Monday, December 24, 2012

How to be a good Salesman ?

Every day around the World there must be people who work as salesmen selling some or the other kind of product or service. In some societies such vocations are looked down upon and in the more refined they are subject of praise and recognition. Nevertheless Selling and Sales would be in increasing demand by the day and the power of this job all too conspicuous in various spheres and domains.

Look at the Computer hardware industry of India of today. What a metamorphosis and strategic shift. Salesmen and selling has proved the World wrong on myriad of occasions to be taken lightly. Study the early 1980's when primitive computer desktops were sold by companies around the country. This is possibly an era where only few Mainframe computers existed and Sales men had a very tough time negotiating through impregnable barriers and many of them did so like warriors trying to sell a seemingly unwanted piece of equipment. This was an era when the Banks of the Country were rebellious against Computerization and seeing it as a job killer - but thanks to the skill of these people and their verve and application their efforts were not totally misplaced. today banking institutions are one of the key application domains of Computerization. A full software sector emerges in India riding piggy-back on the hardware revolution and note the dynamics of the electronic industry per-se  stand alone systems gave rise to networking and thence came the internet and the global village as we see today.

The profession of selling has changed drastically over the past few years. two fundamental changes have emerged..the diminishing necessity to travel long distances for a rendezvous ..and the medium of mobile phone and the web cutting down transaction cycle time of selling and both these changes casting their spell on selling. The sales mans job of today is swinging more towards servicing orders and servicing is an activity demanding a specialized set of skills.

Forget the Computer Industry ..there are several industries that thrive on the selling
phenomena..Insurance...Private banking......Credit cards.... leisure travel and the like just to name a few and organizations face increasing challenges to maintain a good selling team that performs from time to time. I have seen salesmen who create short bursts of success and not able to retain the success for long..and many who start too slowly to make steady contributions and many things depending on what the organization is looking for ..or stands for...or its strategic orientation. I have seen too many sales managers who only abuse their salesmen and sometimes removing them from service to recall them after some time..I have seen many such confusions or idiosyncrasies and randomness on the part of organizations..but I firmly believe a healthy selling organization can be created and endured. I have seen sales managers who are guilty of criminal conduct and go un-punished for too long..and I have also at many places seen untrained salesmen who have only know their work through experience sometimes perform better than the trained ones.

Somewhere it is difficult to answer the question...How to be a good Salesman?  somewhere the fundamental point is for any salesman to find out what he likes to sell or enjoys selling from the bottom of his heart and there is no scope for any dis-honest answer. Sometimes to arrive at a right answer a person has to try selling many things to find out what he is good at. It needs a period of apprenticeship. But there can be no dubious answer to this question..and there can be no more than one product a person is very comfortable selling. However there are two broad kinds of salemen that likes to sell concepts and the other that likes to sell is chimerical and the other is physical and any person must try to upfront define which of these domains he is comfortable with.I still believe every one can be a good sales man the only difference is the product and it is an activity of high risk if anyone tries to sell something which he is not comfortable with and this relationship and misfit cannot be for ad-infinitum and will break sooner than expected. Such situations are all too common with sales men around the world sometimes lured by high earnings trying to sell something which he is not very comfortable with only to land up in an irreparable mess needing years to correct and rectify.

How is Sales different from others forms of promotion is in its targets. A salesman primarily works with targets. Sometimes these targets are ill-conceived and burdened on the sales man upfront creating something unethical and illegal..and these targets might be irrational..and yet there might be some who achieve it and many who have mastered the task of portraying they have achieved  it. Everything said and done there is a selling skill that largely revolves around closing orders, some have it in abundance and thrive in selling..but this is a continuum of various activities and a proper organization of the various components become essential for maintaining a good sales organization that can resist the long run.

In my view point every sales organization must monitor the conduct of its Sales Mangers..largely scanning for continuous unethical behavior no matter how highly qualified he or she might be. Unethical behavior can start from small misconducts like being partisan to the more serious kinds of jeopardizing orders.There can be no two ways about it and a matter that has to be attended to with rigor and severity by top management or the organizational promoters.This is a very serious issue and a prime one which needs engagement and intervention at the right juncture. No salesman would ever enjoy and continue doing a good job if he is mismanaged or abused..and this must not be permitted and has legal ramifications. Moreover SalesManagers must create a weighted average method revolving around more than two parameters around which sales men performance is measured and validated.

Every sales man must understand Sales is dependent on two customer factors namely 1. The latent  need for a product and 2. The purchasing power of the customer. In any territory he operates he must look very cautiously for these two factors to become successful. If he is not looking at these factors he is working like a business-developer and must understand it and position himself so. Note that no business developer ever works with targets. If a salesman does not look at the above factors he will fall short of targets. There might be another factor that influences selling situations namely customer behavior. But customer behavior is secondary in sales situations and the above two factors rule the roost.

Never take very large issue in territory management as it will dilute concentration of effort. Always ask for an optimal territory say having some hundred accounts and anything more than this would mean 'shooting in the dark' . This is always the hall mark of an experienced sales man...he knows the optimal territory around which he can successfully operate.

