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Susan is an independent digital communications and user experience strategist. She helps companies discover their brand voice and grow their business.
Shubharthi is currently part of the strategic marketing team at Regalix. His expertise mainly lies in the account-based marketing and programmatic advertising space.
Priscilla is a content writer who has worked for Infosys Technologies and other technology startups in India and abroad.
Moulishree is a freelance journalist with over 7 years of experience, she writes research-based analytical stories on technology and business.
Avanish is a Bangalore-based journalist who writes on business with a specific focus on technology companies.
Priyanka has covered every aspect of the IT industry as a tech journalist since its early days. She is now an independent writer, working on subjects like digital marketing, enterprise technology and high-performance computing, among others.
A freelance content writer, S. Sahu was the former editor of TCS's house magazine at Tata Consultancy Services. He developed tech marketing collateral for the company and helped compile and edit books and journal articles on TCS's technology innovations. He also ghostwrites print and online publications.
Prajwala is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist who writes on social issues, stories of human interest, and art and culture, among others.
Rajesh Nanarpuzha is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at IIM Udaipur. Previously, he has worked as a brand manager in Dabur, and as a business consultant in the retail and consumer goods domains at Cognizant and Tata Consultancy Services. Rajesh has an MBA from IIM Indore and a doctorate in marketing from IIM Ahmedabad.
Priyokumar Singh Naorem
He is a passionate UI & UX designer who thrives on creating engaging creative solutions.
A freelance illustrator, artist, graphic novelist and designer. She has designed and illustrated several book covers. Her personal illustrations so far have attempted to seize the fleeting absurdity and mood of places, things and people she encounters in a childlike, intuitive and expressive manner with closure, beauty and innocence – the things that she desires.
She is an artist and an educator who has taught and lectured at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Oxford University, the Victoria and Albert Museum among other institutions. Her installations, paintings, thread work and sculptures have been exhibited in Saatchi Gallery - London, C24 Gallery - New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art – Lyon, among other notable galleries and museums from around the world.
Purna Chandra Mahato
A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Parul pursued a masters in fine arts from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. As an artist, she is interested in line as a subject which has led her to follow architectural lines in built environments. She says she is also interested in how we perceive the environment that we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things which we have been used to seeing in a certain way. We present six of her artworks here.
Shweta Malhotra is a graphic artist and designer from Mumbai, based in New Delhi.
After working with ad agencies and design studios for close to 8 years, she branched out on her own and currently works independently.s Her overall design aesthetic is minimal, bold and graphic, a response to the maximalist visual language prevalent in India.
Rithika Merchant (b.1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design, New York in 2008. She has exhibited extensively since her graduation. Recent exhibitions include a duo show “Reliquaries: The Remembered Self” at TARQ, Mumbai; “Language of the Birds: Occult and Art” at 80WSE Gallery, New York; and group shows at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Artry Gallery, Kochi. Her work has been included in multiple group shows at Stephen Romano Gallery and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York. Born in Mumbai, she now divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.
Aniruddh Mehta is an artist based out of Mumbai, India. Trained in graphic design from the London College of Communications, Aniruddh is a self-taught illustrator and currently works as an independent freelance designer. He believes in finding the right balance between art and graphic design. He has worked closely in collaboration with Bhavishyavani Future Soundz, Qilla Records, Taxi Fabric, Adidas, Dell and United Colours of Benetton. He also goes by the moniker, ‘thebigfatminimalist’ and his style ranges from bold minimal forms to more intricate pieces exploring patterns and geometry.
Paramesh is an artist who enjoys working in both the realistic and abstract style of painting. He loves working with water color. Featured in this issue are a set of water color works that he has created exclusively for us on the subject of digital transformation.
Based in Mumbai, Chandrashekhar Thakur is a Senior Art Director and Illustrator at Truebil.com and the Founder of HAPPiNESS For You. He loves working with new styles of art and considers illustration to be his forte. Chandrashekhar has completed his BFA from DY Patil College of Applied Art.
Concept and Direction
Head of marketing at Regalix, Nimish drives research in emerging technologies and customer experience, and takes a keen interest in creative arts.
Robert Koehler is the Director of Sales Effectiveness at Compass, a real estate technology company with a powerful end-to-end platform that supports the entire buying and selling workflow, delivering superior experiences to both agents and their clients. Robert and his team focus on driving increased revenue and profitability by designing, building and delivering onboarding and workshops built around sales stages, sales coaching, go-to-market solutioning programs and more. Before this, Robert was Director of Consulting at TOPO Inc. He’s a true veteran of sales and sales enablement, having begun his career in 1987 and worked at organizations like IBM, Hewlett Packard and LinkedIn.
Interviewed by Nimish Vohra
// What significant challenges are you facing as a result of COVID and how do you work around them?
Call reluctance became the first challenge we had to conquer last March and April. Our sellers felt that it was almost inhumane to reach out to prospects and customers during the initial COVID outbreak. We worked around this by showing compassion and understanding to our sales team and upping our national, regional and local meeting cadence with them to discuss the state of the union as well as their professional and personal concerns. If you want people to treat others with compassion and make them comfortable, you first have to show them compassion and make sure that they are comfortable and feel safe.
