In this article, Anoop George shares his journey of creating k4coach and how he helps clients with sales performance management solutions.
- Q: Can you introduce your service or the products that you’re going to be launching?
- Q: The user of the platform would be individuals, or will they be companies or corporates?
- Q: Where are you based right now?
- Q: What were your inspiration and key need that led you to create k4coach?
- Q: Who are the ideal customers who would benefit from this platform?
- Q: What benefits would companies have after signing up with you? What will be the before and after the experience?
- Q: What data or points does the system look at during diagnostics?
- Q: Does that mean that your system motive also provides the CMS, or does it connect with other CMS that your clients use?
- Q: Does the smaller or medium-sized businesses will get the benefits from the system even?
Q: Can you introduce your service or the products that you’re going to be launching?
I am a computer engineer by profession, but I have a background in sales and managing tech services companies, and I have been doing that for 25 years. With time, you’ve realized that you manage people and get them to do your targets, goals, and everything else.
But you realize that you know two people with the same skills perform very differently. Most of the interventions we do today to help people improve are focused on training, meaning you go, take this particular course, and get better at it.
It’s a one-size-fits-all approach for most people, but it intrigued me. What could be better than the sort of providing generic training!
Asking people to go online and do some courses. Is there a better way to understand what makes people tick? Why do they do what they do and then tailor what we provide to them in a way they can understand? We figured that eventually.
All of us behave in a certain way, which drives performance, so that was the genesis of how we help people become their best by making all of the insights and technology work for that individual.
So what we’ve essentially built is an individual sales performance platform that uses predictive behavior analytics. It looks at an individual, tries to understand their behavior, and then says this is what’s stopping you from becoming your best.
Here are three things you want to do, so that’s what we are trying to build. We’ve got our MVP out in the market. We’ve got about four customers who just started to try that out. We’ve had some really good results as part of that.
We’ve been in business for about 12 months, so we’re very early in our journey, but the results are promising. I said our second product version is out in December’s first week, and we are also revamping the website to make it a little more informative for people like yourselves and others when they’re coming in.
So, in a nutshell, we are looking at improving the performance of individual sales professionals using predictive behavior analytics. That’s really what we’re doing, and the whole idea is that most of our customers are CEOs, founders, or sales directors looking to see how I can get to the next level of growth.
How do I meet my targets if it’s a CEO or a sales professional? How do I get my team to meet their targets? So that’s the two broad things that we deal with.
One of our customers is a global services company. They’re about two and a half-billion dollars in revenue.
The president of that business had a simple problem: they wanted their sales guys to go out more, talk to more people, generate more leads, and hopefully, those leads would convert into deals at some stage.
The second goal the president wanted was to transform, and they call this thing a digital mindset. I’m sure you’ve heard this many times. You want people to think more collaboratively with their customers, create and co-create solutions, and all of that.
So basically, the leadership essentially wanted a certain strategy to be done, but it did not result in the team’s execution.
So the CEO wanted to know what was holding my team back? What could I do differently? It’s not about providing training on digital.
It’s not about providing training and selling; it’s really about understanding why it is that individuals are not able to push through. So our platform comes in.
We do a baseline diagnostic; we call it Kagami diagnostic. It’s a Japanese word (Kagami) that means mirror. It means looking at a mirror and seeing yourself as you are.
So the diagnostic essentially tells you at a team level what’s stopping you from performing.
What’s the personality of your overall team? What behaviors are more dominant? What behaviors are inhibiting you? and all of that. Once we get those findings, we will tell you here are a bunch of recommendations to address them.
So the CEO can narrowly focus on what are the biggest blockers and try to solve them with pointed recommendations. That’s what the diagnostic does.
The second part of the product, which is in research, is the coaching piece. So we couple the insights and whatever we do with diagnostics.
Say if Anoop George is shy to talk to cos, here is what you need to do for a loop. Miss hope could be having a different problem, a different challenge, or a different opportunity, but that is tailored.