Once the sales man has made an initial survey around the above two issues..the next step is to talk to the clients. Do this always with right kind of preparation and to the right people. Use the mobile phone and the internet for this purpose but nothing can replace personal contact. 

Many of the prospects who come through the above procedure will be  ready for closing..the penultimate and the most crucial stage of the selling process very often with the Terminal buyer also called the financial decision maker of the organization.There is zero tolerance at this stage for errors or contradictions. Take another person who is sincere to the cause and at the same time knowledgeable about the history of the order to act as a prop or support. Never forget to service orders professionally after receiving orders and note that it is well serviced orders that beget more orders.

Hopefully what I have written above would help organizations and salesmen around the world alike. though I don't believe there is any one who could be branded an 'Unsuccessful salesman"..and if by any chance you are one use your experience to handle 'Sales Operations' ; 'Business Development' or move into another organization for a selling function.

According to me Sales and Selling  is a priceless experience which develops individuals into cutting edge personalities..and if any one around the world has selling difficulties please contact me for a possible analysis and remedy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

CALICUTCITY::Zila Sainik Welfare Board Kozhikode Calicut

There is a place in Calicut Kozhikode that is dear to me..The ex-servicemen welfare office..also called the Sainik Welfare board. The secretary of the Board was Capt. K T Srinivasan a relative and I used to frequent this place. Captain as  I used to call him used to behave sternly at the outset but gradually we became more of friends. How did this place help was a resting point or transit point for me at Calicut Kozhikode at times. What does this office do? it basically takes care of the welfare of ex-servicemen  in the district.

It used to be a large sprawling campus with a elaborate office all some half an acre and was tucked few yards away from the main road adjacent to the Rajendra Nursing home close to the Malabar Christian College.  Capt K T Srinivasan was some kind of an influential person  in the congress party circles of  Kerala and using a reference letter from him I had met Mullapally Ramachandran in Delhi who is the present Minister of State for Home.I met a retired Colonel AVM Achutan who was in-charge of presidential guards for some time in Delhi. I have also interacted with the PS of Mullapally Ramachandran Shri  P S Money who is an IAS officer.I went to meet the Minister again at his residence 263 south avenue but was prevented by his PA from doing so and later had to correspond with him.This was somewhere in 1991-92. I have also closely interacted with a writer who is well known in this part of the world by name 'Thikkodian".I have also visited the house of Mr. Thikkodian. Captain was known for the huge parties he used to throw at times. Captain did take me once to the house of a Dy SP of police by name Mr. Narayanan some where close to this part of  Calicut . I had also met Col. Ayilath a retired military officer here.

Mullapally Ramachandran present Hon. MOS for Home

For some reason this place was dear to me and I just happened to remember has offered me comfort and retreat at times when the situation was difficult or uncertain.


Any one who wants to visit this place Zila Sainik Board in Calicut ask for Rajendra Nursing Home near Malabar Christian College and this spot must be some 06 kilometers from main Calicut bus stand.PHONE:0495-2771881

Monday, December 3, 2012

Walking between Whitefeild and K R Puram Stations

There was something eventful or breathtaking in my life as an adolescent and an exercise that I cannot forget and an endurance exercise some of us were forced to take to during our course as students at the Sathya Sai Arts Science and Commerce College.

Somewhere I mentioned that in the early 1980's there were very few BTS or BMTC as it is called now buses connecting Whitefeild and K R puram.. There were many BTS buses connecting Whitefeild into HAL and Marathhalii but few that would turn right at Hope farm into Garudarcharpalya and eventually K R Puram. This means for any reason we were stuck at Whitefeild at aroung 11:00am it would mean a wait upto around 4:00 in the evening for a train or about  5:00 for a BTS bus. This wait was harrowing sometimes at the Whitefeild station at times with Hemanth Bapat and Ramdas both my senior students at this place.

I have traveled between Whitefeild and K R Puram in un-conventional ways..once in a Diesel engine where-in the driver took concern at a lone lad waving his hand at the driver seeking a passage on the engine and he being of a kind disposition volunteered to help me and before long I was sitting in the engine room with the driver and seeing for myself how a Diesel engine operated during the next fifteen minutes. At another instance some of us were into the last bogie usually used by the guard of a goods train clasping firmly on some prop as the train sped its way over the 15 kilometers.They were undoubtedly enjoyable experiences but more than twice we had to walk the entire distance between Whitefeild and K R Puram through and through the many impoverished villages of that time braving the mild Bangalore sun and walking alongside the track lest we get lost carefully maneuvering across barren wells that posed some danger and the full exercise taking some 05 hours in all. Hoodi is a place that comes different Bangalore city and its suburbs look now with an ITPL some where around the corner  and most of these stretches of land around which we walked largely full of bushes now being more occupied without its rustic looks of the past. It was a sign of relief when we saw the houses of Devanahalli far away and home was nearby. I dont think I can embark on such an exercise now whatsoever and note that the bus connectivities and routings are much improved now than during these times I was talking. I have always beleived that a small Railway station must come up at Hoodi to give rail connectivity and access to ITPL.