Internship is an important part of any professional course. Not only do you get used to corporate culture and its many nuances, but it also gives you an opportunity to apply your classroom sessions in real life. It is also a great way to learn new things. So the story is that I got my internship at a company called Tabtor. Now, Tabtor is in the education industry. The company has a personalized math tutorial program which can be availed over an iPad. Students solve worksheets by working out problems on the Tabtor Math app’s digital paper, which is then assessed by a remote tutor, who uses Point of Learning Analytics (POLA) to analyse the student’s standing in a particular topic and devices further lesson plans accordingly. No doubt the service is great and indeed very useful. However, as I learnt the hard way, the scepticism of Indian parents is really worth writing an article about.
So from what I have experienced, Indian parents can be classified into 5 different segments:
The eagles are parents with extremely hectic schedules. They have very little time for their children and are looking for ways to boost academics which would require as little involvement on their part as possible. As long as you have a product that keeps the child busy while providing value for the time spent, you will find that these parents are relatively easy to sell to. They don’t mind dishing out money, but they calculate expenses by the time they have to dedicate. So, the lesser the time consumed, the better it is. In this case both parents are decision makers. A nod from any one of them will mean a yes in most cases.
The lion couple usually consists of a stay-at-home mom and a work-till-late dad. In the lions’ case, though smaller decisions, like what will the child take to school for lunch are left to the mother, bigger decisions like which tutor the child should go to, need an approval from the father. The fathers usually turn out to be skeptics who live by certain principles and would not want to divert from them. When it comes to education, they usually have faith in more traditional methods. While dealing with lions, the child’s and mother’s opinions are next to worthless. If you fail to sway the father, you have failed. Period.
In the elephants family, the females, symbolically, wear the pants when it comes to their child’s education. The father abstains from these roles because he believes that mom knows best about such things. The mothers are assigned this important role because of their educational background or because of their professional life. Such mothers usually have a certain amount of teaching experience. Selling to elephants can be tricky because the mothers are very confident about what they know. Their decision making is clear cut and there’s no maybe in their dictionaries. Fail to impress her the first time, and you might as well throw all dreams of converting them out the window.
Dogs are a fairly common specimen among Indian families. The biggest decision pertaining to their child’s education that the dogs take is which school the child should go to. After this, no decision is taken without first running it by the child’s school teacher. Right from which books the child should read all the way to which tutor the child should go to, the teacher has a say in all decisions. For selling to such parents, it is important to have a network of school teachers who will talk in your favour. No matter how good your product or service really is, if the teacher doesn’t have your brand’s name on their lips, you wouldn’t even make it on to the parents’ consideration list.
Giraffes are very contented with the way things are going. They don’t want a change unless something drastic happens that compels them to change. Giraffes are not interested in what you have to offer right from the beginning. They might hear you out as a courtesy, but their mind is already made up. It’s not completely hopeless trying and converting them. If you can bring the urgency to change to their attention, they will consider the option you are offering. However, it takes an immense amount of skill, experience and natural flair to make their ears prick up.
In sales, you always say what your customer wants to hear. To figure out what Indian parents want, you first have to assign them a category. Some parents will want to see their children’s grades improve while others may want to hear all the benefits of your service; others may be more interested in the technical nuances of the product.
Having said that, what it means to any sales person is the fact that they have to be really familiar with each of these species. They will then be able to identify which category a particular lead belongs to and how to go about approaching them. You definitely can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Each pitch has to be tailor-made to suit the person you are pitching to and the category they come under.
Thus, selling to Indian parents can be tricky business. You learn a lot with experience, no doubt; however, a little fine-tuning couldn’t hurt.
Author: Arko Mukherjee