Pooja Kumar spoke to Chatur Grandhi who is the Director for Inside Sales for Asia Pacific for the International Workplace Group. They offer ‘workplace as a service’ and flexible office solutions. Chatur has manages sales teams in a variety of industries across asia pacific. 
Key areas discussed – 

1) What makes a good Salesperson
2) cultivating customer-centric sales teams
3) Chatur’s perspective on Sales enablement based on his experience….and how it compares with driving out on an open road 🙂

Give it a listen, remain curious and reach out to Chatur if you would have any questions or would like career advice.

Audio Transcript

Pooja Kumar
Preparing preparing,

Chatur Grandhi
please.

Pooja Kumar
Okay, I think we’re streaming now. Welcome to coffee collaboration and enablement for ASEAN and India. My mission is to create a place where sales enablement and business leaders come together and learn from each other, how to be more successful and accelerate their sales team’s performance. Today, I am thrilled to have chatter grantee who is the inside sales director for a group called IWG, which is the international workplace group for Asia Pacific. In fact, chatter leads a hub, an inside sales hub that’s based in Kuala Lumpur, not far away from where I live. And it’s the central hub that services Asia Pacific. So chatter, thank you so much for joining us this morning. And you’ve got your filter coffee in hand. So yeah, I know that you’ve got some energy go. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, and also the business that you work for?

Chatur Grandhi
Sure. Good morning. How are you doing today?

Pooja Kumar
Well, thank you. That’s an

Chatur Grandhi
awesome, thank you so much for this opportunity and platform to share a little about myself and what I do today. So yeah, I’ve been in Kuala Lumpur for about five years now. And prior to this, I was in China for a brief period and India was where I’d started off my career and spent most of my time and Biltmore so my experiences professional experiences. Today, like you rightly mentioned, I lead the inside sales for Asia Pacific at the IWC international workplace group. We are the largest shared office service provider, you may know it as Flexi officers, you may know it as co working spaces. So it’s all synonymous. So we are located in 3300 locations and growing, we are spread over 120 countries, 300 cities or more. And that number is constantly growing. And it didn’t stop us even during the pandemic, at the height of the pandemic last year. So yeah, so that’s a little about what what I do and where I am.

Pooja Kumar
Well, and in fact, the pandemic so the last 18 months must have been massive growth for you. As as businesses are often taking, you know, taking a bit of a relooking their their work strategy, and whether or not people should be working from home or Flexi offices, you finding a bit of a change in trend over the last 18 months.

Chatur Grandhi
Very true. So what we are seeing is a tremendous appetite for Flexi office, or what we also call us workplace as a service. So it’s down to be exactly, yeah, so it’s down to a consumption model. The traditional long term office leases are not going to be around for long, that’s our view. And what we are seeing and I believe will only accelerate in months and years to come is switch away from a traditional office switch away from a head office concept switch away from a hub, a centralized a single centralized location where everybody congregates in a way to work, meet, collaborate and operate. So that’s going to go away and companies across the world small, medium, large of every kind, have obviously operated this way for the last 1518 months. Some even before that, and have come to realize that there is definitely no impact, no negative impact to efficiencies productivities of team members who operate in a remote or work from home, work style. So with that confidence, we truly believe and we’re seeing the tailwinds already in support of what we do. demand has grown through the roof. interest and inquiries are going through the roof. We’re seeing a lot of adoption. Towards this model. Call it a hub and spoke model call it Flexi working call it work a hybrid work style work from home certain days of the week. work from office certain days a week. Right.

Pooja Kumar
So do workplaces a service, actually all of that, that you said, Really encompassed in workplace as a service? That’s an amazing model.

Unknown Speaker
Exactly.

Pooja Kumar
Great branding.

Chatur Grandhi
Exactly. I’m think about it right? The world is switching away from a capex heavy to OPEX model. And this exactly fits that scheme of things.

