Building a sales team for your startup

Building a Great Sales Team For Your Startup

You have just done the semi-fearful, semi-exciting work of admitting to yourself that you need a sales team.

As a CEO with little sales experience or a newly appointed sales manager of a startup, this can be a daunting task. How do you start the process? What do you look out for? How do you ensure that your team is the absolute best and pulls in stellar revenue with each deal?

The answers to all of these are below.

When to Start Hiring?

There is a certain specific time when you begin the process of building your sales team. And that is not when you are still on day 5 of your business.

You start hiring when you have more deals than you can handle:

This is a good place to be in except when it is not. You have interested prospects lined up but you do not have the time to convert them into customers. Your selling process is limited because of a lack of follow-up.

Who are you Hiring?

Before you start scheduling interviews, you must know the roles that you will be hiring for.

When it comes to building a sales team, you look for people to fit the role of either an SDR (Sales Development Rep) or AE (Account Executive).

What is the difference between the two?

An SDR’s job is to generate leads and set the stage for a sale to happen. The AE takes it from there and does the important task of closing these deals.

Every day, an SDR sits down and based on the ideal customer profile, generates leads at specific companies.

This can involve sending around 50-300 emails per day and calling about 50-100 people every day.

The success metric for an SDR is the number of scheduled appointments and qualified demos.

An AE, on the other hand, follows up on the interested leads generated by SDRs. More often than not, they meet the prospect in person, seek to understand their problem, and then give solutions in the form of their products.

The success metric for an AE is the number of closed deals.

SDRs pass on the baton to AEs so to speak.

Scaling Your Sales Team

You begin building your team by hiring 2 AEs.

This is because depending on the particular situation you are in you would already have a few leads that you need to follow-up on.

Before the SDRs come in to generate new leads, you need to ensure that your AEs can close the deals that you already have.

These early days AEs need to be highly passionate, hustling, and creative. This is because their responsibility is to market and sell a product that still has a limited audience. This will require them to think out-of-the-box and be persistent with their efforts.

Also, the AEs that you hire first will take on the role of an SDR too. But only initially. Once the AEs begin to pull in business and close deals, you can move on to hire SDRs. Growing your team at this point would look like going from 2 to 3 AEs and from 2 to 3 SDRs.

When it comes to hiring SDRs, you would be looking for a person who has great drive, is passionate about the domain your product belongs to, is curious with a thirst to learn and improve, and can be a great team player.

Once you have a team of 5-6 people in place, you look for a team leader. There are two ways to go about this- either hire someone from outside or promote one of the people in your in-house sales team.

Companies go for the first option when they are looking to bring the sales acumen of another company into their company. However, if you already have a growth model in place, you can go for promoting the most talented/ experienced AE as the leader.

Once your team is ready with a leader, hire slowly. With 3 AEs in the team, you don’t need to hire more until their schedules are overflowing. If their schedules aren’t full to the brim, the SDRs need to improve their lead generation game.

How to Hire

You now have an idea of what your hiring process will look like and how you will scale. But when you finally sit down to interview a candidate, how do you judge them?

The first step is to have a written plan for your sales team addressing key questions.

Do you need an inside sales or field sales team? What kind of business do you want to pull in? Was is your base target? How many experienced and amateur professionals do you need? If you want experienced professionals, what kind of experience and background will you be looking for? How much will you pay? Once the hiring is done, how will you support and train them?

Only after you have answered these questions sufficiently well, you should head to the interview room. Once there, keep the below pointers in mind:

Look for the right kind of sales talent

The right kind of sales talent cannot be pigeonholed or described completely in an ad on

You look for a person who is intelligent. Marks during the degree course are not indicators of intelligence. Evaluate the response of the person during the interview. If you are going to sell a technical product, you need a person who is well-versed in the technical language but can still describe the product in layman terms should the need arise.

Next, you look for enthusiasm. Synonyms for the same include passion, hunger, drive. Sales is hard. You are convincing people to give a piece of their time (and consequently money). You have to be persistent and not lose heart easily. Having the ability to approach the client and deal with them with same optimistic attitude as you did on the first day is crucial.

Speaking of persistence, you need someone who is patient. Someone who won’t give up before all the possible no’s have been said.

Also, look at the person’s aspirations. ‘Where do you see yourself 1 year/ 5 years/ 10 years from now?’ If they have an ambitious plan in place, you can bet that they’ll do all they can to hustle their way to the top.

Finally, look at how willing the person is to learn. At no point in any career can one say that there is nothing more to learn. For the 1-2 AEs that you hire in the beginning, this trait is all the more important. If you have little sales experience yourself and have no sales leader to lead them, they themselves will be responsible for their learning. They should have the drive to learn from their experiences and figure out what does and doesn’t work.

Aim for Diversity

Build a team that is diverse in terms of gender, culture, and experience.

First, a diverse team means a wide-ranging set of talents. Women bring their empathy, whereas men bring their tirelessness work ethic. This is not to say that men are not compassionate or that women can’t work hard. It just happens that there are some traits which are natural to a large percentage of a gender. The overall team that is created is more balanced.

A culturally diverse team means that you have different people you can go to when in need of different perspectives. Also, as your clientele expands, an SDR from Germany will be better able to tell the cultural and professional nuances of a German client to an English AE. Also, people are more easily able to trust people from the same racial/ ethnic/ cultural background. You can leverage this fact when trying to permeate new markets.

When you have a team where everyone has varying experiences and backgrounds, everyone is kept on their toes. The juniors are eager to learn from their seniors while the seniors are continuously challenged to retain their position by the very same juniors. This fuels drive which (hopefully) leads to more leads and conversions.

