30th June 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Roland Folger​

Mr. Folger was one of the most successful CEO’s of Mercedes India Ltd, so I asked him what are the qualities expected of a successful salesperson in the luxury car segment?
He said the strongest thing that comes to my mind is, actually understanding the customer. If you think you know better than the customer, regarding what is good for him, that is not really supportive. We have customers who, through social media, through the Internet, know so much about our product that most of the time they already pretty much know what they want, so finding the highest degree of individualization and an individualized solution for customers is a really important part of the attitude for any kind of sales responsibility. So do not ever go into a customer discussion trying to tell a customer what you think is best for him. That is the wrong approach. They would much rather appreciate if you add value to their purchase decision and explain various programmes and services launched towards enhancing the ownership experience.
It is understanding and making the extra effort to listen to the customer that goes a long way in earning customer trust. The problem is that most sales personalities are really alpha personalities. They always rush out there and try to tell our customers what they think is best for them. Nowadays, the question of service, of making this ownership experience really unforgettable, is that people on the sales side need to understand holistically what their customers want and then give them something that is really made to measure for their personal, individualized demands.



23rd June 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Roland Folger

I had the privilege to interview Mr. Roland Folger, MD & CEO – Mercedes Benz. 1st thing I asked him What are your learnings about Indian customers and how important is relationships in India? He replied,
What I have learnt is that relationship is more important in India than in a lot of other countries. India in this sense is very different. My personal learning again is, India is much more driven by this tight family relation, so if we can give our customers the feeling that these Mercedes-Benz customers and the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and the dealer are really a big family, that is something that immensely resonates with them, but this is naturally true also with all stakeholders and employees as well.


16th June 24

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Aditya Agrawal

I asked Mr. Aditya Agrawal, MD of Morningstar, How can businesses create a lifetime of relationships with customers?
He replied Be true to your client and play a consultative role. If you can put the client’s interest first while delivering a solution to the client, you are on your way to winning a lifetime customer. Our endeavor at Morningstar has always been to provide our clients with the most suitable solution, and almost 95 percent of our business gets renewed each year..


2nd June 24

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Aditya Agrawal

It was my pleasure to interview Mr. Aditya Agrawal, MD of Morningstar, in my book. 1st question I asked him was how selling has changed in the investment industry over the last 2 decades?
He replied It really has not changed dramatically. The solution-driven approach has always been the focal point of a successful strategy. Rather than being product driven, sales in the investment industry is galvanized more by relationships and a consultative approach.



26th May 24

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Amit Kumar

I asked Mr. Amit Kumar, ex- ED of IBM, How have you built a deeper and lifelong relationship with clients?
He replied In my personal experience, what I do is, first, I try and put the customer’s interests first. When I go into an organization to meet a customer, I don’t always look at what am I supposed to get from them. You also have to understand what are the problems they are facing.
Second, honesty and being upfront. Don’t make wrong commitments, and if you make a mistake own it. Some of my best relationships have been built when problems occurred. When we show up to deal with a problem, the customer really appreciates us. Those are the moments to build a relationship rather than trying to sell, and then the sale automatically will happen. But you have to be able to show up when there is nothing to be taken. I always tell my team members that if a customer is having a problem, don’t ever avoid that customer.



19th May 24

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Amit Kumar​

I asked Mr. Amit Kumar, ex- ED of IBM, How has Selling changed in the IT industrry?
He replied Both the science and the art have changed in a huge way. On the science side, we have much more information available, the data is richer, more real time, and reporting is more accurate. On the art side, customers are buying a product today, but you have to understand their business and while relationship is important it’s also this new context of understanding the business is also very important because only then you can differentiate yourself, only then you can solve a problem.



12th May 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Amit Kumar

I asked Mr. Amit Kumar, ex- ED of IBM, How do you differentiate yourself from competition in sales?
He replied I think the simplest thing to do, is not worry about what you are selling but worry about the customer’s business. There is enough domain information available, either in the public domain or in places like LinkedIn, etc. So from the supplier’s supplier to the customer’s customer, you have to understand the customer’s domain and build expertise there.

5th May 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Sanjay Vakharia (CEO – Spykar)

Mr. Sanjay Vakharia (CEO – Spykar) has seen cycles in the fashion industry so when asked how selling has changed from the 90’s; he replied I don’t think selling has changed, but the environment around it has changed so much that you have to model accordingly. And I would like to talk about the clothing industry as I have been part of this industry since early days and have really seen this industry and especially the sales and the markets evolve very significantly.
In earlier times we had multibrand outlets only, and they were owner driven. We call them the mom-and-pop stores. Earlier they nearly had a monopolistic market for themselves with absence of large format department stores or even the exclusive brand outlets. The brands and the sales people were treated with utmost disdain, and with no respect, which has changed now considerable, with emergence of many other organized channels of sales.
Today, there are a million and more ways to reach out to the customers, and hence no one in the chain takes the other person casually. Even they way the end consumer is attended has changed.while the customer themselves have eveolved and is a lot more in the know so its no more selling but attending to him. Every one in the chain has become more consumer centric and realizes that a customer in your store is worth his weight in gold so ensure that he stays with you and frequents you.