Pooja Kumar
Yeah. Exactly. Actually, you’re absolutely on point. And it sorry, you’re on point. Clearly you’re on point. But but exactly my thinking as well, people are moving from a capex to OPEX model and what you said about productivity, I was just reading this week and article about the fact that productivity is actually increased. By I can’t remember the percentage that quoted but X percent, you know, whatever that was, but a pretty impressive percent in in the last 18 months, and, and that’s really, I think, especially in places that are metropolitan cities, like Bangalore, like Kuala Lumpur, where people are sitting in traffic for an hour, hour and a half, trying to get to work. They’re seeing that, well, that’s a lot more people a lot more productive, because you’ve, you’ve missed out on that, that travel time. But also people are a little bit more engaged and really wanting to be able to accelerate their own performance, and their own growth. So I think you’re absolutely spot on and what you said, people are moving to this, this in terms of what they see in terms of the increase in productivity, as well as the need to, yeah, the need to free up some topics,

Chatur Grandhi
to to to, if I may add a couple of other benefits, like you also pointed out, you’re giving additional time back to your teams and employees, the time in commuters saved. So that goes back either to productive efficiencies for work, or even just taking care of personal business family, extra time for health hobbies.

Pooja Kumar
So that’s activity resolutely.

Chatur Grandhi
Absolutely, absolutely. Exactly. And that’s giving employees a lot more satisfaction, personal professional, and work life balance was talked about. But this is definitely upping the fact that the by a few. And the fact that it’s a little more environmentally conscious, with lesser commutes fewer hours in traffic. So look at it as your little bit of saving the planet.

Pooja Kumar
Exactly. But then all that said, right, I haven’t been able to get into the office for 18 months, and I’m missing the human contact. So the the, the real estate as a service or office space as a service would be really cool. If we had that, that concept so that I could go and meet smaller teams of people and we could collaborate because because the face to face collaboration just can’t be replaced in many ways. And so that’s a it’s a great model. And great time to be talking to you. I expect your business is seeing hyper growth at the moment, which, which is probably why you’re expanding offices all around the world, like like you are

Chatur Grandhi
very true, very true. Nothing seems to us to slowed the interest in the customers and we’re just listening into them and aligning with what their needs are.

Pooja Kumar
Yeah. So tell each other you you’ve recently moved into this space a couple of years ago, is that correct? And that

Unknown Speaker
a little over a year ago.

Pooja Kumar
Okay. And before that, I know you’re from the technology industry. So So is that it tell tell us a little bit about your time in the technology industry.

Chatur Grandhi
Close to 1718 years. My career was at Dell early days. Then I moved to IBM and more recently hp. Before I wg spent a lot of time in inside sales and marketing shots and learning and development as well, Adele. So yeah. While technology seems to be the flavor of my career, in a way, one of my early jobs, in fact was in the real estate space itself. I was a financial analyst for American real estate mortgage company. Yeah, so in a way it’s come full circle now, not something that I had initially intended. But it’s good to be back in the space and seeing and learning Come on. justly and continuously every day. Having said that, the motivations for me to move into a different industry away from Tech was all about the transferable skills that I had accumulated over time, whether it was hardcore technical skills around sales and marketing itself, but also around softer skills, talking about people management, leadership, ability to strategize and execute. So those are some of the things that I’m able to bring it all together after doing bits and pieces across different companies in different roles and across

Pooja Kumar
the world as well. Right, I remember you’re setting up the hub in Beijing. And I know that you’ve worked in HP and a hub model over here as well, in a shared services kind of environment. So that’s, that’s pretty cool. You’re right. transferable skills are important. Sorry, did you want to say something?

Unknown Speaker
Absolutely.

