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VC 101 – A Primer on Seeking Funds for your Business!

For the Budding Entrepreneurs out there:

In any Industry there are both Good and Not So Good Players. And Funding Companies/Investors/VCs Community are not an exception.

You should know to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I am saying this from my own recent personal experience.

Ideas are Important. Without ideas, money can get nowhere. I repeat that: “Without ideas, money can get nowhere.”

So, do not under estimate your ideas. Do not undersell your idea or yourself. This is the KEY TO SUCCESS.

The Good VCs have an established process to apply. You can visit their websites to know more. You can do your homework on what kind of companies they have invested in, how those companies have performed and grown etc. You will know whether you are in good company or not, even before you start the application process.

Some VCs like Y Combinator [ http://www.ycombinator.com/ ] have mentioned the list of companies they have invested in, the companies that have failed or closed down etc. The fact that Y Combinator has mentioned their failed ventures shows they are also susceptible to failures but that does not make them any less. The fact still remains that they have succeeded in most ventures. Some of them have grown to become world class companies.

In the urge to get things off the ground quickly, do not rush the process. Instead stay put for the long haul, be firm on your ideas, thought process, business plans, goals etc. If not now, you will get to work with someone of your caliber soon. Wait for the right partner.

Before talking to VCs, you should:

  1. Do your homework
  2. Know their Fund Size, Frequency, No of ventures they will invest in a year, Funding Calendar
  3. Know the ventures they have invested in, so far & how they are performing
  4. Know their Industry standing & ranking
  5. Know their application process
  6. Talk to some of the ventures they have invested in
  7. Know their funding patterns – Seed Stage & Startup/Early Stage – $500,000 to $2 million, Series A – $2 million to $15 million, Series B – $7 million to $10 million, Series C – Post Revenue – hundreds of millions – used for acquisition of other companies in the same space etc.
  8. Where they have invested – is it ecom/food delivery/fitness or is there no such preference
  9. Qualifying criteria
  10. Last but not the least: Talk to a lawyer, get an NDA [Non-Disclosure Agreement] template drafted. This needs to be signed by the VC and you on a Stamp Paper when you want to share the idea with your VC as part of their application process. Most Professionally run VCs will agree and sign these NDAs. If they don’t, then it may be time for you to walk out. Hence, do this first, in the process, so that you don’t waste your time.

I am sure this post will serve as an eye-opener to the budding VCs as well. And I wish they too grow and become world class.

Happy Creating!!

Get in touch with me for Start-up Consulting at:
kannan at zignalytics dot com or call me at 984 555 7401.

Best Wishes,
Kannan

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America, August, Apple, Amazon – A’s & the Aces!

You must have read the news, I am sure.

Apple became the first $ 1 Trillion company in terms of market valuation in August this year, followed by Amazon, the second $ 1 Trillion company.

What makes Apple & Amazon tick?

One thing I am sure, they are focused on Customer Experience & making lives simpler for their customers.

Daniel Martins, an independent researcher says: “It’s too high of a bar to assume that they’ll succeed at everything that they do.” “But at the same time, I think Amazon is the best combination in the world of the scale of a large company and that entrepreneurial DNA with the spirit of a startup.”

So, that’s the secret.

It is reported that Apple took long to reach there whereas Amazon sprinted to get there. Amazon took 3 months to cover the last 200 billion whereas Apple took 15 months to do the same, news agencies reported.

Apple was founded in 1976 & Amazon in 1994.

Amazon generates an annual revenue of 178 Billion & in 2018 it may make a paltry sum of 8.5 Billion as profits. It employs around 550,000 people worldwide.

While there are differences between these two Trillion Dollar Giants, the common thing is this: They both know how to market and sell.

Jeff Bezos = Bill Gates + Warren E. Buffett, in terms of Net Worth.

Between Apple and Amazon, one sells at a premium whereas the other lowers prices consistently. You know who.

Some ideas to follow:

  1. If you do Marketing right, everything will fall in place.
  2. Create great Customer Experiences.
  3. Create excitement – on your products & services – and for people to work with you
  4. Have an entrepreneurial DNA.
  5. Have the spirit of a start-up.
  6. Be agile. Respond faster.
  7. Make lives simpler, better & a lot easier.
  8. Sell your dreams. Products will follow.
  9. Create a community of believers.
  10. Last but not the least: You can even start today. And Create. [I didn’t say “Compete”, for a good reason.]

