Madhuri- “With more big brands moving their marketing and sales departments closer together in a bid to become more agile, marketers will need to talk the talk as well as walk the walk if they want to take on the commercial side of the business.”
Madhuri- Keeping, the above statement in mind, today we are in conversation with Mahdhusmita Panda, VP marketing KredX and we will be discussing how marketing and sales need to work as one to generate revenue for a company.
Madhuri- Before we dive into the conversation, Madhu if you could please tell us a little about yourself
Madhu- I completed my BCom back in 2006 and then followed it by an MBA in marketing. I did my MBA in marketing from Mumbai, but unfortunately did not end up getting a job in marketing. The job market and salaries at that time were not very suitable, and because of all this, I started my first job with ICICI bank, right, where I was exposed to the financial world. I went on to do a similar kind of role in Wipro where I was exposed to dealing with customers on ground processes. But it was more of an account management role. So that gave you a little more insight into how businesses work on the other side. Post that I went on to start my own company, which was a food tech company, where I was able to bring in all these exposures of marketing, sales, being on the ground with people, and understanding how the business works. So here I am at KredX, and it’s been three years now. I’m heading marketing here, we kind of take care of all formats of marketing. So yeah, that is about me in a nutshell.
Madhuri- Market trends are moving at a remarkable pace and digital is providing new routes to reach consumers that blend advertising and selling. What are your views on this?
Madhu- So today’s the time when you cannot ignore digital, everybody’s on the phone, especially the people that we want to showcase our product, they are out there digitally. While the offline or the physical mode of marketing still holds good and is large in the country. Digital is something you cannot escape, and if you’re not utilising it, then you are missing out on something. Even if it is something that might not give you a direct impact in terms of conversions, it is still something which is a must. When I say digital, we’re not just talking social media here; we are talking majorly about Google. When my grandfather needs to look for something, he uses Google on his phone to find it. No organisation no brand wants to be left out, especially when somebody is looking for you. That is the lowest hanging fruit. Digital is the future and one cannot function without it.
Madhuri- What are the different mediums of marketing? How do you identify the best way for any situation?
Madhu- So I’ll talk from KredX’s perspective. So we deal with both B2B and B2C kind of a segment while the b2c is not your typical, you know, B2C, where we are reaching out to anybody and everybody, these are high net worth individuals. But that is still more of a business to consumer kind of a segment.
Madhu- When we talk about channels, how I look at whatever we’re thinking about in terms of reaching out to whoever is my target audience. Now a business guy is somebody say, for example, he’s a CFO, but he’s still a human, who will still be on Facebook, who will still be on LinkedIn, who might still be on Instagram, who might still have likes and dislikes, as from a marketing perspective, as a B2C segment might have, right?
Madhu- When we look at channels, we don’t leave out any channel. But what becomes very important is how you reach out. The tonality, the context, the content, it all keeps changing. So how I look at it is, everybody’s a human being. Now I need to go back to my intelligence systems within our system, which is Google Analytics and things like that, which tells me what this guy looks, you know, is his persona, and what he might look for. While I still have to sell my product directly, but I will do it in a fashion that a CFO will read while being in the media like Facebook. So these are the things you know, I think it is essential today. You can’t market yourself basis, a platform, but you have to market yourself basis who you’re selling to irrespective, whichever platform they are because everybody is everywhere.
Madhu- From a platform perspective, organic is something that is a focus for the organisation because that is the most impactful format. People should look for you, and if they are looking for you, maybe not directly, but for a certain thing which you sell, you should come up there. So we do a lot of activities where my organic outreach is fostered from a digital perspective, but there is a lot of focus on doing a lot of offline activities like alliances and partnerships considering the kind of product that we
Madhuri- How do you identify organic leads?
Madhu- Organic technically means where you are not putting a lot of your effort in terms of going to somebody. It is more of somebody wanting to come to you, say for example if somebody is looking for invoice discounting, I should be there. He or she should know about me, and when somebody is looking for invoice discounting, which is a new product and very popular among the masses, it becomes all the more imperative that whatever that person is looking for, KredX should show up. So that is the idea of organic, you can’t buy these people, you can’t spend a lot of money, and tell them to come. Organic is something that the customer is pretty much in the bottom of the funnel, and he’s looking for something, and I come up. These are the people who are looking for you rather than you looking for them.
Madhuri- What are the biggest challenges you have to overcome to play a part in the revenue generation of the company?
