appropriate greeting in the email. Address the email to only one person. If you want to include more people then you can use cc or bcc in the email.

3. The body of the email should not be very long. The email should be short with easy to understand sentences.

4. Before sending the email always do the spell check to avoid any kind of mistakes in the email.

5. Font and formatting also matters while writing email. Font used should be easy to understand.

6. Emails should be personalized as it creates more impact on the recipient.

7. The closing lines of the email should make it clear whether a reply is necessary or not.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sales Skills

In this article I am focusing on skills required for successful sales or in other words closing a sales deal. Before getting in touch with the prospect you should have prerequisite knowledge.You should have technical, product, customer, competitors and market knowledge.You can visit the customer's website for more information about the customer.

Selling requires good communication and listening skills. Each and every person in the sales team should speak a common selling language. When you contact the prospect first time try to find out the decision maker for that particular product or domain. Once you have identified the decision maker you can reach the person directly. Selling is a step by step process in which first you will have to identify the needs and problems of the prospect. Once you have understood their problems try to convince the prospect about the benefits of the product and how your product can help them to overcome the problems they are facing.

While giving the presentation include the similar kind of case studies. In simple words tell the prospect how your customers have been benefited using the same product. This helps in building the confidence of the prospect as you all know "Seeing is believing".

During the presentation demonstrate about the ROI (Return On Investment) and the ROI time period. Also ask quality questions to fully determine their situation and buying needs. Try to find out when they are planning to buy because some people show interest just to know the pricing. Customer testimonials can be used to support the price objection. Send the proposal to only well qualified prospects where there is high chance of closing the deal.

To initiate further discussion tell the prospect about the action plan or ask the prospect how would they like to take the discussion forward.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Cold Calling Techniques

Cold Calling means calling a prospect who doesn't know the caller for a sales appointment. That means the object of a cold call is to set an appointment. Cold Calling can prove very effective if it is done properly. The important thing to remember here is to do some research about your prospect before making a call. You can go through their website to know more about the company e.g. company size, nature of products and services, decision maker of the company etc. The last but not the least you should be very clear about your products and services.

According to my experience Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to contact new leads. The best time to call prospects can be early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Once you have done all your homework and now you are ready to do cold calling, always greet the person first 'Goodmorning' or 'Goodafternoon' and introduce yourself. Tell the prospect about your company and about the reason of your call. Ask for an appointment for a web meeting or face to face meeting.

It's not necessary that in the first attempt only you will get the appointment. So be prepared there is a chance that you might hear a 'No' also. Try to find out if there is a need for the product and service which you are providing.

Record the status of the call in your prospect list. This will be helpful for the second call.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to search email address?

I am sure you will agree that searching email addresses for the database you have generated for marketing purpose is sometimes difficult. There are some easy techniques which I am listing down below point wise to help you save your time.

1. Search email address by person name - This is the first technique where you can search email address when you just know the person's name. The format is as shown below:

Person Name email address

For example: If you are searching for email address of John Caro. Then in this case the format should be:
John Caro email address

2. Search email address by company name - In this particular situation you just know the company name. Now you need the top contacts of the company whom you would like to send the marketing emails. You can search the top contact names on the Imprint page of the company website. If you get the person name from the website then you can find the email address by the first technique as shown above.

But all companies don't have the Imprint page on their websites. Here you will have to search the person name first and then email address later on. The format for searching the top contacts should be:

Company Name + CEO
Company Name + Director
And so on..

The important thing to notice here is that you have to leave one blank space before ‘+’ sign and after ‘+’ sign.

I hope this helps, please leave comments if you have any questions or thoughts on this.