After Hiring

Have a learning process in place that readies your new employees to be successful in their roles. Set targets and deadlines and encourage them when they seem to falter. Remember, the team is as new for them as it is for you. Invest in tools, technologies, people, and workshops that improve their knowledge and help them to work efficiently. Use leaderboards and a point system to (positively) motivate them.

Set benchmarks of excellence and mediocrity. Those who keep up with the former, reward or promote. Those who aren’t able to move beyond the latter, fire away.

Summing up

Building a successful sales team is no easy task. There is a high chance that initially your newly-formed sales team doesn’t look like your dream team. Worry not. With time, patience, and all the other skills of a salesperson, you and your team will soon be on your way to creating more business than you can keep up with! Which is a very, very good thing.

How to Avoid Procrastination And Be Super Productive With The Pomodoro Technique

How to Avoid Procrastination And Be Super Productive With The Pomodoro Technique

The workplace is fueled by a constant need and desire to work more and to work better.

Employees and employers alike use a variety of time management tools and software to help them achieve desired results in the least amount of time.

And in this distraction-prone world, you need them, too. You probably do not need definite numbers and statistics to prove that this is the age of distraction. Look no further than yourself and your co-worker at the adjacent desk. There’s the distraction of your Instagram feed, a stock quote, the latest tweet by Elon Musk, and your own thoughts when you see any of the above. The world and your mind are set up to aid you in achieving less it seems. You end up feeling helpless, scattered, overwhelmed, and like you could be doing so much better.

There is a productivity technique for this distraction-prone culture- a very simple one- that will improve your efficiency manifold. It’s called the Pomodoro technique.

What It Means To Be Productive

While a straightforward definition would be ‘getting the most done in the least possible time’, there is another way to look at productivity.

You get the most done in the least possible time, in a manner that feels satisfying and maybe even a little bit (gasp!) fun.

If this hasn’t been your definition of productivity, the Pomodoro technique might make it so.

The Pomodoro technique

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and inspired by the tomato-shaped timer he used during his university days, the Pomodoro technique works by breaking down tasks into 25-minute chunks and separated by short breaks.

Each interval is called Pomodoro, which is Italian for tomato. Below are the 6 steps for trying this method yourself:

  • Select a task that you want to complete, big or small; monotonous or scary.
  • Set a timer (for 25 minutes traditionally).
  • Work on the task.
  • When the timer goes off, check off the completion of your 1st slot.
  • If you have less than 4 check marks, take a short break of 3-5 minutes. Then begin from step 2.
  • After 4 pomodoros, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. When you return to the task, start from step 1 again.

The Pomodoro i.e. the 25-minute time slot during which you are working is uninterruptible and indivisible. If an interruption arises, you either say yes to it and abandon the Pomodoro to begin again, or you say no to the interruption and attend to it later.

The first signs of positive effects will be visible in just 2-3 days. For a completely new relationship to your work and tasks, try the technique consistently for a month.

Why the Technique Works?

Supports flow and focus

Yes, in our stimulus-heavy culture, the focus isn’t a strong point for many. Even our brain isn’t used to the act of being 100% immersed in a task. But when you only have 25 minutes in which to focus, distractions melt away on their own. There is the promise of a break at the end of 25 minutes, and when you focus solely on the task at hand during those 25 minutes, you enter into a juicy state of focus and flow. Yes, you are sprinting.

Makes that one dreaded task doable

We all have that one dreaded task on our to-do lists which we can’t get around to finishing.

The Pomodoro technique helps us to overcome resistance and get the task done by breaking it into manageable, realistic, doable 25-minute chunks.

Before you know it, the monster is off your to-do list. Hurray!

Gets you sprinting

There is something about seeing a timer tick away that makes your fingers fly fast over a keyboard.

When you are in the flow and you know that after 25 minutes, you’ll have to take a break (please don’t break the rules), you’ll work much faster to make the most of those 25 minutes.

The result? You’ll finish 2-3 tasks in a day which would have taken you 2-3 days previously. Once you begin using the technique consistently, you’ll be able to see how long it actually takes you to complete tasks and craft your to-do list accordingly.

Gives regular doses of accomplishment

After every 25 minutes, you have a fair and clear idea of what you have accomplished in that chunk. If you completed a segment of your task, yay! You don’t need to wait 2 hours to give yourself a pat on the back. Each component of work completed in the span of 25 minutes is an accomplishment and gears you up for the next 25-minute round.

Gets you to the washroom

And gets you to drink water + pace around your office for a short walk. Most people are prone to working for 2-4 hour chunks with not even a single bathroom break or walk in between. Which, admittedly, isn’t that great for your health when repeated for more than half of your lifetime.

Because you know you have to be back at your desk within 3-5 minutes and you are in the flow of things, you’ll resist getting caught up on your screen. If you are susceptible, save those check-ins for the longer breaks and use the shorter ones to do some breathing exercises, stretch your legs a bit, or go to the loo. Anything that isn’t work-related.

Summing up

Productivity and efficient time-management do not have to be far-fetched dreams and traits that are reserved for your CEO, your manager, or the colleague who gets the Employee of the Month award. These qualities are possible for you, too. And with the Pomodoro technique, you can make that possibility a reality very quickly for the long-term. 

Drumroll, please. It’s time to welcome The Era of a More Efficient and Productive You.

Top Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

When Marketing Begins to go Wrong: Top Easy-to-make Mistakes that you Need to Avoid

Marketing is the lifeblood of any sustainable business

Companies know this and spend tonnes of time, energy, and money in employing different marketing strategies. However, these strategies don’t always bring in expected and profitable results in the form of more traffic, more customers, more money, and increased customer loyalty. For small businesses and startups, the problem is especially frustrating because they have a cap on the financial and human resources that they can use.

