Playing with the new Electricity – AI/ML Playbook Sessions

[Update] Symposium RT is rescheduled to 10 March 2018 as we are confirming the expert Mavens for the sessions. Other dates will be updated shortly.

“Tectonic” market shifts happen every few years creating a change in landscape, market and opportunity. The most recent “tectonic” shift is the emergence of the Artificial Intelligence era. In just the same way electrification in the early 1900s transformed major industries globally, AI, Machine Learning & Deep Learning are poised to transform a multitude of industries, services & products.

It took 100 years from the discovery of electrical generator to electrification of industries. AI is doing this in a span of 70 years (from the time of the Turing Test).

AI/ML has gone through many winters and is now in its eternal spring. It portents a new framework for startups to navigate and evolve from an internet era startup into an AI era startup.

Every new era shift begins with a lot of smoke and hype before it is well understood. iSPIRT ProductNation & Julia are launching a series of AI/ML playbook roundtable & workshop sessions to dispel the hype around AI, break the myths, and help bring a pragmatic mindset & process change necessary for product startups to leverage AI/ML. These 2-step playbooks are for all categories of startups regardless whether they are in direct AI / AI-First, SaaS, FinTech / HealthTech / <Domain>Tech, or any other category, startups who can leverage and apply AI models with their data to create superior value for their customers. These deep sessions will focus on the impact & opportunities of AI on businesses, process of working with AI, AI/ML adoption strategies relevant to your context and enabling strong AI/ML tech competency within your teams.

The 2-step playbook roundtable sessions focused on founders (+1 typically CXO) + tech workshop are a sequence of:

    • AI/ML Symposium RT (step 1) – An invite-only 3 hour mini-symposium playbook with AI/ML & Julia experts, first mover AI leaders & Mavens from our startup community and 15-20 invited startups, focusing on Why AI/ML? How to identify the opportunities to leverage AI? What do you need to get started with AI (if not already running)? Data needs for AI/ML investments… The shared awareness created in this session, combined with the commitment by startups to articulate their AI/ML opportunity, and detail their approach will lead to the next AI/ML roundtable.
    • AI/ML Playbook RT (step 2) – Startups at similar AI readiness from the Symposium will be invited for a 5 hour deep-dive roundtable discussion on the AI/ML opportunities in the context of the startup domain, effectively going through an AI/ML readiness/approach review & teardown, covering data collection & modeling strategy, AI transformation algorithms… This session is restricted to 6-10 startups (having similar needs) per roundtable. Invited startups will be required to be ready with their approach for a deep-dive review & peer feedback in true roundtable style. The outcome for each startup would be to develop an action plan/checklist for next few months of execution. Additionally, startups can identify a tiger tech team to go to the AI/ML Training Lab to get traction for their checklist…
    • AI/ML Training Lab with Julia Sandbox (on need basis) – A 3+ day workshop intended for the 3-4 person tiger tech teams (CTO, Engg, Data guy, PM…) from each startup. The workshop will help focus on building competency, getting traction & executing implementations related to the checklist developed at the roundtable.

For the first set of these playbooks, we are inviting nominations/applications for startup founders (+CXOs) who are either directly focusing on AI-based opportunity or have started integrating AI/ML as a core strategy for their product growth/success. Please provide your nomination for startups you believe should be part of the first series of the AI/ML playbooks. If you are a startup and interested to be part of this please register below. On final approval, an invite confirmation will be sent via email.

Please submit your nominations here. A registration link will be sent to your nominee.

Dates & Venue for the first of the series:

AI/ML Symposium RT – 10th Mar (Sat) 2p – 5p @ Accel Partners (Bangalore)
AI/ML Playbook RT – end Mar/early Apr-TBD (Sat) 11a – 5pm @ TBD
AI/ML Training Lab w/ Julia – Apr-TBD @ TBD (Bangalore)

While the sessions are in Bangalore, we believe this topic is of emergent interest to startups across the country and would invite all to register.

Experts

TBD

Cost

All iSPIRT roundtables are pro-bono (read below for how that works)

This series of playbooks is being actively setup by our Mavens & Volunteers, Ankit Singh, Deepak Vinchhi, Karthik KS, Praveen Hari, Ravindra Krishnappa, Sandeep Todi

P.S. Some great material for pre-reading

Strongly recommend all to go through many of these.

* All iSPIRT playbooks are pro-bono, closed room, founder-level, invite-only sessions. The only thing we require is a strong commitment to attend all sessions completely and to come prepared, to be open to learning & unlearning, and to share your context within a trusted environment. All key learnings are public goods & the sessions are governed by the Chatham House Rule.

* The Julia team is on a social mission to train a large number of people in India to develop grassroot skills and competency with AI & ML.

+Feature image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/gleonhard/34046647175/

Deep Learning Session with Julia Computing

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An evening with Julia

iSPIRT, in association with Julia Computing, is proud to announce an open-session with Prof. Alan Edelman and Dr. Viral Shah, co-creators of Julia, an open source programming language, and co-founders of Julia Computing Inc.

The event will be hosted in Koramangala, Bangalore, on the 22nd of January 2018, from 5 – 7pm. Register now for an invite to the session or to join the live cast (venue details will be shared along with the invite).

What is Julia?

Julia is a modern, high-level, high-performance programming language for numerical computing, data science and AI. With syntax that is familiar to users of other technical computing environments, Julia solves the eternal two language problem, by providing productivity similar to Matlab or R, and performance similar to C for writing mathematical and statistical software. Julia is open source, its research is anchored at MIT since 2009 and is growing very rapidly in its adoption across industries, from Finance to Life Sciences.

Julia … can even be used by those who aren’t programmers by training

Why Should You Care?

Julia’s deep mathematical roots and comprehensive customizability make it very friendly to work with for data scientists, who are generally limited with popular Machine Learning approaches due to their issues with customizability and efficiency.

This 90 minute session will cover a quick introduction to Julia, showcase a few challenging and compute-intensive case studies that Julia has helped solve across domains, and demonstrate how Julia as a framework is used to enable nextgen AI & ML modeling & computing with the AI tools of your choice, including popular libraries like Mocha, MXNet and TensorFlow. This will be a great opportunity to interact with Prof Alan and Dr. Viral on best ways to approach an AI/ML strategy.

About the Speakers:

Prof. Alan Edelman is a Professor of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and AI at MIT. He is a co-creator of Julia language, and a Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Julia Computing, Inc.

Dr. Viral Shah is a co-creator of Julia language, and a Co-founder and CEO of of Julia Computing, Inc. He has been an important part of Aadhaar team from 2009 to 2014, and has co-authored a book called Rebooting India with Nandan Nilekani.

Julia Computing was founded in 2015 by the creators of the open source Julia language to develop products and provide support for businesses and researchers who use Julia.

Register now for an invite to the session or join the live cast.

Also, Workshop will be streamed on Youtube live for those who can join us virtually. The Invite will be shared on 21st Jan 2018 with the registered participants.

Is your SaaS product ready for GDPR?

What is GDPR you ask? and Why should you care?

Some of you may know about the upcoming rollout in EU of the General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR is a regulation that requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. GDPR implementation date is 25 May 2018, but do not get complacent by the date, it requires reasonable effort and time for companies to become ready & compliant. And there are significant penalties for not being compliant.

If you are operating in the EU or if any of your customers are operating in the EU, GDPR applies to you.

Who?

  • Customers in EU – YES
  • Employees in EU – YES
  • Vendors or partners in EU – YES

GDPR Workshop / Webinar

iSPIRT and Microsoft are conducting a GDPR workshop for founders to demystify the GDPR and help understand the steps required towards compliance. This will be a mix of in-person and webinar session (choose when you register).

The session will cover among many topics, clarity on the impact of GDPR, application to organizations in India, additional responsibility about controls, notifications and data governance for managing and tracking personal data, and how organizations need to start thinking about GDPR compliance. There will be presentations by both Legal teams from Microsoft India and the CTO of Microsoft Accelerator.

Apply here using the Registration Form

Date & time: 16-Nov, 3-5pm

In-person Venue: Microsoft Accelerator – JNR City Centre, IBIS Hotel Annexe ,Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road, Bangalore.

Webinar: Link will be sent to those who choose to attend the webinar.

Session Scope:

  • GDPR & Data Privacy, and its growing importance
  • A Risk assessment Checklist – Go to https://www.gdprbenchmark.com/ to access a quick, online self-evaluation tool available at no cost to help your organization review its overall level of readiness to comply with the GDPR
  • Data Privacy Business Scenarios – Technical Demos

Registration

If you are keen to attend the workshop please apply using the Registration Form. Since seats are limited for both in-person and webinar, please register ahead of time. We will confirm with an invite subject to availability. There is no cost to attend. We start sharp at 3 pm.

Strongly recommend going through the Risk Assessment Benchmark Evaluation.

The checklist will help you prep for the workshop and get the most out of it.

Some sources for pre-reading:

What is the GDPR, its requirements and deadlines? – CSO Online

GDPR in the age of SaaS: One SaaS vendor’s journey to compliance …

If You Use SaaS Products, You Need To Prepare For GDPR. Here’s How

Are you ready for the GDPR? A quick, no-cost, readiness self-evaluation tool.

The Global Impact of GDPR on SaaS Providers – Spanning Backup

Home Page of EU GDPR

Coming soon – 2017 SaaS Survey

BTW did you know the new SaaS survey is coming? We are excited to announce that we would be launching the third edition (2017) of the India SaaS Survey in a week from now. This survey is an annual exercise conducted jointly by SignalHill and iSPIRT to gather valuable data for drawing insights which help various stakeholders in the ecosystem understand this space better.

