Sales Brew

Sales Brew By Zohort: Ankit Vashishth’s Sales Journey

Hello readers! Welcome to Sales Brew By Zohort, where we debunk some common myths associated with sales as a profession and the professionals working in this sector. We explore the art of selling here, along with crucial knowhows of this industry. In these sessions, we talk to experts who have had great sales careers and understand what went behind creating that. 

Before we proceed, it’s crucial that we know that Zohort is an end-to-end B2B SaaS sales training, mentoring, and hiring ecosystem. For people curious about the sales domain, professionals interested in upskilling themselves, and freshers, Zohort is a precious asset. 

A Brief Intro Of Pratyush Kukreja

Pratyush Kukreja has been a VC and GM for India and MEA at Jio Haptik and currently heads APAC sales at Scrut Automation. He has an impressive academic record along with exceptional professional achievements. 

A Brief Idea On Ankit Vashishth

Ankit is the founding GTA member of Nektar.AI, a SaaS product that helps increase revenue efficiency with actionable CRM insights. He’s also an angel investor and talks about revenue intelligence and CRM automation.

Read More: 5 Actionable Tips For Building An Optimised LinkedIn Profile

Ankit’s shift from consultancy to consultative selling

Consulting and sales are not that different because both sectors involve you going up to customers and explaining your vision or a solution for a problem they’re facing. Problem-solving lies at the core of both these domains. Sales go one step further because the tools needed to solve the problem become equally important as the strategies involved in solving them. In both cases, you must be aligned with their challenges and vision and make them understand why they should trust you with a particular project. So, Ankit’s shift was to a different sector which still had the flavor of the previous one. 

But one different thing was the learning curve that came with a career shift and also the unlearning that Ankit had to do. Consulting brings specific credentials to the customer, and convincing gets easier than in sales. You need to read the market, understand the customer profile you should be going after, and the product you’re selling. 

Benefits and challenges of joining an early-stage company

Pratyush rightly said that joining a company in its early stages after working in a big company where everything is highly organized and somewhat rigid is a significant shift. According to Ankit, joining a company still in its infancy is beneficial because of the control you get and the flexibility you enjoy in designing all the processes. The value that you create, the markets that you crack, the branding you do, everything is very special. One holds a lot of personal equity when attempting to scale an early-stage company. Ankit joined Nektar when it was just getting out of its beta phase. The solutions they found as a team looked scalable, so they took up the task. The first couple of stages is challenging because the right decisions have to be made about prospects, markets, and sales targets. You have to create a repeatable process, and that can only happen through trial and error. 

Ankit started with market research, did cold outbounds, and identified the target customers. It was a zero-to-one journey that involved a lot of heavy lifting. The initial hustle helps you learn how to move fast and think well. The thrill of building something new and simultaneously building customer trust, closing deals, and scaling gives an all-rounded experience. 

How to take calculated calls during initial decisions?

For Ankit, the initial decisions weren’t tough because he knew the founders and understood their vision. He had a reasonably good idea of their product, and he believed in it. Trusting the product one’s selling will help one sell better and crack markets faster. Having mentors is helpful. Anyone who can categorically analyze your decisions and action plans will help the business. From a planning perspective, looking back at the numbers is crucial. Numbers carry a lot of importance in sales, and they can be significant judgment factors for deciding what stuff to repeat, what’s to be dropped, and where we need to work fast. A supportive ecosystem and self-analysis are two things that become lifesavers in one’s sales journey. 

How to sell to multiple cultures or people with different interests

Selling to multiple cultures should be based on deliberate choice and validation from the market. From a vertical perspective, a single product could be a great fit for different industries like banking, healthcare, agriculture, etc. 

Pratyush says the way a CEO will buy in South Africa would be different from that in China. So, in a horizontal landscape, selling becomes difficult. US and APAC are the major markets for SaaS organizations, but they differ in their nature. The US has homogeneity, whereas, In APAC, cultures and languages vary. But major markets still reside in the APAC region, including the Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand markets. India itself is a vast market. Apart from cultural and linguistic differences, one thing that differs is the appetite to spend. We must be conscious of the price points we deliver and the ROI we receive. The value creation and delivery part need to be very strong. A dollar spent in the US versus A dollar spent in India is very different. Hence, we have to think based on specific market characteristics. 

How to handle sales quotas and the pressure that comes with it

In the SaaS industry, people make 40-60% of their income via commissions from meeting their quotas. There could be multiple reasons for missing the quotas, like poor planning or execution. But there could also be external factors that act as barriers, like competition. Again, the analysis of ‘what went wrong’ helps here. Teams must understand where the projections and reality don’t overlap. Balancing the smaller deals with the larger ones is essential, which helps retire your quotas quickly. Ensure enough prospecting is done and a promising pipeline is created. There are always some things beyond our control that may lead to loss. Take these moments as learning opportunities for both you and your company. A healthy dialogue with your team about market trends and company strategies also works. Like a true sales leader, Pratyush summarises quota handling by saying, ‘ past performance is not indicative of one’s future performance.’ 

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