Ankur Lal Founder of Infozech Software Pvt. Ltd. has over 20 years of experience in the IT and the telecom industry. He specializes in conceptualizing and bringing to market game-changing solutions that lead to business transformation. He is passionate about energy management and Green initiatives and has kick-started several initiatives at Infozech to address these areas. He is an active industry evangelist for emerging companies at NASSCOM. He is a frequent speaker at global conferences on cost optimization and revenue management issues. He is an active member of Toastmasters, the public speaking club. He helps young adults to nurture entrepreneurial skills. Ankur holds a BS Degree from IIT, Delhi.
Infozech has developed products for cost optimization and revenue management for telecom industry. These products have been helping customers increase revenue and save costs through innovative analytics and IOT (Internet of things) based solutions in India and emerging countries. He understood that there was a large demand for products on the energy management side because customers were paying a large amount due to inefficiencies in Power and Fuel Management. He along with his team met around fifty representatives from major companies and also engaged a SME (subject matter expert) to validate the inputs and ideas collected.
The validation was tough because they had to deal with the customer’s perception, even though the product was very apt for the telecom industry, the sales cycle stalled at many places and the needle did not move. They figured out that even though the decision maker was the CxO, the Influencer who was the Senior Managers who perceived that their accountability will go up if they buy and implement the solution. They decided to Pivot. They realized that certain functionalities were feature heavy and removed those features and made the entire product modular and so easy to use in a way that it empowered the Sr Managers with so much of information that they can take decisions on, instead of them doing additional work and this got acceptance for the product.
InfoZech’s market reach is mainly through Introductions, Networking where his team reaches out to all prospects using all possible methods using own sales teams, partners and trade shows. Since this is a heavy B2B product focused on Telco’s, they have not done anything on Social Media.
The sales objections that he faced during his first few customers were that this was a new vendor, new product and the product not meeting their requirements. Any large company will be resistant in taking a new product on a rip and replace mode for their lifeline systems. Every stakeholder within the large organization they met told them that they did not want to look like they are promoting a new vendor and wanted them to meet up with multiple stakeholders to sell to those people independently and they will come to support the product at the last stage. No one will want to be a champion for a new product as there is a lot at stake (both personally as well as officially for the individual) if the initiative fails.
Large companies have complex needs and they also have a great sourcing team and hence they can always locate great people to work for them. So Ankur had to find a way to penetrate these large accounts. They solved the problem, a few times, by using professional services as a way to penetrate these larger accounts. Their domain experience in building a product in the Telco space gave them a position of strength and the customers were open in taking people from their team and involving them in their in-house application development.
This was a great opportunity to get engaged with a large account which otherwise seemed impossible and they accepted it. Ankur recollects one of his early customers asking for a two member team to do a project for a short duration as he did not want a product. The two engineers that went in did an awesome job and the client liked Infozech. They kept meeting the client and kept sharing the updates of the product and there was a need for another product which they got an assignment for as they were an empanelled vendor – they built it and implemented it. Ankur says that this was a great way for them to build new products.
Ankur’s advice to early stage entrepreneurs – Understanding customer’s problem is just the first step. Understanding the buying process and how he sees it and manages it in everyday life is so much more important. In addition learn to anticipate the Road of the Customer and newer problems which will follow.
Infozech is about 125 employees. They have deployed their solution to over 80 customers in 25 countries. They have won several accolades that include the Economic Times Telecom Award for two consecutive years and also have been a Red Herring Asia Awardee.