Please click on the following link to access last year’s survey results

Please stay tuned to this space. We will be providing a link to this year’s survey very soon in an upcoming blog post.

Product Teardown Roundtables are coming to your city.

Read more details on the teardown sessions, and preview the teardown format. If interested please apply here (Limited Seats).

Product Teardown explained in 10 minutes (well almost!)

Last Saturday we had an awesome teardown roundtable in Chennai moderated by Suresh (KiSSFLOW) and Bharath (FreshDesk) 🙇🏻.. This was my first direct experience with the teardown. Six companies participated (PickYourTrail, FoodEngine, SysCloud, CustomerLabs, Tagalys, and ManageArtworks). While the entire session of 4+ hours was extremely intense, I want to quickly share with you in 10 minutes (almost) of what happens in a Product Teardown.

Teardowns are coming to your city. Please apply here (Limited Seats).

Product Teardown Framework

The iSPIRT product teardown (esp. for SaaS websites) is primarily structured around 5 key principles outlined below.

Idea 💡

What is the problem you are trying to solve? Who is your target user? It is critical to have a clear picture of your target user persona, their problem and how your solution solves their pain point. Essentially establish your problem-solution fit and articulate it for the customer journey from Discovery → Conversion.

Discovery 🔍

How do customers find your product? Is it through google search? Is there a channel they frequent? Have you identified your TAM (total addressable market), SAM (serviceable addressable market) and SOM (serviceable obtainable market)? Use this model to help identify strategies to have your SOM discover your product.

Website 🕸

Your website is the first & most important way to establish trust & relationship with your customer. This is true even if you don’t use inside sales. What is your first message or hook for your target user persona? Are they able to connect your product with their problem and the path through which they discovered your product? Are they able to understand how your product solves their problem, and why they should use it? Once they identify with your message and establish trust & credibility the rest becomes easier.

Sign up 💰

If the customer has understood your solution and found it fit for their needs, the last purchase decision is the cost. As Suresh said

If the cost connects, signup happens!.

WoW! reaction 🌅

Post signup, is there a WoW first experience? Whether it is a try & buy experience or a first purchase onboarding, it is important for customers to experience some instant gratification for the grueling journey they just went through. Believe me, making a purchase decision can be taxing. If you can make this journey pleasant and the final destination fantastic, you have a winning product 🏆.

Do go through the video above and hear Suresh’s simple explanation. And if you like what you hear remember you can apply here for a teardown in your city.

Coming soon – 2017 SaaS Survey

While I still have your attention, we are excited to announce that we would be launching the third edition (2017) of the India SaaS Survey in a week from now. This survey is an annual exercise conducted jointly by SignalHill and iSPIRT to gather valuable data for drawing insights which help various stakeholders in the ecosystem understand this space better.

Please click on the following link to access last year’s survey results

Please stay tuned to this space. We will be providing a link to this year’s survey very soon in an upcoming blog post.

PS

The amount of time & effort Bharath & Suresh provided to review and analyze each product before the actual teardown is simply inspiring. 🙇🏻. to their commitment to the community.

Guiding the customer journey from Discovery → Signup → Onboarding for SaaS Startups

Are you ready for the product teardown roundtable in your city

As Diwali marks a Joyous celebration and heralds a Prosperous New Year for all, we kick off a series of Product Teardown Roundtables to help our SaaS startups prepare for a successful year ahead. This series of PlaybookRT will focus on Guiding the customer journey from Discovery to Signup & Onboarding.  The teardowns are being planned across our startup cities in quick succession (see tentative schedule below). We kickoff with a teardown RT in Chennai which will be facilitated by Suresh Sambandan (KiSSFLOW)Bharat Balasubramanian (FreshWorks).

Apply to get your slot here. (Limited seats).

Why are product teardowns important? For Explosive Growth!

Explosive growth is a common pain point for founders across startup stages, be it an early stage startup or a late stage startup. One key attribute to explosive growth is to make your customers market for you. Quoting from the article Six attributes of Explosive Growth Startups,

Nothing parallels word-of-mouth marketing

Why? Because the customers do this work for the startup. If this is to happen for your product it is important for your customers to have a clear-cut understanding of your product proposition, discovering it’s ROI and a WOW no-brainer experience of signing up and using it.

Our product teardown session is focused on exactly this evaluation for your product. Using our community of peers and leading practitioners, you would go through an intense journey and visualize how your potential customer discovers, understands, signs up and connects the product proposition and ROI to their needs. If you do a damn good job about this, you gain a big advantage because you don’t have to work so hard for marketing leads, getting you further on the path to explosive growth.

The teardown model

In this playbook series, we look at how to get your messaging right, and building a website and signup/on-boarding flow that converts with very little human intervention. This roundtable would begin with a deep dive into the company’s Idea, Discovery Process and navigate through the Landing Page, Sign Up, and its “Wow” experience. The format of the playbook is built around quick 10 minute demos, followed by peer-feedback moderated by SAAS founders & experts who have already built successful SAAS businesses.

Past teardowns

You can read some of the previous teardown experiences from the founders who participated.

Registration and Pricing

If you are keen to attend this RoundTable, do let us know by filling in your details here. We will confirm your seat subject to availability. All RoundTables are conducted pro-bono. The only payment you have to make is to provide your undivided attention and active involvement in the process. Playbook-RoundTables are a dialogue and there’s no monologue. None!

Teardown Roundtable Schedule (tentative)

City Date Time Register
Teardown RT in Chennai 4-Nov-2017 (Sat)  11am – 4pm Register
Teardown RT in Bangalore 11-Nov-2017 (Sat)  11am – 4pm Register
Teardown RT in Delhi 18-Nov-2017 (Sat)  TBD Register
Teardown RT in Hyderabad 25-Nov-2017 (Sat)  TBD Register
Teardown RT in Pune TBD (Dec) Register
(if interested please apply)
Teardown RT in Mumbai TBD (Dec) Register
(if interested please apply)


Notes

These are founder invite only events. Date, Time & Venue details will be sent along with the confirmation.
Since there are limited seats, we would request you to kindly apply at the earliest.

Playbook-RoundTable is one of the most sought after community events of iSPIRT. It’s a gathering of 12 like-minded product startups who are beyond the early stage. RoundTables are facilitated by an iSPIRT maven who is an accomplished practitioner of that Round-Table theme.

0 – 100 customers! How fast can your SaaS startup accelerate?

The toughest challenge in your startup journey is getting to the milestone of first 100 customers. iSPIRT’s 97th PlayBook RoundTable, ‘Zero to One’ was held last Saturday in the hot and humid city of Chennai.

Ankit Oberoi from AdPushUp moderated the RoundTable which was attended by 13 other startup founders eager to know how to crack this. The PlayBook didn’t have formal presentations but rather involved everyone into an engaging conversation that was both informal as well as informative.

First things first, as early stage SaaS startups, “Kneel down and build your product well, when bootstrapped” was Ankit’s advice.

Identifying Target Customers

Emphasis was made on identifying your target customers to help you build the right inbound and outbound strategies. Ankit mentioned that a good way to find your target customer type is to look at your top ten customers. Few entrepreneurs looking to generate quick revenue might tend to drift towards a service model.

Arvind Parthiban, CEO of Zarget had an insight on this trend — “Going the service way will work only if one can scale up right and maintain profitability in the longer run”.


Inbound Marketing Tactics

A majority of the discussion was about inbound procedures. 3 simple things should make up your Content Marketing strategy –

  1. Identifying your target persona
  2. Creating quality content
  3. Setting up distribution channels

Just creating content will not cut it! You need to market it right to do justice to its quality.

Though it is a painfully long process, bootstrapped startups have the luxury of time and they should invest in building on content strategies around long tail keywords. Much emphasis was given as to why content should be created for personas. An example that was pointed out for this was Groove’s blog where the focus is exclusively on founders.

It is right for early-stage startups to focus on generating traffic through content but the real focus should be on giving value to the readers. Conversions can happen even later and not necessarily while reading your content. Growing a subscription list through your blog is not only a no-brainer, but a must have item in your growth stack .

Ankit stressed on how Neil Patel talks about why you need to urge your readers to subscribe right from the start. When you have a subscribers list, you can nurture them to share your content and build a bigger subscribers list which will ultimately increase your brand value and improve your customer base. Initial days of your startup journey are when you can do such things that take time to scale.

Intent Defines Inbound

Categorize your efforts based on intent when you are going all out on inbound marketing. Content writing has to be segregated widely into two types –

  1. Buyer Intent
  2. Value Intent

Buyer intent content are the ones written with the focus on ranking higher on search engines. These should have focus on keywords and the main objective of these content pieces are to sell your product.

Value intent is when you become a Thought Leader of the industry you are in. Helping your customer persona should be the name of the game when you generate such content. At times, you don’t even have to put a link back to your product when you write such content. Educative long form content with simple writing works best.

Just like content writing, content distribution too has to be categorized based on intent.

  1. SEO intent — You share the article/blog with search engine ranking in mind
  2. Sharing intent — You find avenues where people are bound to share the post more
  3. Distribution intent — Sharing in one place that sets off a chain of shares

Be spot on with your content!

Creating a content calendar is a must! Knowledge sharing on this topic pointed out that the calendar should be finalized, ideally, in the first few days of the month. Decide on buyer intent topics with the help of keyword planners. Thought leader articles can be written with the help of community platforms — find answers for the most-asked questions. Quora is a gold mine to search for blog ideas.

