Hello readers! In this series, we bring you interesting conversations between sales leaders covering their journey and growth as sales professionals. Here they reveal what shaped their careers-mentors, opportunity, and initiatives and how some of their actions can be repeated for similar outcomes!!!
Before getting into the story, it’s essential to know that Zohort offers B2B SaaS sales courses that help train you to meet the current industry standards. Zohort aims to bring relevant sales insights and debunk common sales-related career myths. Graduates looking to make a career in tech sales and sales professionals who wish to upskill can consider Zohort as their best launchpad.
In this story, we have a lot to unpack from the discussion with Anup Ostwal, who’s currently heading APAC sales for ‘Fingerprint’ and has been an early team member and leader at CleverTap. Let’s know what industry insights he has to offer with Pratyush Kukreja, a SaaS sales leader who’s hosting this series on behalf of Team Zohort.
A brief introduction of Pratyush Kukreja
Pratyush is presently heading sales and marketing at Pepper Content and is the ex-VP and GM for India and MEA at Jio Haptik. He has an impressive portfolio when it comes to his education as well as professional achievements.
A brief introduction of Anup Ostwal
Anup has worked for many companies, from CleverTap to BRANCH and Sendbird. He now heads the APAC sales for Fingerprint and is responsible for expanding the region.
Anup’s recipe for identifying the right companies
Picking a new company is like choosing the right stock to invest in. Anup looks for a company’s potential for expansion before entering it. He joined CleverTap because he thought that space would grow. One fundamental question is, ‘how much importance this market carries for them.’ Figuring out whether it’s a go-to-market or a good-to-have market will help be decisive. Anup feels one needs to know what one’s getting into. So, when joining a company that’s still in its early stage, It’s important to have ownership and accountability and ensure that you’re adding direct value to the company.
Qualities of top sales talent
In his year of experience in sales, Anup says that he observed some critical qualities in the top reps of a company. Here are some of them.
- Accountability- There has to be that accountability on the rep’s part always. That’s because without it, everything falls apart, and chaos ensues.
- Attention to detail- Anup says he has often seen top reps go to the specifics of annual reports, listen to the CEO’s speeches for crucial points, and tie them to their product for marketing purposes. In short, paying attention to detail and knowing to read the room are great qualities to have as a sales rep.
- Going a level deeper- Analysing the WHYs of a decision that showed good outcomes and thinking of alternate approaches for a problem are advantageous traits, according to Anup.
- Being genuinely curious- Asking questions to read into the founder’s or team members’ soft skills is essential. Being genuinely interested is always good when entering a new company or starting a new project.
Is getting into companies early the formula that Anup follows?
Anup denies the existence of any kind of formula and instead goes on to explain his motivation for joining bootstrapped companies as an early team member. He says he enjoys working where they have to beat the competition or open a new market. Stepping in when things haven’t completely solidified helps because you’ll have more freedom and generate the kind of impact te has. His internal motivation is creating an impact, and as long as the penny commencerates, he also has no issues joining at a beginner position.
What’s the initial strategy that’s to follow for increasing revenue by 3x
Anup always starts with the pipeline after understanding the basics of the product and market. He filtrates who to go after and why, and his goal is to make 30-50 active connotations in the pipeline. These connotations could be anything that involves the two parties communicating with each other, like testing, demos, etc.
Once you get 4-5 deals, you’ll get your use case and can start mapping out from there on. Find companies operating in similar markets and reach out with the same messaging as before, promising what you can deliver and showing them how you have already done it with the previous deals. Get all the help you can from the marketing team, and keep your focus on the initial targets.
External Vs. Internal Selling
Prateek raises an important topic here, i.e., how Anup manages internal selling versus external and why they’re essential. Anup answers that one of his mistakes was focusing entirely on external selling and, in that process, losing visibility with the internal team, primarily because he works remotely. So, selling yourself well internally also matters as much as meeting external targets. He feels that setting the right expectations with the management from day 1 is good, and documenting the process is critical. When working with many different teams, like product and marketing, it’s important to have good visibility with your manager, as you won’t deal directly with them in the initial stages.
When you’re working for a start-up, seeking forgiveness is better than seeking permission, but having smooth dealings with the manager is equally beneficial, says Anup. He has tried it many times, and it always works. Prateek talked about the various asks Anup has before joining a company. So, elaborating on the ‘asks’ he has for a company he joins, he says that his first ask is the repository of the good and bad companies they have.
Anup’s advice for making sales deals in 2023
It’s no secret that after covid, reps worldwide are struggling to make a decent quarter. So, 2023 will be slightly challenging for more than 80% of reps. The money’s tight right now, so people are most likely to spend on essentials than luxuries. You must remember to pitch their product in a way that advocates its necessity. Even for luxury products, not each one can be critical. Identify the main ones, and push them for 2023. Be creative and undersell in some conversations because markets are bad for a fact. It’s okay to miss some targets if you do.
Mental health tips for reps
Sales reps can sometimes be heavily affected by a bad quarter or when missing targets. So, Anup stressed the importance of having good mental health and shared some tips. Here’s a list.
Intent matters less than attainment. Focus less on salary optimization and more on achieving the annual goals in the initial stages.
For remote workers, having a good support group for those moments of anxiety, panic, and imposter syndrome is important. This support can be a coach, a mentor, or therapy itself.
Do your bit; even if 85% goes well, that’s good enough. Don’t focus on the remaining 15% to stay happy and mentally healthy. You’ll learn to deal with highs and lows and look at the bigger picture in sales as you gain experience.
Never take any criticism personally. Have a systematic approach, and the mishaps won’t matter in the long run, says Prateek. So, there’s no point stressing about them at all.
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