Sales isn’t just sexy, its smokin’ hot

[Editorial Notes: Zomato has turned 4 today and the team reflects upon the past 4 years and shares some of the key insights.]

We’re turning 4 today (blows candles). Time to go to school now – make the next big leap. We can confidently claim that we have been well brought up by our “parents” – mentors, investors, friends, family and the entire Zomato team. But before we make the next big move, this is the perfect opportunity to reflect upon the past 4 years. Everything we dealt with was very typical to any start-up and we also sorted them the start-up way (by hook or by crook, mostly in the 11th hour). However, there was one thing that we approached differently and which we are particularly proud of – sales. Based on our approach and experience, we are sharing some of the stuff that will “set the salesmen apart from the salesboys”.

Rocket Singh Salesman of the year

“Now, sales is not a sexy job”

We’ve been hearing this forever from pretty much everyone around us – friends in marketing jobs, our families, interview candidates and investors. We wanted to let them know that Sales, especially in a start-up, couldn’t be sexier. Here’s why.

Good people make Sales sexy

Traditionally, Sales has been a purely commercial job where the product is pretty much standardized and there’s hardly any scope for new ideas, customization or innovation. Even if there is scope, the salesperson is either not trained enough to do so or doesn’t have the authority (true story). The salesperson eats, shoots and leaves… sorry… walks in, negotiates and leaves. Add to that the market’s perception of a typical salesman as an unscrupulous telecom company chap rather than the suave associates from management consulting firms who sell concepts, ideas and hope. Our experience says, hire the latter to make sales sexy. They cost more but ensure that they bring in supernormal returns (revenue) and justify their salaries.

Benefits are sexy, Features are not

Clients don’t buy features of your product – they buy benefits – and that should be the opening and closing sentence of a salesperson’s pitch. The ideal state is to reach a stage where most of your salespeople become agony aunts for their clients! They should talk stuff that solves clients’ problems. They should be able to dissect the industry and market scenario layer by layer to come up with solutions. They should have networks that the clients can tap into at any point in time for any purpose. For your clients, solutions to any of their problems should be a phone-call away. Here, the role of a salesperson changes from a product / services seller to a consultant – and being a consultant is sexy.

Caring about clients is sexy

Clients are constantly under pressure from the customers, investors, government, suppliers while barely anyone in the marketplace appreciates them for the entrepreneurs that they are. They have serious business issues and limited market knowledge (in Zomato’s case, due to the hyper-local nature of their business). Become a partner in their woes and act as agents of market efficiency by acting as warehouses of information. Example: We’ve had clients meet us at midnight over a few beers (beer is sexy) to share their sorrows and we make it a point to listen to their needs and provide our best advice. The message to them should be loud and clear – we care about your business as much as you do.

Problem solving is sexy

A good salesperson asks the right questions, identifies the problem, dissects it, validates it, proposes possible solutions, discusses them and executes them. If he fails, he admits it and works on another solution. If he succeeds, he has a customer for life, a relationship built on results and trust. If he fails, they still remain friends – still a phone call away.

#salestip: Litmus test of a good client relationship is whether the client stores your number in his cellphone and picks up your calls / returns missed calls consistently.

You want to make Sales in your organization sexy? Turn the concept of traditional sales on its head. Hire stars. Train them on decision-making, not only skills. If you are giving them responsibility, give them authority as well. Make them industry experts. Turn them into problem-solvers. Feel free to write anything on the contract – in spirit, charge your consulting fee.

I repeat, Sales isn’t just sexy, its smokin’ hot (cuts the cake)

[Guest article contributed by Saurabh Sengupta, Head of India Operations for Zomato.]