Companies know this and spend tonnes of time, energy, and money in employing different marketing strategies. However, these strategies don’t always bring in expected and profitable results in the form of more traffic, more customers, more money, and increased customer loyalty. For small businesses and startups, the problem is especially frustrating because they have a cap on the financial and human resources that they can use.

The missing key is being smart and strategic and implementing techniques thoughtfully by examining which ones will have the greatest ROI. Part of that smartness and strategicness is to be as knowledgeable about what not to do as it is to be about what to do.

Hence, it’s time now to fill those knowledge gaps, learn the most common marketing mistakes that you might be unknowingly making, and get on the path to rectifying them for a profitable and successful business.

The What-Not-To-Do-In-Marketing Guide

Not marketing yourself

This mistake sometimes arises out of fear, especially for people and businesses starting out. Putting yourself on the line, speaking about your product or service, making a case for yourself, are all nerve-wracking. Most business owners, hence, end up marketing very half-heartedly which is not going to be effective at all.

The other reason for making this mistake might be the assumption that ‘people will find my product.’

Truth is: people aren’t going to learn about what you offer unless you tell them. The brands and companies that everyone knows about, reached where they are due to an excellent quality product and dogges marketing efforts to tell the world about its excellence.

The market is already saturated with people from all over the world creating and selling all kinds of products and services that humankind would ever need. In such a scenario, if you don’t make it a point to stand up and tell the world about what you offer… you are actually stealing from the people who would benefit from your service.

This ties into the next mistake….

Not taking the time to know your ideal client

If you are talking to everyone in the market, you are talking to no one really.

This is akin to mistake #1 albeit in a different form. ‘Market and the right people will find you’. No, they won’t. Your modus operandi should be: ‘market to the right people and they might end up staying.’

And who are these right people? Someone who would derive great value from your product.

For this, you need to actually sit down and think hard. What kind of person would buy your product? What are their needs? How do they see the world? What do they spend their time doing?

These questions will help you to market to an actual human instead of in a void. Additionally, it will help you to craft authentic campaigns that make the customer feel as if you just stepped in their brain and then helped solve a problem. By the end of it, you would have won them over.

Not leveraging your USP

Once you know your ideal customer and have pulled them in, the plan of action is to offer them a solution in a way that no one has. This will originate from your unique strengths and capabilities a.k.a your USP.

Your USP is what sets you apart in the market. Because, as pointed above, there are already thousands of businesses operating in every imaginable domain. There is always someone with a better quality product, a cheaper price, a discount offer, and sometimes all three.

So you need to sit and think. What sets you apart in the market? What is your USP? What will help you to stand out from the crowd and get chosen?

Not focusing on retaining old traffic while bringing in new one

Some businesses make the mistake of trying to pull in new customers at the cost of cross-selling or up-selling to their previous group of customers.

Your existing customers already know your value, have a relationship with you, and are more likely to buy from you. The amount of energy that you have to invest in them is a lot less than what you have to invest in new ones.

According to Marketing Metrics, a customer who has previously made a purchase from you is 60% more likely to purchase from you again. In contrast, the chances of a first-time visitor to your website making the same purchase are only 20%.

So, as you seek to expand your market and your reach, don’t forget to walk your existing clientele with you. Keep in constant touch with them and communicate that you value their presence. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Not focusing on website because of social-media

With the popularity of social media, the rise of influencer marketing, and the fact that everyone, has an account on a social media channel, has encouraged most people to ditch their websites in favor of a social media account.

This is akin to building your business on rented land. You can’t help when the price of the land goes up.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn- none of them are owned by you. They are controlled by other folks who care about their business and not yours. So when the algorithm updates or policies are changed, you are always vulnerable to being negatively impacted.

Your organic reach might decrease, you might have to create ads with a set minimum budget that might be more than your budget, or video ads might be given more outright preference than display ads.

You cannot control any of these consequences. Social media is great for finding new customers and driving a few sales, but to rely on it entirely for running your business is foolhardy.

Your primary focus should be on your website only. Best to build your home on a piece of land that you bought where you get to make the rules.

Not including call to actions (CTAs)

At the end of the day, all your efforts are geared towards a particular action: getting the customer to buy from you, to book you, or to hire you. To simply include you as a value-providing part of their life.

A beautifully designed email about your latest course is of no use if, after reading it, the subscriber has no clear way to sign up for it. Hence, your every conversation with the customer should prompt them to take action and say ‘hell, yes!’ to you.

CTAs become even more crucial on your website. The customer needs to spend time with you so that they can go through your content, gauge if it is of value, and eventually, come to trust you.

How to get them to stay with you? By integrating CTAs on different pages. A synonym for it would be internal linking.

So, sprinkle these links and CTAs all over your website. At the end of the article, you could display the related posts. Or tell them to check out a course which further expands on the information provided. After they sign up for your email newsletter, you can direct them to your archives.

CTAs work well on other mediums, too. According to AdRoll, adding CTAs to your FB page increases click-through rates (CTRs) by 285%. When Brafton made changes for a client by adding CTA buttons to article templates, their revenue increased by 83% in one month.

Take action and include some calls to actions now!

The above are just a few of the mistakes and entrepreneurs and business owners make during their marketing efforts. The sooner they are rectified, the sooner revenue begins to flow in and customer loyalty begins to go up. Which business wouldn’t like more of these, right?

So, go into introspection mode as soon as possible, call a meeting with your team post that, and make plans to become the next marketing legend in business!