So the coaching is again based on the platform, which uses nudges. So basically knows you well enough to know what meetings are coming up using your CRM and then tells you three things to do in preparation for that meeting from a behavioral perspective so that you can overcome any limitations you have. That’s the second part which is called Eugen coaching.
The third part is the sensei leader, who is the coach. It’s face-to-face, and it’s also machine-based. So those three things come together; the diagnostic, the coaching, and the coaches. They come together in a machine learning, AI sort of environment to get you just in time nudges.
The whole idea in the most performance today is post facto, meaning six months after you look back and say you could have done this. Reviews are always after the fact. We wanted to avoid it. What’s the point of telling you what could be better after six months? We want to be able to tell you before you make a mistake or before you do something.
You should do this, so that’s what the platform is all about. It’s both pre facto proactive on-demand meaningful insights for the individual, so that’s the platform. That’s sort of a broad description of the customer.
We are on our journey. It’s been bootstrapped initially through my funds. We’ve just completed one round of funding.
We’re hoping to start the next round of funding in Jan, and we are a team of three full-time employees and about five engineering teams that are outsourced to a company out of Brisbane. So that’s our team, and about eight of us are working on it.
Q: The user of the platform would be individuals, or will they be companies or corporates?
Mostly it’s an enterprise system, so it’s going to be companies at least, and the company buys it and then deploys it for their employees. But at some stage, we’ll be direct to the end-users.
For example, if you and I go up on LinkedIn and sign up through, maybe single sign-on and provide your data, but that’s in the plan. Right now, it’s the enterprise, CEO, and sales director as the buyer, and they’re looking to improve their overall team performance so they can meet their goals.
Q: Where are you based right now?
We are based in Sydney, Australia.
Q: What were your inspiration and key need that led you to create k4coach?
I have been working for 25 years in companies, and most of the time, I’ve been managing sales professionals and customers trying to meet a common goal, and I found that the divide between people who perform and the people who struggle to perform is only increasing with all the technology, all of the changes that are happening in the marketplace.
I found that training per se, which is one size fits all, one too many, was very ineffective. People come for training, they work out, and two days later, they forget what was taught to them.
The next sort of intervention to help people improve is managerial, so you expect the managers to sit with individuals and help them achieve their potential. But again, there is a gap there because managers are overworked. Some of them are not equipped. There are buyers, and there’s a whole bunch of other things that are again limited.
So all of this eventually came to my mind in the context of how do we help people become their best? How do we help people achieve their potential? And that was the genesis, and I was also a part of that profession.
I also sometimes needed help, and I also found that lacking. So that was the inspiration to build a platform to find a way that we could use technology to solve this problem for salespeople.
Q: Who are the ideal customers who would benefit from this platform?
An ideal customer is a CEO or the sales director of a technology firm, and those leaders are looking to improve performance. They are keen to find a way to enable performance by enabling their teams.
So we’re looking for people who fit that model. They are very keen, and they are very passionate about growth and performance. They believe that people are critical for that growth, and number three, they want to invest in helping their team get better equipped to improve performance.
I think if we meet these three, these are our best customers from our perspective and are ideal for our platform.
Q: What benefits would companies have after signing up with you? What will be the before and after the experience?
We can talk about one of our customers, which I think everybody and every leader will relate to in the context of growth and selling. But before I do that, I want to take a step back and talk about one concept which helps you understand how the before and after work.
For us, all of this is built on the simple context that individual behavior drives performance, and we’re using a neuroscience definition of behavior which means the behavior of people is a function of how you think, how you feel, and how you act. It is called emotion cognition and action.
So most performance today is about how you act. They look at what is visible and tell you whether you’re doing a good job or a bad job, but you and I both know some things happen in our minds before we do something.
So we may feel anxious, we may feel nervous, we may feel scared, or we may feel happy, which affects what we do and how we think about certain things based on our skills and training, also affect how we do.
