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Shyam Sekar S

Shyam Sekar S

Chief Mentor and Strategist
Startup Xperts
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Shyam Sekar S's Experience
EVP/Executive Director/SVP/Managing Director/GM/VP/Regional Mana
Startup Xperts, Chennai, INDIA
Assoc. Vice President - Sales & Marketing
Datamatics Global Services Ltd., Livonia, US
Shyam Sekar S's Education
Malaviya National Institute of Technology,Jaipur,Rajasthan.
Harvard Business School, Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA
Essential skills
First be honest. You need to build trust, not only with your customers but also with your fellow colleagues as well. Be persistent and have a ‘never say die’ attitude. You fail only when you give up. Be passionate, as you can see every successful person in this world have been passionate in what they are/have been doing. Stay committed and take responsibility for your actions. Ability to inspire is very essential. Only then you can bring your team, organization to work towards the common goal. Develop high emotional intelligence. As Daniel Goldman puts it right in saying “emotional intelligence refers to how we manage ourselves, our relationships, how do we stay motivated, how do we manage stress, how socially skilled and able we are..”
Becoming good marketing professionals
As I had touched upon earlier, it’s hard to see a successful sales and marketing professional. In simple words, marketing professionals have a lot of ‘right brain’ actions. The qualities required are a bit different from each, but if the sales professionals have good creativity, business acumen, great written skills they can still do a good marketing job. Sales predominantly will be front facing, whereas marketing will drive sales and other activities from the back. So one should be very adaptable to switch roles, and find it convenient too, to perform both with ease.
Importance of brand image
More importantly, how the customer perceives you (your company) is critical. Building a brand is neither an overnight activity, nor a one-time action. Brands are built over time, with consistent effort. It certainly helps in attracting customers, employees and retaining them. People would love to associate themselves with brands.
My family background
Small and sweet family. Married and live with 2 loving school going kids. We lived in the US for a couple of years before deciding to come back home for good, a few months back.
Current Job description
I have been heading global sales and business development in my earlier assignments, and continue to do so in my current engagement as well. I am responsible for the revenues of the company, build strategy and execute those in line with the company’s objectives, acquiring new logos, build partnerships, marketing and team building.
My advice to upcoming professionals
Building a business involves a combination of both sales and marketing efforts. In India, these two are still viewed in the same basket, whereas in reality both are very different. If you want to develop your career in sales, you will need to develop skills like selling, listening, communication, presentation, time management, goal setting and very importantly the art of negotiation. On the marketing front, you need to have a good business acumen, creative, understanding of technology and social media, good analytical and decision making skills, have great written and oral communication skills. It’s tough to be a master of both, but if you have a good combination of these, you can do wonders.
Effect of sales on an organization
In short, ‘sales’ propels the organization forward. Without revenue, without growth, companies will cease to exist. Today’s it’s not a question of staying afloat. Either you grow or get run over. With market dynamics changing so rapidly the sales professionals need to be aware of the latest methods, trends, requirements in the marketplace and act swiftly to be successful. Nothing can replace hard work. The growth and the future of the company is dependent on how successful their sales teams are. Obviously, sales cannot exist alone; it has to get the right support from the other functions like marketing, operations, HR to make the organization as a whole successful.
Developing a country
We need to start developing basic courtesy and civic sense. Having traveled to around 25 countries in my professional career, it’s sad to note that we have wealth of potential but people are far too self-centered in nature. This primarily can be addressed through effective education, training (not just exam focused teaching) and developing every individual across various spheres of life. Be passionate, and maintain your integrity. Be fair; treat other individuals with respect irrespective of their position. Commit to support your society, your country. We need to sow back the seeds, for the fruits that we are eating today. It is the society that has helped us, and hence contribute back to whatever extent that is possible from your end.
Motivating team members
For team motivation, simply put - choose the right team; provide them the authority and back them to the hilt. Make them feel that they have to do it, they like to do it and it is important for them to do it. One of the basic requirements for a good leadership is team motivation. Involve the team right from the start. As Stephen Covey rightly puts it, ‘begin with an end in mind’. The team needs to know the bigger picture as to where they are heading and stimulate the power of subconscious mind as to what will be their actions after having achieved those goals/objectives. Stand by them and infuse confidence that they can do it. If there are harsh punishments for not achieving something, people will be very hesitant to try with their whole heart. Encourage risk taking, as long as it can be managed (calculative risks). Keep exploring options and you will strike the gold! You do not lose, unless and until you give up.
