Widen Circle of Influence to provide better solutions
Manick Rajendran, A mechanical engineer from Anna University, went on to complete his MBA from IIMB and volunteered briefly in rural Tamil Nadu before going on to running a computer skills training centre in Trichy as the start of his entrepreneurial pursuits. Moving to the USA soon after, he started his own IT consulting firm in the early 1990s. After a seven year stint in the corporate world with Deutsche Bank, he moved on to the healthcare industry. He served several volunteer hours along with the best in the US healthcare industry, was the Director of the 2,100 bedded Velammal Medical College Hospital and Research Institute and boasts of a Lean Six Sigma Green belt in healthcare. Currently founder of a start-up, iMMi Life Pvt Ltd that addresses heart attacks in developing countries, he is working on crowdsourcing cardiologists’ opinions and patching in the services of an identified local cardiologist to work with the general physician for stabilization, before transferring the patient to a tertiary care setting for further care.
As an angel investor over a decade ago in the US, Manick acquired his first customer in an EHR product company. A few years into the inception, the company had a base product. At that time, Manick had also quit his full time job on Wall Street. He got on board with an objective to monetize the product with customers. With neither a background in healthcare nor sales to boast of, Manick learnt that sniffing out the problems of customers is the way to sell. Instead of asking whether doctors wanted patient information, he probed deeper, figuring out they would appreciate simultaneous billing as well. Thus, Manick was embedded as an insider, thinking of problems and solutions from the hospital’s perspective as opposed to the outsider’s perspective of his EHR company. The more time he spent in hospitals, the better he understood the pain points and business processes. A product that captures all this learning was built.
The message is clear. Ask the customer for the big picture, the whole lifecycle of his business before suggesting a solution for either one or many facets of the situation. By combining it with billing, sending invoices out to the payers, managing denials etc. Manick was able to provide a complete solution to fulfill the needs of the hospital and use patient information optimally. He realized that he could contribute to creating impact by solving a large problem, thus allowing him to fulfil his personal goal of selling faster. Instead of solving an assumed problem, he took the time out to allow the customers to identify their own. This way, there was more scope to provide more solutions which was the reason of existence for his EHR company.
Many years since, his approach is the same. To quote an analogy, if you are selling furniture and a customer comes over to your outlet to shop for chairs, do not focus only on selling the chair, but focus on finding out all the needs so that you may be able to to sell a mattress, blanket, pillows and anything else that would take care of their home needs. His advice to founders is simple: instead of being a broker and solving smaller problems, widen your circle of influence to provide better solutions for customers. You will find that the essence of your business is to solve the customer’s entire problem.