Pooja Kumar
Okay, I’m just curious. So moving from technology to now, Flexi offers solutions? Do you see a difference in what makes a good salesperson? And is there a difference in sales in a salesperson in the technology industry? And the needs and the the core? I guess the core strengths that they require to be a good salesperson, and in the in the industry are working right now? What makes a great

Chatur Grandhi
question, great question. And having spent some time across markets, countries industries. For me, the key thing that I look for in a salesperson and doesn’t matter which country which industry, which, which vertical, it comes down to how motivated is individual, how willing to learn is an individual, how adaptable as a person. And I say these and I look for these qualities for a few reasons. Sales is all about being positive, being in the game being up in about any given time, right? minute, you’re out of bed in the morning, you got to be raring to go speak to the first customer or meet the first customer. Doesn’t matter how the previous day week month went, you got to be 100%, you cannot let your emotions of how the previous day week month turned out in front of the customer. Right? You got to give the respect treat the customer, exactly the same enthusiasm, energy and positivity as you’re done on your best days on your first day at work. On your first day of a new business here, it doesn’t matter. So the enthusiasm levels have to be top notch. And from a point of adaptability, there’s always going to be good days and bad days, great when you have more good days and bad days. But what do you do when you don’t have those good days, or fewer of those good days around you. So you still got to be quick on your feet, understand the challenges, understand the root cause what’s happening, why you not having a good day, and how quickly you can turn things around. seek help from peers, from other mentors that you may have in the company in the business or even outside, depending on what kind of

Pooja Kumar
challenge so much self awareness. Right? So exactly, you need exactly that you’ve got got a challenge so that you can go and seek that help.

Chatur Grandhi
Exactly. And that’s the beauty about sales for me. Sales is everywhere, very number driven. So on a given day, you know, where you stand with your goals. Right, your efficiencies, your productivity, your overall performance. Right? And more importantly, how far are you from hitting your paycheck? So that’s the beauty of sales. So you know, at any point in time, and you can quickly make those switches that you need at the right time. Yeah.

Pooja Kumar
You know, I was I, my my boss, my leader, the VP of the company that I’m working with at the moment, just this week, she said we weren’t we were orienting some new hires in and we had her talking and one of the things that she meant she said that one of the things she said really stuck in my head. And I think it encompasses what you’re saying at the moment. She said sales is about relentless optimism. It’s about being relentlessly optimistic and presenting your best at every single time. But you’re right, you know, how can you be your best all the time. It’s everyone has a good day or bad day but until you have the awareness of what’s going on, and the fact that you might need to pivot you know, if you’re having a bad day, something needs to change because you can take that to your customer, your client. And that self awareness is really important in that as well. Cool. Thank you for that. So what so thank you for for telling us what you think is a good salesperson and I completely concur. I guess my next question is, you’ve said a few few hubs up and in, in your current role, what have been some of your as the sales leader for an Asia Pacific hub? For inside sales? What What do you have some key challenges that you’re willing to share with us?

Chatur Grandhi
So, over the time that I’ve worked in different hubs, many hubs across countries and industries and companies. So some of the challenges that I have found is finding skill sets, finding sales folks are actually even marketing folks. Having very customer centric mindset, thinking of it from the customer’s perspective and shoes. So I say it’s a challenge, but not a blocker in many ways. Because this is something that one gets to learn and appreciate and cultivate over time. Right? So So it’s about finding the right talent, finding the right team could be could be early career hire could be a senior, experienced professional. So that’s something that I found with respect to the profile. And again, it’s back to the motivation, the attitude of the person, as long as a person is willing to learn is trainable. As I say, it’s something that can be worked on and and people are willing to learn and make those pivots. So

Pooja Kumar
yeah, absolutely. And that piece around customer centricity, you’re so so right. It’s really, it’s not a challenge as such, because everyone knows that one needs to come from a customer’s point of view. But it is something that one needs to keep reminding salespeople, you know it like you said, it’s not about your paycheck as it is. It’s much more about what what sort of problems you’re solving for the customer. And I think this is a, I think it’s a global problem for salespeople around the world, where we just I think they just need a reminder, they need that person on there. They’re conscious. As a customer centricity. What does the customer want? How can I be of service to this customer a bit better, but it is cultivating that culture of customer centricity.