The consensus from the more experienced entrepreneurs at the RoundTable was that content has to be tested too. The headline is the most important bit of your article/blog. Ankit spoke about how 75% of your readers don’t actually read your content but rather scan for information. He shared a personal insight on how just a headline change helped AdPushUp make an article go viral overnight! Check out this article here.

As much as headlines, the first few lines matter too! In fact, most people who share an article actually read the intro and then skim through the article. Sharing happens not because people read it fully but because they feel it is relatable to something they would read and want to express to their circles about the type of content they would read. Your formatting should be spot on to help them digest your post in just a few seconds!

Headlines need to be tested extensively. Vengat from Klenty stressed on how testing one variable at a time is imperative for success. Ankit talked about how he narrows it down from a couple dozen headlines for their blogs. A/B test between the best ones to ensure you get the best variation.

Types of articles to try…

The Zero to One #PlayBookRT stressed on a few interesting article types startups should try –

  1. Summarizing Comprehensive Blogs — Found something useful? Write a brief, original summary of the blog. This will rank organically. Ensure author credits are given.
  2. Roundups — Take a pick of useful tips, quotes, tools etc., and do a roundup. Reach out to the people/products/companies you mentioned and they will share it to their followers
  3. Skyscraper Technique — Find an awesome content and piggyback on it. Find linkable assets, make it better by adding in your thoughts or collating ideas. Reach out to the authors of the post and share it on social media.

While on the topic of Content Marketing, the topic of paid promotions came into play and it was agreed upon that paid promotion for articles should be done with the intent only to hit a critical mass. With paid promotions, readership is not improved but only the views are artificially increased. A good insight from one of the attendees was to try and push notifications about blogs through live chat platforms like Intercom.

Hiring your inbound team

There are two types of talent you need on your inbound team for achieving success in your content marketing endeavours. The hustlers & the experts. Hustlers are those who understand the market and the distribution channels while the experts should be the ones strong in content.

AIESEC is one hiring venue that you should consider for smart and affordable talent.

You need to break down your web analytics — group traffic sources and optimize for each and every source. Ankit explained how Google not only ranks posts but also pulls down posts with the help of Ryan Fishkin’s social experiment. He urged people to open a top ranked post and immediately go back to the search results page. The search engine bots picked this up and realized people no longer find the post valuable and dropped it by one position!

We live in a smart world! And to outsmart Search Engines, you need smarter content tactics.


Quick look at a few other learnings

  • Arvind and Ankit then shared their experiences with events generating brand value and how that indirectly helps your inbound conversions.
  • PR is yet another way of getting social approval. It reduces sales cycle as well as helps with search engine rankings.
  • Vengat shared his learnings from Prodpad’s gamification for trial users that kept urging for additional actions for trial extension. This would inevitably lead to more activation.
  • There was a brief session on PPC campaign optimization and how Google’s Quality Score is important

Out-take on Outbound

Ankit stressed on the fact that if a startup concentrates well on inbound tactics and is all set for the long run, outbound becomes considerably easier. Most US companies go all out on inbound tactics. Being in India, we have the luxury to work on outbound marketing at relatively cheap costs.

Tools like BuiltWith, Datanyze, SimilarWeb are in this space. The problem to be addressed would be scaling the process without expanding the existing team. As you reach out to more and more people, the data bulk can be huge to handle if you don’t automate/semi-automate the process.


An entrepreneur’s journey is one to be cherished and the initial acceleration from 0–100 customers is enjoyable though dotted with challenges. The 97th Product Nation PlayBook RoundTable turned out to be a learning experience for everyone who attended and hope this article threw light on what was discussed to those who weren’t lucky enough to be part of it.

Never miss an iSPIRT event again — stay tuned to this page for updates on upcoming Product Nation events. Guest blog post by Kingston David, Zarget

#PNCamp – No BS feedbacks and teardowns to build great products groundup

So, you got a startup. Great! You have a product ready and a few users/customers too, Awesome! I am sure you are super excited to take it to next level, right? But thats when the hurdles begin.

Users just do not understand it
Users don’t go beyond certain point
Our product is awesome, but Product lacks stickiness
I am not sure how to position our product
We have different kinds of users, how to deal with varied expectations of users
I don’t know where to find large number of userbase
I am a technical guy, I don’t know how to market it
User growth is very slow, we need some cool growth hacks

If some of these thoughts/challenges are lingering in your mind too, then you are not the only one. Trust me pretty much every startup goes through these hurdles in its early days. Sad reality is, vast majority fail to cross these initial hurdles and die early death.

“Almost every startup has a product, what they don’t have is users/customers”

If you are an early stage startup with a working product thats been used by a few users/customers and you are struggling through some of the above mentioned challenges, then look nowhere and block your Calendar for Oct 8th, 2016. iSPIRT is bringing PNCamp in Pune focused towards all the early stage startups.

whatsapp-image-2016-09-09-at-11-08-35-amPNCamp in pune is your grand opportunity to get candid feedback on your product and its marketing. If you are a startup with a prototype or product at an early stage with few users/customers but struggling to get further traction, then PNCamp is a great place where you could get an opportunity to showcase your product and seek feedback, inputs and suggestions on specific to your product. At PNCamp, experts will take product teardown sessions on following aspects.

  1. How to build a right product (great and useful product)
  2. How to market your product (product marketing, communication, KPIs)
  3. How to achieve 10X user growth (Use Analytics, customer feedback loop, sales tactics)

At PNCamp, India’s some of the most successful entrepreneurs are coming together to host one day focused camp and work with selected group of startups on their product, market and sales growth strategies. This one day focused action oriented efforts are equivalent to your one year of badly struggling to figure out things in dark.

Here is whats going to happen at PNCamp –

“You involve me and I learn maximum”. Keeping this in mind, PNCamp is structured in a way to maximize real action oriented learning. Its no Gyaan, No B.S. All real action, real stories, real candid feedback, real strategies, real action plan, real work toward real results. At PNCamp, successful entrepreneurs who are expert in their specific area of product, marketing, or sales growth will discuss their observations and learnings.

In case of B2B products, things such as the product quality, security, product learning curve, analytics, integrations, etc might be driving factors for initial success whereas in case of B2C products its visual appeal, user friendliness, pricing, discounts, customer loyalty, social appeal, etc could trigger the success. Hence each product need to be looked at it from various angles. At PNCamp, specific sessions are dedicated to deep dive in these areas. In B2B track, experts will discuss building a right product for B2B market, getting traction for your product, marketing strategies and sales funnel. In case of B2C track, the experts will delve into building products with focus on mobile an analytics, finding right KPI and organizing everything around it, product communication, and building a successful customer development strategy using feedback loop. After every session, a few select product startups will be given an opportunity to present their product, marketing strategy, or growth strategy. Experts and fellow participants will do a product teardown and give a deep dive feedback. In all 12 startups in B2C space and 12 startups in B2B space will get an opportunity to present and get detailed feedback.

Product teardown: In this section, select startups will provide a quick walkthrough of their product website/app. As each startup will get limited time to present, key is to stay focused on most critical or concerning area of your product. Experts and fellow participants will provide feedback on core functionality, usefulness, right fit of the product, visual and experiential aspect of the product. In the past, such product tear down has help entrepreneurs get amazing inputs in matter of minutes. Moreover it has opened up doors for more insightful beta users from the cohart. Product teardown session focuses on product flow, functionality, identifying specific KPIs and using analytics to derive insights, and immediate critical aspect that might be hindering product traction or stickiness. Founders will get actionable inputs that can be applied next day and see improvements.

Marketing/Communication teardown: Great number of startups have good products but fails on its marketing. Product marketing is all about positioning. It is all about clear messaging and creating a “hook” in user’s mind. Unique compelling product positioning is always a challenge, especially when your product has potentially multiple target segments. If your product positioning is correct, then it helps in driving marketing and create a growth strategy. In this section, select startups will get teardown about their marketing and communication strategy, how to build initial traction, building a customer feedback loop, how to think specific KPIs and organize things around it, how to use analytics to tweak marketing funnel, etc. Is the message clear and compelling enough to click with your audience, can it be improved further, etc. In the past, founders used the session feedback to improve their product message, website communication, emails, etc for which the group continued giving feedback.

Growth hack / Sales teardown: This is a piece everybody wants and wish for but is very difficult to achieve. Experts will ask select startups to present their current growth strategy and provide working session on building a growth strategy. B2B sales strategies, setting up sales engine, inside sales strategies, etc will be discussed along with tools and techniques. Useful tools, techniques and trends in B2C market, use of inbound growth hack techniques, from customer acquisition to conversion, retention and achieving viral growth will be discussed in detailed. This is a hands on session where startups will be asked to create a plan of action.

Get naked – At PNcamp, everything is transparent. So, one may think, “How can I disclose my trade secrets with entire group?”. Indeed its a valid concern, but its upto an individual founder whether and how much information they want to share with fellow participants. Our experience is that, getting naked has helped entrepreneurs more than shielding or hiding behind curtains. Plus, one unsaid rule of the camp is, “Whats said in the camp remains within the group”. Product nation is building a community of trustworthy entrepreneurs who are passionate about helping each others. Hence, its expected that you bring a transparency and will maintain confidentiality.

So, enough said about the camp and its structure. PNCamp, with this full action oriented day is looking forward to bring ton of insights to you through direct feedback and critical inputs to help you take your startup next level. This is a MUST attend camp for any early stage product startup. Do not miss this unique opportunity to catch the brains of experts and fellow participants through product feedbacks and interactions. So, if you are an early stage startup looking to take your startup to next orbit, then register yourself right away at www.pncamp.in Lets build great product nation, one prodct at a time! See you at PNCamp.