Looking in the Crystal Ball: Top 3 Marketing Trends for 2019

Looking in the Crystal Ball: Top 3 Marketing Trends for 2019

As each year goes by and technology evolves, consumer behavior does, too. And with a change in the preferences and behaviors of customers, a business must also change its modus operandi.

What worked for you as a company just 2 years back, won’t work now. Sure, there are some timeless principles, but the form in which they are applied and leveraged continues to evolve as new and more engaging ways of conveying information emerge. And if you don’t adapt, your customer acquisition and retention rates might nosedive to their death.

That being said, below are the top 3 marketing trends for 2019 that you must know if you want to be a hit with your audience this year and rack up those precious profitable numbers:

Content is still King

With an abundance of businesses on the internet, content is one of the things that will make you stand out from the crowd and allow audiences to connect to you.

Nike is a true King when it comes to content. Although it sells sportswear, Nike will never upload an advert with a picture of the latest athletic wear and its price. The power of its marketing lies in the visuals and sentences that talk of women breaking stereotypes, men triumphing in spite of disability, children growing up to become heroes.

In short- a plethora of empowering content that makes people want to buy Nike gear because they want to be that hero, that achiever, and the one who overcame the odds. Nike makes them believe through its content that if they #justdoit, they will be that person. Buying Nike shoes almost seems like a no-brainer then.

Another winner at content is TED.  5 million people have subscribed to watching these 18-minute videos. If you have ever surfed YouTube, you would have watched or been suggested to watch one of these, too.

Their secret? The fire-catching phrase ‘Ideas worth spreading’. The conferences they hold, the people they invite, the initiatives they launch (TEDx, TED Fellows) are all geared to ‘ideas worth spreading’. They simply want to make content that people love. Their audience feels it, loves it, and TED keeps rolling out more awesomeness.

And hence, content is not just blog posts. Looking to the example that TED sets, anything that your company rolls out on and off the Internet counts as content.

Your website copy? Content. Guest post on a high-traffic tech website? Content. BTS Instagram stories? Content. The videos of the conferences that you hold? It’s all content, and you simply cannot compromise on it.

Quality is of paramount importance and people can detect it quite easily. Audiences do not want to be directly sold to even if they know that’s exactly what’s happening. According to the Economist Group’s report ‘Missing The Mark’ 71% of buyers/ readers were turned off by content that seemed like a sales pitch.

Hence, when you are creating content, make sure to emphasize on quality. A repertoire of creative content that resonates with people will build a more loyal audience than any amount of paid ads will.

Data will not be for computer scientists alone

What gets measured, gets improved’ is not for self-improvement junkies only.

Tracking is an essential practice for all businesses, and when it comes to your marketing campaigns, it is absolutely essential that you measure how much you invest and the returns you reap on those investments. Else, you might end up making the same mistakes whether it is 2009 or 2019.

Hence, using data for increasingly personalized interaction and to provide top-notch customer care experiences is going to be a major marketing strategy in 2019.

Data is going to help you answer critical questions like: how is your product performing? How are customers engaging with it? What are they responding well to? What are they not responding to at all? Getting answers to these questions will help you direct your future marketing efforts.

And notwithstanding common security concerns, consumers are willing to share their personal data if it means a better customer experience is the end result of it.

Using data will also help you to segment your customers. Again, this will help you to make the right offers to them at the right time on the basis of profession, age, demographics, past purchasing history, and other insightful numbers.

Stacy Martinet, VP of marketing strategy and communication at Adobe, told “A data-driven approach to creativity helps marketers work more productively, create the right content faster, and deliver that content to the right customer, across the right channels, at the right time”.

No reason to not get involved in those numbers.

Videos on the rise

According to Animoto, videos are consumers no. 1 favorite type of branded content on social media. If you embed a video on your landing page, it can drive up conversions by 80% or more.

In a Q3 2018 Earning Calls, Mark Zuckerberg himself said that “Video is a critical part of the future, it’s what our community wants, and as long as we can make it social I think it will end up being a large part of our business as well.”

Numbers related to Facebook Stories and Facebook Watch, released by MarketingLand, reveal that 62% of people were more interested in a brand after watching a video about it whereas more than 50% of people said they make more online purchases as a result of Stories.

LinkedIn is also on the way to becoming a marketing hub, especially for B2B enterprises. According to official stats, video is shared 20x more than any other type of content on the LinkedIn feed.

On the other hand, if you are a B2C enterprise, Instagram stories might help you since 400 million people watch these Stories every day and 48% of consumers have made a purchasing decision after watching a brand’s video there.

And how can we forget YouTube? The video giant has over a billion users which are 1/3rd of the internet population. These people watch more than 500 million hours of video on YouTube.

The point that all these numbers are making? No matter which platform you use for sharing videos, rest assured that people are going to stop and watch it. But since it is also a form of content, you gotta remember- its quality is of paramount importance. Do not compromise on it, and you’ll have cracked a large part of the successful content marketing code.


These 3 trends are primarily geared towards 2 objectives: forming a relationship with the customer and becoming a brand that they want to associate themselves with. Though not always quantitative, the results of these 2 objectives will make you an ace player of the long-run.

What are you waiting for now? It’s time to call a meeting with your marketing team asap and discuss your strategy for 2019. The clock is ticking and your campaigns are waiting to be a success.

Succeed at Work with These 57 Rules of Business Etiquette

Succeed at Work with These 57 Rules of Business Etiquette

An oft-ignored area when it comes to career success is the area of business etiquettes and manners. Everyone takes the time to up their resume, increase the size of his or her skill set, or spread out their network as far as possible. Few professionals, however, focus on learning about the behaviors and mannerisms that mold one into a civil and dignified personality, capable of inspiring everyone’s respect and (easily) climbing up the success ladder.

