Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What is Relationship Selling? [REPOST]

           Today in the capital equipment and machinery market, business volume is growing and so are the  targets. But, you know that you have a plum  order from the "nice customer is all yours”.  Then one day, you go to your customer one fine morning, after several weeks, and ask him  about “my order” 
[ look at the arrogance] .And he says  “Oh that order, it went to the competition Ltd”.." I thought that you weren't interested and my boss was asking about it" . Your card castles collapse as you realize  that the order is lost forever-the one high value order on which your target was built up on...sounds familiar? 

Later on, after you finish berating your juniors and your boss stops berating you; you realize that you never had a relationship with the customer at all. This is an example of what-not-to- do in relationship selling. Do not take anyone for granted! In our line (high value engineering equipment selling) it makes you redundant and in our race (homo-sapiens)it leads to your extinction

Say, you are looking over 20 accounts, do an accounts versus sales analysis. You will find that at the most 5 or 6 account for 70% to 75% of your sale. You try to find out how many visits you made this year in 7 months, and it so turns out that you made only 1 visit, because you thought that would buy only from you. In addition, you tried to sell to the 15 customers who give you maximum 25% of the sales. What foolishness! What audacity! You took your customer for granted and that is never done!

In relationship selling, you make a relation with the customer’s key man. He may not be the person who signs the order but it is his decision, all the way. Develop a professional relationship with him. Tell the truth to him and no bullshit please. Tell him that you want the order but you also want to have a seller-buyer relation with him, so that it’s not one way traffic.
You try to help him in whatever way possible. You offer suggestions, which can help the customer increase his productivity. At first, the customer may be suspicious but later he will realize that you are sincere and honest. He will trust you although he may not trust your product. If that happens, you have to hard sell him (or her) and you should be able to do what you promise. Visit him once a week-fortnight.  This gentleman or lady then will be your friend come hell or high water. It’s you he will trust and your word will be the last word on the subject. You are your customer's default Purchase Manager.

Build up your relationships today, all in your major revenue-earning customers, and you will not regret it no matter which company you represent, in the future. If you have a good product, the customer will buy it just because you are selling it. Hard to believe, but this is true folks. I have done it myself. There are exceptions to every rule. If you are selling swords to Atilla-the –Hun, then maybe it will not be wise to have a close relationship.

With price becoming so competitive and quality being measured in microns, the day is not far away when your relation will count. Build win-win relationships with your customers, and not only will you get the business, but you will also gain a friend. This is the magic of relationship selling.

I know a gentleman (very senior) who is now in IOCL Gujarat Refinery. We still keep in touch. And I know that if I go to him with a proposal, he will consider it, because he will be sure that what I propose is a win-win thing.

This post is so important that it doesn't matter how many times I repeat it.
Taking your leave for now,
Your friendly neighborhood blogger

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The Mechanics of Creativity



The Creativity theory

  Hi friends.
This is your friendly neghbourhood blogger again and this time we will tackle the mechanics of creativity. In this post we will start from where we left off.

Last time,we discussed creativity in general  and concluded that creativity is nothing but looking at things from a different perspective.Now, so many different things happen in our range of vision that the brain employs a filtering system so that we see only what will interest us. The other things also happen but those files go to the recycle bin of our mind and are then eliminated altogether. Maybe, some are retained as temporary cookies which will explan subconscious and conscious vision,but that is besides the subject of discussion.

The Gorilla in the basketball court

 I read about this a long time back and I may not be 100% accurate but its good enough for the purpose. In a study of cognition, a group of volunteers are taken to a basketball court where the opposing teams are in white and black. The volunteers are told to count the number of passes the team in white make. The whistle blows and soon a high intensity passing game starts and lasts for about 1 to 2 minutes. In the middle a man in a gorilla suit comes up, beats his chest, and then walks away. When the time runs out, the volunteers are asked about the number of passes and they give the answers. They are then asked about the gorilla and nobody recalls seeing a gorilla.

 If you want to check it out for yourself, there are plenty of videos posted on by colleges and educators.You can easily get a lot of links from google. However, most people find that it doesn't work as well as described, because they are already watching out for the gorilla,which is not supposed to be the way its done. You already know about the gorilla which you are not supposed to know. Therefore, I am linking another video which shows us the same thing, allbeit, in a different scenario alltogether.Check it out by clicking HERE.

How does creativity work

We have become so accustomed to thinking in the same old way like “Event A will lead to B and B will lead to C”, i.e. in a cause and effect way that starting to look from a different perspective is difficult. Let us now bring Edward De Bono, into the picture the man who first coined the term “Lateral Thinking”  and who is considered as the leading intellectual authority on the subject of creative thinking. Dr. De Bono has written a long list of books on the subject of creative thinking starting from 1969 and has more than 35 years of experience in this field.   

Creativity and a Sense of Humor

In his book “Serious Creativity” Dr. De Bono, describes the humor model of lateral or creative thinking. Dr. Bono argues that in normal cases, our thinking process moves in the conventional straight line of cause and effect, as shown in the figure below. Going along this main route of thought, one  comes across various sidetracks, following some of which and then reversing direction, we can come back to the originating point i.e. we can think creatively and maybe, find new answers to existing problem, or in other words, exercise innovation. However, like the gorilla, we never see them, as we mentally block these sidetracks and go straight and straight on, in the usual and common way. We therefore need a way to make these blocks appear. Dr.Bono calls these ‘provocations’ i.e. events which provokes us to leave the main track and enter the sidetrack, naming them 'po'.


