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Valenco case studies # 3 - Nandan - Grow with existing or shift to digital sales

Nandan’s father ran a distribution business which sold tractors, farm accessories, and provided aftermarket services for them. He was a prominent citizen and there was talk that someday he could represent the area in the state assembly.


The one thing he missed was college education and made sure that Nandan and his three siblings all went to the best state colleges.


The start

Graduating with a major in business with a minor in computer science, Nandan was recruited by a Fortune 1000 company. He was assigned work in data management and analytics for the marketing organization.


Three years into the job, Nandan went for a college reunion where he met with a classmate who had founded a technology consulting and staffing organization. Listening to him, Nandan’s entrepreneurial juices started to flow and he jumped on board as employee # 18 of this venture.


15 years flew by. The organization went through its ups and downs and in the course of time grew to $70 million in annual revenue. Nandan grew too, and was leading sales across the Midwest, which was almost half the company revenue.


New beginnings

Looking to grow more aggressively, the founder sought external funding. An Asian private equity firm put in a substantial chunk of money and with that also came changes in leadership.


Nandan cashed out his small equity position and used it to start his own venture. Within the first year he was able to staff technology resources with three companies and by year two, was making enough money to pay all the bills in the office and home.


While the financial picture was good and improving, he was getting weary of working alone from his home office without a group of colleagues to interact with. He also started to feel that his learning was tapping out and the current work did not provide opportunity to explore emerging trends in technology in depth.


This triggered a search for new work. During the search, he spoke with a head of sales in Fixfix, a process and technology services company. The two of them hit off and Nandan was offered a job as a senior salesperson to sell digital services.


The pace and volume of activity in his new job was a welcome change. Nandan attended every webinar and e-learning session to get himself current on the offerings and technologies. Within six months he had built a pipeline of deals and feeling good about his future with the company.


Today

A dominant proportion of Fixfix’s service offerings are in customer care and process management services. Application and digital offerings have been added to the mix in recent years and are a fast-growing area which now contribute 10% to company revenue.


Nandan and his supervisor were recruited to sell this new line of digital offerings.


Realizing that selling digital services alone will not fully utilize the new sales team, Fixfix has asked that Nandan and his peers also sell customer care and business process services.


This change has created discontent within the recently recruited sales team. They see themselves as sellers of cutting edge digital and transformative solutions and feel that BPS and customer care are mundane work and a low growth area.


Attrition has crept in, and the sales team of the digital unit is down to half. Nandan’s supervisor is one of the exits.


The steady bleed of salespersons in his team has got Nandan thinking. He too had signed on to sell new age digital offerings, but his sales pipeline is very tilted towards customer care and help desk services.


In the 10 months he has been there, Nandan has won his first deal, has a good future pipeline and confident that he will be close to his annual quota this year and meet or exceed it in the next year. Now that the sales team has shrunk, there are more opportunities for him to pursue in the digital business too. He is contemplating having a conversation with his employer that he sells only digital services going forward.


Choices

Having built a good rapport, Nandan is still in touch with his last supervisor who has moved to another technology services company as a sales leader. In a recent conversation it came up that they are hiring salespersons to sell application and digital services.


In the last month Nandan has also received a couple of calls from recruiters looking to fill sales roles for digital services with other companies.


This has got him thinking. He has recently joined a new job, is performing well, and on track to hit his performance goals.


On the other hand, he worries that most of the experience is accruing selling customer care and helpdesk services and less so in digital offerings.


Alumni from his alma mater have formed a local group and meet once a year to reminiscence about the good old days.


The event was scheduled recently, and he met with you there. Since both of you have long careers in the technology services industry there was a lot to talk about. Seeing an opportunity to get unbiased advice, Nandan shared his current job dilemma and asked for your input.


Should he


1. Hit his quotas selling help desk services, and as the digital portfolio grows, sell more of those.

2. Make a move to the company his past supervisor has joined.

3. Take the calls from recruiters and attempt a move to a more digital company.

4. Sell only digital services for his current employer.


The advice he received.


The chart says it all. The advice he received is to work with his pipeline and hit quota’s first. Build tenure with his current employer and sell more of the digital offerings as the portfolio grows while ensuring he is hitting annual goals.


What is he planning to do?

Nandan is very grateful for the counsel.


Having been in sales a long time, he knows that a salesperson is only as good as his/her pipeline and ability to hit quota’s.


Where he is today, he can hit and beat his goals for the year.


This has settled the short term. He has decided not to make any change and ensure he meets or beats plan and makes his full variable compensation.


Currently the range of digital services offered by his employer is growing very slowly. At 10% of the business, it attracts only limited investment.


He is still undecided on how long he will stay since he wants to sell more digital.


Taking the advice of his network, he has deferred any change till the end of the current financial year and will re-evaluate based on how the digital portfolio and his pipeline will look at the end of it.


Given the rapport with his last supervisor, his first choice is to work with him. Nandan has conveyed that he would be open to working together again and he will reach out at the end of the current fiscal year and catch up.

Has also reverted back to the recruiters who were calling him and shared the same message.


You may also want to read - Valenco case study #2 Sridhar

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