Comparing Online sales with hardcore sales
Sales methods, processes and techniques have undergone a massive change over the last 2 decades; more so over the last few years. With a high internet penetration and infrastructure developing well, online sales provide a lot of convenience in the buying process. I would say that online sales will not replace traditional/brick and mortar sales completely, but the way the transactions are happening is undergoing a major transformation. Face to face selling is expected to be more consultative rather than ‘traditional’, enhancing the knowledge of the buyer, understanding their pain points and suggesting them the right solutions. Even buying at your local stores, has an online component with POS systems. In the near future mobile payments are expected to dominate small value transactions (micro payments); this can happen at physical stores, etc. So one has to adapt to the online sales, but at the same time many customers still prefer to do the buying with a ‘touch and feel’ even though the same is available to buy online.
In my close to two decades of work experience, I derive satisfaction out of the opportunities presented to me to build many enterprises. Some were large MNCs where I have taken up products from nowhere and brought it to market leading positions in a shorter timeframe. For the SME enterprises that I had worked for, I was able to provide them with the right strategies, executed plans thereby significantly enhancing their revenues and profitability. Besides I am glad that many of my colleagues have also been successful and still in touch with me after years, to seek advice/opinions be it on their professional or personal front. The point to note is that, I could do this by balancing my professional, personal and social life pretty well. That’s what I term it as success or achievement, and it is not just measured in terms of dollars.
Essential qualification required
I would say, more than the qualifications, it’s the aptitude and attitude that matters the most. If the basic graduation is relevant to the field of work, it helps to understand things faster. An MBA will certainly be a distinct advantage in helping professionals with strategic insight and triggers the business sense.
Education system in India
In my opinion, content is not an issue. In fact, when I compare the educational content in the US schools with that of India, I feel that we have a nice spread of subjects with more depth. But the quality of education here, is seriously wanting. How many can afford to educate their children in top ranked private schools. Even so, how many have their fundamentals clear. We have given a lot of importance for memorizing the subjects (exam focused studies) but how many have the understanding of applying those in practice? India has a huge rural belt. In rural education, the challenges are far more. We can possibly explore thoughts as below- Bring out quality teachers to coach and train students. Today, teaching as a profession does not have the charm as to what it was some twenty or thirty years back. Teachers need to be trained properly on the psychology of students too. An environment should be created for them to take pride in their work. Government should not only just allocate more funds, but have a system to monitor it ‘effectively’ so that the funds are utilized for the right cause. More professionals should volunteer to share their experiences with the students, to open up their minds to this new world. I have given lectures, shared experiences in a few colleges/universities out of passion. Institutions should not just look at education as a ‘money making’ business, but to significantly contribute to the society as well.
Handling new territory
I have been managing global sales for over thirteen years now and I would say that one has to do the due diligence, come up with the right strategy before entering that territory. Well prepared is half-won. When entering a new market, sales professionals have to understand the country’s culture first, and the way businesses are carried out. Every market/territory is unique in its way, and what worked in one region may not work in the other. For e.g. Japan is highly relationship oriented market. The decision cycle might take 4-6 quarters, whereas in the US, it could happen in less than a month. In India you might be able to reach out to the decision makers fairly easily, whereas in many countries you might be hitting a high proportion of voice mails. Understanding those nuances will help come out with the right approach to make you successful in that marketplace. So far my teams have been successful in addressing new markets, new verticals, and there has been great learning as we progressed. This helped in fine-tuning our strategy and plans to be more competitive and attractive to the marketplace.
Upcoming Trends
Even though automation is making inroads in the sales and marketing processes, it cannot replace the field professionals who are face to face with customers. The way the businesses are happening has undergone a major transformation. Information is at everyone’s finger tips and getting exchanged rapidly. I see a lot of action happening through social media, and it has helped companies across industries to benefit significantly. It’s a subject we can discuss at length. But in short, those who are able to make best use of this can win a lot of customers, build brand and loyalty, understand competition and industry trends, and take strategic decisions that are in line with market requirements/expectations to become a leader. Sales process has become more consultative; so rather than just focusing on hard core selling of a product or service, address the benefits to the customers and show them the value.
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