Fifteen Women on Wings business partners participated in a highly energetic and interactive two-day Sales Summit on sales operations and social selling on August 18 and 19, 2023, in Gurgaon, moderated by two experts from the Netherlands. All business partners provide work to women in rural India and by increasing their sales, more jobs will be generated.
Realizing a proactive approach to sales operations
In this two-day Summit, Women on Wings’ volunteer experts Marja Versleijen and Steven Duinhouwer moderated interactive sessions on why a proactive approach to sales operations is important and they discussed new and creative ways to enable sales teams to sell more efficiently. They also provided the social enterprises with details and tips to improve their own LinkedIn profile with the aim to create a larger network, and they explored social selling as a tool for rapid improvement in sales capability.
Sales is fun!
Day one of the Summit focused entirely on sales operations. Expert Marja Versleijen shared her 30 years of experience in all key business processes and specifically in sales. Her current position is Director Mobility & New Energies at TotalEnergies in the Netherlands. Since August 2011 she’s shared her sales experience with Women on Wings’ business partners in India.
Says Marja: “We started by explaining the difference between sales and marketing. Quite often marketing is confused with sales, which really is a different domain. It was wonderful to have this conversation and get so many inputs from participants. They love sharing their experiences which led to many great discussions.”
Fifteen participants were taken on a sales journey which included theory and interactive sessions. For instance, they worked on the importance of a sales funnel and of analyzing sales data. Nilanjana Das, founder of Action Center for Transformation – Paper Wings: “I find it sometimes challenging to balance the social aspect and the entrepreneurial aspect. But I now totally understand the importance of analyzing data. Without analysis, you are just working without a plan. My new mantra is ‘analysis, analysis, analysis’.”
Marja also brought in some fun with an unexpected energizer after lunch: participants had to keep balloons up in the air without using their hands. Vineet Mani from Avani Earthcraft shared: “It was a power packed session that provided great insights about the significance of sales funnel, elements of sales strategy and data analysis. While we had so much fun amidst engaging and candid discussions and interactions, the assignments enabled us to work in groups and form synergies to come up with solutions that broadened the horizons substantially.”
Using LinkedIn to increase social selling
The second day highlighted how LinkedIn can support the business partners in their daily business and how they could use their professional social network in social selling. Steven Duinhouwer, who owns a recruitment agency in specifically sales positions, shared his over 30 years of experience in sales and acquisition. Since April 2022 Steven has been a volunteer expert at Women on Wings.
Says Steven: “The first assignment was to improve one’s own LinkedIn profile, extremely important for people working in sales. I used the case story of Kalapuri Crafts, a Women on Wings business partner that I worked with earlier this year. We improved the LinkedIn profiles of the directors. They have become frequent users and one uses LinkedIn to position himself as a thought leader. This has significantly contributed to their increased sales.”
The LinkedIn Sales Navigator features a powerful set of search capabilities, improved visibility into extended networks, and personalized algorithms to help one reach the right decision maker. Steven demonstrated the Sales Navigator, and participants witnessed how easy it is to not only find CEOs or purchase managers, but also to reach out to them.
Participants’ valuable feedback
Marja and Steven brought a lot of knowledge, experience, and energy. They both are passionate sales professionals who are eager to close a deal. They listened to all questions, adjusted the program where it seemed fit and used the time available as effectively as possible. The participants were very positive in their feedback. Like Ch. Akash Sharma, marketing director at Meira Foods: “Absolutely inspired by Steven and Marja’s session! Their ability to empower through actionable insight is truly remarkable. I walked away feeling not just motivated but equipped with practical steps to drive up our Sales. Grateful for the opportunity to learn from such exceptional leaders and thank you to Women on Wings for organizing this impactful summit.”
Geetha Vijayasarathi, business developer at Tisser Artisans Trust: “A truly amazing 2 days! Lots of learning, lots of fun and great interactions with leaders in social selling. Special thanks to Marja and Steven for reigniting our brain cells! Looking forward to many more such events.”
Summits and one-on-one consultancy with a social mission
Women on Wings also works with these business partners and their teams in one-on-one consultancy sessions to support the growth of their specific businesses. Says Supriya Kapoor, Director Social Enterprises at Women on Wings: “Next to our consultancy and mentoring services, we organize two or three CEO Summits per year on topics that are beneficial to our business partners. By bringing them together we also facilitate peer to peer learning. We strongly believe in and promote collaborating, and we have witnessed many such successful collaborations already. Like partners purchasing yarn or fabrics from another, or learning natural dying or new weaving techniques, or even sharing sales platforms.”
Women on Wings provides tailor made business consultancy and mentoring to Indian social enterprises – its business partners – to scale their business and thus co-create sustainable jobs for rural women. Next to working with social enterprises, it provides the same – but on a much larger scale – to state governments on developing their women entrepreneurship programs. To date, in a span of fifteen years, Women on Wings, in partnership with its business partners and the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society, has co-created 333,400 jobs for women in rural India.
Opportunities for other experts to volunteer
The Women on Wings community has a vibrant network of over fifty volunteer experts from the Netherlands, like Marja and Steven. Networking meetings in Austerlitz, the Netherlands, are regularly organized where experts share experiences and meet fellow experts. This also strengthens their network with people from the international business community.
Professionals from the Netherlands with at least 10 years of business experience are encouraged to apply if they would like the opportunity to support social enterprises scale to create job opportunities for women in rural India.