Greetings from the part of the country which has the second lowest GDP per capita income, the most “apolitical” scenario and a place which on its own would be the seventh most populous nation.
Yes, I am coming to you live from the dusty plains of Eastern UP, a host to holy lands like Varanasi, Allahabad and the likes.
Without further ado, let me first introduce myself. My name is Ram (JBIMS Batch of 2010) and currently I am a Key Account Manager for P&G.
Welcome to the non-glamorous part of Marketing- Sales! If you are the kind of person, who likes a comfortable A/C room, doesn’t like to get his/her hands dirty, doesn’t like as Prof Ghadiyar would say “Smell of the Bazaar” then this article would probably seem Greek & Latin to you.
Let me state outright that this is not an elevation of “Sales” and a degradation of “Marketing”. It’s just that on campus we rarely talk about the importance of sales & the elements involved which is where this write-up aims to touch up on.
So here’s what I like to call “The Lessons of Sales.”
Lesson #1 - The greatest Myth: Selling is an inborn art!
-Whoever said this was unquestionably high on either alcohol or drugs, because this has got to be one of the biggest myths. If this were remotely true, well for starters, I would have not lasted in P&G for a year.
-Sales are highly data driven. In fact cutting through heaps of data to come to the relevant part that enables you to take decisions is the primary challenge.
-In fact, I can say safely that an ASM (Area sales Manager), looks at as much data (if not more) as his banker counterpart. Oh yes, you can trust me & take it to the bank (metaphorically speaking)J.
Lesson #2 - Push Push Push? No, it’s not all about “Maal Thokna”.
The overall trade scenario in FMCG is divided into broadly two parts:-
i. Unorganized Trade (Our neighbourhood kirana store). This is further sub-divided into:
-Large Grocery Stores
-Small Grocery Stores
ii. Modern Trade (Malls)
Consider a scenario where you are handling three brands in your territory and across four distribution channels as given below:
Thus you have twelve options, to grow your business in your area/territory. It almost becomes like a strategy game, wherein you are constantly looking out for which of these twelve options would you give the maximum output, while requiring the minimum input. So you see sales is much more than picking up your phone, and blasting at the person to “thokofy maal”. It involves more planning than you think. J
But why so serious, you may wonder? So here are some of the fun learning of sales:
Lesson #3 - “Raju Guidewalla” : The new & improved Christopher Columbus!
No, I am not referring to the absolutely lovable character played by Aamir Khan in “Dil Hain Ki Maanta Nahin”. The reason I mentioned this is that sales, if not anything, would definitely find you an alternate career in the travel & tourism industry. No sooner do you join sales, than you become the official that of an entire lifetime for others (and maybe beyond that for the rest!).
“You get to stay in the swankiest of places”
Lesson #4 - Lying in Mother Luxury’s Lap!
What’s common to the Le Meridien-Pune, Le Meriden – Jaipur, Grand Hyatt, The Leela-Kovalam and Taj-Lucknow? Apart from all of these being stupendously luxurious hotels, they also incidentally happen to be the ones in which your truly has had an opportunity to stay over the past one year, and mind you for more than once in the entire year !
This is quite easily the biggest perk of working as a sales guy. You get to stay in some of the swankiest of places in town and learn to build a discerning taste as a customer in the luxury/ultra-luxury hotel segment. Not bad, eh?
Lesson #5 - U.P. breathes politics
Before joining P&G, I always used to wonder why, every time election discussions were held on a news channel, UP politics would be ferociously discussed and debated. At first I thought that it was only because UP was the state with the largest number of seats. Then I realized that the people of UP are amongst the most politically aware. You can bet your life on it, that every kid in UP would know more about politics than you were knew or hope to know! In fact, even the local panchayat elections in UP, are fiercely contested with budgets running up to 5 lakhs and above.
Lesson #6 - The Rajiv Gandhi Gram Sadak Yojana works and how....!!
As a people, we have a tendency to criticize everything that the govt does/attempts to do. But now I’m convinced that some of the programs have really worked wonders. My job entails lots of travelling to very small villages, even those with population less than 5000 (yes fellow SoBo’s, they exist!).
I have seen the amount of road connectivity present in U.P, with the help of this program and it is simply astounding. And going by the success of this programme in a poverty-prone region such as this, I’m sure this program would have worked wonders elsewhere as well. I bet the politically aware citizen class of UP would agree.
Leave a solitary existence in a non-metro city and you will know exactly what I am saying. In trains, at the airport, at bus terminals, you will constantly find yourself connected to this.
You can forget eating, probably you will forget sleeping as well but you will surely never ever forget to take your data card with you!
“You can forget eating, probably you will forget sleeping as well but you will surely never ever forget to take your data card with you!”
Lesson #8 - Trips to metros are an occasion to celebrate
Nothing can teach you the value of a metro city like a rural sales stint. You almost magically begin to like everything about it, so much so that you even start missing mundane things like “dust, pollution, noise, traffic and crowded trains” that you loathed earlier. Seriously trips back to metros are effectively a ticket to “civilization” just the way you like it!
Well, that brings me to a close to my learning thus far in the sales field. As I begin yet another year, I’m sure there are a million new things that this amazing field will teach me. As the G-talk status of one of my seniors at JBIMS
‘Sales is the University of Life.’