Happy Creating!

Happy Selling!!

#sales #startup #ideas #marketing #branding

Contact us at:

Sales at zignalytics .com for any help in Marketing / Sales / CRM.

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An Interior Designer reveals his secret!

I asked him how me manages his customer data, in the hope that I will generate interest for a CRM.

He is my friend. And it was a casual conversation. He laughed & said “we don’t have too much data to manage”.

What he said after that makes sense.

He said that he & his team complete the interior designing of a flat or a villa or an office space & hand it over to customers. We make sure that they are happy, he said. They refer customers to us & most of our business comes only through word of mouth & referral, he added.

He said, he mostly gets invited for the inauguration of the property. It is there he meets his prospective customers. Now there’s the secret sauce. Hang on for a second. He said, if those people, his customer’s friends & relatives, who come for the inaugural function, like his work, they will take his business card & call him when they have a need.

This is nothing but in-bound marketing coupled with social proof, touch & feel & non salesy approach all put together. What more can you ask for? He has all the relevant marketing strategies with right mix & proportion. It is a well oiled machinery. It will take care of itself.

He should only concentrate now on deliveries, quality, speed & customer satisfaction. Fantastic, isn’t it?

Some pointers for us, to work on:

  1. Be where our customers are.
  2. Be non-salesy.
  3. Provide social proof.
  4. Let the word of mouth spread.
  5. Provide good customer service.
  6. Create a community of happy customers.
  7. Let our customers touch & feel. Test Drive, Free Trial, Freemium, Freebies, what have you?
  8. Get referrals. No sales involved with the referred prospect. Our customers do the marketing & sales for us.
  9. Pick up the phone. Meet face to face.
  10. Be friendly. After all, we don’t live to sell or do business & make money. Only.

Happy Marketing!

Happy Selling!!

sales @ zignalytics .com

#marketing #inbound-marketing #wordofmouth #referral

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Big Potatoes rise to the Top on a rough road!

American football player Knute Rockne said this: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

When floods or Tsunamis cause a havoc, we have seen people rising to the occasion and providing help. What about the people who are affected? What do we learn from them? We will get to that in a bit.

Robert H. Schuller explains a true story from a village called Idaho in his book “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!”

Story now: Idaho has potato farmers. As you may know, potatoes are priced according to their sizes. The big potatoes are priced high, then the medium ones & the smaller ones are priced low. They are first sorted, bagged and only then loaded on to trucks.

Farmers spent a lot of time and effort in grading the potatoes those days. But not one farmer.

People asked him how does he manage it. He said he took the roughest road to the town. And naturally, the big potatoes rise to the top, medium potatoes land in the middle & the small ones fall to the bottom.

Schuller says this is not only true to potatoes but a law of life. If you are tough, you will rise to the top.

The rough road has to end at some point. And it will.

Coming back to the lessons from a natural disaster, people get really tough. They are forced to become tough to sail through. Their mindset is tough. How shall I explain? They think they can achieve anything. Nothing is an obstacle for them. And their bodies naturally adapt.

Sales is tough. Get tough to sail through.

Some ideas to get tough, from Robert Schuller:

  1. Dare to dream.
  2. Commit yourself to it.
  3. Dare to try and to take risk.
  4. Failure is an event and not a person.
  5. Never quit. Never ever.
  6. Hold on for a little more time.
  7. Inspire others.
  8. Beginning is half done.
  9. Pay the price. Full price.
  10. Practice Possibility Thinking: Never reject an idea / a possibility because –
    • you see something wrong
    • you won’t get the credit
    • it’s impossible
    • your mind is already made up
    • it’s illegal
    • you don’t have the money, manpower, muscle, or time to achieve it
    • it will create conflict
    • it’s not your way of doing things
    • it might fail
    • it’s sure to succeed [What? yes some people are so humble that they don’t want to succeed]

Get Tough!

Happy Selling!!

#salestips #successtips

sales @ zignalytics dot com

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Where do you get ideas, ask my friends!

It makes me think. Where do I really get ideas to write?