If you have made the same mistake at some point, take heart for all is not lost. Implementing a few new behaviors and principles will work wonders at your workplace. Then you will stand out, yes, but for the right reasons and as someone who is ‘most likely to succeed’.

The Essential Etiquette Guide

The guide has been broken down into three sections.

The first deals with communication-related etiquettes that you need to be aware of whether you are talking to someone in person, over the phone, or over email. Your word is your identity. This also includes non-verbal communication like body language and the way you dress. When trying to make first impressions, they become all the more important.

The second deals with etiquettes at the office. Your behavior is a huge determiner of how your co-workers respond to you and see you. How courteous are you with them? How open and approachable are you? Can you listen well?

Finally, we move on to etiquettes while eating. Whether the occasion is entirely professional, semi-professional, or not at all professional, how you eat and behave with your co-workers at the table does matter and either adds to or subtracts from your image in the long-term.

Communication etiquettes

The basic principle to consider here is: which is the best way to communicate for the message I want to convey? Figure out the nature of your message and then choose the appropriate medium.

For messages where you would want a written record and the thoughtful use of words, email would be more appropriate.

For a quick check-in, a text message or even a phone call would be good.

For something extremely urgent, you pick up the phone and make a call again.

Over the phone

  1. When the phone rings, pick it up on the second or third ring. Greet the person at the other end with a ‘hello’ or a good morning/ afternoon/ evening as is appropriate for that time of the day.
  2. Put in a little smile on your face so that it reflects in your voice and gives off a welcoming and warm vibe.
  3. After the greeting, say your name followed by the organization’s name.
  4. Throughout the conversation, maintain a pleasant tone of voice, giving the caller ample time to say what they want without any interruptions.
  5. Your voice should be neither loud nor low. The words are spoken clearly in a calm, unhurried tone so that the caller doesn’t miss out on crucial information.
  6. If a return call has been promised, make it a point to keep the promise and return the call in said amount of amount.
  7. In case of transferring a call, first, inform the caller that you are going to check whether the required person is available for a call or not. If he/ she is, inform them about the caller who wishes to speak to them and for what purpose. As quick as possible, get back to the caller with an answer.
  8. If you are the caller who has called to speak with a specific someone, introduce yourself before asking for that person.
  9. If you are calling about a technical or operative glitch in the product or service of the company, maintain a courteous tone. It can be hard to keep the frustration out of your voice when no matter what you have done, the washing machine won’t spin properly, but be patient and realize you are speaking to a human at the other end of the line.

In person

  1. Use your full name when introducing yourself. You never know when they might want to look you up on LinkedIn or track you down later for collaboration. If you have a common name, using your full name becomes even more important.
  2. Alternately, when meeting someone, pay attention to their names. If you didn’t catch it in the first go or have trouble pronouncing it, ask them; they won’t mind. This would be a lot better than calling them by some name which isn’t theirs.
  3. Then use their name at appropriate places in a conversation. This will help you to remember the name and also warm the other person to you.
  4. Greet, make conversation, and be pleasant. The simple looking man could be the CEO of a major finance corporation. When you greet someone and endeavor to talk to them, it makes you appear pleasant and approachable in the eyes of others.
  5. However, be attuned to your surroundings and the person at all times. If someone seems to be in a rush, don’t hold them up to talk about how great the party is. Be present and gauge whether the opportunity to converse is ripe or not.
  6. Don’t interrupt. Do not become the person who cannot listen to others because you always want to put forward your opinion or tell your story. Be respectful and listen when the other person is speaking. Nod, smile, and put your phone away to denote that you are present with the other person.
  7. If you have a friend or colleague with you whom the other person doesn’t know, then introduce your friend/ colleague to them. Tell them what role they play at your company and how they are related to you. This will put the entire group at ease.

Body language

  1. Smile. A smile can immediately lighten up your mood as well as those of others. It makes you appear friendly, attractive, trustworthy and puts the other person at ease. Prefer a smiling face over a straight one when meeting colleagues and professionals. Don’t overdo it, though, as very happy individuals are often considered to be more naive than moderately happy ones. (Doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. Just keep the expression of it to generous levels).
  2. Sit up straight. This one has a profound effect on your mood, your confidence, and the aura you give off. To use a single word: it’s all positive. Keep your feet flat on the floor when you sit and ground through your heels when you stand. You’ll experience a sense of subtle power whether you sit or stand.
  3. Handshakes are in the business world what a ‘namaste’ is in households- a tradition. As you introduce yourself, shake hands and look the person in the eye. This counts for a confident handshake which sends a positive message about you. No bone-crushers or dead-handshakes, please.
  4. Use consistent eye contact for an engaging conversation. This denotes that you are paying attention to the person and makes them feel more connected with you. However, do not overdo it (a.k.a staring) otherwise you might come off as creepy or a weirdo. Use more eye contact when you are listening than when you are talking.
  5. Be mindful of the volume of your voice. Make sure you aren’t too loud or too low. Both can be inconvenient when sharing space with others.
  6. Don’t stand too close. Respect people’s personal space and keep a respectful distance.