So whenever we go into a customer, we usually deal with this where everybody is talking about what they can see about people, or they didn’t do this, or they didn’t talk to enough people, but they never asked why didn’t that person not meet enough people or why didn’t that person not meet. That’s where we come in.
So this particular customer that we’re talking about is a global tech company. They’ve got over 500 professionals across the globe. The CEO had two main goals. When they came to us, they wanted to increase the number of prospect meetings that their sales team had to approximately two per week.
They had about 20 salespeople in Australia, which meant that the CEO expected that there would be 40 meetings with prospects every week. They were currently at six, so there’s a huge gap between what is there and what they wanted.
The second goal that the CEO wanted was that they were transforming the business from a legacy tech company which is a requirement, meaning the customer tells you what he wants, and then you go and say this is what we can do.
From that, we co-create something with the customer. So more collaborative and more consultative type of selling than the traditional; here is the requirement to build it. So those are the two goals, and the CEO was sort of wondering how I help people make that next push.
So we went in, and we did all of the diagnostic steps ones. So we go in, we use our proprietary mechanism and platforms to look at this population of salespeople and then identify the behavioral things of what you think and what you feel facets of the persona.
Say, “Hey, Mr x is feeling anxious when they are meeting certain types of CEOs because they feel they don’t have the capability and the knowledge to talk to them,” and that is why they don’t want to make meetings.
That is something the CEO never thought of. The CEO thought that they didn’t do it because they didn’t have the right training and they were trying more and more training, but the training didn’t help because there was a level of fear that prevented them from going to do it. So no amount of money that was spent on training solved the problem.
That’s one way we identified. Then the coaching was to see how we break through the anxiety that Mr x has before meeting the CEO. There are a bunch of things that we do as part of the coaching, which is the second piece to break down that particular sales activity for that individual, and that’s how we move.
So where we started was, you know, six meetings per week. We got that up to about 14 weeks within ten weeks. Fourteen meetings within ten weeks are almost double in terms of improvement in terms of meetings.
Q: What data or points does the system look at during diagnostics?
We have a proprietary method that we use to break down individual performance, and it’s based on neuroscience. If you look at individuals, there are four things that individuals need to get performance, and if you look at athletes, you can see that they love what they’re doing. The four things from our perspective are
- Focus; How well does that individual know what they need to do
- Fun; How much fun do they have doing the job that they do
- Future; How well is the job that they’re doing today make sense for them in their future
- Foundation; How many and what kind of tools and processes does the company have to enable them to succeed.
We call it 4F. These 4f are the pillars for the performance of individuals. So when we do a diagnostic, we’re essentially looking to see how strong each of those enablers are for an individual and a team.
So we look at things in terms of strategy to execution; how closely they are aligned. We look at sales data from CRMs. We do a neuroscience-based personality assessment called big five, and we do something called “Ikigai,” which is a Japanese way of knowing what your true calling is.
So we bring all of that together using a platform, and we can approximate where that individual’s performance level is and what is required to move from point A to point B.
Q: Does that mean that your system motive also provides the CMS, or does it connect with other CMS that your clients use?
The intent is to integrate with CRMs that are available in the marketplace. So salesforce and Hubspot and all of that. Right now, because we’re early in this process, it’s still a manual process.
We ask the customer to provide the sales data, but it’s part of our roadmap, and it will get integrated with pretty much all of the most popular CRM systems in the tech space.
Q: Does the smaller or medium-sized businesses will get the benefits from the system even?
I think they would benefit, except the only caveat is if you are a team with one or two salespeople. Anyone of our customers in pre-series A, and I would say by the rule that anybody in pre-series A and above would benefit from us.
Because when you are just about to scale, you are also looking to establish sales capability, hire the right people, and make sure that they are performing well. So that’s probably the threshold when our systems begin to add value at a company level.