EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH
Co-founder & CEO
Customers/Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions are few ingredients nowadays to understand the developed companies’ success Mantra. VictoryTales is privileged to introduce Mr. Shankar Sahai Co-founder & CEO of InfoIvy who is a much sought-after speaker, coach, and mentor. His 15+ years of professional experience has ranged from working with early-stage startups to multi-national companies. He has helped many companies to develop and upskill their Customer Success Manager teams through his tailored programs
Shankar Sahai is fuelled by his passion for navigating the nuances of how different types of personalities impact our professional interactions and can make all the difference between failure and success. He considers himself a lifelong learner, eager to both build on his experience and stay in tune with the latest customer relationship management and customer success strategies. While his experience has spanned industries as diverse as Technology, Marketing, Healthcare, Retail, and Education he has always remained connected to his data roots. Shankar holds 2 patents in the field of communications and online commerce. He has co-founded two successful startups and is an active advisor to multiple young companies.
Shankar’s role as a thought leader and educator continues to shine through in his workshops, webinars, and popular blog. He believes mindfulness and empathy in the workplace are key to success, tenets he has tried to live by truthfully and consistently. Shankar is currently working as a consultant and is always interested in a new challenge. Reach out to [email protected] if you have a challenge, you need help with or just to connect. He loves hearing from people.
Know more About
INFOIVY is a professional institute that helps businesses to build a stronger Customer Success Management function. Whether you are just launching your Customer Success program or looking to optimize your KPIs, the professionals of Infoivy have been where you are at and can help you navigate and reach greater heights of success.
Building a high-impact, cost-efficient Customer Success program is a big challenge, let us put our hard-won expertise to work for you so that you can avoid making the mistakes that lead to lost revenue, failed upsells and an increase in churn. No matter where you are at in your journey, we can help with real-world use cases, workshops, and consulting.
Our exclusive interview with
Tell us a little about your organization and your organization’s journey so far;
About our organization, Infoivy was founded in the year 2019 with its mission to help companies provide best-in-class coaching and mentorship to their customer success organizations from new entrants to senior leadership. InfoIvy.com is now solely focused on working with corporates to impart a real-world edge to how they approach customer success. We believe we can make a significant difference and help companies to retain customers and grow to upsell revenue from their existing customer base.
The Covid pandemic hit us all just a few months after we launched. This forced us to put some of our plans on pause but now that conditions are returning to normal and we are pushing hard to recover the lost time. We see great things in store for us in the coming months and years.
Tell us a little bit about yourself (background) and your journey as an entrepreneur, please;
I have worked in the technology and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry for some years and was fortunate enough to successfully co-found two startups - the first one provided solutions to the SMB market for instant messaging and VoIP over the internet, and the second one focussed on marketing data aggregation and analytics.
For some years I have run a very successful blog focussed on the application of big data and data science in the field of customer success and creating a better customer experience. This path led me naturally to consider the rapidly expanding field of customer success for my third startup - InfoIvy. I felt that I needed to contribute to the younger generation and offer coaching and mentorship services to the many newcomers that join the industry as customer success managers or relationship managers. As well as coach current CSMs and other customer success and support professionals to grow their careers into more of a leadership and management role.
Why did you choose entrepreneurship over a job?
Growing up in a middle-class family, becoming an entrepreneur was not something I thought about or even dreamt of. Yet, I guess I probably always had a desire to build something new in me. And with some encouragement from family and friends, I was able to channel that creativity into multiple new ventures. But do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having a corporate career. In fact, in many ways the experience learned during those years helps you become an entrepreneur.
What gets you out of bed in the morning i.e. what’s your source of motivation?
In short - my source of motivation is working with and learning about new people. I am fuelled by my passion for navigating the nuances of how different personality types impact our professional interactions and can make all the difference between failure and success. This is seen often by the customer-facing teams. And very few know how to reach these nuances and more importantly how to react to them.
I consider myself a lifelong learner, eager to both build on my experience and stay in tune with the latest research on customer personas and profile creation along with customer relationship management and success strategies.
At InfoIvy, we want our customers to trust us to advise, coach, and educate their teams when they need to reduce churn, increase adoption and drive more renewals.
During this COVID-19 crisis, what are the measures you have undertaken to continue your business without disruption?
We have had to make a few changes to our initial business model but since much of it can be easily moved online, we did not have to face the brunt of the restrictions to travel and movement of personnel during the last 2 years or so.
What challenges/obstacles did you face in your journey so far?
The biggest challenge is the limitation of our imagination and biases. And this manifests itself in sometimes imaginary obstacles that seem very real. The continuous challenge is to keep aside your own preconceived notions and look at the things with a fresh set of eyes and let the world around you tell you what it needs. This might seem very philosophical but it's actually not. Since the world talks to you in a simple language. And it is the language of data. Data is the new oil or lithium - depending on who you talk to. But, if one can train oneself to look at the data objectively, rest falls in place.
What comes first for you - money or emotions?
For me passion always has to come first. Once you feel passionate about something you can start looking at numbers, business models, money, cash flow etc. Many times, it might turn out that the passion might only rise to the level of a hobby since it might not be possible to make money with it. Some tweaks or changes might be needed. But passion has to come first.
How do you handle the pressure and manage stress?
I have my family and friends to support me. So, if the stress gets to be too much, I just take a break from it - even if it is for an hour or so and talk and connect with my friends and family. But, since InfoIvy is my third startup, I feel I have a good handle on stress :)
What is one strategy that you believe has helped you grow as a person/ startup?
The strategy I believe has helped me grow as a person is that one should know his limitations, Know his strengths as well. Besides this do not chew more than you can handle. As long as you can keep your head above water, you can keep growing and continue in your lifelong learning journey.
In your opinion, what are the keys to success?
I believe that the following keys can work for anyone’s success. Since it worked for me and I believe it can work for you as well.
Build high self-esteem Believe in yourself, have confidence, like and feel good about yourself, and take pride in what you do. Most of the time the harder thing to do is the right thing to do. So, do not fall to the temptation of taking the easy way out or as they say - the path of least resistance.
Focus with a positive attitude. Always expect the best possible outcome for what you do. Your thoughts drive your actions. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions. And positive actions result in positive results.
Set powerful goals Give your brain a place to aim. Set goals so that you can reach them. When you do, reach a little higher. Do not let others dictate what you can and cannot do. Only you decide that. Having detractors is a good thing. They remind you of why you need to focus on your goals.
Persevere Never quit. Never give up. Keep going and keep trying. Based on various factors, adjust your speed accordingly but keep moving forward and sometimes that might be more like inching your way forward but that’s OK too.
Maintain a healthy mind, body, and spirit Take care of yourself through a healthy diet, exercise, and say no to drugs. Taking some time off is a good thing. Your mind or your body is not a machine. They both deserve to rest.
What advice would you give to someone starting as an aspiring entrepreneur?
Advice for young entrepreneurs is often so generic because everyone operates under different circumstances and in different markets. There is no universal recipe for success. But there are aspects of running a business that many young startup owners miss out on, or don’t pay enough attention to. Or hesitate to try in practice.
Know this, when you are starting as an entrepreneur, you will inevitably make mistakes. They will cost you lots of money and lose revenue and even deprive you of sleep. But do not stop learning from your mistakes. Making mistakes is a good thing. If you are not making any mistakes, it can only mean 2 things. 1) You are moving too slow, or 2) you are not taking enough risks. Both are more deadly to a young startup than the mistake itself.