The second significant challenge consisted of getting sellers to make adjustments to remote selling. We did this through training and weekly 5-10 minute case studies from our account executives on what they were doing to adjust to remote selling. We focused on a fundamental component of change management: having peer leaders sharing what they're doing to get around obstacles and how they are embracing new ways of conducting business.
The current challenge specifically related to real estate is that the market has been so hot that prospects don't have or make the time to speak with us. They'll tell us that they're happy where they are or don't have the time. We've worked around that by authentically congratulating them on being happy and/or busy and leaning into what's making them so happy and busy. We've learned that some prospects fit well where they are today and that a hot market can mask many serious underlying structural and strategic issues.
// Have there been any unforeseen consequences? How did you tackle those?
Yes. One of our core entrepreneurial principles is "move fast." Naturally, with COVID, everything slowed down at first. We failed to recognize quickly that not only did we need to return to moving fast, but that we could actually move even faster. We were working remotely and so were our prospects. They were at home rather than in the office or on the road, so they had more time to speak with us. Instead of waiting seven days to have the next meeting, it could happen much faster. The light bulb truly went off when one of our sellers had three meetings in the sales cycle in one day and closed an opportunity from start to finish in two days.
// How has COVID impacted seller productivity, and how have you been addressing this?
Seller productivity slowed at first. We turned the mindset around by highlighting that most long-term market leaders gain significant market share in down markets and that this could present an enormous opportunity rather than a predetermined harbinger of hard times. Our team had a good track record of success and we emphasized that this was another opportunity to prove ourselves. It could have come off as spin or 'drinking the Kool Aid', but our sales leadership shared data on how we had overcome challenges in past quarters and bounced back with passion, while also acknowledging that it would not be easy.
// With new data being generated by remote working, have you changed the way you track enablement and deal progression?
Since we have traditionally delivered enablement more through virtual and online channels than in-person programs, we did not have to make many changes to how we track enablement. We typically insert success metrics and tracking into the design of enablement programs before we deliver them.
We had already started breaking down deal progression by number of days in sales stage and conversion rates by stage, so the new remote selling world created greater urgency in establishing these baselines, deducing the lessons learned, and seeing what action we could take to accelerate sales velocity.
// Have COVID circumstances exposed any scope for optimization in your technology or processes?
Yes. First, in terms of selling skills, we realized that we needed to focus on some key aspects of good remote selling practices. Second, COVID reminded us of the importance of tracking everything in Salesforce. We improved both our forecasting and tracking activity by consistently measuring and sharing the metrics and stack rankings on a weekly basis with the equivalent of our front-line sales managers and their directors. This was a more effective lever to pull than directly training or preaching to the sellers. Lastly, since COVID forced us to close down our offices, many of which remain closed or very lightly used, we found a bigger need to produce video and digital assets as well as to speed up implementation of a content management system.
// Aside from the need to switch to remote training, has there been a philosophical shift in your approach to sales training?
No. The switch reinforced the principles by which we run sales enablement and approach sales training. These include some of the following:
// How have selling strategies been altered at your organization? Will this shape future strategy in a post-COVID world?
As I mentioned earlier, we learned that we can move much faster in a remote world, so we have focused on a strategy to accelerate deals at specific market tiers. The other part of our selling strategy that we've re-examined is how we show proof of solution. For example, we had to get more creative in demonstrating one of our core differentiators for prospects: our company culture. Lastly, for both our customers and sellers, we've made greater use of video outreach for prospecting, content and showing proof-of-solution.
// What are the lasting industry-wide changes that you expect to see staying beyond the COVID phase?
Greater focus on the ideal customer profile (ICP) and shorter, more flexible business planning.
While COVID has impacted us relatively less, many B2B companies have whole segments of the economy and parts of their ICP, such as travel and hospitality, that will take a long time to recover, and it no longer makes sense to prioritize them for sales development, sales, and marketing investment. Companies will need to continue being laser-focused on those accounts with the highest propensity to buy and provide the most long-term value.
Second, the research shows that most B2B companies have shortened planning cycles down to 90 days. I think this trend of being and needing to be nimble beyond one quarter will continue.
// Are you looking forward to a return to business as usual? Please expand on this.
Yes and no. I've worked remotely for the last 12 years, so this is not as big a transition for me as others, but I do look forward to the opportunity to see and work with my peers and customers in person. It adds more variety and allows for more thoughtful brainstorming at crucial times.
However, I don't look forward to a return to business as usual if it represents standing still or going back in time. In my experience, the best companies and best leaders learn during crises, no matter how painful or traumatic, to get better.
// What is the single biggest learning you’ve taken from this experience?
Move and adapt quickly.
Combating Zoom fatigue in the wake of COVID
Kyle Abel, Director of Sales Enablement, Guidewire Software
Expect more partnerships, acquisitions and channel sales
Jenn Haskell, Director of Sales Enablement, Everbridge
Online training is now a viable alternative to instructor-led training
Brett Powell, Senior Director of Global Enablement, Coupa Software