Over email

  1. Be extra careful when writing emails and avoid humor (can be mistaken for acidic sarcasm). Also, never send an email when you are angry or pissed off.
  2. Use a professional email id. ‘’ is not acceptable. Preferably, use the company domain name for sending emails as it adds tonnes of credibility.
  3. Write the most direct subject line ever. Time is precious in the business world. Your manager or colleague shouldn’t have to scroll to the end of the email to know what you are emailing about. ‘Urgent meeting at 3 pm’ is totally welcome.
  4. Use professional greetings even if the relationship is friendly. ‘Hello’ is neutral and works equally well for everyone.
  5. Proofread all emails always. Typos are common and you accidentally don’t want to write ‘sued’ instead of ‘used’ or ‘tot he’ instead of ‘to the’ because of your fast typing speed.
  6. NO CAPS. (Yes, this rule is so important that it had to be put it in caps itself). It’s akin to shouting and is considered rude in business settings.
  7. Double check the email address. Even a small mistake can send your email off to an account that exists but isn’t used and delay the closing of a deal.
  8. Acknowledge emails in a timely fashion. This is one of the most effective ways to appear professional.
  9. Know when to use emails. For topics that require a lengthy discussion or have too many nitty-gritty details, avoid emails and make a phone call. Emails should only be used for clarifications, cancellations, informing a large group etc.

In case of disagreement

  1. Choose the right place and time. Starting a fight with a colleague over something he/ she did at an office party is not the way to do it. Address the issue during after-office hours or bring in your manager for a peaceful resolution.
  2. Modulate your voice. It is easy to scale up to a high tone when you feel you have been wronged in some way. Do your best to use a calm and rational voice to avoid premature or unnecessary hostility.
  3. Agree to disagree. No two persons can agree on everything under the sun. accept this fact and move on.
  4. Empathize. When someone- a disappointed manager, an ignored coworker, a snubbed junior- is telling you how they feel, listen to them and try to see the situation from their POV. Say you are sorry for the way they feel and endeavor to make amends wherever possible.
  5. As much as possible, steer clear of volatile situations. Pick your battles wisely and know when to speak and when not to.

When dealing with those from a different culture

Take some time to learn what people consider disrespectful or disrespectful in other cultures.

For example, in China, you shake hands as a common form of greeting but you start with the oldest or most senior person first.

Likewise in Japan, senior people tend to lead the conversations and you sit across from those who have the same experience level as yours.

In Italy, everyone shakes hands but kissing on the cheek by simply pressing the cheeks against each other is also acceptable once a relationship has formed.

Germans have a direct communication style which might be mistaken for rudeness but isn’t.

Small talk seldom happens and when it does, it is still impersonal and focuses on topics like sports.

Office etiquettes

  1. Be punctual. Tardiness is seldom tolerated d at the workplace and casts a negative light on your professionalism. If you are going to be late, inform as soon as you can. Still, always set out early taking into account traffic and other unforeseeable factors. Arriving 5 to 10 minutes early is acceptable.
  2. Dress appropriately. Putting in the effort to appear smart and professional, will speak volumes about your attitude towards your job. Even if it is acceptable to work in your flip-flops, avoid wearing them. When you dress professionally, the same comes out in the way you talk and behave, too.
  3. Keep your workspace tidy. If you are a manager or a team leader, not keeping a tidy space around you will definitely raise eyebrows and annoy a few people. If you can’t keep your workspace clean and manage the post-it notes, notepads, and pens in 3 different colors, how will you manage a team? Make sure that this question never crosses the minds of people by tidying up your workspace on the regular- perhaps every Friday evening before the weekend.
  4. Practice good hygiene at your workplace. No matter how much a person claims to be a slacker when it comes to cleanliness, secretly, everyone is turned off by it. This is even more so at the workplace. You sure don’t want to be known as ‘David with the Dirty Fingernails’ or ‘Sophia with the Smelly Socks’ whom people would rather not sit with. There are much better things to be known by. Make sure they are your good hygienic habits.
  5. Be extra careful when using shared space or items. If there are utensils that are used for making tea for everyone, make sure to clean them after using them. If there is a shared printer, make sure to restock the A4 sheets for the next person. If everyone sits at one table for lunch, clean up your area of the table before leaving. This shows that you are a responsible individual who can be trusted.
  6. Know how much to share. Your wild weekend getaways where you and all of your friends crashed a wedding and then came back to your house to drink and smoke would be great for retellings among friends but not at the workplace. Even if you are comfortable relating to all of your adventurous exploits, everyone might not be comfortable listening to them. Gauge which topics are appropriate and to what extent and follow along.
  7. Do not keep to yourself only. Offices are great places for working towards achieving something and being in the presence of varied individuals. Interact as much as possible, but keep in mind whom you are talking to. That colleague who bad-mouths everyone to the boss is not the ideal partner for sharing how you are struggling with a particular project. Know what to say and to whom.
  8. Keep phone usage to a minimum. You are the office to work so don’t slack off by scrolling through Instagram. It conveys to your co-workers and especially to your boss, that you aren’t particularly serious. Use it for a while during lunch breaks or when you get up to stretch your legs in-between tasks.
  9. Be considerate of how others work. Some like to work while listening to music. Others like to work retreat style, all by themselves, for a solid hour or two. Yet others prefer to work in blocks and then chat with their neighbors. No matter the working style, be sure to be mindful of how everyone works. Use earphones, only put on music on speakers when everyone has agreed to it, and do not interrupt someone when they are sitting in the corner on a bean bag and typing away furiously.

Table etiquettes

  1. Put away your phone. When you know you are out with colleagues (or even your friends and family), keep the phone off the table unless it is a very urgent call that you need to take. This sets the scene for everyone to engage with each other completely and enjoy the meal. A no-phone meal always has a way of turning memorable.
  2. If you invited people, you pay. No questions about this. If you invited others to go for coffee with you, you pay the bill. Do not even look at the other person to see whether they are thinking about paying or not.
  3. Wash your hands before you start to eat. If you do not, people take notice and wonder about your hygiene.
  4. No shouting at the waiter. Make eye contact and use silent, respectful hand gestures or nods.
  5. Do not start until everyone is seated and served. If you have been invited, do not begin until the host has begun.
  6. Avoid placing elbows on the table while eating. It’s alright to bring them up when you are talking, though.
  7. Converse. Do not simply sit and be the grumpy, silent eater.
  8. Pass salt shakers and the likes. Do not get up and stretch to take them yourselves.
  9. Fork in left, knife in right. The handles are in the palm of your hand, forefinger on top, and thumb underneath.
  10. Don’t talk or laugh with your mouth open or full of food. Wait till you have swallowed it entirely and then speak. No one likes to see spit or food particles flying out of anyone’s mouth.
  11. No licking absolutely. Either the plate or your fingers. No picking your teeth either.
  12. After you are done, place the spoon, knife, and fork on the plate.
  13. Thank the host before you leave.

