Well, it was a strange scenario. One of my ex colleagues Sandeep who had just moved in to Mumbai from Bangalore, had just quit his job and wanted to test his entrepreneurial spirit by starting his own video production agency — cinematography, scripting and other bells and whistles.
He had stereotypically landed at Mumbai with “dream in his eyes”, like millions who land in this city, everyday.
He was relying on me to get leads and basically drive the sales strategy of his freelancing business / startup. This was going to be a completely pro bono project and an interesting assignment for me.
I love movies but I had no clue as to what the Business model was and how does someone actually get work in this industry.
With my background in selling IT and BPO services, I had little knowledge what different professionals were involved in the making of a movie and where the decision makers, or the production houses were located.
Let’s see how we made inroads into a “virgin” industry called Bollywood.
1. Make some start
My first strategy was to call for a business meeting. And dramatically our conference was held at the famous Marine Drive-the iconic landmark of Mumbai, sitting under a beautiful tree with wind hitting your face.
We chalked out target segments, size of the businesses to be targeted and the decision makers and align each segment to the services we were able to deliver. Sandeed called this venture Clapper Boy Films.
Some of the low hanging fruits were our own personal networks, marketing heads and other drlivison heads who might need a film or a script.
It’s magical to see how focus and affirmative pressure brings out the best in us.
And hence the journey began..
2. Don’t forget the basics
My use case reference points wee my own career examples where either I to sell an existing product into new territories or a new product into new territories or new product into new territories.
It was a classic case of new business acquisition and sales strategy.
I had a Google sheets CRM built since I like to see things and take a decision. I was running it like a sales division where my job was to move a lead from Stage 1 to a stage 4, (negotiation phase) within a month.
When we started looking into our own personal networks, the Stage 1 leads we’re slowly building up.
Next was messaging and a marketing strategy to reach out to these people. I suggested we use good old email marketing and cold calling.
In my previous article on WhatsApp being an underdog in lead generation, I had highlighted the potent power of this platform.
The funny thing was that even I was new to Mumbai and didn’t have a big network myself hence only one WhatsApp group in my phone.
Thought, let me just put in a polite message to see how people would react.
Amazingly there were four responses and mostly from startup founders who were looking at cheap explainer videos and some editing work.
It was good enough start and my confidence was at the top.
One of the key sales strategy I profess is, ultra targeting — finding your market within a market. You get to Sell and Dominate.
Are we on the cusp of something really interesting? Is this a space that we should venture. Cost effective video production for startups and small businesses?
Our first meeting happened with a traditional family owned business who was looking to shoot 4 to 5 ads for social media. It was a great feeling to sit across and listen to the entire conversation.
The only value addition from.my side was to introduce the two parties and make couple of points on pricing. However this was lab time for me — pure learning.
We got another response from the same WhatsApp group to direct a short social oriented film. Boy it was a lengthy call.
3. Amplify whatever is working for you
Well, I decided to create small creatives in Canva and use it like JPEGs to be sent over WhatsApp.
It made us look like some decent size agency with a marketing team.
Increase the intensity of your success and massive success follows.
Now we had access to multiple WhatsApp groups with businessmen, startup founders and other forms of business — there was certainly a need to make videos, all we had to do was to find and exploit it.
My strategy to amplify was to have consistent , funny and wicked creatives posted in WhatsApp every 3 to 4 days.
Visibility was growing and so was the CRM. We had plenty of Stage 1, 2 and 3 leads however no closures yet.
4. Social Selling is power
What else can we do and what is it that we aren’t doing? Very powerful questions that should come early during a sales journey.
We realised that if small businesses had a problem of making ads and films so would large companies and well funded startups have.
It just clicked that a huge amount of films were made by the corporate social responsibility (CSR) divisions of large corporations.
They capture their interventions and use it for corporate communications and external fund raising activities.
Gold mine struck!
They had big budgets of their own and also sometimes used Marketing budgets of their HQs.
Thus began opening up our new sales channel — LinkedIn!
Target audience: all marketing heads, managers, VPs of fairly large tech companies and CSR heads of corporates.
Message : Sandeep had a good body of work from his past assignments. Capitalise on it, tell them we can deliver but at half the price. Yes we used pricing to sell since we knew we had to make an entry in a field filled with sharks already.
We wanted to reach out to all and at least let them hear us.
The feeling of anticipated success is far more thrilling than Success itself.
It felt like a business.
I used my good old technique of tying up some valuable dirt on the target contact with a call to action and it worked.
I wrote to a marketing head, “ I loved your YouTube ad where you showed ____. Kudos to your team. By the way I am helping my friend Sandeep in getting some assignments on creating videos, storyboarding and scripting. Can we discuss more please?”
It was simple enough to evoke a response. A conference call was set.
Then followers by good meaty tele-calls and more Skype calls with decision makers.
Got meeting confirmations from Marketing head of a large ethnic wear e-commerce company, men’s merchandising company, large leather wear and accessories, and this is the best, from Harley Davidson!!
We had bragging rights of building a CRM that had big names in it.
The best thing about being a sales guy, is that I’m used to hearing the word “No”. So the worst that could have happened is that they would have refused working with us, which wasn’t bad at all.
The world is open and ready for business — are you?
In my experience with lot of founders and solo preneurs, inhibition to reach and ask is a common trait that prohibits success reaching out to them.
People think, I’m so small would they even entertain me. I’m scared that they would say No.
Reach all and Ask all.
My principle is — I don’t control my leads’ responses but I definitely control my efforts.
Give your 110% just in case cent percent is not good enough
The breakthrough came in the form of a CSR head who was looking for small movie to be made on a child detention centre that they were supporting however had a limited budget.
That was good enough. We will take it!!
And thus began Sandeep’s journey.
The film after months of efforts and going through multiple edits came out amazing.
One film led to another and again stereotypically he “got set in Mumbai“
For me it was a challenge that I accepted — can I sell into a new service, into a new territory, into a new industry? Well yes, I can and I did!
Don’t forget your basics and don’t forget to be human.
Sales is the purest of profession that requires simple human interactions like showing, asking and influencing.
I read about ASK and its become a part of me.
Ask and you shall be given.
Seek and you shall find it.
Knock and the doors shall open.
If you can overcome the villians in your mind, the process is fairly easy.
The villains are Imposter Syndrome — I’m not good enough. What will they think about me? What if they say No. And goes on.
So two guys completely new to a city and the industry were able to make a dent in their own way.
Seek your dreams, it’s out there!!
Author bio: Karmesh Ghosh, is Sales professional; has been hustling, and closing deals for the past 1.5 decades. Avid reader and loves foreign language movies. Writes on sales and marketing strategies for small and medium businesses. Currently, lives in Mumbai. Loves food and fast bikes.