It’s a beautiful rainy day. Sitting by the side of the window in our beautiful office, my thoughts are flowing and my fingers are typing them as they flow. It’s 10 past 6 in the evening.

Except for the occasional interruptions I have from the notifications on my android phone [I hate notifications], I am not disturbed at all.

I get inspired by the daily events in my life and the conversations I have with others. And the conversations I have with myself too. 🙂

The other day, a friend told me that he doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings. Wow! That’s a good behaviour. But is it possible to live like that?

Let us examine this in the Sales context.

You cannot afford to hurt customers. No matter how rude they are.

You may not agree with them all the time. But you need not express that in a way it hurts them.

The work around is to find a solution to their problems that fits them in all sense. That would make them say “Yes”.

Some thoughts around this:

  1. Proposing the right solution
  2. Increasing their productivity
  3. Cost savings
  4. Easy to switch, use & adopt
  5. Low maintenance cost
  6. Availability of resources
  7. Future road map, upgrades, new features
  8. Far easier to exit.
  9. RoI
  10. Vendor commitment [that’s your commitment]

We have got their back covered. There cannot be any more objections. The question can now only be: “How soon can you deliver/implement?” or “where should we start first?” or “what variants/options do we have?”

Look for those buying signals.

Close Deals. Win.

Happy Winning!

Happy Selling!!

sales at zignalytics.com

#sales #closing #artofdealingwithclients

 

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Great Conversations start with empathy

All of us humans have a basic need to be understood. What we stand for, why we do what we do, where are we going & what gives us satisfaction. This is the core of all human beings.

Let us think for a moment when was the last time we had a great conversation with someone. If you go deeper into that conversation you will understand that it was EMPATHY that struck a great conversation.

Even your foes will listen to you if you empathise with them. And may finally agree with you and even work with you. Who knows, you both can even become great partners.

In Sales, empathy plays a very important role.

Customers will do business only with someone who understands them completely.

It is great conversations that lead to great relationships. In Life and in Business.

So, how do we start and have great conversations?

Some thoughts:

  1. Ask open ended questions – for ex, what gives them energy and/or drive?
  2. Acknowledge their work, achievements & challenges.
  3. Admire their +ve qualities.
  4. Ask for advice.
  5. Talk about something that you learnt recently.
  6. Share interesting anecdotes. Who doesn’t like to hear stories?
  7. Talk about some challenges you faced & how you dealt with them.
  8. Keep up the momentum. No dull moments ever.
  9. Move forward: Always talk about your dreams, goals, ambitions.
  10. Deliver Juice: Some ideas that will make you both travel in the same direction together.

Happy Conversing!

Happy Selling!!

#greatconversations #sales

sales at zignalytics.com

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Which part of your Life you enjoy the most?

Let’s be honest.

What causes Stress? Or what makes you feel energized and rejuvenated? What makes you feel great? What makes you feel stronger as an Individual? In short, what gives you happiness?

For most of us, it is not the WORK that is enjoyable or one that gives happiness. Reality.

So, where’s the problem? Let’s figure out.

Our life should be our message. Our work should speak for itself. We should enjoy it. Just like how we will enjoy a holiday in Hawaii Islands.

And we should have made significant contributions to the area of work that we do and people readily identify us with that.

Is it easy to find such work? Definitely not.

It is a hell a lot of work to find something that touches our heart, soul & mind. When you find something that does, I think you should make it your life.

One can start listing down what he/she hates and gradually move to what he/she loves. This will guide us in the right path.

Sales is a tough job. No doubt. But I think the Sales Guys are a different breed altogether. They are natural problem solvers. Entrepreneurs. Social networkers. Even before the so called social networks came into the picture. They jump up and down when they get orders, howsoever high they grow in their careers. They are childlike people. Always cheerful and energetic.

Have you ever seen a kid’s face when he/she is given a chocolate sundae. Worth a billion dollars.

Treat your Sales Folks with love and respect! They deserve every bit of it. It will make them even more confident and successful.

Celebrate Work!

Happy Working!!

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Freedom from Fear!

If we think deeply on what’s stopping us from realizing our goals, it is nothing but FEAR.

Fear stops us from realizing our true potential.

But fear can be good as well. It can help us address problems early and solve them. Sometimes even before we encounter them. But solving problems before we encounter is being over cautious. That’s not necessary.

