New marketing demystified for Indian SMEs

Archive for the category “small business”

Visiting the IITF2011- first impressions

I visited the IITF after many years: eight to be precise and I thought of listing my thoughts and impressions of IITF2011, especially what has changed in the interim.

Who is this trade-fair IITF 2011 for?

We walked through hall after hall, moved from one stall to another and my overwhelming impressions were:

1. The IITF 2011 is no longer aimed at the business visitor- not overtly like it used to be when I used to participate.

In those times we used to look forward in dread to the general public days- where you would be shouting at the top of your voice to make yourself hard- and yet not make any sense. Your “target audience” would be muscled out by aunties and uncles, with babies in arms in many cases. Read more…


Making software accessible to SMEs in India

All the recent surveys on the Indian software market I have read point to its enormous growth potential. The Zinnov Study commissioned by Nasscom on the software products market and the more recent on the opportunities in the SAAS market both forecast huge numbers in domestic sales. Where is this going to come from?

A disproportionate amount of this growth needs to come from SMEs; manufacturers, retailers, exporters, healthcare services, law-firms: many of them almost first time users of IT beyond the obvious MS-Office.

What needs to happen to make the adoption faster? As someone who runs a SME in the software products domain, here’s what I think.

Read more…

How to generate productive sales leads

.. a unique solution to a universal problem for startups

When we set out to build Salesgenie CRM++, we were actually onto our second inspiration.

We had set out to build a different product/ service and as we were creating the specs, we started thinking of marketing it. The challenges and the process of overcoming those.

Lead generation was key. We were confident of closing business if we knew who to talk to, but, not on a large scale, we did not.

So, we abandoned the idea, well, not quite. It is still there and probably some day we will give it a go. But, we got together to crack what we consider fundamental to any startup success.

1. What are sales leads?

2. How do you generate them?

3. How do you prioritize on the ones to follow up so that you maximize the returns on your efforts and time spent?

It was clear to us that visiting cards were poor leads. Most people we called hung up on us. If the folks who had willingly passed on their calling cards on us could be so unreceptive, what would be fate of phone numbers obtained from purchased mailing/ phone lists? We knew the answer, and did not even bother.

Think of your own situation as a buyer. Other than daily essentials, how many times and how many minutes (not even hours) do you spend in a year in actively purchasing something (figuring out that you need something, figuring out what you need, researching the market, talking to others, comparing alternatives, technologies and prices and so on)?

Very few times, in a full year or even years, on any single class of product. And, when you are not buying, you could not be bothered.

When we think as marketers though, we think we and our product is all our customers think about. All the time. Let’s get real. They don’t. Unless you are in the business of selling pipeline valves. And, then, it may not be good news, if your product is always in his mind!

In a B2B product category, you want the customer to keep you in mind when they are actively considering a purchase.

The challenge is to stay engaged in the long interim period between two purchases.

Another challenge,  is to court a first time purchaser through the entire pre-sales consideration period.

And, consider that the customers have little time to spare when they are not ready to buy.

With our CRM product, we take a crack at the first problem: how to stay engaged with your installed base, nurture them, read their signals before your competition does. Which is why, we have a automatic lead scoring algorithm, that identifies a lead based on what you, an experienced sales manager would have called a lead, when the evidence piles up, in terms of customer actions, that the customer is actively seeking a solution.

Often, these are subterranean, seemingly disconnected events that point to an inquiry on its way. Salesgenie logs these signals, connects them up using our unique and smart algorithm, and alerts you to the possibility of a lead and the contacts to follow up to bring that lead to fruition. This leaves your salesmen free to sell, not worry about which are the contacts he must chase to create or nurture an opportunity. We think, this is the single biggest contribution that Salesgenie CRM++ makes today among all the other competing products in its class. And, for a small business, unable to invest in large-scale “lead qualification” processes to separate the wheat from the chaff, this is a boon.

As for the second problem? How to engage with a first time buyer?

Watch this space!


If you have a startup, you will run into brand-building soooner or later. Here’s a nice post, to get you started.

The CRM customization industry

… sigh! Here I go again!

As a CRM user in India, after paying out anything from Rs 3000/- pm to Rs 12,000/- pm (these are per user prices, guys), you would expect to be productive from day one. The truth is no; you will not be. Since you have bought a CRM solution that can work for the big guys and the small, the retailer and the reseller, the pharmacist as well as the medical rep, you will realise that it actually works for none. Till you customize, that is. And, that is where the CRM customization industry comes in.

Spectacular as the growth of the SAAS based CRM market has been, the growth of the CRM customization industry has been even more spectacular. Virtually every vendor in the vast hinterland of the IT outsourcing landscape has a “CRM practice”; which basically means they customize Sage or Sugar or Salesforce for you. Modify the field-names, change the order in which they appear, add some custom reports, add the logo and hey presto, you have your own CRM tool.

This costs money. But, more than that, this takes time.

My advice, and this is only to the SMEs, is avoid customization as much as possible.

And if you have to, focus on those that reduce the clutter on the screen rather than add to the capabilities. Believe me, more capabilities now often mean more work to be done daily by your salesmen, your marketing executives and marcom professionals to add to the “profile information”, logging interactions and following “workflows” and “scripts” that lost their relevance almost as soon as they were written.

There are literally hundreds of CRM softwares existing in the world. Shouldn’t there be at least one which meets your current needs and some? Buy something  written for your market segment and your locale in mind.

Salesgenie CRM ++ is designed for the needs of the SME segment of the market focused selling B2B. Can it handle B2C? Well, no! Will that mean, we will not address those selling soap or tissue-paper? No, we will not! Will we lose business? Well, it was not our business to start with!
We are for Small to Medium sized businesses,  in India, whose sales model is B2B. If that means we do not “do it all”, so be it. We at least do not claim customization will fix this!

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