Category Archives: Consulting

Product info in AV format – Beatroute

Did a video for a client sometime back. Concept, design and development by Team ICS.

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Selling products or services can be tough and with services it can be even more challenging. But what if the customer is being difficult about some aspect of the product? Whether it be the quality, the price, or something else about the product, it is the job of the salesperson to actually sell the product to the customer. Whatever it takes, it has to be sold, and that should be the mindset of the salesperson on the job. There are limits to what you can do, but there are some things you can at least give it a try.

Firstly, you can sell the product or service on the point that it is going to make life easier for every user. Whether you are selling a laptop, or selling an insurance, it is up the salesperson to make sure that you are selling the product. Show the value that the product is going to bring into the life of the customer. Whether it be time or money, sell what that product is going to save the customer in the long run.

Another good tip is to show the value of the product in monetary terms. Some people assume that a new car might be too expensive to buy. However, what about what happens if the car that the customer has now goes into the shop? Is it better to spend 300 a month on a new car, or spend 200 a month on a car that is always in the shop, and is never able to be used? Most people might actually want the new car instead.

The customer might really want the product, but might fear they are going to suffer from buyers remorse, or find a better price elsewhere. At such instances sell the warranty that comes with the product, whatever it covers. If anything happens to it, or the return policy for that matter, the point is, you have to gain confidence of the customer. Whether it be that you can replace it with something else, or bring it back for a refund, you are putting the customer at ease that they can buy the product without fear.

The key to selling a product is to sell the benefits of the product. Whether it is priced the lowest at that particular store, or the product is going to make the life of the customer easy, the salesperson should be able to project the real benefits of the product. All products add value, you just have to convince the customer that there is enough value for the customer to actually make the purchase. And for a good salesperson, if they can connect with the customer at any point during the sales pitch, it acts like icng on the cake.

Ofcourse, with services its a different story, before actual deal is closed there will be several meetings, several emails going back and forth, then finally the moment comes. The sales cycle is much longer here.

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Why brand

To make business a successful or profitable venture, it has to develop a brand that its target audience recognises it with. It becomes easier for the business to grow and develop successful customer relationships. Although many people think that building a brand is complicated, just follow a few steps and you are already on the right track.

Decide what you plan to brand and do a research on your target audience
Before engaging in the brand development process, it is important to do some research work and decide what you would like to brand. Generally, there are choices between branding a person, a company, a service or even a particular product. Once a decision has been made regarding what will be branded, it then becomes crucial to ensure that enough time is spent on researching your target market. Once this has been done, it is then essential to learn as much as possible about the product, service or individual that you intend to market.

Decide the brand definition and positioning
After researching your target audience, it is important to take time to develop a brand definition that clearly explains what is being offered, and how the product or service you have to offer is different from what is already out there. It should also inform your target market how they will benefit from using it and what guarantee you offer to those who choose to use your service or product. From here, the next step is to win a place in the market for what you have to offer. This can be done by giving them solutions to problems or needs that previously could not be solved or met.

Develop a brand name, tagline and a logo
These three aspects are extremely important in the brand development process as they help to ensure that your business or service offering stands out clearly among others who may have the same offerings. By designing a logo and compiling a memorable tagline, you can be sure that customers will be able to remember not only your business name, but also what you are able to do for them. Once this has been done, it is time to launch your brand and market it.

Manage your brand
By offering consistent customer service and products, you will be able to manage your brand very well. Once the market is aware of the high quality goods or services that you have to offer, you will be well on your way to effectively mastering the brand development process. It is also important to ensure that any negative publicity is dealt with as professionally as possible in order to maintain the reputation of your brand.

These steps will show you the way to develop a winning brand. Once you have achieved this, it may become necessary to adjust your branding approach on occasions to ensure that your company identity is kept up to date. And if you need any kind of professional assistance during or after the process, get in touch with us at

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Story of Start-ups

The word Entrepreneur sounds so cool, an entrepreneur with a hot technology and venture-capital funding becomes a billionaire in his 20s. But it’s not fun to hear that even venture-backed start-ups have a 90% chance of failure. But start-up failure isn’t just reality; it’s also a necessity and a benefit. Here our references are made keeping America’s entrepreneurial environment in mind.

Firstly, the number of companies getting started far exceeds the potential market. Each year, 500,000 new businesses are started in the United States.  If each one were to become a $100 million success, that would mean adding $50 Trillion in ultimate revenues.  Clearly, those numbers don’t add up and mathematically, most companies have to fail.

Secondly, market failure, while painful, plays an important role in the economy.  We’re not smart enough to allocate people and resources; the failures of all those start-ups let us reallocate their people to the companies that are succeeding.  If start-ups never failed, every other type of company would run out of good people!

Thirdly, failure is a sign that you’re and have been trying.  To most folks who assume that winning all the deals you go after is the best possible result. A high win rate indicates that you’re not in enough deals.  Your people aren’t trying hard enough to get you in the door.

