"Do your research and be a good listener," is some sound salesmanship advice from Kaustubh Dalvi. He is a specialist in global logistics with a masters degree in nautical studies and an MSc in global logistics and supply chain management. Dalvi was operations manager for P&O Ports before he joined Jade and has 20 years experience in the ports and logistics business including a 14-year stint in the merchant navy. Dalvi is now a BDM selling Jade Software’s Master Terminal ports management software.
What’s your most successful tip for cold calling?
Do your research first, don’t just pick up the phone and expect to be successful.
It’s important to understand the need and interest of the prospect before making the calls. Using social media channels to gain that insight before making that call is highly recommended.
Does the pressure to hit your monthly or quarterly targets ever make you stressed?
Yes, occasionally. Our industry involves long sales cycles; you need to have a good sales funnel to ensure targets are met.
How would you sum up the craft of sales in one sentence to an outsider?
Listen first, talk later. Sell yourself before trying to sell your product, focus on the customer and the value your product can offer their business.
How long does it take you to assess how you should approach your sales pitch?
Each sale is different. Always be prepared for all possibilities. Knowing your product will give you the confidence to deal with any situation. Thorough research on the prospect will enable you to focus on the key areas without wasting time on topics that don’t add value to the client.
Have you ever put your foot in it when talking to a client?
It is so important to be prepared and adapt your sales pitch to the circumstances. Research is paramount to ensuring a successful call. Although one cannot be prepared 100 percent, sometimes a client will throw a curve ball and you will need to adapt to the situation on the fly. Every call is a learning experience which helps you with the next one.
How did you get past the point of struggling to make a sale to where you are today?
My industry knowledge is vital when making sales. The people I deal with are the ones who know the industry and can work out very quickly whether you know your stuff or not.
How do you balance time spent between product knowledge training with generating leads or opportunities?
I take time out each day to learn what is happening with the product, to understand the features and functionality and how this will benefit the sale and the customer. It is important for me to demonstrate the product and to understand that I know what the product can do.
What’s the most useful tip you can give to a struggling salesperson?
One must enjoy the thrills and pressure involved in a sales situation. Practice with the product to improve your technical knowledge. Do your research, be persistent and be a good listener. These are the skills to cultivate. Have confidence in yourself and your product. Pursue sales with passion and profits will follow.
What percentage do you consider your personality contributes to your success compared to the product and the company?
One should be conscious that a customer will not buy a product unless s/he buys the person selling it. Your personality, qualifications and experience play a significant role and act like a tag on the product you are selling. I would say it is 50 percent product and company and 50 percent personality.
Most sales people have some experience of other jobs, what’s yours?
I was in the merchant navy for many years and also was a member of the planning and operations team of Dubai Ports World at Nhava Sheva.
Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?
Yes, but I always try to be careful and not cross the line and irritate the customer.
Has that quality ever reflected on you in a negative way?
Not really. It could be viewed as a good quality particularly if you are also involved in post-sales operations.
What’s the best deal you have ever closed?
My most recent one with DPH in the USA. The deal was high value, was a breakthrough into a new market and a year in the making. All told, it was a very satisfying deal.
Would you encourage your offspring to go into sales?
Can’t say, as at this moment as they are too young for me to judge their skills and abilities. But if they have the required qualities and attitude, then why not?
How would you get over forgetting some vital information during a meeting?
Hopefully this never happens as I try to be very well prepared for meetings. If I was to forget something important I would bring it to the client’s attention as soon as I could.
What’s your best and worst experience of cold calling?
It is difficult to just pick up the phone and get to talk to the person who will make the decision. Emails are more effective in the first instance, but once you’ve done that nothing beats face-to-face contact. Establishing relationships via social media and by attending industry shows is also a help.