15th Jan, 2019
, , Designation
Sales as a career happened to me over a lunch! 20 years back.
If it helps, I am a Software Engineer by qualification!
I did not imagine that the lunch, through curious twist of fate, would also mark the starting point of my entrepreneurial journey – A Global Sales Tech enablement company, Denave.
A strong belief underlined that life-changing step – SALES is THE most gratifying and pivotal function in the active life of an organization. Period.
As Denave enters its 21st year, with its inceptive enthusiasm intact and dream of limitless opportunities ahead, I hereby chalk out our unprecedented strategies, our key learnings, challenges and set-backs that helped me steer Denave to where it is today.
Avoid the trap of familiarity – move out of comfort zone
We began our dream with two foundational decisions:
- Seed funding from our own savings – The dotcom bubble had just busted, and we did not want to procrastinate Denave’s inception in the hope of VC funding.
- And NOT to leverage our contacts from the previous organisation – Microsoft & Wipro – for getting business! No matter how compelling it seemed.
Not many would agree these to be smart decisions and I must confess that at that time, it did seem to be a risky call for sure. However, our reasons were simple – we did not want to limit ourselves, we wanted to exploit our ability to innovate and impact larger ecosystems – and we stood our ground.
In hindsight, I feel that was indeed the smartest thing we did. The first three years were all about trying to make Denave profitable, continuously evolving our services to make them relevant, meeting the maximum number of prospects, pushing the banks to believe in our dream and not make mistakes.
This is not to say that we did not make mistakes! Today, I can safely say that the rate of making mistakes in the initial years and learning from them is directly proportional to success in subsequent years!
The absolute trust between us, the founding promoters, and the strategy of dividing key functions amongst us helped us overcome manpower limitations, manage cost, provided a direct view of the elements impacting the business and weather business hiccups that came our way. Yes, together we managed to turn Denave YoY profitable by the end of its third year!
Adaptability, flexibility and sound capital management assist in seizing opportunities
For us, turning a profitable ensued period of high business momentum – new strategies and exuberant experimentations and all this while we were still in the process of identifying the fitting direction!
Our two-pronged focus was:
- To position ourselves as a delivery-centric organisation, making way towards the top end of the target segment, building structured delivery engines, creating new service lines, formalizing new business units making us flexible and enabling us to adapt and tap into all possible opportunities.
- Focusing on finance and audit team to steer the high growth phase unhindered. We also relentlessly adhered to cost-plus pricing model. Burning cash without clear direction is never a good strategy, you see. Our banking relationships also assumed great importance in this phase.
Running up to 2007, our business axis continued to be Sales process outsourcing.
Controlled investment to scale and strategy to insulate the business from the market downturn
It was 2008 when the sub-prime mortgage issue heralded a global financial crisis. Scores of companies claimed de-growth, many prominent names fell off their pedestal, but we managed to brush past bearing the minor dent of a flat growth year. Learning #2 had sieved in cost optimization in our DNA. That said, it was a wake-up call for sure.
Time had come to identify a clear business track that is optimally insulated in all market situations and build deeper growth engines around the same. Denave decided to be a Sales Enablement company with clear RoI focus for the customer. We realized sales can never go out of fashion.
All the existing services were aligned to have a clear Sales RoI impact. We acquired a technology company along with their entire management team and the manpower to scale up and build newer tech-enabled services. We were cognizant of the emerging market dynamics with technology at its core.
A Business Development unit kicked in targeted towards new customer acquisition. Efforts were also put in building HRops & HRD to re-orient and train the workforce around the new direction.
Marry domain expertise with local market industry knowledge and practices
We decided to expand our presence outside India by going into newer geographies with our existing Global customers and replicate our services there.
To be able to do this, we realized that our domain expertise and competency need to align with local customs and market dynamics to achieve best results and enable Denave to establish a strong foothold in the local market. Towards this, we created a local operations team with local leadership supported by Global transition and business support functions from India.
In fact, the first step towards building a global company is to consider the softer aspects of disparate customs, cultures, practices, and sensibilities of the base country.
The flexibility needs to be consciously sieved into the working culture of the organisation and we had our charter laid out for the next two years towards becoming a multi-cultural company. Our operational processes are standardized across company for better management but aligned with local work culture.
Extensive investment to build a stake in specialized functions – keeping pace with global growth dynamics
Come 2017, with 20 different cultures and 30+ native language expertise, Denave became an India born – global organization in the making.
Robust and standardized operational processes which are in sync with both global market dynamics and leverages local resources and opportunities meeting local sensitivities are the characteristics of a global organisation.
Towards this goal, we focussed on building our capabilities in specialized functions viz: Global Business Development team, deeper finance skills in the finance team, global HR team, Learning and Development expertise within the HRD and a strong career framework system in Denave to map competencies to chart out career growth opportunities are some of them.
Our service portfolio is evolving under the Sales Tech framework in tandem with the digital era and absorbing emerging technology disruptions. The Marcom team has started maturing into Marketing and Digital strategy team also enhancing our services portfolio beside building a Digital Strategy for Denave Brand and Business building.
And now is the time to look towards future zing in our steps.
Vision Denave 4.0
The aim is to establish Denave as a true-blue global brand with each operational center (Malaysia, Singapore & UK beside India) sufficiently scaling up on its own to establish a stronghold in its area of operation. Next, we aim to set base in the U.S.A.
Expanding our Sales enablement services portfolio to include Digital Marketing as a service and Sales Tech platforms as visualized (as intelligent point solutions reducing the time taken from purchase to deployment) across the globe. Denave will also foray strongly into the world for Analytics as a practice supported by tech platforms to enable scalability.
Next five years will witness Denave as an established Global Sales Tech organization with a focus on BI, Tech and Digital Marketing encompassing limitless opportunities.
This article is originally published here by Snehashish Bhattacharjee, Global CEO and Co-Founder, Denave.