2014 was first year in my life when I wrote less code and worked more in field. For me this has been a very rewarding experience to see what happens when the rubber(product) hits on the road(field).
Some of you might point that these are basic business activities and I acknowledge the same as 100% true. As a techie who is open to code, my experience enabled me to overcome my fears and perform these new things. I am able to get out of the chair to go out to field and still be in touch with technology. Will 2014 experience help me in future? Sure in long term and not sure about immediate or short term. Thanks to GN, Arun and Guru for support in my down times.
In product(cold call, presales, demo and evangelism) space
- Worked with PR firm to understand how PR works and found that cost was quite high for start-up like us. Created campaign to offer discounted courses through NGO for differently abled students and economically poor students and this created some PR.
- How to pitch product to users and customers when the product is still in Beta. When demo had errors, I tried to work out a positive experience by taking help needed or using human influence of doing a re-login to hide demo errors and continue. I did curse my team for the error in private, did not stop demo and found ways to handle error gracefully. It was scary to do them first time alone and later figured it out.
- How to write outbound sales email to prospects to generate leads. I made mistakes when I wrote my emails. Colleagues pointed the mistakes. The challenge was to send emails and not to get right messages and not send them. Wrote personalized emails as much as possible. It was interesting to find that couple of successful entrepreneurs who were titans responded to my email and asked his enterprise to explore more.
- To perform cold calls to strangers , Some time barge in to office and give v-card and ask people to give appointment. Wait for an hour and get 15 minutes to pitch. rejected too in some places. Performed cold calls in Colleges and large institutes in Chennai. Went to auditors offices to pitch skill course. Found the more humble you are to everyone there, the more chances of meeting the other person, hoe busy he is.
- Shed inhibition and asked a fellow volunteer working for industry body to demo product to his folks and he agreed. There came an opportunity to demo the course and initiated process to align our course to the industry body standards.
- I pitched skill development product to enterprises and found the array of stakeholders involved before closure. I was not driving to closure and see myself developing relationships.
- I started to attend meeting. Some times it felt there might no worth in attending the meeting. I was wrong. Generated leads/opportunities.
- First time, I started to listening to sales videos http://close.io. Realized that sales is not to push through some one’s throat and involved helping other person to make decision.
- Created presentation at http://www.slideshare.net/gsvasan and started sharing them with prospects instead of sending emails.
- Applied for free slots to two industry show cases. Got selected and demonstrated our product to audience, generate leads to perform demo and actually followed-up, and demonstrated product in person.
As I have done above, what does this mean with respect to sales and marketing? I am aware of how people function in sales and marketing functions in real world. I need to improve how to handle negative emotions in sales (cold calls). I need to improve in follow-ups and started working. I am emotional and passionate and need to sharpen focus. I see need to sell myself to the person first before the product.
In networking space
- In social space, when you volunteer first year, you become volunteer second year. That is not case in industry space. You need to apply to become volunteer. Not the best way for me . Still it is a good way to give other space to grow and experience and that helped me to move on.
- In entrepreneurship space, I realized the gap between struggling, achieved, successful and too much successful ones. Want to be more open and still able to see the club concept that Guru talks always.
- Wrote a crazy email offering myself as product 2 free hours of consulting at TIE and couple of forums. had a lot of interesting meetings with entrepreneurs without expectation and found that I could contribute value to some of them.
- Thanks to Shradha, I continue to attend TechSparks and MobiSparks.
- I deactivated my facebook login and plan to continue to use twitter more and LinkedIn. My blogs still get published on Facebook
In IT and volunteering space ( I was less in touch with code in 2014 in my last 16 years of experience)
- Redesigned website and wrote case study of projects that we executed for customers.
- Generate leads for software projects. One software lead (with Guru support) got converted in to real project.(small value, atleast started).
- Contribute to Synergy Service, a non -profit IT employment outfit. Presented to group of placement officers of colleges. Thanks to Prasad. Helped to structure slide-share https://proteans.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/it-skill-development-be-volunteer-and-get-benefits/
- As part of non-profit initiative, I did motivation session to students and helped students with resume building, met couple of corporate to pitch course and supported to find gaps in current approach and come with new pedagogy. Started to teach android development course.
In personal space,
- I wrote blogs on analytic focused on why and what questions and not the how (technology) and on customer service from consumer perspective . Thanks Shraddha. I published this article When human and analytics mix; how Big Data can help with Big Decisions. I asked favorite author for feedback and he responded with comments.
- Bought second hand maruti for my wife to drive. I am yet to start driving.
- Started to practice meditation thanks to Balaji(S). Helps me to get out of stress and pressure. I am yet to completely figure how to perform actions without stress and pressure,.
Thanks to GN, Guru, Balaji(s), Mohan, Rahul and Satish helped me to discover more of myself and my own priority .For the first time I realized
- importance of money and role played to keep family integrated and need to give earning money high priority.
- the extent my wife has pulled along in my start-up journeys
- time has come for me to ensure space for my daughters to explore their life ambitions and aspirations.
- need to take their needs in priority as part of my own needs.
I have pivoted from education( education and skill development) products and open to contribute to opportunities(technology, product, customer) with goal to help them and generate money on immediate, short term and long term. Thanks to all entrepreneurs for their support.