Guest Post by Abhijit Mhetre, founder at Canvazify. He is passionate about startup innovations and is a volunteer at iSPIRT

 

Why I’m doing what I’m doing!

I’m forever being asked a question by the people I meet during my travels, events, etc. I usually smile and avoid it. Or let someone embarrass me by talking about how important and selfless my work has been and is being. But I’ve never really tackled that question on my own. Perhaps I needed to think about it myself. A few days ago, when I was looking back at three years of Playbooks, the action-focussed Product Nation workshops that we conduct,  and of course other events, it got me thinking. It was probably time to face that question myself, and answer it, if not for other people, then at least for myself.

When we started iSPIRT, no real sense of a product community existed in India. People in several corners of our vast country were building great products and companies, but there was no attempt at coherence, no communication channel that existed that could make them way more than the sum of the parts. This was why we began the journey of iSPIRT; we wanted to build this community that would add real value to founders; we wanted to help the guy in the mud pit, or as Roosevelt called him, ‘the man in the arena daring greatly”’. And yet, we did not want to be facilitators of any sort. We wanted to be there with the entrepreneur through the long, hard road. We wanted to be the people he could always rely on. We wanted to go deeper.

And this thinking was what led us eventually to the entrepreneur who was in the stage Sharad Sharma termed ‘happy-confused’. This was the Sharad came up with for the entrepreneur who’s found his market, has figured out how to sell his product, but is now stalled at a stage when he doesn’t understand how to go further. In other words, the question of scale. Should he pursue scale? If so, how? It was this guy who needed help, and perhaps some direction, from the people who had already done it before.

So we began a series of programs and bootcamps that in hindsight, look and feel like a lot, but which at the time were just great fun to put together. I’ll give you a small brief on each of them; they have been some of the most interesting initiatives that i have got to work on in the last 3 years.

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The Playbooks

The Playbook RoundTables, started off with a conversation which had Vivek Subramanyam (Fintellix), Aneesh Reddy (Capillary), Ashish Gupta (Helion) and Sharad (the i of iSPIRT!). After a few brainstorming sessions, the format was decided: It would be a gathering of 12 like-minded product startups(curated) who are beyond the early stage. These RoundTable will be facilitated by an in-the-saddle entrepreneur (we called them iSPIRT Mavens) who is well accomplished on a particular topic/theme.  Shankar Maruwada (EkStep) opened the innings for us, and the participants were blown away by the way Shankar conducted the RT. A lot of the success of the Playbooks was because of that first session, which set the tone for them. Pallav Nadhani (FusionCharts) was one of the participants and he added lot of his insights in the RT. We were then joined by Aneesh Reddy, Sridhar Ranganathan, Samir Palnitkar, Amit Ranjan and Amit Somani who helped us with the early RTs. There was so much preparation that would go into the Playbooks – identifying the right audience, the seating, when should we take a break, how do we get the feedback, ensure it’s free of bias, how do we measure (NPS!) and improve upon it? Until today,  in every PlaybookRT, we’ve measured the NPS and continue to incorporate it into program decisions.

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The First Product Bootcamp #PNcamp

As the Playbook Roundtables became popular, we had the idea wanted to do something at a  slightly bigger scale and bring more product founders together. Just the idea caused us excitement enough to push ahead. We started off by calling it PNSummit and then the name changed to PNCamp. We had some of our best volunteers working on this one and Rajan (as always) drove us crazy with different types of organising calls (a war room, a morning huddle, an evening huddle, etc). We explored many formats for PNcamp and then conducted many RTs for different audiences (Discovery/Scale stage) to figure out the best way to do it. I think this was one of the best bootcamps I was part of. It took us such a lot of effort to put this together that we never attempted to do this again. I hope someone from Pune will take the lead and do this for us. We have a blueprint and with few volunteers, we can pull this together again!

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The people who make magic happen – Mavens, Volunteers & Friends

The Mavens have played an important role in making the magic happen for the Playbooks. Most of the mavens get naked (metaphorically) with the audience and share many of their hard-won experiences openly. It’s really great to see some of the rock-solid CEOs passionately help each other. I get many volunteers  who reach out to me and want to help me in putting together these roundtables, but the fact is very few of them can put in the effort into making such magic happen. From the outside it looks very simple, but it takes lot of effort in curating the event, inviting the right people and then closing the feedback. I’m grateful to the mavens, the volunteers and people like Rajan & Sharad who have always been supportive in making the magic happen again & again.

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Playbooks: New Formats

We slowed down on the Playbooks a bit after that, as I got busy with many other things in iSPIRT, including a policy push. We also tried a few experiments with some mavens, but none of the other formats came good. We maintained the rule of never inviting someone to do a Playbook without them having attended one. We have stayed away from getting some of the Gurus who want to just give gyaan. We are still happy to explore new formats which can help product founders. I recently stumbled upon the Product Tear Down session at SaaSx and I think if we can do this right, this can become a great platform for product founders who are looking for help.

SaaSx

On one of my visits to Chennai, I realised that some of the SaaS leaders are based out of the city and there is no platform for all of them to come together. After few conversations with Suresh Sambandam // KissFlow (the marketer), who at that time had just returned after attending SaaStr. He was blown away by the energy and kind of conversations that took place at the conference. We started putting something together; Suresh coined the name SaaSx and with help from leaders like Shekhar Kirani (Accel), Girish Mathrubootham (Freshdesk), Paras Chopra (Wingify), Avlesh Singh (WebEngage), we launched the first edition and it was a big hit. We reached out to folks and almost everyone wanted SaaSx to be held twice a year. We actually had kept it very light; it did not take more time for us to get it up. We always have been able to put up SaaSx in 3-4 weeks. The recent edition was amazing in terms of content and curation, and the networking that it created. It was good to catch up with lots of founders who always seem to appreciate me for events like this, though I’ve always believed that the real rockstars are the volunteers who pull this together.

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PNgrowth

This one was special. It happened over a long passionate conversation on Category Leadership with Pallav. We did several meetings, and calls with the Stanford/Duke & the iSPIRT Playbook team, and it took approximately 9 months for PNgrowth to take birth :). Rajan & I were nervous till the end, but I think the format and some of the conversations/talks by Shankar, Pallav, Sharad, Kunal, Nags, and Aneesh made all the difference. I think the best part for me was the bonding amongst the founders. We had around 186 founders who attended, many of them took back some great insights, learnings, some made great friends and I think we created a new platform. Hopefully, we can build on this and take it forward.

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Returning to that question

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.

And so we return to the question I began this rather long post with. In a recent session with the founders, Pallav again asked me why I’m so passionate about the ecosystem and why I continue to all all this evangelising. And I couldn’t push it away anymore. It made me think question my own motivations, and I came up with something like an answer.

So here we go –

  • I think of myself as a connector, and since I have been in the ecosystem for a long time, I know many smart people who will benefit by being introduced to other smart people. I’m able to do that, and that makes me happy. I do this without expecting anything in return. There are a few other connectors in our ecosystem who selflessly do this, and they should be celebrated as well.
  • After evangelising the Product Eco-system for over 12 years, I really want some Indian product companies to go global, to become category leaders. We have had some success in the past, but I would love it if many more would rise from India, and we truly become a ProductNation. I consider myself lucky to be working with some of the smartest people in the ecosystem.
  • We have many founders who are believers in the Pay-It-Forward movement, but they want to find credible platforms to associate with. Fortunately, iSPIRT has become one of those platforms where they consider opening up and helping other product founders
  • I stay away from the limelight as it defocuses you. You tend to go after visibility and lose focus. Long time back i had heard this saying if you make a donation, don’t publicise it. Let it just be a donation. I don’t know if that is right or wrong, but that’s what I follow.
  • I love my work as I get to meet lot of people, make new friends and build deeper relationships with the existing ones.

I think that’s all there is to it. 🙂

How can you support the movement?

I get lot of emails, lots of calls and lot of people reach out to me at conferences saying that they would like to volunteer. Many times, people are not clear on what their strengths are and don’t even know how they can contribute. Volunteering is not easy. I would request people to read the iSPIRT website, see the kind of activities being done and think how would you like to contribute. Then write to us. If you don’t show the passion, it’s hard for us to make you part of this movement. But if you do, and become part of this movement, I’m sure you’ll enjoy every bit of this ride we are on – to make India a true Product Nation.

Thanks to Sairam for helping in editing this blog post. 

Product Management for Startups and Understanding Growth #Playbookrt52

It was a rainy Monsoon Delhi day with heavy downpour, traffic jams and water logging but these couldn’t keep a bunch of entrepreneurs from making it in time to the Product Nation Roundtable focused on Product Management and Growth Hacking.

Led by Round Table veteran who has done it all and scaled Slideshare to great heights, Amit Ranjan, the excite bunch got together in the lovely office of Posist.

The round table kicked off with discussion around Product Management with Amit discussing his learnings and unfolding carious aspects around it step by step.

He defined Product Management as the function that manages the product life cycle through activities like planning, forecasting, production, marketing and has flavours of engineering, design, sales, marketing, data etc.

No matter what the stage of the company is, Product management is relevant, it is carried out by Founders is small startups (say less than 10 in strength) and then there are multiple product managers in big companies.

