Welcome readers to yet another addition in the series of Sales Brew by Zohort, where we talk about the experience of the best in sales and gain relevant takeaways from them. Sales Brew aims to debunk some myths associated with sales and bring forth the reality of it as a profession.
But before we get into the narrative, It’s crucial to know that Zohort is an end-to-end B2B SaaS sales training, mentoring, and hiring ecosystem. For fresh graduates and professionals willing to upskill themselves, Zohort is a great asset.
Pratyush Kukreja- a brief introduction
Pratyush Kukreja has been a VC and GM for India and MEA at Jio Haptik and currently heads sales and marketing at Pepper content. He has an impressive academic record along with outstanding professional achievements.
Prateek Dhingra’s bio
Prateek serves as the Vice President and head of international business at Mettl- an online talent assessment company. He joined the company as its 22nd employee in the product team and then moved on to sales, all when it was still in its humble stages. Today Mettl has spread to over 90 countries and continues to deliver excellently.
Mapping Mettl’s expansion to over 90 countries
Prateek holds over 20 years of experience in sales and 12 of them in Mettl alone. He initially joined the product team and then moved on to the business development side. The starting point was the Indian markets, and he started an inside sales team to establish a presence in Chandigarh, Chennai, etc., where Mettl wasn’t there physically. The product had matured and so getting some traction was easy. Mettl had already onboarded some big clients, and soon the traction came from international markets as a trickle-down effect.
The transition from product to business development
In the initial years of a startup, business development, and sales become crucial, especially after raising capital. The company needed more people on the sales front, and Prateek also wanted to create more of an impact on a personal level. The combination of these two things pointed toward creating an inside sales team. His product knowledge was already excellent because he served in the product team before that and knew the product really well.
Process of opening a new market and expansion
Despite having excellent product knowledge, it took Prateek 45 days to make his first closure. This was when he realized that sales need two things – a well-defined goal and a well-defined path. The goal could be a number milestone or something else of relevance. The approach followed is more critical, and discipline is key. The same course has to be followed over and over again till the desired effects are noticeable. Sales is a lifestyle and should get the due importance it deserves. Pratyush also mentioned that the only way to excel in sales truly is to think of it as a lifestyle.
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Challenges with international markets
Initially, Mettl had some things in its favor because of the multiple types of clients they had handled in India as a SaaS company. Despite the experience, the cultural differences in international markets sometimes hit them hard. The startup also didn’t have much brand value at that time. So, it was challenging to navigate the market. But the process of value addition and trust building worked out well.
Their digital marketing also generated periodic educational content for customers. These steps helped Mettl capture the passive market, accounting for 99% of the total market. Word-of-mouth marketing also worked brilliantly and brought in references. Over time, Prateek built a team of 3-5 people and then expanded it to its current size of 30. Before creating the team, it’s important to set goals and chart a process for achieving them. In Prateek’s opinion, an individual’s soft skills and personal fitment are more valuable in a team than the previous experience.
Breaking the Chinese market
China is always a tough market because of the linguistic barriers and travel and trade restrictions that ofthatinder deals. The way Mettl cracked this market was through 2 experiments. The first was hiring someone from China and getting them to move to India. They trained him and started working on cracking the Chinese market. However, this experiment failed because only a few people understood English.
After this, Mettl adopted a different approach by forming partnerships. Finding partners in the country they wanted to enter was a successful idea because the partners spoke and understood English. These partnerships worked so well in non-English speaking countries that before its acquisition, Mettl had partnerships in 28 countries. However, this model has its challenges. Partnerships need time to become stable and trustworthy. Even after a year, most partners will become temporary, and one or two may stick with the company. But considering the profits they can bring, onboarding partners is a great idea.
Prateek’s personal learnings and role models
After working over 20 years in this field, Prateek revealed that the 2 co-founders of Mettl and their CTO at that time served as great role models to him. From his co-founders, he learned about studying product specifics in detail and proceeding vertically to understand the product aspect. He also learned to navigate the problem-solving phase and the golden sales trait- patience. Pratyush also considers patience a crucial virtue in sales, without which things won’t work.
Aspects of being a good sales leader
The two key aspects are internal stakeholder management and cross-functional relationships. Being open about a problem and not simply delegating it to the team concerned is essential because discussions can promote faster and better problem-solving. Being well aware of the product can help explain and thereby handle the problem easily.
Getting through tough quarters
Tough times always exist, and they do so that our learning phase never stops. However, in tough times like 2023, there are 2 battles to be fought- the internal and the external battle. While dealing correctly with the internal struggle can solve 60-70% of the problem, doing that isn’t always easy. Staying motivated and taking time to recharge through sports or other activities can help fight that internal battle. Usually, in challenging quarters, teams communicate less when the opposite should be happening. According to Prateek, team KPIs should also change with changing times to set the team up for success. As for the external battle, diverting focus into relationship building with the existing customers and understanding the shifting trends in the market can help.
In short, thinking about the long run and orienting our actions to suit that will bring the best results in each case. The consequences stem primarily from one’s thought process and less from eternal factors. So, staying in the right headspace can make all the difference. In Pratyush’s words, “ Fool the mind, not the customers.”
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