Life is a sales pitch!
Anuradha Varma sets out in search of some real-life Rocket Singhs and learns how they apply professional learning to their personal lives
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
MAINA Sharma is an introvert, who likes to sit back at a party and watch as others air their views. But, if there’s a whiff of a potential client, she’s transformed, and one sees her engaged in animated chatter with the prospective target.
Yes, Maina is in Sales, a job that requires you never to take no for an answer. Not just a tough, but demeaning job, one that requires a thousand deaths for the ego and yet one has to pick oneself up and move on again. While seven out of 10 crumble under the pressure of meeting sales targets and fall by the wayside, according to a senior industry professional, the rest learn to be up for any challenge. Says Maina, “I used to be shy but can now walk into any office to meet the top man.”
It also makes them experts in human behaviour. Says S. Sanchitha, “You can gauge a client’s reaction by the body language.” She admits it’s a power she can choose to wield in personal life too, “Yes, I’m aware of how to manipulate a situation in my favour.”
An important lesson the constant rejection taught her was to drop her ego. She confesses, “I told myself that the rejection was aimed at the company representative, not at ‘me’. I’ve learnt to separate myself from a situation.’
Says Umesh Ramakrishnan, vice-chairman, CT Partners and author of There’s No Elevator to the Top, “You actually have to smile after being slapped since you need the right mental make-up to make the next sale. A good salesperson makes you like them as you part with your money for something that you didn’t think you needed just a short while ago.” He adds, “People in Sales are typically ones that have strong opinions and have no qualms about airing them. Not everyone likes being around them but they are also the life of the party.”
However, it’s a field fraught with highs and lows. Every victory is celebrated by the whole team.
Counsels psychologist Seema Hingorrany, “Many complain of fatigue, irritability, anxiety and insomnia. Some get nightmares related to their work.” She adds, “They might release pent up anger on their spouses or shut themselves off, since they are tired of communicating. However, they can be diplomatic, which helps a relationship.”
Confesses Bharath Krishnaswamy, general manager of UST Global, “Sometimes the sales traits don’t wear off after work. I have been told by my wife and friends to drop my ‘sales hat’ after work. Unconsciously, one tries to sell a favourite restaurant or a dish to family and friends, just because I like that place.”
States Sunil Kumar Alagh, chairman, SKA Advisors, “It’s important to be able to switch off after office hours. Also, learn to cry alone and laugh with others. Family is extremely important, everything else comes and goes but relationships last forever.”
Interestingly, while most salesmen will look down upon an MBA “who has no field experience in direct s e l l i n g ” , h a r d c o r e selling is rarely a first choice for a career. As one puts it, “No father dreams that his child will become a salesman, it’s always an MBA or an engineer. You become a salesman by chance not by choice.” One reason is that most jobs available are in sales. However, the high of closing a sale can be addictive.
Admits Sanchitha, “I shifted to operations for a year and missed selling. As sales executives, we were the blue-eyed team, as we bring in the money.”
In the film Rocket Singh, Salesman of the Year, most people in sales could relate to the competition between colleagues. Maina and her colleague, once good friends, didn’t speak to each other for weeks because they went after the same client. Admits another, “There’s constant undercutting to meet targets.”
However, the bottomline is about building long-term relationships. Explains Chironmoy Chatterjee, head of sales, Perfetti Van Melle India, “Relationships drive the business. Relationships that are built on honesty, because you can fool somebody once but you cannot do it again and again.’ He adds, “A salesman has no boss, his results speak for his performance.”
As Rocket Singh would say, ‘Pocket mein rocket hai…!