Important takeaway: “A Product Manager should be the CEO of the product” – Amit Ranjan

443b5ffef7b5079d7b20822404fd3124A great product manager has the brain of an engineer, the heart of a designer, and the speech of a diplomat

The group further analysed many examples of startups such as Uber, Twitter, Slideshare etc. around a model shared by Amit depicting 3 pillars of Product Management which are:

  • Vision
    • align org goals with market conditions & user needs
    • ‘get’ the pulse of the product (think movie directors)
  • Design
    • give shape to the product: feature mix, user experience
  • Execution
    • work with engineering, quality, marketing to deliver

However, a common issue cited by many founders was the issue of making the right hire for such role. The group identified and discussed the various aspects that must be considered while making a hire for the role :

  • Strong product sense/instinct
  • Carries multiple points of views
  • Communicates clearly
  • Simplifies & prioritizes
  • Measures & iterates
  • Understands good design
  • Writes effective copy

The second half of the Round Table was focused around Virality and the art of Growth Hacking with Amit sharing many interesting anecdotes and case studies.

Amit defined Virality as “Marketing built into the product…if the product is viral, it will market itself.

It is different from Word of Mouth, Marketing, Buzz etc and is simply the ability of the product to spread on its own. The role of a Marketer is to enable the product to do so and leverage different mediums to do so.

In Slideshare’s case, it was widgets that worked out very well for distribution. Amit emphasised to a great extent the importance of cracking and working on distribution right from the get go. The ideal scenario of working deeply on product (engagement) as well as channels (distribution) is hardly realised. It is a call that the entrepreneur has to take and has its own pros and cons. In Slideshare’s case, the heavy focus on distribution instead of deep diving into product development to a greater extent helped them erect barrier against new competitors/clones who tried to differentiate with added media support but could not pick up. As a negative, Slideshare faced issues in motivation as it never made users compulsively log in or create deeper engagement on the platform.

1e742688c80a7e0d19ccbafabe8ee071Amit emphasised the importance of tracking the product’s viral coefficient which is the number of additional members every new member brings. It should be greater than 1 for the product to become viral.

Viral Growth

The participants at the Roundtable were:

  1. Ashish Tulsian @posist.com (Host)
  2. Shashwat Srivastava @iflylabs.com
  3. Saurabh Arora @airwoot.com>
  4. Siddharth Deswal @wingify.com>
  5. Rahul Batra @getwalkon.com>
  6. Sujan Deswal @adpushup.com>
  7. Ankit Singh @aprogift.com>
  8. Amir Moin @contify.com>
  9. Sudhanshu Aggarwal @fizzysoftware.com>
  10. Amit Ghasghase <amit.ghasghase@wingify.com>
  11. Mrigank Tripathi @qustn.com
  12. Udit Sajjanhar @splashmath.com

Founders share their own growth hack stories and channels’ learnings. For majority, in the B2B scenario, content marketing has worked well to boost the acquisition and few discussed the idea of generating leads from fake Linkedin profiles!

Amit cautioned that one should always be looking out for new channels as a channel that’s working for you today will saturate soon.

The group got some great insights and takeaways to implement from product management and growth’s perspective. Ashish’s hospitality at Posist with amazing Cholley Bhature was cherry on top of the cake

40th #PlayBookRT in NCR on “Break the Barriers of Selling” by Deepak Prakash

iSPIRT kicked off its first roundtable for 2015 on 17th January at the office of Eko India, Gurgaon. The PlaybookRT was led by Deepak Prakash, Former VP of Sales at Tally Solutions. He has led building the entire sales network bottoms up and was the #1 sales person at Tally. Under him, Tally evolved from direct selling to single-tier home grown network for dominance and further evolved into a two tier network to create availability supplementing with all possible marketing activities with money/without money to reach-out to every potential buyer of our product(s).

The theme of the PlayBook Roundtable was something that poses a challenge for all tech entrepreneurs – Sales. Sales is what riddles most of the IT Product company start-ups – each one to his riddle. The intriguing problem of sales combined with Deepak’s experience and expertise in this subject ensured we had a full house on cold Saturday morning.

2015-01-17 18.30.11Overview

There are roughly about 1.25 crore SMEs in India, and about 40 Lakh of them have computers and are ready for automation. This provides a huge opportunity for enterprise software providers. Most of tech entrepreneurs have built interesting products to address this large market, however sales has always been the Achilles’ heels. Deepak broadly outlined the following sales strategies to tackle this market.

Building an effective sales team

Understand the sales psyche

In order to build a successful sales team, it is imperative to understand the psyche of sales people. As tech entrepreneurs, we usually tend to apply the same yardstick for both technology folks and sales team. This approach is incorrect.

  • Engineers and techies can accept failures easily, take it up as a challenge and build upon it. If there is a defect or something is not working, they will try new approaches to solve it. But for a sales guy, who is in front of a customer alone, failure can more often than not challenge his pride and ego. It needs a lot of effort for a sales person to swallow this failure and start afresh next morning. Inorder to keep his motivation high, it is necessary that we celebrate small sales victories and communicate the role he is playing in the organization.
  • Developers and tech teams go by logic and enjoy data, analytics and whatsapp/SMS. While sales teams enjoy phone call over IM and there is more emotion in place. It is very easy for a sales person to become lost or feel small in a tech setup. Entrepreneurs need to work and ensure that both teams understand each other’s importance.

Hiring A Sales Team

In response to a question on what traits we should look for while hiring for a sales position, Deepak mentioned:

  • The person should be able to make the customer comfortable and make him speak about his problems and needs. Only if a sales person can understand the pain point of customer, can he suggest the right value proposition. Someone who talks a lot and does not let others talk is not necessarily a good sales person.
  • A good sales person will typically have his pipeline on tips of his fingertips. He should be able to spell this out at any time.
  • Someone who says I can sell anything and I don’t need to know the product is a person you want to avoid. Because as an entrepreneur you want him to focus on product demo, and confide in the fact that your product is good enough that sale will happen if the right message goes to the customer.

In response to comments that it is difficult to find sales people who are ambitious or motivated, Sumit Kapoor from Employwise mentioned that it is not entirely correct. It is for the leader to inspire their people. We are able to inspire and motivate tech people easily but not sales people.

However, before hiring a sales team, founders need to ensure that the product or startup is at a stage where someone else can do the sales for them. E.g. if the sales calls become repetitive, you know that our sales process and collateral are ready for delegation.

Sales Team Training and Measuring Success

Deepak also shared his approach of measuring the success of sales teams:

  • Do not measure the success of a sales person by the number of cheques he gets but by the number of demos he makes. As an entrepreneur, we need to believe that our product is good and so if the sales person focuses on a good demonstration, cheques will come and business will happen.
  • The target or objective for sales team should be to talk about your passion, your innovation and your pride.
  • We need to understand the dream of sales people. Rather than imposing our dream on them, if we start worrying about their dream, they will start worrying about yours.

The discussion then meandered into how to train and motivate your sales team. Everyone one chimed in with interesting thoughts and here are some of them:

  • The first sales call for a new joinee is like sending a child to school. As parents we have to hold their hands and be there at the background. In case we close sale, do not ever say that sales happened because of me. Motive the new member and make him feel that he was the one who closed the deal.
  • In technology, we attempt to solve problems that are under your control, while sales depend on other people (end user, decision maker and several stakeholders) and so we have to be patience and cut the sales team some slack.
  • The only fear that sales folks have on the road is that sale will not happen. With every rejection, they lose a bit of self esteem. They have to recover from this loss over the night and get ready for a new day and a new fight. And on top of it, we as organizations impose tools such as CRM they have to fill in. These CRMs do not talk back and understand their feeling. At Tally Deepak used to call his boys everyday at 7 pm and hear them out, giving them a chance to vent out their feelings.
  • In a tech company, usually a sales person is considered an outsider. But if the rest of the team starts seeing as a bread winner and if the sales person gets a feeling that the team depends on him, this will give him a high.
  • As entrepreneurs, we also need to understand the difference between entrepreneurs and employees. Employees live for a lifestyle while entrepreneurs live for building an organization. Employees will plan for vacation, holidays etc. and we need to appreciate this.
  • Normally we give just product training to sales teams but customers usually want to talk to someone who understands them. So domain knowledge becomes important.
  • We try to surround sales people with tools such as CRM citing terms such as productivity, efficiency etc. These terms more often than not are Greek to them and they feel you are trying to control them, while the feeling inside them is freedom. We have to explain them to them that the tool is for liberation so that they start enjoying it.

2015-01-17 15.29.56Digital vs. Feet on Street

The discussion also got into choosing between Digital and Foot on Street and whether startups should try both. Sumeet opined that it is best not to get into a situation where we do both.

  • A digital strategy takes time to build as you have to create content, online brand etc. that does not happen overnight.
  • You also need to ensure that your customers are comfortable going through the entire sales cycle digitally including making payments. If there is any trade deficit, digital may not work.
  • While building your digital content strategy, you also need to ensure whether your target SMEs are coming online to search for data. Do they have enough time or knowledge on how some of their problems will be solved.

While if you are going for feet on street, you need to remember to bring in processes that will help you scale. E.g. you have to build a sales engine through which if you run a new hire, he can go and sell your product.

Sometimes combining both digital and feet on street can mask problems in either of the approaches. E.g. if customers are not comfortable making payments online, we get our sales team to talk to them and make payments offline. This prevents us from addressing the real problem, which perhaps could be a trade deficit.

Building a Channels Strategy

The mantra of success was that they created their own channel network, this lead to a dedicated network which will take all the products Tally would have created or will create. They ensured that their channel has enough activity to do, opportunity to encash and inclusive work for their growth was charted.