Unknown Speaker
True.

Pooja Kumar
And so you know, what, the reason I wanted you to talk come and talk to us is, is I’m curious if there is a case for enablement, in your current sales team success? Are you enabling your sales teams? And is there you know, how important is that?

Chatur Grandhi
Oh, absolutely. So enablement for me is a journey. It’s never, you’re never at a destination when it comes to enablement. And when I look at enablement, I see a couple of elements to enablement. One is, right at the start, when somebody joins an organization, how do you get them set up on the platform for them to start operating and driving on their own? And you’ll hear me draw the analogy with driving and automobiles. Also, if not anything else, you’ll know a little about me and my passion for love and love and driving. So So yeah, so it’s about being able to bring them out on the open road, right? But that alone is not enough, right? You need anybody I needed when I started off in my career, even now, my times need help. On the way once you start off the journey, to be able to accelerate at the right times, to be able to take the right turns to be able to ride, take the right stops, you need pitstops at times, right. So all of that you got to account for and that’s possible through intervention, we call it coaching call on the job feedback. Absolutely. That’s something that is very critical. And that’s how you keep employees motivated. That’s how you keep them on the ball. That’s how you keep them aligned with what you’re trying to try and trying to drive as an organization. So for me, it’s not a this or that it’s both together. And yes. While you’re talking while you’re while we do enablement and coaching on the go, they may be times for a little break from work so that you have more focus more formal classroom type training every so often so it’s not a one time event. Beginning only but Opus of time as well. So for me, both these elements are as important as each other. And that’s something I’m trying to drive and imbibe within what we do on a daily basis at the company.

Pooja Kumar
Right. chatter, you know, I love the open road analogy and the driving analogy, and I know that you like driving. So So I, I know this is close to your heart. Let me ask you a question. Is there a so many companies have a training department, which is integral, right, but the analogy that you just talked about, which was getting them out into the open road, showing them how to accelerate showing them where the pitstops are needed? Or how to take that pitstops? And when to take them? Is there a difference in your mind between the training and then the enablement piece? And what is it?

Chatur Grandhi
So the way I look at it is, I look at this as water in the house. Okay. So the training bit is more about, Hey, your destination is up ahead. This is what you’ve got to do. Right? This is your map, this is your direction, this is where you take your turns, etc. Right, right. For me, coaching is how do you do it? on the job, hands on working with a buddy working with a peer working with a sales coach, working with your manager in the organization, and learning on the job? How do you actually do it? learning on the job while making mistakes. And for me, as I say, you don’t learn if you don’t mistake, make mistakes. But it’s important to make a mistake that if you make a mistake, you make it only once you don’t make it again. That’s where the real learning comes. So it’s okay to make in a safe environment. Okay to make a mistake in a safe environment, but as long as you quickly learn and improve? Absolutely.

Pooja Kumar
Yeah. And I really do think that that is the that’s where sales coaching comes in? Do you see your sales managers doing a lot of coaching themselves? Or do you feel like there is need for additional help?

Unknown Speaker
So

Chatur Grandhi
organizations that I’ve worked for the managers, the sales managers have been driving a lot of their coaching efforts, right? That’s something that they have to be doing. It’s not a question of if it’s a question of how often for me. But it’s not just that one perspective, from a sales manager, who’s coaching the employee. My understanding is, it’s coaching a specialist role. Somebody who’s lived, walked in the shoes of the salesperson, and has done well is someone who would be well suited to do this effort of coaching his or her colleagues and peers on a day in day out basis. And that should be the one thing only the coach should be doing. And I say that simply because a sales manager has other elements that he’s got to juggle between. So he is, let’s be honest, diluting his time and effort in a way, right, while he will do he or she will do the coaching that’s needed. It may not be as much as what needs to be for the whole team. So that’s where the role of our specialist sales coach comes in.

