Trench Stories from All Time Winners – I


A colleague during our informal talk session, beaming with pride blurted – “My son got into KPMG”. “Congratulations” I chimed in. With pride he shared how it happened. 

His son had a job offer in hand from a Big 4 Accounting firm, and then there he was interviewing with another preferred Big 4 firm. The offer on hand was expiring the next day. Just as he finished his interview, he explained the situation to the interviewer, and asked when they could make an offer as he preferred this firm over the competing firm’s offer in hand. The rest of his interviews that were not scheduled got fast tracked the same day, and he was signed up the next day.


Curious me – “So what makes your son win”. My colleague retorted – “Enormous Passion & Energy”. Apparently it was’nt about his grades.   His drive is phenomenal, and gets him to meticulously prepare with questions he anticipates.   The company selected him for his innovative ideas, and well thought out aggressive approach to problem solving.


I just got back from our Bi-Annual Operational review and planning session for our new fiscal year.   With a new CEO at the helm, it was inspiring to see the energy and drive to not only grow, but as he put it, attain – “World Domination”.   To me this meant focused growth – smell the money and ask where can we win and How ? – Do we have the right mix (people, product, price competitiveness and value stickiness).


We wonder why some people excel time after time.   They are curious, always looking for new ways / methods to stay ahead, exuding the energy and passion that drives them.


A rookie year that toyed with what our culture looks like, how does it work, what behaviours we exhibit and why.   It gave me time to reflect on the year that passed, and we had a year where we sowed our L3V2 (Listen, Learn Love = Voice+Value) culture.  From a “forming” year to the “norming” years ahead.


Here are thoughts & stories from people, I am privileged to work with.   Stories from the trenches and shout outs from the mountain.

One of our finest Solution Consultants we hired just a year ago, changed the game and earned the trust in a highly competitive market place – Jonathan Setiawan.   Here’s what he had to say about his approach.


I would pick these 4 words to generalize my sales methodology: Adapt, Be Creative and Drive (ABCD)

Adapt: Sales situations differ and change, adaptability is required to adjust/modify the sales approach to address different situations.   This also requires active Listening and Learning.

Be Creative: Creativity is required for coming up with the best sales approach for a situation.

Drive: I prefer to engage a customer early and understand needs so I drive to a solution before a tender comes out.

I love winning and like that (as a team) we attack from multiple angles as needed – top down (relationship), technical, procurement etc.,   The skill I yearn the most is the ability to listen and learn well enough in order to make a deep analysis of the particular situation and gain trust of my Customer.   For example, after your meeting with COO, you sent an email to your Sales Managers about what’s going on in the meeting – the customer’s main challenges & objectives, which people we should map, etc.   That made me re think my approach.


A Customer released a tender, the requirements were unclear and some points contradictory.  We felt the Customer may not have thought through the exact test scenario and problem.  We used a consultative approach – asking relevant questions and listening, learning their environment.  We collectively discovered the One Thing that mattered most.  Based on the breakdowns in the field with new equipment, and the emotional drain with that, they actually needed a particular test specification that was’nt in their tender requirements.  If they had not changed their specifications, they would likely have ended up with a dud test equipment. Proof Point: We changed the game by asking the Customer to conduct field trials for all suppliers and we came out on top gaining the trusted advisor status.


This triggered me to create a unique demo kit that enables the right level of dialogue and discovery pertaining to a client’s needs and potential emotional insights.


Shashikant MC, our star performer who nonupled his business over 4 years. Master at his trade. A few excerpts from him that talks and walks his “style”.


  • Collaborate to Win-Win-Win

A client had a broad need, which had two parts. I (A) competed for the first part against a niche competitor (B).  The second part was contested by two other vendors. (C &D).  I crafted a strategy to collaborate with the vendor (C) for the second part.  We two put a joint bid while the others where individual parts.  My rationale was that A+C > individual parts of B and D.   A comprehensive e2e story, vision and solution thus locking out my direct competitor and so did C with D.  It’s always good to have relationships with complementary vendors to expand the horizon and create a Win-Win-Win.

  • Belief is everything. 

A new group in a large account.  We have niche presence but largely dominated by a Vendor B.  Our approach here was one where we were pro-active in educating the client with data, understanding (Listening & Learning) their test cases, enabling them, working late hours on site.  Nett – they saw how committed (Love) we were to their success.  In comes a need where this group had a low budget and placed the order with the larger installed base Vendor B (half the price of ours). We competed and lost.


 I went back and told the decision maker –


Your decision is respected and well understood for what you need now.  How would you consider your strategic objectives for the next few projects and consider total cost of ownership.   How would you reuse automation scripts, leverage across multiple projects, correlation of data between projects etc.,


We roped in our coach and champion from another group who was well respected in their community and referenced him.  This client then changed his criteria, went back up the chain fought for additional budget , cancelled the business on Vendor B and we got the business !

Moral is never give-up, respect customer decision, build credibility as the bank balance to draw on.  With this approach customer will always give first priority/First call when requirement comes.


These stories from the trenches and shout outs from the mountain top teach us in many ways. These people had that love for innovating, being tenacious and gaining that trust and credibility.  It’s great to see our culture at play – L3V2.   Some more stories next time…

 Credit To Freepik for the featured image.

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