Recently I saw a movie, ‘Rocket Singh – Sales Man of the year’, no I’m not writing a review about the movie here, but one prominent line in the movie literally touched my heart and reminded me of the very first day of my career – which started as a salesman!
The word S.A.L.E.S has a very deep and prominent impact in my life since I embarked on my career as a Sales Man for Home Security Systems at a local computer shop in Bhilai.
That first job taught me a lot of real lessons that I value today in my entrepreneurial life. It made me realize the importance of sales in business and how a bad sales team can actually cause a business to go from everything to nothing in a matter of time. I concluded that only goods when marketed and sold right can help build great companies. Whatever I am today as an entrepreneur is due to those very lessons I learnt from that job as a sales guy!
To be honest, I was a bad sales man during my first job as I made zero sales in the first month or rather all of the subsequent months. In fact our entire sales team made no sales, not a single one and the business eventually shut shop just in 3 months due to unsuccessful operations.
One important reason (which I do feel strongly even today after all these years) for that business going down the drain like that was their bad management policy towards sales and salesmen in general. Salesmen were not treated as men and people but only as the ‘numbers’ they generated. For them business was all about numbers. We were just some numbers having no individual identity.
After the first few months of an unsuccessful job as a sales person, this is what my senior boss had to say about sales people they employed – “Jisko Kuch nai aata wo sales me ghus jaata hai.” To be more precise, he meant all sales people are junkards, worthless and should cease to exist. As if they were good for nothing and added no value.
While resigning from that job, I tried to make my point clear to my boss why there were no sales and what was going wrong in my opinion, but he clearly had no interest in hearing a word. Probably he was under the notion what can a 20 year old guy know a thing about sales?!! His total experience in business was greater than my age!
Anyway, this failed job, yes I call it a failure since I was not able to achieve what I was paid for, what I was hired to do opened my eyes to something valuable and I made a few resolutions to myself.
That very experience turned out to be the stepping stone leading me to the entrepreneurial success I envisage today as the CEO of Globussoft where I primarily manage the sales and marketing of my company catering to customers all across the Globe – right from the comfort of a desktop/laptop, sitting in a small town in central India. We make excellent sales, we sell high end products, and we sell technology. All of this without any physical interaction! Everything is virtual and yet we are successful – this is the power of good sales strategies!
That very first failed job of my life actually threw me a challenge. Yep! I challenged myself that ‘SALES’ was no Mt Everest and I can master it in MY ways, out of my own experience. This was in the first year of college, it was somewhere around September 2007. Those months I used to search news paper classifieds especially for sales and marketing jobs.
Basically there were 2 reasons for this –
1. Since I was a student I couldn’t afford to bunk college and take up a full time day job ( remember this was in my first year. After third year, I rarely attended college lectures 😉 )
2. Only sales and marketing was an area where you could work at the luxury of your own timings since any company hiring you for sales was only truly interested in the numbers you raked in :)! They see the number of sales you made, and give you a commission based salary.
I found sales to be very exciting, and at the time a suitable, job opportunity for me. The next few months saw me selling Mobile phones (for a Reliance India Mobile Direct Sales Agent), Cold drinks (for a local cold drink brand), and even Gutka and Pan Masala Brands (yep can you imagine a to-be engineer selling Pan Masala.. lol, it was real fun those days!!). CDs, soaps, detergents followed. I sold every damn thing I could get hold of and made money out of it. The list is endless!
These small part time jobs led me to discover some real fascinating secrets about Sales which later on became the strong pillars of foundation for my own entrepreneurial journey which was soon to begin. It gradually descended upon me that Sales is not just about numbers, Sales is about connecting people, knowing them and building trust and faith between each other!
Business is not about profit and loss statements, business is about people! Bringing good people near you and making them great people along with you, that’s what business meant to me.
While I was enjoying my new found success as a ‘successful’ sales person who could sell anything he got hold of to anyone you ask him to sell, I always felt there was something missing. There was always a missing link; I used to wonder what it is.
I was a geek at heart and a coder by passion, so any time that I could save from my college studies and my part time job would be spent reading stuff on latest technologies and coding projects. All this landed me my first freelance project for a local company in Raipur. The owner was so happy with my work that he wanted to hire me part-time for his projects and I gladly accepted his offer. This was still the 5th semester of my college.
And yes, I discovered the missing link too :). All those years I was working hard selling almost everything, but the fact was – I was slogging selling products manufactured by others. This was the first time where I got a chance to sell something which was manufactured by ME. Yes, it was software that I wrote, my own baby! This was the first time I got to sell something which I produced and it really matched my passion as well – coding.
So I bid farewell to all my other part-time jobs and focused mainly on software development and selling my own creations to customers. They ranged from custom built software in VB6 , C++ or web sites in classic ASP in those times.
A lot of people prior to me had taken this path and failed, so I too was very skeptical at first. I had heard numerous ghost stories of software ventures failing in their very early days in Chhattisgarh at the time. However with my by-then delectable Sales skills and coding abilities which I could vouch upon, I plunged in without caring about the results.
Though I saw initial success and decent sales of my services (not softwares), I noticed that people in my city or nearby cities couldn’t care less about IT and my software offerings. Suddenly I started feeling like it’s going to reach me nowhere.
All my Sales skills were leading me to a pit hole as people then had a common notion that all software should be given out free. It could mainly be since here we mostly get the entire windows OS (pirated) for free.
All those stories about IT companies closing down shops in Chhattisgarh kept ringing in my head. There were nights when those thoughts would keep haunting me keeping me wide awake in the middle of the night. Finally I decided not to waste any more time with the local market and carved a fresh dimension for my venture.
It was a totally new experience, out-of-the-box kinda! In fact, I have reasons to believe that Globussoft was the pioneer in entire CG area in this kind of a business concept. I am not aware if anyone before me were even aware of online market places and ways of taking their business to the next level – the virtual one!
Selling your business online is an entirely different ball game! The media, the communication channel, and payment ways – everything changes. But as usual, Sales is fun! This concept seemed to work for me and today I have one of the largest and the fastest growing software companies in entire Chhattisgarh. And without a doubt, our strength is our overtly talented sales teams who I can proudly say understand and appreciate what Sales is all about.
I made it a point to keep sales and marketing under my direct visibility since I strongly believe Sales to be a coherent part of any business and every savvy entrepreneur must master its tips and tricks to be successful in his/her venture.
Concluding words – I dedicate this post to my favorite employee Subeer who is actively helping me with our Sales. But sometimes I get the feeling that he feels he is not doing much of a “worthy” job.
He is not aware of this, but he is one of most sought after employees and truly an asset to me. I can train 10 coders but to generate sales intelligence in someone is very difficult. I wrote this post putting in days of thoughts recalling all those earlier days, since I strongly believe Sales is not in any way a worthless job and a salesman is by no means a worthless creature.
Sales is an Art, not a skill which can be developed with run of the mill training. It has enough power to make or break an entire lifetime of a business. Don’t you think it’s time we treat sales people with the respect they deserve! – Sumit Ghosh