Friday, May 09, 2014


An example of creaivity
 Two words which have been ruthlessly abused in the last ten to fifteen years are 'CREATIVITY' and "INNOVATION". If you are somewhat sceptical of that ststement, then listen to this. I was just going through the paper a few days back when I came to this line in an obituary I was just glancing through of an old codger who died of old age in his nineties. And there was the sentence" Mr So.-and-so did many innovative things in his lifetime. Really?? 

"Familiarity breeds Contempt" and today we are so familiar with the I-word and to a lesser extent the C-word, that they don't mean anything. The tragedy about this is the boy who is eaten up..
You: Which boy?
Me: You know the one who used to shout 'Wolf"
You. Was he eaten up?
Me:  Aaaah! He wasn't . I am just indulging in some creative innovation.
You go : Waaah! How do you do that? ....

That is the story of Innovation and Creativity, folks!. We have become so familiar with it today that we won't recognize the real I and C, even if they dance the "Lungi dance" in front of us stark naked. We will tackle the I-word in another post and in this post, we will just tackle with creativity.

Just what is Creativity

Creativity is " the ability to look at inputs from a different perspective /viewing angle so that the resultant output makes sense or enhances value"
Creativity is not jumping to conclusions.

Some people confuse creativity with " Creative Writing" , a phrase much bandied around these days, which is not correct. Creative writing is connected to the writer and the writer's work. Perhaps if I give an example of creativity, it will be more clear to you, dear reader, just what I am trying to tell you.

Let us imagine a hypothetical situation where a person travelling along a road comes to a fork on the road. One arm goes to the right and the other to the left. He is now at a loss as to which way to go. Actually both the fork arms first diverge and then converge again to form the road again. But our hero dosen't know this. He is flummoxed and unable to continue. But after a couple of hours,a light bulb shines on the top of his head.  Why don't I look at my road  from a higher elevation, he thinks?  He climbs a tree (growing conveniently nearby) and from the very top sees that the roads meet again . He climbs down and continues on his way, right or left now makes no difference.This is creativity

We must all have experienced the phenomenon that something written by you which looks perfect, appears flawed when you look at it the next morning. This is Creativity as I understand it and the credit for my comrehension (only if correct-if flawed, its mine) must go to Dr. Edward DeBono and his books.

Creativity and Selling

But as you may be wondering by now, how can creativity help in selling. Simple ! Take nothing for granted and try thinking of a tough problem in different ways. If you are just not able to sell

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


Industrial Selling is a different cup of tea in India than in the West. Here reject RFQ's at your own peril.

  I read Geoffrey James’s article titled “How to give the customer a price quote”  and it’s really   a fine piece of sales writing. I wanted to write something else this week.But then I thought about all those young kids, in sales and   marketing, the newbies and the almost-s all over the immense country and I changed my mind. (In Kolkata its 39 o Celsius plus in the shade in March, so I can just think about Chennai.In India, you don't get AC cars to zip to on sales calls in junior levels, so I decided to write this blog post instead).Apologies Geoff, but that kind of selling will not get you anywhere in INDIA. Sure, the track is right but your direction is all wrong, my friend. Just my 5cents but you need the culture shock absorber.

        In India, you have a system of budgetary quotes and firm quotes. Now, I am sure that there must be a system of budgetary quotes in the West too, you just use a term for it, which I am not familiar with.Anyway, some of the biggest requirements come from the Public Sector Organizations(e.g.IOCL the only Indian company which is in the Fortune 500, if I'm not wrong). In a sort of matrix cum pyramidal structure, you have many different departments. For instance Engineering Services (ES) and Maintenance are different departments and you can have business with both as the ES as well as the M.M(mechanical maintenance) as the former goes in for the projects and the latter, the after sales part of the business. Say, you are selling pumps for intake, the concerned in Indian Oil Corp Ltd dept is Power and Utilities.(In other organizations, it may be different). From my experience I can say that if you get a RFQ from such a department, DO NOT EVEN THINK of calling the boss in the department. See who has signed the RFQ and if you find say its a Purchase Manager or even an Asst Manager, from Operations, your stand is vindicated. It is a must to quote but a little later.

              The chances are high that if you call up the boss, he will have an even less idea of his requirement then you. Your best bet is the original sender, although he is in no way the final decision maker. In Govt. organizations, there is no final decision maker and that is the way it should be. The operations man wants to buy the things he has mentioned but as he is the one doing the legwork, he's got no authority. Say you are pissed off and do not quote, you may have unquoted yourself out of a job. These guys are good at selecting the equipment type but they need to have an estimate of the cost.That's because proposals beyond 10-15% variation are shot down by the finance guys. Before your lips start curling in derision, let me tell you some of India's most talented engineer's are these.They think of everything too help you, and they don't give you any advantage. You need to have relationship selling experiences with them for the best results