However, lets focus in our initial topic, there is enough evidence that venture-backed start-ups fail at far higher numbers than the rate the industry usually cites. About three-quarters of venture-backed firms in the U.S. don’t return investors’ capital, according to recent research by Shikhar Ghosh, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School.

Compare that with the figures that venture capitalists toss around. The common rule of thumb is that of 10 start-ups, only three or four fail completely. Another three or four return the original investment, and one or two produce substantial returns. The National Venture Capital Association estimates that 25% to 30% of venture-backed businesses fail.

Mr. Ghosh chalks up the discrepancy in part to a dearth of in-depth research into failures. His findings are based on data from more than 2,000 companies that received venture funding, generally at least $1 million, from 2004 through 2010. He also combed the portfolios of VC firms and talked to people at start-ups, he says. The results were similar when he examined data for companies funded from 2000 to 2010, he says.

Venture capitalists bury their dead very quietly says Mr. Ghosh, they emphasize the successes but they never talk about the failures ever.

There are also different definitions of failure. If it means liquidating all assets, with investors losing all their money, an estimated 30% to 40% of high potential start-ups fail. If failure is defined as failing to see the projected return on investment, say a specific revenue growth rate or date to break even on cash flow then more than 95% of start-ups fail.

Failure often is harder on entrepreneurs who lose money that they’ve borrowed on credit cards or from friends and relatives than it is on those who raised venture capital. Venture capitalists make high-risk investments and expect some of them to fail, and entrepreneurs who raise venture capital often draw salaries.

Overall, non venture-backed companies fail more often than venture-backed companies in the first four years of existence, typically because they don’t have the capital to keep going if the business model doesn’t work, Harvard’s Mr. Ghosh says. Venture-backed companies tend to fail following their fourth years after investors stop injecting more capital, he says.

Of all companies, about 60% of start-ups survive to age three and roughly 35% survive to age 10, according to separate studies by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a non-profit that promotes U.S. entrepreneurship. Both studies counted only incorporated companies with employees. And companies that didn’t survive might have closed their doors for reasons other than failure, for example, getting acquired or the founders moving on to new projects.

Positive is, whatever it is even “nutty” ideas are a sign that entrepreneurs are collectively trying new things all the time.

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Challenges of being a Consultant in India

Many of our experiences and interactions suggest that consulting in India is way different from anywhereelseelse in the world. Consulting is a painful job in India especially if you are a small firm with limited resources. Why I say this is because consulting is a demanding job here. Customers tend to look at you as a game changer and they expect you to turnaround the whole situation like magic. Which is extremely impossible and not a day’s work. It needs understanding between both the client and the consulting company, what are the expectations, goals, etc. And then there is another reason, consulting fees are hardly paid in India, everybody wants to take a few tips and orientation from here and off the table there.

I will focus on a few challenges that consultants usually face in India but please don’t make this as a case because situations may differ from one firm to other.

The client and consultant sit together to define the “scope” of the assignment i.e. what would be the deliverable. But uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope actually haunts the consultants and clients regularly. This is because the scope is inadequately defined due to the underlying complexity of the problem, improper pitch made by the consulting firms or because of the client simply focusing on the end results without fully appreciating the problem at hand. In price-sensitive India, keep expectations low on business class travels and luxury hotels that’s associated with a consulting job.

Acquiring adequate data is a major issue here, most of the things go untapped or hence is the reason for flawed data reports. The need for 3-4 types of ID proofs in India is another proof that data is not “proven” yet. So you may have a hard time drawing meaningful insights from them.

Consultants are no scientists, they rely on innovation or improvisation to draw insights and a major source for these insights is wisdom fetched, be it in the form of knowledge various team members or experiences gained through previous engagements in similar industries or by handling similar issues. With major consulting firms having less than two decades of presence in India and the country witnessing major changes in the intervening period, one may still be some distance away from being “too-old” to “know it all” in India. Similarly for the clients, one of the major reasons for their apprehensions or expectations is their limited experience of engaging with the consultants.

India is a vast and diverse country, a sector may be organized and consolidated but it may still be unexplored somewhere else. With time you may get an idea about a particular market in India but to come up with findings that apply to the entire country, you may have to assess them separately and independently. This would be time consuming and require to explore as an individual or tapping into local resources if available. Different languages, cultures, varied population, etc. will give you a tough time.

In order to crack the nut, as a consultant, you may have to conduct interviews at the client end, participate in group discussions, touch-base with competitors and other stakeholders. It’s not easy to convince the external stakeholders to spare a few minutes for  unless you are a woman. One of the major roadblocks is the inability of the prospective interviewees to differentiate industry standards or information from strategic and confidential information. While it could also boil down to consultant’s ability to engage with the interviewee but I would also attribute the lack of openness to the Indian culture of family owned businesses where they mainly rely on close relatives for critical tasks or for sharing useful information.

India is indeed a challenging space for consulting but with the right attitude there are rewards awaiting.

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