28th Apr 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Sanjay Vakharia (CEO – Spykar)

Mr. Sanjay Vakharia (CEO – Spykar) is one of the passionate CEO I interviewed in my book. I asked for his advice to salespeople who want to make a career in fashion industry. He replied Most important is, one should not really look down on sales as a function. Of late, I have seen a lot of people not wanting to be part of sales. They probably just want to chase the ladder up and move to marketing or various other functions, while skipping the sales function. mostly because it is hard work., and you really have to wear your shoes off and take to the streets withstanding the vagaries of elements.
For any person to be successful, and any business to be successful, I think you really need to know what your markets are, and that is not possible at all unless and until they are in the field and doing the hard work and trying to figure out where your customers are, what they need, and how much your products or services are appreciated.
So I think, Sales as a function need to be embraced with utmost sincerity and dedication. One has to see how you can add value to your customers life, thereby making your proposition more relevant to him.



21st Apr 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Manoj Adlakha, CEO of American Express

I asked Mr. Manoj Adlakha – CEO of American Express What does it take to be successful in B2B and B2C credit card selling? He replied I have had the privilege of running both B2B and B2C business for many year and now in my current role, I oversee them. In my opinion, a salesperson to be successful, should have strong fundamental knowledge, should be competent, right attitude and be result oriented.
One difference that I can point out is that B2B has to be more of a consultative selling as our clients there are CXOs – the CEOs and the CFOs. They are the ones taking the final decision, hence it is imperative to have strong knowledge about cash flows. At the same time, one needs to be more patient, as the gestation period in a B2B transaction can be fairly longer compared to that in B2C.



14th Apr 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Manoj Adlakha – CEO of American Express

I asked him How do you earn trust and loyalty from your clients?
He replied Trust, Security and Service are three key pillars that we focus on to build strong relationship with our customers. For us a sale of a card is not just a mere transaction, it is the starting point of a relationship. There after we ensure that every interaction with our customers exceeds their expectations and we are able to think a step ahead and anticipate their needs.
We keep our customers interests as a top priority in all our actions and are always there for them when they need us. We have also built capabilities and features such as emergency card replacement, zero loss liability, 24/7 customer service and best in class Membership Rewards program which further reinforce our customer commitment. This has also earned us the title of India’s most trusted credit card brand for the third year in a row.



7th Apr 24

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Mathew Job - 2

I asked Mr. Mathew Job, CEO – Crompton Greaves, how he approaches a situation when sales do not happen? He replied It is important is to understand what is working and what is not working at all times. Even when the results are good, we need to have clarity on what is leading to those results and what is not working. You might have implemented ten programs and even at the best of times, only eight of them might be delivering. It is important to learn which ones are not working and why.
When things get tougher then, you know exactly which areas you have to work harder on. Focus more on the ones that have been proven to work and implement corrective actions on the ones that have not worked.



31st March 24

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Mathew Job - 1

I asked Mr. Mathew Job, CEO – Crompton Greaves, How have you built a long-term partnership with your trade partners? He replied with a detailed & practical answer. We have quite a few channel partners who have been partnering with the company for many generations. The most important thing is having a consistent and predictable policy so channel partners know what to expect and can rely on the company to deliver on their expectations.
The second thing that works is an engagement that goes beyond just business. We have trade partners meet in India or outside the country at least once a year and spend two or three days with them. It helps build a stronger personal bond as we spend significant time together with them and their families.
The third thing would be building a rapport with the company salespeople who handle them, and also giving them access to different levels of management of the company. Senior leaders in the company need to spend a significant amount of time meeting customers. That makes a big difference. Customers like engaging with the company at the highest levels.
Customer feedback must be acted on. You need to be able to go back to them and update them on the actions taken. It does not mean that all suggestions are acted upon. You need to be able to tell them what has been implemented and why some others were not implemented.



24th March 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Devang Mody - 6

I learnt my biggest leadership trait from Mr. Devang Mody, CEO – Bajaj Finserv Health, that is, always give credit of success to team and say the failure is mine. when I requested him to share his thoughts on this, he said
It’s very simple. You are as good as your team’s performance. When you make them successful, you automatically win. About failure is mine, is also to make team successful. This creates a shield of security to fail with the team. That will make them “Try” more often. And without trying, you cannot succeed anyways.


