I have been a salesman all my life. And this life has been a fascinating one. As a Salesman I understood the larger meaning of being a commercial professional. I have grown through the complete hierarchy – from front end sales executive to VP (Sales and Service), worked in diverse geographies and learned every day of the way. My work helped me grow not only professionally but also personally. I imbibed the ethos of various cultures their food and their habits.
It all started in the year 1977. I was 23 then. I had just joined a multinational and was posted in Indore. Indore, located on the Malwa plateau is a small but beautiful city with excellent weather for most of the year. It is the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh which the locals preferred to call ‘mini Bombay’. It was famous for its Kachoris, Sev and Pan
I quickly settled down in my job of a professional sales man. I had a fairly large ‘territory’ to cover so planning was very crucial. In those days my Dairy was my planner and the ‘Bullet’ was my companion on the road.
I matured very quickly on the job enjoying every minute of it. I will share an episode which will demonstrate my maturing as a salesman and to two important characteristics of a sales man – Commitment & Decision Making
The Nepanagar Episode
I had a young, though slightly hot headed, Branch Manager as my boss at Indore. We had ‘booked’ a large order on our previous visit to Nepanagar Paper Mills. I have it in inverted comas because it was a hard close. And as it happens in a hard close it came undone one fine day. With the ‘order’ in the books the equipment was despatched by rail from our works. It lands up at customer’s railway siding with no prior warning. Understandably the customer is furious and blasts us on the telephone. It was around 9 in the morning. We (BM and me) start off by car for Nepanagar, which is around 175 kms. Our intention was to come back the same day. We reached there around 3 pm and went up straight to the office of the General Manager (Procurement)’s office. Unfortunately the meeting was a disaster and my Branch Manager most unfairly, I thought, walked out of the meeting. I followed him down to the car. He told me to get in and that we were going back.
I then took a major decision that was a game changer. I told my colleague that he should go back (he had a new bride waiting for him) and I will stay back and try to find a solution. He said it is not necessary and that they will find a solution themselves. He was both apologetic and hesitant. I insisted. He left.
I went back upstairs to the meeting room and told my customer that together we will need to find a solution. I requested him to arrange an accommodation for me in the Guest House. Unfortunately all the rooms were occupied. There was no other place in Nepanagar where I could stay. So I left for Burhanpur , around 30 kms away, and told my customer I will be back the next morning.
I stayed the night in a hotel in Burhanpur and bought certain essential toiletries and a shirt. Next day I was back in Nepanagar by 10 in the morning. Reviewed the problem with the customer and realised the original Indent raised by the user department was not in the file. I took the file and borrowed his car and went to the factory (around 3 kms away) to meet the indenter. Explained the problem to the gentleman and took his copy of the indent and put in the file and drove back to the administrative office. Now the only job left was to get the signature of the MD on the file.
The GM (Procurement) asked me to wait in his cabin as he went to meet the MD. A few minutes later I was asked to go into the MD’s room. A few questions and I waited with bated breath as he signed on the file approving the purchase.
Within another half an hour a formal order was issued by Nepanagar Paper mills on my company, which cleared the way for the equipment to be accepted and unloaded from the railway siding!
I still can still feel the excitement I felt that day as I scrambled into a bus to get back to Indore.
When I think back on this episode few things stand out 1) My decision to stay back 2) My commitment and self belief and above all was this great relationship I had built with all concerned, be it the Indenter or the Head of procurement.
I was 24 years old, one year’s working experience and a great lesson learnt!
I hope to highlight various such instances in my future blogs which hopefully makes for interesting reading apart from highlighting various skills and competencies required for not just a successful sales career but for a fulfilling LIFE.
About the AuthorMr.Charlie Kolady spent majority of his professional life with Avery Weigh–Tronix. His strengths are in Strategic Thinking and Planning. His deep passion for sales helped him build a very successful career where he grew from a front end sales person to head the Sales and Service verticals in the company.Currently engaged with CIAM, Charlie brings his multiple years of experience to support the management of the organization’s client companies to develop result oriented sales teams. CIAM’s offers services in the areas of Performance Management, Recruitment, Learning and Development and Sales Team Management.
Even though work has given him the opportunity to travel all over India and different parts of the world Charlie has been steadfast in his loyalty to his first love….Bombay!