Pooja Kumar
I yeah, and I agree. I mean, I, in my team, I’ve got a similar model, we’ve got our sales managers doing coaching. But because that gets, you know, you’ve got business reviews, and life happens, right? work happens, the amount of time spent in coaching, is possibly not as much as is needed. So we do have sales coaches in the organization. And what they do is they take that training and like you said, right there, they’re enabling the teams along their journey to be more successful, and they only focus as to enable these teams to be successful. So we do we have a mix of both as well. And I think that’s a good model to have. So good, thank you very much. And it’s really good to see a sales leader as passionate and thinking that and in the space of thinking that sales enablement, rather than just training as a really important part of the development of their organization and the performance of their organization. It’s not always chatard that I speak to sales leaders who feel that way. And I do think that it’s something that organizations are missing out on. They kind of rely on training, which is very important, but the implementation and the changing of behaviors happens through the enablement process. And, and, and that’s that I think that is as critical. So, thank you.

Chatur Grandhi
Absolutely.

Pooja Kumar
chatter, you know, we’ve got a few minutes left, four minutes left, and you’ve had an amazing career. I it’s a career to be jealous off. I’m certainly jealous of your career, and you’ve been amazing growth. What are you most proud of?

Chatur Grandhi
The learning that I’ve had along the, along these years with great organizations that I’ve had, I mentioned a few of them early on Dell. In it feel it was Dell, IBM and molissa Hp but I started off my career with PricewaterhouseCoopers. After having Yeah, after having done an MBA, so it’s taken a very different turn. So for me, the experiences and learning along the way is what has led up to this. And I’ve been open to trying stuff and I’ve made mistakes along the way. And I was lucky enough to course correct. without losing much time. So yeah, so never say no to a challenge. interesting opportunity. take it for what you know and explore. You never know where life takes you.

Pooja Kumar
That is good advice. Before the listeners of this, this live or the podcast when they listen to it. I love to ask my guests, what’s their favorite learning resources. And clearly you’re a learner. So I’m really keen to understand what yours.

Chatur Grandhi
So for me, I, other than work, so I spent time on LinkedIn learning, that’s number one for me. And so somebody I know from my alumni in Seattle has recently come up with a new platform. Emeritus, if I get it right, I’ll share that link on my LinkedIn profile. It’s a new platform. It’s very user friendly. consumable bytes of learning, reading podcasts from global business leaders. Very interesting. I know the similar platforms that are available, but I just liked the selection that they have. And that’s somebody I know from my alumni attends yet so I will preference personal preference.

Pooja Kumar
Okay, perfect. Hey, make sure you share that with me. And I’ll put a link to it when we post this on YouTube and on on LinkedIn and in the podcast, as well. So we’ll pop this up on our website. I’m really keen to explore that as well.

Chatur Grandhi
Absolutely.

Pooja Kumar
Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for coming on the podcast. We’re at 9am now and I’ve had a really interesting conversation with you. Thanks a lot for it. Where can people find you if they want to know a little bit more about you? Or maybe even get some advice and career moves? And? And perhaps even would you be open to mentor if your people are looking for career moves and industry moves?

Chatur Grandhi
Absolutely happy to do that. I was blessed to have mentors early in my life. And that I would like to give them credit to and that’s reason why I’m where I am in my life today. And I would be more than happy willing to help people out reachable on LinkedIn. Or if and if you’re in and around Kuala Lumpur. Nothing like a face to face catch up and another trusty old cup of coffee. Absolutely no problem.

Pooja Kumar
Excellent. Well, listen, thank you. I’ve honored to have spoken to you today. I really appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. And if you’re listening to this live or as a replay chatters will be linked into this series so you’ll if you want to contact him for any questions or even some mentoring, please feel free to do that. Thank each other for coming on and have an awesome day.

Chatur Grandhi
Thank you so much Pooja for having me. And it was good talking to you and look forward to reaching out to the audience.

Unknown Speaker
person. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker
Bye bye

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