“Those who didn’t meet their weekly targets of Rs 2 lakh were chastised in front of their whole team. We operated in a sense of total fear,” he adds.
To cement the aggressive sales target is an elaborate sales pitch, with certain features baked firmly in. It starts on an introductory call with a lucrative offer of a “scholarship”: a discounted price in exchange for a multi-year Byju’s subscription. On these calls, explain the agents, the parent is made to believe that their child has been “selected” out of a huge group, to qualify for a “free” counselling session by a Byju’s subject expert.
A veiled sales pitch, each counselling session takes between two and three hours, and is a monologue about the ills of the Indian education system. The Ken has accessed a recording of a Byju’s sales call in progress, with a pitch that can be broken into three distinct phases: quizzing the child, counselling the parent and making the sale.
“We’re even trained to ask a particular set of questions, which we know are difficult for the student to answer. For instance, fractions are a huge problem area for students. So we might model a quiz on that,” says the Haryana-based BDA quoted above. Other team favourites are: What is the shape of a rainbow? What role does chlorophyll play in photosynthesis? How is a rectangle different from a square?
The Actual Gain
“The aim is to expose discrepancies in the child’s concepts and link it to their performance in higher classes. That’s how we make a play for multi-year subscriptions. We tell the parents that opting for Byju’s now will help the child in higher classes and competitive olympiad exams,” adds the BDA.
Throughout the recording, a Byju’s sales agent can be clearly heard pushing for a multi-year subscription as a replacement for all other tuition or coaching classes. “It’s your responsibility to make sure that your child does well in 10th and 12th standard. That she doesn’t take humanities instead of science,” says the agent, playing on Indian parents’ fundamental fears. The parents, desperate for a suitable option for their 10-year-old, are coaxed into buying the product.
Sales agents have an arsenal of such tricks up their sleeve, according to BDAs The Ken spoke with. One is the promise of a customised learning path, suited to the child’s comprehension levels. Others include support from a subject matter expert, a dedicated mentor, daily lesson plans, coaching over the phone and a personalised Android tablet loaded with course content.
And of course, discounts—multi-year subscriptions are bundled together into an attractive, all-inclusive package. In the recorded call, the sales agent offers an eight-year mentorship subscription, from class 5 to class 12, at Rs 1.2 lakh ($1,726) instead of the retail price of Rs 2.4 lakh ($3,453).
All these elements and sales tactics combined, the BDAs say, are used to convince parents of a progressive, cutting-edge platform to help their children learn. All just to get by in a cutthroat sales world.
“The main aim is to close the sale on the spot. There is no other option,” says a second Delhi-based former BDA, who sold over 300 subscriptions during his one-and-a-half-year tenure with Byju’s. A steep sales target cements this drive to sell no matter what. “From the minute I walked into a pitch meeting, my job was to determine the spending capacity of these potential customers. From the make of the TV to the parents’ job profiles, I’d use every bit of information to position my pitch.”
Multi-year subscriptions are not an easy sell at Byju’s as it typically expects to be paid in full for its products at the time of a sale, even when their service stretches over as much as five years. And few families can afford to pay as much as Rs 2 lakh ($2,880) at one go.
The solution? Byju’s decided to offer consumer loans to prospective customers. That way, it would still get paid in full upon a successful sale, but parents could then pay monthly loan instalments over the years to lenders. And the customers pay no interest on these loans, which is borne by Byju’s instead.
“The loans increased the ticket-size of my subscriptions from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.5-2 lakh,” says the BDA quoted above.