Home / Companies / Start-ups /  Byju’s rolls out virtual sales plan amid concerns

BENGALURU : Amid mis-selling concerns, edtech giant Byju’s has replaced its existing direct sales with a new internal sales strategy to avoid mis-selling and expand the reach of customers through a virtual process over zoom.

The edtech decacorn, which claims to have over 150 million registered learners, rolled out a four-tier tech-driven internal sales, which begins with educating an incoming lead about Byju’s product portfolio and its new refund policy over a live Zoom session that is recorded for future audit, the company said on Monday. The refund for a product is also done over a Zoom call, the company further said. The new inside sales strategy, launched in October, is announced amid increased criticism against the edtech firm for aggressively pitching its courses through its on-field sales push.

Incidentally, the change in sales strategy comes following reports of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights‘ (NCPCR) meeting with the company in December, when it raised concerns around complaints of mis-selling and over-selling by the company’s aggressive sales tactics.“The emergence of the post-pandemic world required us to give a fresh look at how we engage with our customers in the initial stages of a potentially lifelong relationship. Byju’s is fully committed to a transparent sales mechanism, and our tech-driven, four-tier approach enhances communication and precludes potential/rare mis-selling," said Mrinal Mohit, chief executive of Byju’s India.

Mohit said Byju’s sales team only reaches out to people who have downloaded the product. “We are unable to reach 50% of our users. We want to reach out to the hinterlands to tier - 5 and 6 cities. We believe education cannot be done without technology, and we have just started." According to him, it’s a lot easier to remove the barrier of digital infrastructure in the country than physical infrastructure. “The newly introduced sales model is far more rigorous, entirely remote and includes a centralized tech-driven audit process that ensures all sales are triple-checked… The company has introduced multiple checks to verify customers’ intent and consent to purchase," the company said. Once a user downloads Byju’s application, interested customers have to give their consent after reading the terms and conditions on the customer consent screen on a custom mobile app. The order verification team then revalidates the consent and double-checks if the customer agrees to make the purchase. The customer gives another consent on this app upon which the sale is closed.

Within the renewed four-tier sales process, the firm has introduced an affordability test for all potential customers with a threshold family income of 25,000 per month. For families with an income of less than that, it offers its Education For All (EFA) programme, content suited to the child free of cost.

“There are more than 55 lakh children from underserved families who have been provided free learning content along with a free digital tablet from Byju’s under EFA, the company says.

The sales team also assists students who require financial support, where requested, by connecting the parents/guardians of such students to established third-party banks/ financial institutions.

According to Mohit, while physical engagement is better, the quality of teaching and engagement is important.

The edtech giant, last valued at $22 billion, has around 7,000 people in its sales team and is increasing the team by hiring 300 people every month with around a 4% monthly influx.

Meanwhile, last week VCCircle reported that the edtech major’s early investors, including Lightspeed Investment Partners and Chan Zuckerberg, are seeking buyers for their partial or full stakes in the company.

Byju’s, founded in 2011, has been acquiring education companies in India and the US as part of its “string of pearls“ expansion strategy. In 2021, the company’s losses widened to 4,589 crore from 232 crore in the previous fiscal. Its results for 2022 have not been filed with the registrar of companies.

In a recent note to staff, Raveendran said the firm would double down on setting up more physical tuition centres even as it is “working very hard“ to achieve profitability at the group level by next year.

Beena Parmar
Been Parmar is a financial journalist based in Mumbai. She has reported on the banking and finance sector for over 10 years. She now writes on the alternative investment ecosystem from India - private equity, venture capital and especially startups. She loves to read about politics, society and humane stories.
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