More than Planning and Execution, what is important is this: Persistence. That is the single most important ingredient for Success.

Persistence can be the antidote to Fear. There’s nothing that cannot be achieved with Persistence. Simply nothing.

In Sales, we have fear of rejection and that stops us from even approaching a client. The bright side is that there are a million Opportunities worth pursuing. There is someone whose needs you readily match. Find them. Get them. In the process, you will lose many opportunities, but that’s fine.

Fear need not be feared but needs to be addressed and overcome.

In Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, there’s a RED hat that signifies feelings, hunches and intuition. It is important to address fears, likes, dislikes, loves, and hates.

Even to Lose a game, we need to first PLAY.

So let’s PLAY without FEAR.

Happy Playing!

Happy Selling!

sales@zignalytics.com

#sales #fear #persistence

 

 

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Two Peas in a Pod!

That’s exactly how you and your customer should look like.

The phrase “Two Peas in a Pod!” means “Two people who are very similar, typically in interests, dispositions, or beliefs”.

They say opposites attract each other. But that’s not true in Sales! At least.

Customers do business with people whom they like. They find excuses, reasons & justifications to do business with them. And they like those that are just like them. That’s not strange.

I have been in a number of sales situations and have studied them deeply. What I found is that Customers will go to any extent to buy from you, if and only if they like you. And the reverse is true as well.

Sales is both an Art and a Science!

When you analyze, you find that, more often than not, Customers buy from People who match their Interests and Beliefs.

Early in the process, it is very important to understand the Customer deeply and quickly align with them. Just like how a chameleon changes its colour depending on its surroundings.

Humans can be manipulated they say. But I believe that manipulating our own self is much easier. Build yourself to what the customer wants if you want to strike a deal. I am not talking about those ruthless, unethical customers. Those are exceptions.

How can you become “Two Peas in a Pod” with the customer:

  1. Find customers whose interests & beliefs you readily match. There are plenty out there.
  2. If not, match the interests of the customers you meet. It’s called aligning with the customer. Only if it makes sense, that is.
  3. Treat their problems as your own.
  4. Have the customer’s perspective.
  5. Partner with them.

Years ago, before I became an entrepreneur, I had a colleague who worked in another team in Sales. Whenever he met any prospect or an existing customer he used to smile, just like all of us do. What’s different is this: He used to repeat the last two words in every sentence that the customer spoke. He didn’t undergo any training to do this.  He was doing the same thing whenever he spoke with any of us as well. This probably helped him get Social with the customer. Worth emulating, right?

What are your thoughts on becoming instantly like-able?

Share your thoughts and comments with us.

Write to us at: sales@zignalytics.com

#sales #twopeasinapod #likeable

 

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What Problems do you Solve?

Whether you are an Individual or a Business, in 2 short sentences you need to communicate what you are doing & what problems you are solving.

Let’s take my case as an example before we deconstruct this.

“I sell CRM Software. I help companies get back their focus on customers, increase Sales and meet Quota.”

In Sales, we call this elevator pitch. In 60 seconds or less, you should be able to communicate effectively what you do, what problems you solve, why should somebody talk to you etc.

If it creates an interest, I think it has done its job. If you are able to get an appointment for a meeting, it means you have got your elevator pitch right.

How you do what you do comes later. Or for that matter, Why you do what you do etc.

Let us say, you are looking out for a change of job & you are in a networking event, I think it helps to have an elevator pitch ready.

Keep a small notebook and a pen ready with you always. Even when you are sleeping. You never know when great ideas will strike.

Even this post was created like that.

In case you are re-writing your LinkedIn profile, it really helps.

Things to ponder over:

  1. You need to have a clear, concise elevator pitch. Not more than 2-3 sentences.
  2. Let the first sentence have not more than 2-4 words. It should be memorable. Something like “I code” or “I create great customer experiences”.
  3. It should
    • Grab attention & retain it
    • Create interest
    • Make you stand out of the crowd
    • Help you build your brand
    • Make you become known for what you do.

It is not easy. We are attempting to pack 10 years of work experience or more in 2-3 sentences. Make sure to pack it with Power and Punch.

Happy Pitching!!

Happy Selling!!

#sales #elevatorpitch

sales@zignalytics.com