Channel works well when people already know your brand. There are three major things that channels can help you with:

  • Sell your product
  • Act as fulfilment centres for your product
  • Extension of network for messaging

Your channel strategy also has to evolve in-time. When you want to create deeper reach and availability you need to recruit another set of partners, and in parallel ensure that the already present channel also gains from your expansion.

Channel strategy has changes considerably between pre MNC and post MNC. Earlier there was a lot of relationship building, but now most of the channel partners play around very low margins. Entrepreneurs need to be wary of which strategy they want to adopt here.

Bundling Your Products

Another strategy tried by several companies is to bundle the product with another product that sells more. FMCG industry has done it very successfully. A couple of things that need to be taken care when pursuing this path are:

  • The product you are bundling with should resonate with your own product. E.g. both products can complete each other
  • Are the sales people selling the original product understand your product or are able to explain to customers about your products.

Referrals

Referrals are another avenue that startups can explore, however before doing so you need to ensure that you are capable to handle all the leads that come in. Throwing a bigger net that you can manage can actually backfire for you.

Right Business Model

Several SaaS based business have a monthly model where they would call businessmen every month to pay. This may not work well with SMEs. Your customer’s business is not to buy software with you. He would rather want to concentrate on his business. Hence it may make more sense to opt for an annual model. The serious customers will anyways buy this. Exotel had a similar experience.

Reaching out to different stakeholders

Often in an B2B setup, the user, decision maker and paying authority are different. The discussion moved to what should be the order in which different stakeholders are reached out. Usually sales team members are hesitant to meet the owner as they face the possibility of heavy rejection. Also owners are not interested in features but in how the tool can either help them save money or make more. However, they do depend on feedback from the user or beneficiary. Hence the sales team should first reach out to the user or beneficiary and then the owner. Sometimes the owner also depends on inputs from a Subject Matter Expert, who could be an IT guy or engineer in his friend/family and sometimes others (e.g. CAs in case of Tally)

However, in case of channels the approach is opposite. You first reach out to the owner to get them buy your proposition. Following this you want to reach out to the sales team of the partner so that they are well educated and trained to sell or demo your product.

2015-01-17 15.30.21Monopolistic Market

Dinesh Agarwal from Busy Software shared insights on how they penetrated a market which was dominated by one large player – Tally. He banked on users and stakeholders in accounting software to identify niche features that were required by a segment but not offered by Tally. One of such feature was statuary compliance. They launched this feature at half the price and this helped them penetrate. They also carved out their channel strategy and ecosystem that helped to build a strong market base.

Going International

Deepak also touched upon some key considerations while eyeing international sales:

  • Your product will need to be adapted to the particular market you intend to tap into. It could be for example statuary compliance or local language support.
  • International markets can be expensive and hence you need to plan well
  • From a sales strategy, there will be broad similarities. E.g. international markets also have channels that work on the same motivations and contours.
  • You need to accept the fact that no one in a new market knows you or your product. So if you start from scratch.
  • The business problems and challenges are similar in different markets. They too have similar HR problems or business problems.
  • There also needs to be a culture adoption, especially the way you communicate or conduct your sales effort.
  • Before starting to build a channel in an international market, it usually makes sense that you acquire the first 10-20 customers yourself. This will help you understand the market better, ensure your product is ready and help you exploit the channel strategy much better.
  • Set clear expectations and objectives so that you know when to get out if things are not working.

Conclusion

One thing that stood clear from inputs of all participants was that there is no size that fits all. Different solutions and strategies yielded results for different teams and entrepreneurs. It is imperative not to wear someone else’s stripes. Pick up a strategy that is doable for you based on the types of person you are and situation you are in.

2015-01-17 13.36.59The high level of interest and engagement from all participants was evident as the session that planned for 3-4 hours got extended to beyond 7 hours. We finally concluded our first Roundtable for 2015 with a promise from Deepak that he will back with us in a couple of months.

Why “No other product like yours” is not cause for celebration. #PlaybookRT

On Saturday, December 6, 2014, founders, CEO’s and others from startups based in and around Mumbai met at the office of WebEngage. We were there for the iSPIRT PlaybookRT on Positioning and Messaging by Shankar Maruwada. Below are my notes and thoughts about the event…

Identifying and defining your customers

Shankar emphasized that the process of developing a positioning and messaging strategy starts with identifying and defining who our prospects or customers are. Finding out what they value and what their pain points are. In case of an existing customer base, one must evaluate what made a customer choose our product over other options.

It is important to remember that finding out who your customer is, is a lifetime process. And the results of such an exercise can keep changing over time.

The positioning and messaging objectives

Once customers have been identified and defined, we must start work on how we should define our product so it appeals to the customer base identified. Our positioning and messaging should be such that…

  • It gets the customer’s attention quickly
  • It is extremely easy for them to understand what your product is
  • Enables them to see without much effort, how the product would be useful to them

Using Analogies

Analogies can be a powerful method to quickly position your product in the mind of the prospect. A new idea is better understood when it is stated in the context of an already well known idea.

To take the example of some popular movies which were based on newish ideas at the time they were pitched…

  • The film “Aliens” originally was pitched as “Jaws on a Spaceship” and that image sold.
  • Similarly the 1994 movie Speed was pitched as “Die Hard on a bus”!

Some other helpful tips to help with your positioning process…

  • List out what questions you want your customers to ask? That will help you figure out how your positioning should be.
  • Don’t get trapped by words. Get the idea and thought first and then figure out how to articulate them.
  • When you say there is nobody like you, you are in trouble. No one wants to be the first person to be a fool.
  • People will position your product anyways. It is not optional. Your job is to guide them to the positioning you want.
  • To add credibility to any benefit that you choose to highlight, quantify that benefit. For e.g. Product X is so simple that employees complete their tasks in half the time
  • Your positioning statement and initial messaging should be as short as possible. Remember internal chatter in the prospect’s mind starts in about 30 seconds.
  • When there are multiple benefits, try to create a hierarchy of benefits.

One way to really know that you understand your customers is to see if you are able to predict their behavior. If you can successfully predict their questions or action, then you have a good job!

Curse of Knowledge

One of the most interesting things that Shankar spoke about was the Curse of Knowledge.

Wikipedia describes this as…

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that leads better-informed parties to find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed parties. 

Anyone who has attempted a positioning and messaging exercise for their products has surely battled this. It requires us to…

  • See ourselves from the eyes of the prospect.
  • Understand how they perceive us currently. Understand what our prospect values.
  • Understand how our product must appear and what it must say so the prospect feels enough trust and sees enough value to go ahead and purchase.

The curse of knowledge is easily the biggest roadblock in this process. A better informed person is not always able to anticipate the judgement of a lesser informed person. Applying this to sales, it is said that a better informed sales person may actually be at a disadvantage as compared to a lesser informed agent pitching the same product. This is because the better informed agent may fail to ignore that knowledge which they posses but the prospect does not.

They could end up over estimating the prospect’s product knowledge or the value the prospect attaches to certain benefits or features.  A lesser informed sales agent would probably have a better idea of what the customer has understood. They would probably explore more to understand what the customer truly values.

It is important for the prospect to see our positioning and messaging as relevant to them. The curse of knowledge can fool us into believing our messaging is universally understood.

Product Management Roundtable For Startups by iSPIRT In Pune. #PlaybookRT

After all the missed opportunities of being at a PlaybookRT by iSPIRT, I finally made it to Pune last weekend for the roundtable on Product Management. Amit Somani and Rahul Kulkarni conducted the session. While I can’t do justice to all that was discussed at the session, I am translating my notes from the Roundtable into this blog post. After sharing some of our product dev insights in my last post Learnings From Building A Consumer Facing Web Product, this was a good opportunity to become a sponge and soak in all that I could manage. 

As a startup founder who hasn’t previously worked in a product company, starting a product business is tough. And being a CEO with no technology background, doesn’t help the mix either. The challenges for building an internet product for me may be more than the average amongst the ones attending this Roundtable, but product management is still a tough beast. Understanding consumer needs, building a product around it, figuring the right metrics for your business, measuring it and iterating is puzzling for anyone, specially given the fact that we are always chasing a moving target.

2014-11-08 14.15.57To give you a taste of how things play out in the real world:

When we started PriceBaba back in 2012, mobile apps were a good to have, desktop traffic was bulk of Internet usage and little did i know that India is on the verge of such massive investments in online shopping. Over 2 years later, the story is very different. Mobile is huge (both web and apps), online shopping is real and consumer Internet in India and the investment landscape which was looking slow between 2012-2014 has picked up crazy momentum.

For a startup that is bootstrapped, at an accelerator or even seed funded stage, getting the product market fit, raising funds to survive, hiring good techies and dealing with an uncertain market which is changing fast is a daunting task. If you add to that the learning curve involved to make things successful, you would know why I appreciate this Product Management PlaybookRT by iSPIRT so much.

The Product Management #PlaybookRT

Amit and Rahul kicked off the session by helping us define our product vision (and separating it from the company vision and mission). We were asked to make a 30 sec pitch by each of us on our product vision along with two things that we would never do. Both Amit and Rahul played devils advocate and helped us think through what we are doing. Learning: A quick dipstick to check if your product vision is well defined, ask employee no 20! If they can define it well in your (founders) absence, then you have set your product culture right.