17th March 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Devang Mody - 5

I asked Mr. Devang Mody, CEO – Bajaj Finserv Health, How has leadership changed today compared to when you started your career?

He replied I think today’s leader is not an expert. He is adaptive, he wants to learn, and he also has to be jovial. The days of serious leaders are gone. Most leaders need to be inspirational. Inspirational doesn’t mean only extroverted. Inspirational means the people who are part of your team feel, “Yes, I can look up to this person for these things.”. It could be something operational,. If leaders are not inspirational, then people’s attention span will reduce. And people don’t respect authority. People today respect value addition.
People respect adaptiveness. People respect persistence, openness. I think today, it’s cool if your leader says, “I didn’t know that at all.” That shows, yes, my boss wants to learn. So I think it’s changed quite a bit, from authority to value addition. Also, I have observed that in today’s world you can create material difference only if you have breakthrough ideas. Such ideas have a chance of failure. A successful leader has to assume responsibility for all failure. I think it doesn’t happen too often. Most so-called leaders tell their subordinates, “If you have failed, you have failed,” but I think it doesn’t work like that. So, in that way leadership is changing quite rapidly.


10th March 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Devang Mody - 4

Downcycles are part and parcel of any businessman or company’s life, so I asked Mr. Devang Mody, CEO – Bajaj Finserv Health, How have you handled the down cycles in business?
He replied I have a belief that if you don’t fail at all, that means you are not trying hard enough. So, you must have some failures, say a slump in sales or whatever. We hear words like market recession, industry failure, this not working, that is not working, competition etc from many leaders. Most important thing required to come out of failure is not to blame macro reasons to stakeholders as well as internal teams. You start that process by stopping to explain yourself that this bad patch is due to these things outside you. As when you blame macro, you are signaling that nothing can be done till those factors change. That way you feel that you are externalizing the blame. But in reality what you are doing is externalizing control. That way you will never come out.

You have to focus on what you as organization can do. Your people and your ecosystem will rise to occasion and bring you out of that problem . Someone someday is going to solve those problems. And key is you want to ensure that it is your team who is solving these problems most often. You focus your energy on what you can do. You will remit same to your teams. And most of them will try and solve that problems them selves rather than blaming the world. That’s what you want. And yoy will be able to come out of slump.


3rd March 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Devang Mody - 3

Cross-selling and upselling are critical for any organization’s success, so I asked Mr. Devang Mody, CEO – Bajaj Finserv Health, how do you cross-sell in customer life cyle?
He replied, First, the key to cross-selling is knowing your customer well, how to use every touch point, to increase customer insight. Second, how do I translate that insight and my products to meet customer needs. That will automatically differentiate me to competition ( not having these insights). You will be able to cross sell / upsell successfully the next product for the same customer?



25th Feb 24

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Devang Mody - 2

I asked Mr Devang Mody, CEO – Bajaj Finserv Health, what are the 3 characteristics of successful salespeople? He replied First, you have to recognize that sales is your calling. If you don’t find a calling in sales, then however good the product is, however good the company is, you are not going to be happy.
Second, sales is slightly different from most of the other functions in any organization, and that difference stems from uncertainty. If you look at other functions – at operations in our business, at risk management, at marketing, at finance, at technology – there is an objective and you have to work to meet that objective, but 90 percent of the things are in your control. Sales is not like that. You have only 20 to 30 percent in your control, and the rest is dependent on need of that consumer and the power of your product and competitive position. Hence, you should be willing to venture into uncertainty. You should love the fact that there is a high possibility of sales not going through. It is not reflection of your effort, of your ability. A lot of the time it’s beyond you. So if you thrive in such situation, then sales is right for you.

The third is, the most important aspect of a salesperson is persistence. There is a chance of failure, and if you can remain “At it” forever, you will be a successful salesman.



18th Feb 2024

Sales and Leadership Wisdom from the Leaders, Mr. Devang Mody

Mr. Devang Mody, CEO – Bajaj Finserv Health, has been my boss and guide in my professional life. Whatever I am today is because of the learnings I had working under him in GE Countrywide.
I took an opportunity to interview him in my book & share his wisdom with all readers. I asked him, How can we develop leaders in our organization? He eloquently replied People don’t do what you tell them to do. People do what you do. So, to groom people, you have to first practice what you want them to imitate. If you listen to your customers, your people will start listening. If you behave positively, then your people will start behaving positively. The method is simple: You start doing the behaviours you want to see, and that’s it.#salesbooster


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