First Few Customers

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Educate your customers – Don’t sell to them

About Vakil Search

Hrishikesh Datar, founded Vakil search in Jan 2011. He did his Bachelors in Law at the National law school – Bangalore.   He always thought through the time that people spend with Lawyers and with Chartered Accountants’ while solving their legal and company incorporation problems. He felt that the time taken in processing the legal documents was too long. It took 30 days on an average and the fees charged by the professionals were also high. He began thinking of how he can reduce the time. He spent a year in planning next steps on how he can make the end user experience better.

He spoke with a few people and figured out a way. He explored combining technology along with the legal process. He found that the pain point of time cannot be solved by avoiding documents. Those documents still need to be submitted. However, he felt that he can reduce the time by adopting technology where people will have to submit only a few documents and they need not wait for a professional’s appointment and travel multiple times to finish submitting all the documents.

He took his business online and created a simple user interface. The customer can submit limited documents based on the checklist given. They can submit it 24*7 and from anywhere. The focus of this app was more on convenience and submitting the documents faster. The government processing the time was obviously the same and he felt that he had no control. However, the minor change in the way to submit documents paved way for a new business.

About the early days Digital and Sales outreach

Hrishikesh always believed in a hybrid model of using Digital Marketing to acquire leads and Sales to convert leads to sales.

Digital Marketing

He leveraged social media channels such as Facebook, google, LinkedIn to create lots of useful content to his buyer persona. He used to actively participate in many start up groups in many cities and network. He also began writing weekly articles in Your Story. 

He passionately talks about how brands such as Cadburys and BMW build brands with the purple color and with the 2-piece grill. He says that he was able to build a brand with recognizable content that was meaningful to their audience.

Sales

He unlike many other companies began giving lots of information about the customers problems and also gave content about a lot of useful topics his customers would be happy to consume. So, the customers had enough of information about his offerings when they called up. Hrishikesh says that he built his credibility in sales by giving lots of information. He also believed in the sales calls being in a guiding format than being in the selling format. His customers got confident about him and his organization because they were educated not being sold to.

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Objections in the early days

Hrishikesh recalls that the biggest resistance the customers had in adapting the start-up offerings was the difference between working online vs offline, Each customer was in a different city and had different objectives. The customers were so worried that his team will take the money and would run away.  Hence no one wanted to pay upfront for the services. They gave in initially and accepted the post payments. They began acquiring customers and began incorporating companies and solving legal problems. Once the customers were happy they were happy to refer Vakil Search to other customers. Hrishikesh says that the biggest ,  channel of customer acquisition is still Word of Mouth

What could he have done better?

Hrishikesh says that he learnt over time and never repeated a mistake he did in the past with his customers. The customer acquisition was increasing constantly. Hrishikesh however feels that he relied on gut feel and was spending more time with his initial sales team and with his customers. He feels that he could have done better by doing Data analysis on his customers. He knew what would make a customer buy. However, his initial sales team did not have the knowledge and they took their time to learn.

He feels that bucketing the customers into multiple segments such as (Male,47,Delhi) Vs (Woman,58, Calcutta). He feels that he should have spent time in cracking the formula. He felt that he could have become much bigger as an organization, if he had done that. He is now focussed on running a data driven sales right from how many times does it take to pick up a call, how to profile a customer, what do they say and what do you tell them to make them buy etc.

Tip for entrepreneurs

Formulate a script based on past experiences and never get into a call or a meeting without a script. He also says that the start up founders must begin writing playbooks for the teams and ensures that the sales teams sticks on to it.

How big is Vakil Search today?

Vakil Search is 380 people strong and has around 80 Sales people. They have been through four funding rounds.  Two rounds were institutional and two rounds were strategic in nature. They incorporate 10 different types of services for the companies in India. They have incorporated around 10% of companies in India.

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