Summing up …

The above pointers are seemingly simple and intuitive, but it is surprising how many people fail to put them into practice. If you have the ambition and laser sharp skills, don’t let an ignorance of business etiquettes stand in the way of your professional success. Turbocharge your way to the top. You got this now!

12 Rights You Didn’t Know You Had as a Private Employee in India

12 Rights You Didn’t Know You Had as a Private Employee in India

An employee should be aware that he/ she is legally and constitutionally safeguarded against certain things and that a healthy work environment is a right of theirs.

An employer should be aware that he/ she is legally and constitutionally bound to take care of these things when hiring people.

Below is a comprehensive list of all the facets of private employment that are covered by the law.

Employment Agreement

Every employee is entitled to receive an employment agreement when they join a company.

This document clearly states the designation, working hours, expectations that the employer has of the employee, what qualifies for a dispute or conflict, what might happen should a dispute arise, and the various leaves an employee is entitled to.

The purpose of the agreement is to bring the employer and the employee on the same page and make the terms of employment clear before work commences.

It is the right of the employee to know what he/ she is exactly getting into before they commit to the job. Securing an employment agreement and making sure it is not one-sided, is of paramount importance when beginning to work somewhere.

Basic rights

As written under The Factories Act, each and every employee, no matter, where they work, are entitled to a set of basic rights relating to health and safety at the workplace as part of a good working environment.

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure these the basic amenities for the same are in place. If the workplaces are hazardous like construction or mining sites, proper safety equipment has to be provided.

If the employer fails to create a safe and healthy working environment and the employee(s) suffer because of it, the employer will have to pay a compensation as regulated under The Employees Compensation Act.

The basic rights of the employees relate to cleanliness, drinking water, disposal of waste, washrooms, ventilation, and lightning.  

Rights during probation

While an employee is on probation, the employer has the right to terminate their employment on the grounds of unsatisfactory work or unsuitability for the profile with a prior notice for the same.

The employee can also ask for an inquiry if the reason for termination is other than unsatisfactory work.

The normal probationary period is about 6 months. It can be extended to 3 more months. However, the maximum period cannot be more than 2 years.

Protection from sexual harassment

This protection is guaranteed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013. Under the Indian Penal Code, if accused of sexual harassment, the offense is punishable with up to three years of imprisonment, with or without a fine.

The Act stipulates that if an organization has 10 or more employees, an Internal Complaints Committee has to be formed which will address cases of sexual harassment. This committee is mandatory to be made at all branches and units of an organization. This committee should include:

  • A woman who is employed at the senior level and will be the Presiding Officer
  • Not more than 2 other employees who are committed to the cause of women safety or who have appropriate legal and/or social knowledge
  • A person belonging to a non-governmental organization (NGO) committed to the cause of women or is familiar with issues related to sexual harassment

A general list of the offenses as given in the official document of ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013’ would include:

  • Physical contact and advances
  • A demand or request for sexual favors
  • Making sexually colored remarks
  • Showing pornography
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature

Even though it is a legal requirement that any workplace with more than 10 employees, implement the law, a lot of MNCs and Indian companies are still negligent in enforcing it.

Minimum wage

Under the Minimum Wages Act, each employee in India is guaranteed to a minimum wage which allows the person to sustain their lifestyle and avail the necessary amenities.

Any wage below the minimum wage is a violation of Article 23 of the Constitution. If any person is forced to work under the minimum wage, it is termed as forced labor which is not permissible under the same Article.

As given in the official document for The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, different minimum rates may be fixed for:

  • Different types of employment
  • Different classes of work under the same type of employment
  • Adults/ adolescents/ children, and apprentices
  • Different localities

Both the central and state government fix the minimum wage according to the following factors:

  • Region
  • Cost of living
  • Type of work
  • Working hours
  • How much the employer can pay

For 2018, the different minimum wages for different states in India can be checked here.

Timely salary

First off, men and women have to be paid equally i.e. there is equal pay for equal work.

This is guaranteed under The Act of Equal Remuneration, 1976, whereby equal wages are paid to employees irrespective of their physical strength.

Secondly, The Payment of Wages Act stipulates that an employee has to be paid his remuneration in a timely manner. If this doesn’t happen, the employee can approach the Labour Commissioner or file a civil suit. For employees whose salaries are above Rs. 18,000, civil action can be taken against the employer.


According to The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, any factory or organization which is at least 5 years old and employs 20 or more employees in any accounting year is legally bound to pay a bonus to its employees. The bonus will be paid even if the number of employees falls below 20 eventually.

Any employee whose salary is Rs. 21,000/- or less per month, and who has worked for more than 30 days in any accounting year is eligible for a bonus.

Now, there are 2 ways in which an employee can gain a bonus:

  • The company made a profit that year
  • The employee is in agreement with the employer to be paid a bonus on the basis of his/ her productivity.

In the first scenario, the minimum bonus to be paid is 8.33% of 7,000 or 8.33% of the minimum wages (whichever is higher). The maximum bonus will be 20% of 7,000 or 20% of the minimum wages (whichever is higher).

