One thing we do here on the Lucep.com website is to bring sales experts over to talk about key issues such as sales strategy, prospecting, sales tools and more. As an offline extension of this process, Lucep is organizing a series of sales expert events in all our local and foreign markets. The goal here is to bring sales experts together with successful business leaders in each market to discuss sales challenges, the real-world solutions to these problems as well as recommended best practices.
The latest event in this series “Sales for Startups” was held in Bangalore at the BHIVE Workspace. The video clip below from this event shows Lucep Co-founder and Director for Marketing & Sales Zal Dastur asking a sales strategy question to Business Consultant and Strategist Rakesh Sharma.
The answer that Rakesh gives is something that every startup founder or entrepreneur with an idea needs to hear before getting started with product development and/or coming up with a sales strategy.
Zal Dastur, Lucep: Rakesh, I want to ask you, I know we were chatting yesterday a bit, and one of the things that, you know…why we kind of came together for this was the idea that startups, when they build a product they don’t think about sales, right? They…they focus on the problem at hand. They tend to be…startup co-founders tend to be engineers by nature. And so, they are problem solvers, right. They are not sales people.
So what I want to ask you is, in your experience here as a consultant and as well as BHIVE – “When should a startup start thinking about their sales strategy?”
Rakesh Sharma, BHIVE: Good evening everyone. “I think the day you start building your product, you should start thinking about how you’re going to sell the product.” The reason when I say every one of us when we are doing anything… building a product or building a service, we all are trying to build a really world class product. Now you’re building a world-class product, and the reason why we don’t think about sales comes out of the assumption that since I am building a great product, the product is going to start selling on its own, which more often and not is not the case.
So I think the very basic assumption on which to start the whole premises, so I think we should start thinking about how you to sell from day one when we started building our product or services. Second thing is when you start thinking about how I am going to sell the product, it also gives you lot of information that you can build into your product. I will give an example right here and may be I may take five minutes extra than what Zal would expect me to take, but still.
I used to work with a company and we used to make hearing aid devices. I think we were the first few companies which started manufacturing hearing aids in India. And then when we are trying to develop the product, we started thinking about how we are going to sell the product. So the basic premise which we had was because the end user is going to be geriatric, who is retired, who is like 60+, and who is dependent upon or she is dependent upon the the family member to take them to a hearing aid center or clinic or a audiologist for getting the hearing aid test done and getting the hearing aid.
Now we realized this was difficult for a geriatric to do that. One, you can’t do it very often, you can only do in weekends and if something goes wrong with the hearing aid, you can not go very frequently for repair or servicing. So the first basic premise we decided is instead of they coming to us we are going to go to them. Now then this was a big challenge and the big leap of faith we took because, if you see the testing machine, they are such huge machines, right? We just can’t take them in a bag and then do it. So what that meant for us is that we have to start creating those machines, shrinking those audio meters, they are called audio meters. And our team worked on that. Six months we were able to make an audio meter which was as big as this [shows mobile phone], which you can take it in your pocket and take it anywhere you want.
That gave us a lot of advantage in terms of how we are going to sell our product. Second was the market was limited to macros. So hearing aid product 90% market lies in top 10 cities, the only reason is there’s no audiologist available in tier 2, tier 3. So if there’s someone who wants to buy and getting it in Bangalore, he would have someone. But if you go from Bangalore to Mysore, I can bet there’s nothing, nothing no one available between those 300 kilometers. So with there someone living in somewhere has to go to Mysore, has to come to Bangalore. And then we started thinking about how we wanted to reach there as well. We wanted to sell because of market in terms of numbers and in terms of revenue was there in the tier 2 cities. So again we realized that we have to create infrastructure which will allow us to conduct those hearing tests and dispense hearing aids remotely. And then again we invested in technology and we were able to do net, like it was more build on telemedicine, and so we were able to do all this on the net and it just solved lot of problems for us.
So we had a product which we wanted to sell through these mediums. So we started… thought about this and it came back to us, what new technology we would have to build, what kind of product it will have, and we had a perfect sync where we said this is the product, this is everything.. and I think everything went fine. And yeah, trust me, like in 18 months from scratch, we were more than a 100 mill..100 crore company, right. Because of these things which we were building.
Zal Dastur, Lucep: So this is… What you are saying is that the sales strategy actually directed the product, which is very contrary to what a lot of people do, when they try to build the product and then… try to figure out the sales strategy around that.