Stack rank your requirements. What is the single most important thing you? Rahul suggested us that things can’t move forward till we stack rank our priorities. We must know what is the most important thing that we do. A somewhat heated discussion was on how important the user interface of a product is for being successful. Should we fret about having the best UX out there or build a product that is very compelling, offers a better price than competition and delivers what is promises reliably? To cut short on what could be a day long debate, here are two independent bits I picked up from our facilitators. i) If you are offering something that no one else can, your consumer will also use a command prompt to get it. ii) Your Apps UX is much more important than what it was a few years back and it is getting more and more important by the day. But that may not be the lone factor in getting a winner out there. That said, don’t purposely try to build a bad UX 😉

The user experience is not just defined by what the user does on your mobile or web interface. It is every touchpoint that the consumer has with your brand / service. It is the whole packaging of what a user goes through. For a e-commerce site it would go down to the professionalism and courtesy of their delivery boys. Similarly, when taking a view of product, the challenge isn’t always about getting that killer UX designer to work on your mobile app. It is really defining what your product does and how.

Each of us got enough time to define our key metrics and find ways of measuring them. With my experience I can surely tell you that it is indeed true that which ever metric you track on a day to day basis, improves quite magically 🙂

Tips on collecting feedback & effective product management: 

  • Take feedback from your extreme users. Either the ones who are very naive and would ask very basic questions. Or from the extreme users who would want every pro feature out there
  • Group users by commonality. Set goals for users who perform well. So track a users life journey within your app, figure key milestones and set them as goals. Optimize for these goals. So if you know that a user who completes Level 1 of your game, is most likely to play till Level 4, try to optimize such that you acquire users who will complete Level 1

Apart from the evergreen Google Analytics which is great for averages, tools like Mixpanel, Kissmetrics and Wizrocket are great for digging into specifics. You may want to give them a spin. You may also want to check Dave McClures talk on Startup Metrics for Pirates. 

playbookRT

Hiring. The Big Deal. 

So the tired entrepreneur in you is thinking already, when can I hire someone to take some of my money and all my product problems? Well, well not so soon! Product Managers come in various flavours and to begin with, YOU are the PM. Hiring a lead product manager is tough and transition is not easy. You need folks who are curious, bring product insight, are analytics, can be strategic and can work with really smart engineers. This is an individual that blends great communication skill and simplicity. So where do you find such a mahapurush?

Amit suggested a good strategy of hiring young grads and train them to become good PMs in a year. They will love the opportunity at the start of their career and won’t burn a big hole in your pocket. That said, a dedicated product lead will take over the duties from the founder(s). This would ideally happen at a later stage for most of us attending the Roundtable. The three flavors of Product Managers are:

i) A Project Manager who will get your task list executed

ii) A product manager who will get the job done but won’t give a new direction to the part they are leading – the CEO holds the strings. Also example of Windows OS where changing one aspect as per will of a Product Manager won’t fly, it would need the to go hand in hand with the whole OS

iii) The Business Owner – Give this product manager your metrics and let him/her chase it down for you with full ownership

^cheat sheet: Google for questions asked to Product Managers at Google / Amazon / FB 🙂 

2014-11-08 14.22.30Best Practices For Product Development: 

i) The Amazon Approach – Write a press release before starting the product development. Also read this by Ian McAllister of Amazon:

ii) Before you launch the product, predict the no of users your new product / feature would have for the next week & month. Define the usage metrics

iii) Have extreme clarity in goals, let people make mistakes but own the job

iv) Questions to ask yourself – Is this world class? Can an engineer look this up and build it in 2 days? Why are you uniquely positioned to do that?

Also appreciate if someone else has users and learn as to why they have users for what they have built. You can learn a lot from that. Eg: Google & Apple learnt about good features that would eventually go into their OS by looking at some trivial but popular apps on their App Stores.

Books recommended by Amit and Rahul: 

  • The innovator’s dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen
  • Start with why by Simon Sinek (also the TED talk by Simon)
  • Profit from the Core: Growth Strategy in an Era of Turbulence by Chris Zook
  • Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Identify and Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Business by Andrew Grove

2014-11-08 16.26.16

Everything is an experiment

A few days back, SameerAvinash and I chatted about my learnings from doing the Product Nation Playbook Roundtables as part of iSPIRT. If you’re curious what they are, here’s how iSPIRT describes this program.

We convert conversations into playbooks for product entrepreneurs. Product companies need a different mindset than IT services businesses. They need to anticipate customer needs rather than just react to them. They need to brand themselves in very different ways and create IP that will disrupt the marketplace. They need deep technologists rather than fungible engineers. And so on. pn.ispirt.in will be the platform for enabling crucial conversations around these issues amongst practitioners. It will use an evidence based methodology to shine light on successful playbooks.

From iSpirt website.

I believe building products is a continuous and highly impactful experiment that one can do. More so in today’s digital day and age. Here’s a short video put together by Sameer that captures my thoughts.

Sridhar Ranganathan(CrediBase) sharing his views on “Building a Product is Experiment” from ProductNation on Vimeo.

The key aspect of every experiment is that there’s definitely an OUTCOME! Whether that is good or bad, is something left to the hypothesis one frames, before the experiment.

Meanwhile, a bunch of folks who’re very interested in seeing the product ecosystem evolve in India, have come together to create #PNCamp, a 2-Day Boot Camp for product entrepreneurs. You can learn more about it here, and if you’re a product entrepreneur, I’ll strongly recommend getting an invite for this – you’ll learn a bunch from it. Even this is an experiment, to learn from how to evolve the ecosystem. Do you agree with me? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

20th #PlayBookRT at Chennai: Sales war stories from 2 SaaS start-ups

An interesting discussion on the theme of ‘Sales’ happened last weekend at Chennai (Orangescape office) as part of the iSpirt round table. Shashank N D from Practo and Girish Rowjee from Greytip gave engaging presentations on their journey and the ~20 participants responded enthusiastically with several interruptions (read questions :)). [Note: A similar discussion in Bengaluru was covered earlier here]

Sales Stage - PractoShashank wooed the audience by starting off with his story on the origins of Practo – when his dad had to undergo a knee operation and wanted to get 2nd opinion from another doctor abroad, he couldn’t send out the medical records electronically. Thus began a singular journey of using emerging technologies such as cloud and mobile to enhance patient experience.

Here are some key ‘Sales’ takeaways from his presentation:

  • Golden Rule: Never build something without making a sale. Practo always got a buy-in from existing or potential customers before actually building new features. This was true even in their early stages.

 

Selling and Coding should be the only activities.

    • Practo benefitted heavily from referrals. They did Zero cold calling and focused on delighting existing customers. The doctors who became customers of Practo were so happy with the product that they were happy to evangelize it amongst their peers
    • It is important that the founders bring on the early adopters. At Practo, the founders got the first 50 customers and in the process achieved Product/Market fit (took about an year). While this number may vary for each company, it is important to note that dedicated sales or marketing should be brought on only after this stage.
    • Shashank also talked about evolution of the sales team over the years. While founders are the best sales persons in the initial stage, it is important to bring P-salesmen (P for Passionate) at the next stage followed by R-salesmen (R for regular) for mass adoption.
    • While product-market fit was the focus during the first phase of going from 0 to 50 customers, the next phase focussed on sales culture. Bringing on P-salespeople, providing free trials for instant gratification of customers, value based selling etc were the highlights
    • Zero discount policy: Practo followed a strict no-discount policy. This actually helped them reduce bargaining behaviour and enabled them to be seen as high-value. But in the ensuing discussion on this topic, most agreed that this is based on the type of product, target market etc. Selling to large customers may not be possible without discounts.
    • ‘Instant Gratification’ was a key customer psychology aspect that Practo focussed on during its sales cycle. Practo provides a feature where the doctor will be able to send an SMS alert to the patient within 30 seconds. This feature became a star-attraction of the product and improved sales
    • Practo was one of the first companies in India to sell a SaaS product offline. Some blogs even mentioned that this was start-up graveyard but it eventually did work for Practo.
    • As a matter of principle, Practo did not focus on doctors/hospitals that did not have computer infrastructure. This gave focus to their sales process. Also, they did not target general physicians and focused on specialists such as dentists, dermatologists etc. Thus targeting really helped them
    • To set up appointments, Practo initially had their own salespeople calling as well as had an inside sales team (with many women!). But what eventually worked for them was to create territories and assigning salespeople to specific territories. Salesmen were then made responsible market intelligence, cold calling etc. Usually the salesperson has to wait at the hospital to meet the doctor in person (like a medical rep) for the first time. But subsequent meetings were all setup through follow-up calls and prior appointments.
    • Medical reps couldn’t deliver as salespeople. They did not have the mind-set to challenge the doctors. At Practo, the smarter and tech-savvy sales guys were more successful as they were about to demonstrate the value of the product/technology to the doctors.
    • After various experiments, Practo had a clear separation of hunting salesmen and farming salesmen. Also most sales guys sell one product.
    • It is important to incentivize salespeople to get maximum yields from them. They have now established something called ‘flyers club’ where top 3 performers can go to a destination of their choice on an annual basis
    • All new salespeople undergo a 1 week training program and are instilled the Practo way of sales. But they have observed that it takes nearly 3 months for them to reach an efficient state.
    • There was an interesting discussion on a question on reselling partners. Majority of the participants concluded that resellers cannot solve your sales problems. What they can do is to magnify your sales success story. Resellers also bring in warm leads and act as influencers.

Shashank from PractoInterestingly and rather ironically, the session concluded with a note that start-ups should not target other start-ups as customers except as early adopters or reference case studies!!

