Friday, January 8, 2010

Salesman Vs Darwin

One thing I liked most about my job, and that was traveling and meeting new people everyday. This always excited me because it left me in field without knowing who was going to be convinced today. How will I start explaining myself? Which area will i be venturing and how many people will give me respect? Questions and more questions.

Mumbai is a huge area (though not in square miles), but with its 3 different lines - Western, Harbor and Central, there was immense potential for growth. I used to travel from Andheri to Lower Parel, Churchgate, Powai, Santacruz, Vile Parle, Bandra, Dadar, Marine Lines, and many other places. Areas that brought memories of fun and pleasure, became hunting grounds for me. I was always look out for a new territory, a new industrial estate, a new list of people and companies. That search never ended.

Experience teaches more than theory and when you are out in the field, your theories take a back seat and says "Present Sir" only when required. The most important attribute in Sales, for me, was "Patience" and "Hope", backed by your zeal to achieve and "never say die" attitude. Its a cup of tea for people who know the meaning of "I can and I will". I was very curious about 'what', rather 'how', should I sell VoIP to corporates. Why should they take my connection when there are competition from Skype, Yahoo Phone out, Vonage and other domestic players. Only things that kept me motivated was to learn about technology. The USP of delivering service personally to our customers, providing good technical support and giving customized plans in less turn around time was a factor I always used to speak about. My company provided me complete empowerment to take my decisions in Mumbai, which helped me to an extent of even changing plans from pre paid to post paid. At least I could put forward my views to my GM Sales.

Cold Calling was the fun part where, sometimes, I was shown doors and sometimes a seat with water/coke or tea. The respect of being an NMIMS alumnus came from many who knew where I was from. But, frankly speaking, that didn't get me any good sale. Business came from contacts and customers' references.

To an extent, I also realized the importance of being a Tele-caller. His/her job is not very easy as most of us feel. Most of the times companies hung up without even talking to them. They are like robots, uttering the same old lines to everyone who comes in contact. Motivation is the fuel and target is their destination. Some people even tell lies to customers to at least get a meeting fixed, which I felt was not right. Because of which, we even had to hear long lectures on commitment from our potential customers. It does not add any value, rather degrades the company image. Tele-caller can make or break with his 1 minute talking, so keep ones who know the business sense. But how to get them for a start up company at less way - a daunting task! Let my HR worry about it.

In the mean time, I was asked to work on NSE (National Stock Exchange) companies. I started my work by making an excel with the complete company list and adding company website details, countries they have businesses in, contact details like phone and mail ids, comments after making calls or visits, etc. It was a difficult task, as there were 1000 companies to look out for.

Now the BIG question arises,

- If I do the documenting work then who will do sales,
- If I do tele-calling then who will go to the field,
- If I get involved in channel partners problems then how will I utilize my time,
- If I go for technical support & installations, how will I show my growth numbers,

Boss! I am a sales guy, not a Spiderman ;)

Reimbursement and call limits were another problems which forced me to use my phone for making less number of calls, unless I am ready to pay from my pocket. But as far as traveling was concerned, I could not wait for BEST buses as it used to take a lot of time to reach its destination during peak hours. I required an auto or a train (empty or jam packed enough to even breathe). Discussions went on to solve all the issues; some got sorted out, some remained.

One more interesting fact I must share, a sales person never likes to be called a marketing guy. For us, Marketing guy is a person who sits on his recliner chair in an A/C room, drinks wine or beer and jots down a number as per theory of uncertainty, which he may have calculated by multiplying previous sales numbers by some double digit figures, or anything he sees on sky after drinking. I was doing Marketing part also for my job, but not in A/C room or while drinking beer. Activities like making competitors' analysis, metrics, below the line (BTL) activities, graphs, price analysis, tacking customers' usage and providing him/her with the information about his/her savings, voluntarily, were my areas of work. I wanted to be the single point contact between my company and customers in Mumbai - be it technical or business concerns.

Demo of VoIP connections, where we show the customer how our product works with their systems, was one more area that required some basic technical knowledge. There were lot of changes to be done if our system didn't work automatically in their system. I had to take care of that also most of the times, as technical support always remained busy on some or other call/complaint.

As a sales person, I should have confined myself only to get numbers, as other do and then rush to some place where customer could not reach me for any help. :) This is a general practice adopted by some of the sales guys in every organization. Let our customer retention and complaint handling guys alone do the maths for the customers later on. But for customer, it is a reason to repent his decision. Poor king (Customer) feels the burn of not identifying who is fake and who is not, after living for more than 40 years with similar species (human and sales people have differences). Pun intended :)

Basic templates in Sales were also missing for me. Things like mailing customers after giving connections stating the hierarchy of calls for complaints, SLA declarations with lead times, cheque/DD payment modes were some of the tasks I took care of. I even passed on this formats to my colleagues to build a good image.

My idea was not to quit but to change the system. Loopholes started filling up at a rapid pace and I continued with my journey of change. But I alone could not change everything, Could I? Darwin knows about it!


  1. very well written surjeet.. good to know all this about sales.. life is really tough for those people...we must understand their position when they come to our house to sell something.. offering them smile and water only makes then achieve everything... even if you dont purchase anything, it is fine...! " :)

  2. Very well written... i can see a writer in u...

  3. v good dude.. Impressive in the way you have written it and interesting in the content ...good to see you blog ...