Madhu- Being a startup, there are a lot of processes, and they are continually getting evolved. The biggest challenge that we have to face is to get relevant customers on board. The other major challenge is educating the customer about our product. We have to consider the fact that most of my customers aren’t tech-savvy people, how do I still do that, through my digital channels and my offline channels. And while doing all of this, you know, it is crucial to understand that we as a team cannot work in silos, where the sales team has to come into the picture. Though they are the people who are on the ground, they have to inform us about what they’re looking for. This helps us to create tonality, content, and other things like that.
Madhu- So one of the biggest challenges is educating. And you have to figure out different ways to educate. You have to use a language you have, use a different format to make others understand. You need to identify those things and to keep innovating, and keep getting the creativity angle into it so that everybody understands and you can reach out to a larger crowd.
Madhu- Speaking from revenue generation, we are still setting a process, and I’m sure it is not just about a smaller organisation. But larger organizations also struggle with that, because most teams work in silos. For the management to finally figure out the contribution bit on these teams have to stitch together. Right from the time when you reach a customer to the time the customer remains your customer everybody has to be on board. I think that is the biggest challenge of putting everything into perspective in one go. I think we’re pretty much there. But I’m assuming it’s a global issue across all kinds of organisations.
Madhuri- Many major brands like Mars, Heineken, among others have combined their marketing and sales force. What is your say on this?
Madhu- Today, you understand what is marketing, what is branding, but do people understand what is the final agenda? I want the world to know me and why do I want the world to know me because I want them to come to me buy my product or engage in my services and things like that. So the end of the day, everything is what the product says, and when you say sales and marketing have to be together because marketing to me as a function is something that is selling without really touching the customer. That is why it is all the more important for me to know, actually what happens on the ground. And for that, sales and marketing have to be together. Insight is one of the bigger elements when you do any format of marketing because what sales and marketing combined together will create a different kind of force. They will bring their expertise, and what the customer actually needs or not. And you will bring your expertise and packaging the whole thing and taking it to a larger crowd which again will come back to sales again. So you understand how the funnel will work. So they will be at the bottom of the funnel, they should pass information to the top of the funnel. And hence the funnel keeps increasing. And thus everything comes down and the revenue increases and things like that. So it’s a funnel, and it has to work together. Going further, I think most of the companies are going to focus on they have to I am sure most companies already are.
Madhuri- How is marketing in Fintech different from marketing in other sectors?
Madhu- It is different, and there are a lot of sectors, but maybe we can stick to talking about the financial world and FinTech. I think that is a big difference. Now, today, if you look at financial organisations, the very element that anybody looks at, is trust. Fintech does not have that right away, because most of these so-called FinTech, financial technology companies are newer companies in the block. But while they bring a lot of innovation in the market, the difference here is, first you have to get the trust and trust something, which is a process, which takes time, but nobody has time. So how do you know, get that faster? More than trust, delivering what you are promising? And also not overpromising? The most significant difference, apart from all of this is the technology that especially you know, KredX brings into the picture? How do I make sure that the customer understands what I’m doing now? The financial bit is kind of understood, but I have to combine the technology still because that is my USP. So from a different perspective, the trust along with educating our customers and what you’re doing. These are like major challenges, and a bank does not have to really educate its customer.
Madhuri- How do you define the target audience?
Madhu- It is a combined activity which has to go on forever. Defining the target audience has to do with the product and not with the teams. As a team we need to be thorough with the product to understand who we have to sell.My product is financial technology and is innovative, as such it is not for the masses. After getting a broader perspective, you drill it down to what, who, and how. Reaching to these, not just depends on the sales of marketing team, but also teams like risk, operations ,and technology. In marketing everything comes down to a funnel, I still need to have a broader business perspective in the funnel and have to make sure that I am getting the customers. It is never about the team, it is always about the product. But the products are such that it depends on all the team. It keeps going through iterations from the sales team. This was for the B2B side, the B2C side is more of an experiment. Once I identify that the product is not for the masses, but you still have to take the product to the market to eliminate those who don’t want it.
Madhuri- Coming to the end, is there any tip you want to give to those who are looking forward to making a career in marketing? Something that they should be aware of before choosing this as a career path?
Madhu- So marketing has a lot of elements like digital marketing, social media, SEO, content, offline, affiliates, email, and so many things. Start putting yourself into knowing the basics, which is your target audience, right and what the target audience needs basis the need your which platform to go to, and, you know, think that have an overall perspective of what marketing is and not just being in a very silo format of, you know, SEO content or digital, whereas Facebook, because then it is going to get boring, and it is going to diversify, you know, and once you’ve learned something really well, then you are able to move on to the next thing.