First Few Customers

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Democratization of your offerings to differentiate in the global market

Raman Roy, Founder of Quattro is widely regarded as “the Pioneer” and “Father of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry” in India. Since 1992 he has played a pivotal role in promoting India as a preferred destination for Remote Processing to mainly North American and European companies. He has directly created over 35,000 new jobs in India and has indirectly enabled the employment of over 1,000,,000 people through his pioneering efforts that led to the creation of the BPO industry. Raman is a pioneer four times over, having successfully led the BPO initiatives of American Express, General Electric and Spectramind (now Wipro BPO) before starting Quatrro in 2005. Under Raman’s leadership Quatrro has grown to over 2,800 associates serving over 15000 clients around the globe.

For Raman, Quatrro is the fourth “startup” but he says that he and his team accomplished specific milestones in each of the ventures. While at Amex(1984 to 1996), the accomplishment was to show that India can be a location to do international work,  with  GE Capital(1996 – 2000) , the accomplishment was in demonstrating scalability. At Spectramind (2000 to 2005), the accomplishment was that a third party model can work in a BPO and finally in Quatrrro (2005 till date), the accomplishment is to counter the belief that BPO can work only for the large companies and democratize BPO to the Small and Medium enterprises. Quatrro today has 15000 SME customers for whom Quatrro does Back-Office and Technology support work in India. Each one of their services focusses on different things where they can demonstrate Indian BPO capabilities and can take it to the next level.

When it came to segmenting the market to acquire the first set of customers, Raman chose BFSI. This happened to be the largest segment for the BPO and BFSI also had led the creation of the industry for Raman through his experience at Amex, GE & Spectramind (BankAm and Citi). Raman also knew that about 40% of the USD 150 Bn$ industry comes in from BFSI and less than 100 companies out of the 8000 odd companies that offers either a Visa or a Master card utilize India. That was a huge underserved market he decided to go after. Raman says that there is no company in India that performs similar services which includes platform and technology to these companies even today..

Raman says that the market outreach has changed over time. In those days, they believed in meeting customers face to face. Even though the revenue per customer will be lower thereby increasing the cost of acquisition of customers, the team still believed in a Feet on Street model because that is the model they knew the best and they also knew that the time to closure for a SME bank will be the same as it will be for a larger bank. He had five sales people in the US and he also went and met many of these prospects to evangelize the concept of BPO as the prospects were doing these processes either In-house or through a local BPO company.  The smaller banks had the same objections that the big banks had a few years ago such as losing control, having an unique process that no one else can do and a potential aspect of job losses which he and his team had to convince them on how they took the larger companies in the past with similar concerns and how they made those outsourcing experiences successful and convinced them to outsource their closely held BPO operations. Their main pitch on Price and Quality and bringing in the technology of the larger companies into the smaller ones was always a winner. Raman says that they have always won every single deal when it came to competing with another provider and the only instances they had lost was when the clients decided to keep the process in-house.

To allay the concerns of the small clients, they tried a variety of things but nothing was given free because there is no value if something is given free as these are parallels for nothing. The sales team spoke about the earlier experiences, made the prospects speak with a few other banks who were customers and convinced them about the support process that they have built in India to support such operations and worked with the prospects to show success for them. Raman recollects the selling into the first few customers itself was a long cycle but the real problem began after they gave the go ahead. The clients processes were so tuned to be able to perform this locally but they were not ready to be able to support an outsourced process. There were many technological challenges that was an impediment in a transition of a perfect experience. The first six months was spent in educating the customers on the infrastructure they would need to have in order to experience a smooth transition. All the customers said yes to it but only a handful of them were able to make the investments and understand what to do. Raman and team then understood the nature of these customers and decided to change their delivery model where they began investing in multiple technologies that would provide a good experience. All that the customers needed to do was to give the go ahead and  sign in remote and begin using the applications on a per user per month basis.

Raman says that he as a sales person always believes that selling is just not about talking but also involves listening and seeing….It is not just the mouth but it also includes the eyes and the ears of the sales person. This is especially relevant when the sales person meets the decision makers in a smaller company who are also the the business owners.  This is different from the situation when the sale happens to the senior executive of a large company having a large responsibility. The owner typically has a lot of questions and looks at the sales person in the eye and seeks to understand how his work will be done, what is the ‘neck to choke’ when work is not done and what the escalation needs to be As an example Quatrro does quarterly accounts and they tell their customers that they will give the entire P&L within10 days of the end of the month which the customers don’t believe initially as their present process takes 8-10 weeks. Post the engagement, they engage with the customer on a constant basis and gives them the updates which overwhelms the customers with service quality and allows Cross-Selling. Raman says that they have an unique model for account management which he calls as SARG (Same Account Revenue Growth) which has been designed based on best practices of handling several hundreds of BPO engagements over a few decades. The sales people are mandated with new logo acquisition and the SARG Managers step in and become the face of Quatrro whose mandate is to ensure that all their clients are kept happy and also pitch the other services such as tech support, travel etc

Raman’s Advice to early stage entrepreneurs – The job of a founder as a sales person is just not talking about your product and what you do but to be the eyes and ears of the company and understand the needs and pain points of the customers and to find ways to solve their problems. This is where business models can get fine-tuned and learning can happen to create what the customer wants which makes the business a scalable one. That channel of communication is key to develop a product and one can never build a product by sitting within four walls as that would, at best,  be theoretical. By seeing, listening and trying to learn what the common themes are, the founders can visualise the products or offerings that are needed by the customers. Raman also talks about startups penetrating verticals that they don’t have any exposure to.  When his team saw healthcare as a big opportunity, they also knew that breaking into this and finding the first customer would be difficult because of lots of regulatory issues. They did not go in and began selling because they had to learn how doctors do the accounting, what they have to do, what their monthly reports were etc. They effectively used a skill based domain experts to penetrate  into this vertical and created an expertise to work  with the doctors in a collaborative way on their accounting at an attractive price point and created options that allowed it to be a win-win for both of them.

Quatrro today has seven operation centers in two countries, Quatrro is a top-ranked BPO/KPO supplier providing global scale with 24/7 service delivery capability and have built-in redundancies for data privacy and security. They have over 120 enterprise clients, 15,000+ SMB & SOHO customers, 1,000,000+ retail customers around the globe . they have also raised a few rounds of VC Funding.

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