Product Management related takeaways from Practo:

  • Practo spent inordinate number of hours with doctors. The idea was to understand user behaviour, just seeing them go about doing their work, how they interact with the software etc.
  • Practo had an interesting philosophy for feature prioritization – their order of importance was product vision, customers, employees and finally investors! Thus even when customers gave multiple feature requests, only those that aligned with the vision got implemented
  • Practo has lot of focus on analysing product usage, customer data etc. They built in-house tools (eg: epicentre) to monitor usage. Even during early stages when they had just 3 developers, one of them was purely focused on tools. Shashank calls it their ‘secret sauce’ for success.
  • They had a 30% conversion rate for face-to-face trial to paying customer.

IMG_2567The presentation on Practo was followed by a short session on Girish’s entrepreneurial journey with a few nuggets on sales related topics. Unlike Practo, Greytip did not have field salesmen and they went the online sales route for their payroll management software. It took them 2 years to realize that this model will not work well in India – not because of any issues on their side – but the market just did not buy without salesmen. Girish added that many of the emails that they send out are never read by the payroll in-charge. In fact, Greytip realized that CEOs may be more interested in such payroll software but the payroll head did not have the vision or mind-set to think of such possibilities. Thus began a journey of attempting to educate the target segment and build credibility in the process. Greytip also built relationships with payroll processors. Since the competition in payroll processing was cut-throat, their pricing was in fact determined by the market.

IMG_2568The following links were highly recommended during the discussion:

 

Guest Post Contributed by Karthik V, a software product enthusiast with degrees from IIT & IIM

Insights from the Sales Playbook RoundTable Led by Ambarish, Knowlarity in Gurgaon

The second Sales Playbook RoundTable in Delhi-NCR was held at EKO office in Gurgaon, led by Ambarish Gupta– CEO/Founder, Knowlarity Communications. About 10 companies attended the meet such as EKO, Easework, Busy, Yippster, Conixevus and few more. The format was quite engaging and action oriented as participants were asked to come with their own set of sales challenges for the RT. The session started with a brief introduction and the specific challenges participants were facing.  There was a good degree of overlap among sales challenges of different organizations. The common theme emerging out of the challenges can be divided into three categories – Profit margin, Velocity of Sales & Scaling up. I’m listing down few of the actionable learning discussed

Improving Profit margin:- 

There was unanimous agreement over the core purpose of business among participants i.e to make profit which is a very elementary mathematical equation i.e difference between revenue from a unit customer & cost of serving a unit customer. Even if somebody is making revenue, he may choose to leave a particular customer if cost of serving customer is more than revenue. Exceptions are always there if the unprofitable customer is a source of bringing other profitable customers. Organizations should have real time view of profitability of different customer segments and may focus on segments with maximum profitability. While formulating any pricing strategy, the above mentioned formula should be kept in mind.

  1. The most important point in improving profitability is to understand the sustainable value coming out from the different customer segments & know associated risks. For example- startups as a major customer base are not good for companies because most of them die in a year so average cost of acquisition & serving is always going to be more than the average revenue for these customers. Similarly, up gradation to the existing customer may enhance profit margin significantly.
  2. Ask the customers to pay for the product you are providing, you will be getting right kind of feedback about product & business model, if majority is not willing to pay, it’s a red flag and one may need to modify the business model & product
  3. The pricing model should be taking care of mind set of customers so if the target customers are not in a position to shell out big amount of money, the pay as you go model may be applied with known risk that churning of customers is going to be high risk for the company.
  4. Payment term is also quite important, For example – Even in SaaS model once can ask for yearly payment rather than collecting on monthly basis. It has got several advantages-a) Advance cash flow b) reduced tension & effort of collecting money c) you have got a time in which you can make customers use the product and take benefit out of product.
  5. Make customers’ use the product so that they can feel the business benefit. A happy customer’s life time value is quite high for the company. The companies need to make as many happy customers as possible as a brand ambassador so after getting word of mouth publicity /referrals the cost of acquiring customers reduces significantly resulting in better profit margin for the company in long run.

Enhancing Velocity of Sales:-

A lot of participants expressed their concern about increased sales cycle and discussed the ways to reduce the cycle time & find a right process for reaching out to prospects.

  1. Network is very important in finding first few customers; it was observed that most of the companies got first few clients from personal network which resulted in an early traction for products.  So build a network of mutually beneficial relationship much before you try to reap the benefits.
  2. For reducing the time cycle, team should focus on finding the person in the target companies who is feeling the maximum pain for the problems you are going to solve and identify the decision maker such as CEO/CMO.
  3. For finding the relevant personal details such as mobile no. /email id internal to an organization, various tactics may be employed such as finding details from LinkedIn & Naukri profile, calling the board member as a journalist for interview etc.
  4. It is always advisable for going through a referral route if available so that the prospects would be in a frame of mind to hear. Moreover, while interacting on phone for the first time, you have just first 30 seconds to impress, be precise to what you are going to deliver in terms of benefits not about details of products. You will be getting enough time and a meeting with all the key executives if you can hold call for first 30 seconds.  The benefits should be clearly leading to either increasing the revenue or reducing the cost in direct or indirect ways such as, “I will help you in making additional money from existing customers” or “I will reduce the cost of serving to your existing customers”.
  5. If your product is new in market, one needs to identify the early adopters who are willing to take chances for launching the product with assessment of the probable competition, barrier to entry, market potential & preferred business/ revenue model in different markets.
  6. If the product is a replacement of the existing product then value from the replacement product should be of at least 10x more value than that of the existing product. The product companies need to understand & answer the key questions- why people should be replacing existing system/products? The mindset of a customer is always going to maximize the value per unit cost. One needs to find a solution of this puzzle for individual prospects before reaching them so one needs to concentrate on understanding the pain points with existing product and how to help prospects with those pain points while still providing the others as usual benefits to the customers.
  7. Both tangible and intangible value should be taken into consideration while evaluating overall value to the customer. One needs to be very careful if you are changing the path of doing business as usual for the prospects as there would be a degree of difficulty in doing something new for the customers. This is going to create negative value to the prospects.
  8. Keep customers / prospects engaged in a personalized way such as sending some information that may or may not be relevant to the product but may help prospect. Always keep a updated social profiling of the prospects from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and find an excuse to follow up such as Congratulations for getting award etc. One need to understand that we are dealing with human beings not machines so clubbing of trust and emotions is extremely important to reduce sales cycle.
  9. The first point of interaction with customer is what you are going to provide. Talk to the customers in a language they can understand rather than focusing on product and features, it comes later in answering to the question how you are going to provide. For example- Our product will reduce the serving cost per customer in call center from 50 paisa to 10 paisa or our product is going to help in your business conversion by x% that is going to increase your revenue by y%.
  10. Even from the same target customer segment, different prospects are at the different stage of the sales cycle so marketing pitch should be in line with different stages in a sales cycle i.e Awareness – attract – Engage- Convert – Happy customer – Referral / word of mouth – new customers and so on.

Scaling up:-

  1. Product companies should connect to prospects to understand the pain points of the customers rather than building a perfect product with no market requirements. They should start talking with customers even if the product is not ready to receive valuable feedback.
  2. Time to make entry in the market is quite important as  it decides the opportunity windows of a company to tap maximum benefits in minimum time & effort
  3. The system & processes during the early stage of startup should be highly flexible. After a certain period the same flexible system should be converted into process driven system to run the show. Therefore, one should evaluate & understand the system / processes / resource that are needed to drive the expected sales after scaling up & manage the changes from the existing level to the future level smoothly.
  4. One needs to find the sales model that is highly effective and scalable after market test and multiple iterations. Once you have found the right kind of value proposition and target set of customers for that value proposition with effective sales channels, you can scale up same model exponentially.
  5. The choice of domestic vs. international market is quite tricky. In developing market competition is less, quality expectation is less, market potential is high but customers are not willing to pay so ticket size is small. One of the biggest obstacles is the mind-set of customers in developing market. However in developed market ticket size is high, less hurdles with mind-set but competition is intense with very high expectations on front of quality. So considering these two facts one can take domestic market as a test market for testing and enhancing the product. Once it reaches the level of international standard, one can make international markets as the primary source of revenue. Jumping to international market without having a tested product may block all the future chances in that market forever.
  6. The selection of appropriate sales channel may be explored after trying established model such as telesales, channel, face to face & enterprise sales. Only after market testing, one can determine the right way to get more profitable customer at lower costs.
  7. The product companies need to create a sustainable source of inbound leads rather than outbound leads to improve efficiency of the sales system. Sales people should not be engage with every potential customer, they should be getting filtered list of potential customer for engaging & converting
  8. Another basic question is how customers are going to discover you? One needs to see the whole picture from the lens of customers for scaling up. Depending upon the computer literacy of the targeted customer offline or online or combination of marketing tactics may be deployed. For example- if customers are searching heavily over internet for the keywords associated with the products- Google organic and paid search could be good idea to hook the prospects. However if the search volume is less then display tactics may be needed to create the awareness among targets & later for hooking.
  9. The product companies need to understand the mindset of channel partners and dynamics that is happening in the channel partner industry. As profitability is going down, existing good partners may be looking out for new streams of revenue. So, they would be happy to work on a more profitable venture for taking a new product to the market. Apart from that capability, influence into target market and willingness to sell must be evaluated for potential partners.
  10. The big channel partner may not be a good partner unless the new product can create immediate good streams of revenue for them, so small partners would a preferred set of partners because they would be devoting dedicated time even for small revenue however the impact on company’s revenue per partner would be limited so number of such working partners come into picture for getting maximum revenue in a given time.

These insights were the result of the sales round table meet. The round table meet ends with a promise of meeting again for discussing and sharing experience again in coming month. Thanks to  iSPIRT ProductNation in being instrumental for building core competence in product organizations.

Guest Post by Manoj Kumar, a volunteer for ProductNation