In our latest in the ‘Stories That Inspire’ series we have Arnab, CEO of GoldenLion. He shares his incredible journey which began with identifying the need for quality software for small and medium businesses. Scroll down ahead, as he talks about his team, building, industry specific solutions and a lot more!
Ani: Let’s start at the beginning, tell us a little about your background and how GoldenLion happened.
Arnab: I’m a business solution evangelist with about 18 years of experience across supply chain, sales, and marketing, and I’m proud to lead a vibrant team of 30 at GoldenLion.
I come from a middle-class family and as a kid I was neither the smartest student in the class nor the dumbest. However, since my early days I was always on the lookout to create a better life for myself, my family, and the people around me.
After working for Microsoft till 2010, I decided to pursue my own dream. Sanjukta, my life partner, and myself set up GoldenLion with a vision to help businesses all over the world get more traffic, leads, and conversions.
I’m so grateful that God has given me a beautiful family, awesome team members, and lovely partners like Zoho! ?
Ani: What prompted you to go into consulting and establish GoldenLion?
Arnab: It all began when I saw a gap in the market.
Small and mid-sized companies(also referred to as SMBs), both in India and abroad, were grossly under-served when it came to digital transformation. These companies couldn’t afford large vendors, and small vendors didn’t have enough expertise to provide quality consultation. So, to bridge this gap, we set up GoldenLion in 2010.
Ani: Wow! What was it like in 2010 and how did you go about building your company?
Arnab: We started as a sales consulting company back in 2010 and used to work with small and mid-sized companies to make their sales process more efficient and hone their consultative selling skills. As the business grew, quite a few of our existing customers wanted to put in place a sales tool, and that’s when we signed up with Zoho in 2011.
Between 2011 and 2015 we were mostly a Zoho shop, implementing the Zoho suite of apps for different customers, building industry specific solutions on Zoho, voraciously learning about various Zoho products, and earning testimonials. And then something interesting came up!
A lot of our customers wanted us to help them build their digital presence along with Zoho deployment. Hence, in 2016 we set up a digital transformation division. Looking back, this was one of the best decisions we made—because we could now offer a customer everything they needed, right from traffic to lead to conversion.
Long story short, we currently have a team of 30 serving over 400 customers across 30+ countries. We have some of the brightest minds in the industry, who are passionate about building awesome products and providing outstanding customer service.
Ani: You’ve got a diverse clientele base. Tell us a little about some of the different industries you’ve served?
Arnab: Since early days, we started building industry solutions. So a majority of our customers use these industry solutions that are built on Zoho. They’re travel agencies, real estate agencies and developers, training providers, entertainers, law firms, packers and movers, event marketers, Disney vacation planners, and migration agencies, just to name a few. We have customers from other industries as well, like manufacturing, professional services, trading, financial services, retail, and wellness.
Ani: Let’s jog your memory a bit. How did you get your first client?
Arnab: During my Microsoft days, a lot of my customers and partners became friends. Thanks to this relationship and the trust they had in me, I got my first consulting client the day after I left Microsoft. It was a year-long engagement where I was asked to mentor the sales and leadership team of a mid-sized company on how they could grow their revenue and retain existing customers.
During this time one of our other customers wanted to implement a sales pipeline management tool, and I was given the responsibility of choosing the right CRM system for them. I evaluated multiple CRM systems and fell in love with Zoho. In about 3 days, I read the help guide for Zoho CRM, cover to cover, and made my first Zoho CRM presentation to this customer. They loved it! I signed up as a Partner with Zoho, and the customer signed up with us as our first Zoho customer.
Ani: What are the challenges in speaking to customers about SaaS products in India?
Arnab: SaaS products literally transformed the way businesses manage and access their data. For a lot of businesses in India who implemented those large, monolithic ERP systems, SaaS was a relief! Though some percentage of business still have a reservation in paying a recurring fee, most businesses loved the idea of moving to the cloud. And the next decade, this market is only going to grow exponentially in India.
Ani: Based out of Kolkata, how is that you’ve grabbed the attention of customers in over 30 countries?
Arnab: There’s a saying: “If you call customers, you are a salesman. However, if customers call you, you are an expert.” Hence, from the very inception of GoldenLion we followed an inbound marketing strategy.This is how we went about it:
Once we roll out a solution successfully for a few customers in a given industry vertical, and we discover that the industry has its nomenclature and workflow, we decide to product-ize that industry solution.
We then build the solution on Zoho and create instructional materials that include datasheets on the industry solution and explainer videos.Once the initial set of marketing materials are built, we create a landing page for the industry solution and drive traffic via paid targeted advertisements. Besides the paid medium, we get references from our existing customers from that specific industry, as well.
However, if there’s only one lever that I need to mention that helped us immensely, it would be YouTube. We publish videos on a variety of topics at regular intervals. Since YouTube is the second-largest search engine today, it helped us gain visibility at a lower cost.
Ani: And we are sure that this approach has helped you grow immensely over the years and at the same time could you tell us how the past year has been?
Arnab: It’s been a fantastic year for us. In fact, over the last three years, our consulting revenue has been growing close to 100% YOY. The average deal size has doubled because most of the customers are now hiring us not only for implementation of the Zoho suite, but also for creating and enhancing their digital presence. This has been a win-win for both the customers and us. A customer now will have to deal with only one company when it comes to their digital transformation.
Ani: What was that one interesting problem that you helped your customer overcome?
Arnab: Most of the customers come to us for one of two reasons:
>They have an aspiration to grow and they need a partner who can complement their growth aspiration.
>They have a leakage in their process and they need a partner to fix it so that they are back on their growth path again!
Over the years we’ve received numerous testimonials from our customers on how they benefited from using our services. You can read them on our website.
I can cite one specific use case that I love: One of our travel agency customers had a tough time managing their different tour packages. They had to update the packages within CRM, then had to go to the website back-end to add the packages.
This was a massive duplication of work, so we built a connector between the CRM and website. They now can create or edit the package in just one place and it automatically gets replicated in another place. This saved close to 40 hours of work for them every month.
Ani: Having made your mark, could you tell us what your approach to consulting is?
Arnab: When we take up any consulting assignment, we focus on four things. How we can help our customers:
>Increase their deal size
>Reduce their sales cycle
>Improve their sales predictability
With the right blend of people, process, and technology, we take an organization from 1.0 to 2.0 in their digital transformation journey in a step-by-step manner. It’s an inclusive process where our team and the customer interact on a regular basis to craft the right solution that delivers the result fast.
Ani: When things don’t go according to plan, where do you get your strength from?
What’s your success mantra?
Arnab: Robert Schuller wrote the book Tough times never last, but tough people do! I faced many adversities in my life—been rejected so many times in so many ways. These experiences only helped me become an emotionally tougher emotionally.
My father had also been a role model to me. He completed his last novel at the age of 88, just one day before he passed away. If a man can read and write so voraciously for 12 hours a day, at the age of 88, why should I be down for silly reasons?
Ani: Anything that you’d like to tell Zoho?
Arnab: You’re an amazing company.
We look up to you and draw inspiration from how you continue to touch millions of users via your lovely applications on a daily basis and your relentless passion for innovation.
Ani: The three qualities essential to survive and grow in this business:
Arnab: Creativity, confidence, and sustained discipline!
Check out GoldenLion here
Know more about Partners @ Zoho here