In case of the second scenario, the minimum amount of bonus has to be 8.33% of the annual salary whereas the maximum amount can be 20% of the annual salary in that accounting year.

The bonus has to be paid within 8 months of completion of an accounting year.

Any employee who has been dismissed from service because of:

  • Fraud
  • Violent behavior on the premises of the company
  • Stealing or sabotage of any company property

Will be exempt from receiving the bonus under this Act.

Working hours and overtime

As written under The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, if an employee works more than the normal working hours, the employer shall pay him for every hour or part of the hour for which he/ she worked overtime. The overtime rate will be as fixed according to the Act or another law of an appropriate Government, whichever is higher.

Each employee is entitled to one day of rest per week. The organization will pay remuneration for the same.

If an employee works on this day of rest as well, payment will be made at a rate not less than the overtime rate. If, on the other hand, an employee works less than the normal working hours, he/she will be paid as if he/she had worked a full normal working day. The payment will not be applicable if:

  • He/ she does not work out of an unwillingness to work and not because the employer hasn’t assigned any work
  • Other circumstances as may be decided upon beforehand


The leave policy for each company has to be framed according to the State legislation and rules.

Each state provides at least 7 holidays for national and state-specific festivals. It is mandatory to grant leave to employees on the 3 national holidays of the country- Republic Day (Jan 26), Independence Day (Aug 15), and Gandhi Jayanti (Oct 2). The rest of the national and festival holidays are at the discretion of the company.

There are a variety of other leaves that an employee is entitled to:

Casual leave-  these leaves are kept aside for unforeseen circumstances when an employee might have to attend to some urgent matters at hand. Normally, a company grants up to 3 days of casual leaves per month. If there are no sick leaves, then the casual leaves can be taken for medical purpose.

Privilege leaves/ earned leaves- these leaves are carried over from the previous year and are enjoyed by the employee in the current or following years. Privilege leaves can be carried forward for upto three years. These can also be taken in lieu of sick leaves if an employee doesn’t have any sick leaves in balance. If an employee has outstanding earned leaves at the time of leaving a job, then these can be encashed.

Compensatory leave- these leaves can be taken by the employee if he/ she comes to work during official off days.

Leave without pay-  if an employee does not have any leftover leaves in his account, then he/ she may take a leave but his wages for that day will be deducted from the monthly salary. The company may, however, decide to grant a paid leave to the employee on the discretion of the management.


Gratuity is regulated by The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. It is the employer’s way of thanking his/ her employee for the service rendered by them. The employee in no way contributes to the gratuity amount.  It is a lump sum given by the employer to the employee in case of any of the following:

  • Retirement
  • Resignation
  • Inability to carry on work due to disability
  • Death (gratuity is paid to the employee’s nominees)
  • Superannuation

The amount of gratuity paid depends on the number of years that the employee has served in the company. The minimum number for the same is 5. It is paid as 15 days of salary for every year of the employee’s service and is calculated as follows:

Gratuity= Last month salary x 15 working days x No. of years of service

   26 working days

According to the latest 2018 amendment, the amount of gratuity should not exceed Rs. 20,00,000/-.

Gratuity is forfeited in case of misconduct on the employee’s part and his/ her resulting termination. The employee’s misconduct should have been intentional and should have caused financial damage to the employer. Even then, the gratuity shall be forfeited to the extent of the damage caused.

Provident fund

The provident fund is a retirement and long-term savings scheme. The Employees Provident Fund Organization of India  (EPFO) manages provident fund for all employees receiving a salary in India. Any organization with more than 20 employees has to register with the EPFO.

Both the employees and the employer contribute equally- i.e. 12% of their salary- to the EPF.

Complete or partial withdrawals can be made in case of the following:

  • House construction
  • Medicare
  • Home loan repayment
  • Home renovation
  • Marriage
  • Education expenses
  • Retirement
  • Immigration abroad

However, there is only a specific amount that can be withdrawn and that is subject to the number of years that the service is rendered.

You can only opt out of the scheme at the start of your career. Once you deposit money in the PF, there is no option of backing out.

When it comes to withdrawal, money from the PF cannot be withdrawn during employment. It may be withdrawn only after retirement. If withdrawals are made before completion of 5 years of service, the withdrawn amount will be taxed.

However, in the case of unemployment before retirement, the EPF account holder can withdraw funds. In this case, 75% of the PF can be withdrawn after 1 month of unemployment while the remaining 25% can be claimed after 2 months of unemployment. Or, if the person manages to get another job, the remaining 25% can be transferred to the new EPF account.

Parental leaves

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, deals with maternity pay for women in India.

The duration of maternity leave is now 26 weeks. Out of these, a maximum of 8 weeks can be taken for pre-natal leave. Surrogate, adoptive, and commissioning mothers can also get maternity leave, though, the duration would vary.

First off, pregnant females cannot be dismissed from service on the grounds of their pregnancy.

If dismissed, they can still claim maternity benefits.

No employer shall employ a woman during the six weeks immediately following her pregnancy or miscarriage. No woman herself shall work anywhere during the six weeks immediately following her pregnancy/ miscarriage.

Child care leave and paid paternal leave are at the discretion of the employer in the private sector although government employees are entitled to the same. It might be paid or it might be unpaid.


If you are not sure about your company’s take on these matters, it is best to sort it out with your employer or the HR manager. For employers, if  the appropriate policies aren’t in place, it is best to cement them out as soon as possible to avoid any strict legal action due to unforeseen circumstances.

No matter the company or designation, a happy and healthy work environment is a right of all and awareness about them is the first step. Congratulations on taking it now.