Emerging Entrepreneurs

Giving a new spin to selling

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on January 17, 2018

SHANKAR G, Co-founder and CEO, Spini

Spini provides referral platform that connects salespersons and customers



You know your friend is looking to get a credit card or looking for a loan, but you do not know how to help him out. What do you do?

You are a salesperson tasked by your employer with a target to sell so many credit cards a month. You go about calling people randomly not even knowing whether they need a credit card or not. A majority of the calls turn out to be a waste of time. What do you do?

How about a platform that brings together the two – the one who knows his friend is in need of a credit card and the one who has a job to sell credit cards? In the process the person who has the information gets to earn a little bit for possessing that vital thing – knowledge – and for the salesperson, he can approach a client knowing fully he has something that the person is looking for.

Referral platform

This is what Spini, a sales referral platform that was founded in Singapore and has launched operations in India, aims to do – bring together the two, so that not just the two but also the person who wants a service or a product also benefits.

Salespersons lack critical information that helps them sell their service or product, says Shankar G, co-founder and CEO, Spini. “He should be able to close more leads, get more incentives and move forward in his career,” says Shankar, of the need to help out the sales community.

According to him, in the current market, a lead means a name and a number of a person. “To us, a lead is not just that. A lead can become a qualified lead only if it has a few other things,” says Shankar. The person passing on the lead should actually know of the need, whether the person is capable of paying for the product or the service and whether he or she has the authority to buy it. MAN, in short, he adds, for Money, Authority and Need.

Shankar, a mechanical engineering graduate who worked in the automotive industry in Chennai before doing an MBA, joined Tata Consultancy Services, worked in Singapore with a focus on sales operations. That is when he realised the need for doing something concrete for sales professionals as, most often, they spent a bulk of their budget and time in chasing leads that would not bear fruit or in doing cold calls. Thus was born Spini, a sales referral platform, that Shankar founded with Eddi Chau, who is the chairman of the company.

How it works

How does Spini work? The person with the information provides the details such as what kind of service is required, the name and contact number, salary and employment details. Those do not get displayed to the salesperson. Going through the information provided, the salesperson will get an idea whether he or she will be able to convert that lead into a concrete business. Spini, in the meanwhile, does a background check to verify whether the details provided are genuine or not. The salesperson will pay the person who has provided the information the money asked for, which money will be in an escrow account for three days, after which he will get the name and number. It is then up to the salesperson to call and fix up an appointment and take it forward. Spini charges a certain percentage of the fee that the referrer asks for.

Recently, Spini helped close a loan for ₹1 crore, on which the referrer made ₹25,000. “That is the kind of potential,” says Shankar. The company was incorporated in 2014 and Shankar moved to India in 2015 to kick off operations here. It was bootstrapped with S$ 150,000 and Spini raised S$1 million from Walden International in May 2015. It is now looking to raise $3-5 million, as it brings in more services on the platform, expands to more cities in India and cover more medium and small enterprises. “The product is developed completely from the sales guy point of view. Traditional sales had a conversion rate of 1-2 per cent and we want to change that to 50-60 per cent conversion rate,” says Shankar.

It started off with real estate, financial loans and interiors and has expanded to cover insurance, automotive and electronics. It does more than 200 transactions a day.

Spini started off as a mobile only platform and is available on the web also. It has started testing out the platform in a limited way in Indonesia and plans to cover China also. “Even if we tackle India, Indonesia and China, we will be handling more than half the world’s population,” says Shankar.

Published on July 25, 2016

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