From rewriting the mantras of selling to throwing open the debate on consumer reaction, Subroto Bagchi's new title, Sell: The Art, Science, the Witchcraft (Hachette) is a goldmine for the rookie and the guru, both. Peppered with engaging slice-of-life examples from India and overseas, the book by the founder of Mindtree, one of India's first software services start-ups, dips into four decades of experience to offer invaluable advice with practical logic.
Edited excerpts from an interview:
You've highlighted the impact of GQ [Google Quotient]; was it a challenge to put it out there considering it's an oft-misused word?
The important underlying fact is the process of discovery. In the olden days, the seller knew more about the buyer than the buyer did about the seller. The buyer had less time to research, less sources of information. The arrival of the Internet has changed all that. The availability of information sources has expanded and the browser has become a powerful weapon, conveniently available to both parties. That has solved the information asymmetry issue. The interesting part begins now. What is the buyer able to research? It is not just about products and services s/he may be buying. After all, beyond a point, products and services become comparable in form, functionality and cost. So, the buyer is going a step forward and researching supplier information. S/he wants to know more about who s/he is buying from. The quality and value of that information has become vital and to the seller, it can become a competitive weapon, a strategic, differentiating factor. The easiest way for the buyer to check this is to check the digital presence of the buyer. Google me and you know my digital footprint. All things remaining equal; buyers want to buy from good people. That goodness must be cultivated and presented well on the World Wide Web.
You are a believer in persuasion: tell us the quickest mantra that you'd use to sell a desktop computer to a smart phone user.
Desktops are permanently connected to a power outlet. They don't die like your smart phone does. Desktops have a larger field of vision. Try cropping a picture on a smart phone or composing an important document on it and you'll know it is a dumb idea. Everything has a primary use. Try cutting vegetables using a Swiss knife and you know the value of a kitchen knife. Get smart; don't throw the full screen away. If it was redundant, Steve [Jobs] would have discontinued the Mac the day he launched the iPhone.
Post Demonetisation and GST, where does this book stand?
In selling, there are no tough times. There is only time. Demonetisation and GST are inherently intended to expand the market in the long run, not to constrict them. But beyond just these blips in the economy, buying and selling will continue. Even in war zones and during great natural calamities, goods and services are traded; someone is always buying from someone. And in that truth, it pays to know how to sell right and sell well.
Of all the stakeholders you've spelt out, who will be the toughest to crack, especially in an India that's ready to take on the world?
The key is to map all stakeholders carefully. We cannot say one is more important than the other in a high value deal. We need to know each one's background, strategic intent, motivation, stated and unstated needs as well as personal definition of success in the deal. But, I would pay extra attention to the individual seated in the farthest corner from me, the one who is speaking the least in the buying cycle.
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