Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 2- The 1st day of market- Chirag Dilli

The HR female- let us call her Aditi, asked us to report to the North branch office in Delhi the next day at 9 am sharp for our 1st day of market work.
"Please don't be late else the Sales Manager will take my case... also, all units have to leave for the market by 9 am... if you don't reach on time, the entire schedule will go haywire".

We were very excited... this is what we had joined for.
But first I need to define/explain some terms:

- Distributor: The most important person in the market... and he knows it. Your month's targets, promotions, life, death are dependent on him. On a serious note, he is the company's partner and provides infrastructure for distribution. Every organization has a different infrastructure requirement but it basically works like this:

    • He earns margin... anywhere from 5-7%, depending on sector
    • He employs a PSR (pilot sales representative) to take orders in the retail and wholesale market
    • He employs delivery guys and puts vans/cycles/bikes/tempos for making deliveries
    • He buys stock from the company... a healthy stock norm is 7 days and less... anything above 15 days is very unhealthy and earns the company a bad reputation
    • He has to follow specified company norms in terms of maintaining reports, stocks, distribution (width and depth) etc
    • He always gives credit in the market. This differs for every sector and city. In Chennai, credit given is 90% of sales... while Mumbai is mainly a cash market
- Retailer: The person who buys stock from the distributor to sell to the consumer e.g chemist, grocer etc
- Wholesale/wholesaler: The market in which goods are sold in bulk to a retailer or consumer. They are middlemen and help the company reach retailers who don't buy directly from the distributor. They also give credit to retailers which is an added incentive to buy from them.
- Unit: A van/tempo/cycle/bike etc in which delivery is made
- Ready stock: In this method, the PSR and delivery guy go to the retailer together.They take the order and supply the stock at the same moment. This is generally used for products which are impulse purchase e.g confectionery. 
- Order booking: In this method, the PSR goes to the market alone... takes orders... returns to the distributor office, makes the bills... and stocks are supplied next day by the delivery guys. This also leads to order cancellation the next day if the retailer changes his mind.
- Sales officer: The guy employed by the organization who overlooks all the above. He has sales targets which maybe different for each brand. 
- Area Sales Manager: He is allotted a team of sales officers in a particular territory. Example- Gujarat generally has 2-3 ASMs for each organization
- Branch Sales Manager: Also called Regional Sales Manager or Sales Manager in some companies. The ASMs report to him. He handles 2-3 states in a region.
- Branch Manager: The titular head of the region. Generally, everyone in the branch reports to him (sales, admin, HR, planner etc) except for accounts. Accounts is always a separate function.
- Primary: When stocks are billed from the company to distributor, it is called primary sales
- Secondary: When stocks are sold to retail/wholesale by the distributor, the sales are called secondary
- Offtakes: The sales that happen when the customer purchases from the retail are called offtakes
- Beat: Every PSR has a beat or route that is covered. He has 6 beats (1 per day) with Sunday off. There are 30 (personal care) to 60 (confectionery) stores per beat. 

I came across these terms in my MBA but could not make the head and tail of it.... one day on the field and everything was crystal clear. 

So, coming back... we were supposed to reach by 9 am at Defence Colony, Delhi from Gurgaon. No big deal... it takes 1-1.5 hours. We should have left by 8 am, maximum. But, did we? 

In the morning there was another gentleman staying in the guesthouse. We  found him intimidating and waited for him to finish breakfast before we had ours. Don't ask why... we were MTs... always deferential, scared, obliging, obedient to a fault, ready to do anything. The gentleman finished his b'fast at a leisurely pace at 8.45 am since it would take him only 15 mins to reach office. We left for Delhi at 9 am.
9.30 am onwards Aditi started calling frantically. The BSM (Branch Sales Manager) was screwing her happiness for our unpunctuality.  
We reached office by 10.30 am... this young (early 30s) guy pulled us into the conference room and screamed at us. He was going to be my future boss in sales. 
We were divided into groups and sent off to the distributor.
DS and S were in my group. We reached the distributor... he allotted us a unit each and we set off. I met the Sales Officer- Kuldeep in the market. He was quite smart... spoke very well... was fair... and a Kashmiri. He had worked in J&K as well. I was surprised to know that candies and gums have a high demand in that state... specially fruit flavoured liquid filled gum. 
My beat was Chirag Dilli. It is an area I will never venture into again. We visited every outlet on foot (since the Sales Officer did not have a vehicle) while the PSR and delivery guy travelled in the tempo. Generally, the SO (sales officer) would sit in the front with the driver (due to lack of options) in the van. We went to every outlet (only retail), showed samples of products- new launches, regular brand with a new promotion, focus brand which has incentive etc and tried to sell to the retailer. We had to cover 60 outlets and this was in June when heat was at its peak. Have you been to Chirag Dilli? It has such narrow lanes that a vehicle cannot enter. We walked to these outlets, took the orders, came back to the van and carried the jars to be delivered. 

During lunch hour, the PSR and delivery boy carried their tiffin and went to find a place to eat. Kuldeep and I had a juice. After lunch, we resumed selling. Our target was to cover 60 stores. Kuldeep had to fill a DMR (Daily market report). He had to write down the name of each outlet, tick on the brands he saw there and mention the sales for each brand he sold in the outlet. At the end of the beat he would mention his observations on the market. The report was then read by the distributor, signed and stamped. Kuldeep then posted it to the sales office. On receiving it, he got his DA (daily allowance)- between Rs 100-150. This allowance is given for market work. It is supposed to cover cost of food, water and some amount of travel. If any sales officer's DMR did not reach for a particular day he was not given his DA. Due to the unreliability of the postal services, every SO kept a xerox of the DMR as proof of market working.
Now, there is a much better method to get the market report. A software has been added to the SO's phone. He just types in everything at the end of day. The report is in BM's mail by morning. 

I survived the 60 calls... I did not faint... DS, S and I assembled at the distributor point and left for Gurgaon. It had been an exciting day and made all of us sure of our career choice. None of us regretted the decision. 

The market was most difficult for Delhites... they were afraid someone would recognize them. My dad would have had a heart attack if someone he knew saw me selling candies and gums to paan galas in my native place. He would be the talk of town, not for good reasons. N, D and A were very conscious... I think D's dad spotted N travelling in the van with the PSR and asked him about it in the evening. 

Lessons learned:
- Be punctual. It was drilled into us that units HAVE to leave for the market at 9 am. This was rule number 1 in every market... our 1st job of the day as SO or ASM. No compromises. My sales stint during MT made me a robot and I always turned up on time. There was not even 1 day that I was late. The 1st job is the MOST important. What you learn stays for life. I learned the importance and adherence to time. It has stayed... sure, I do get late sometimes... but I am not habitually time... I am not consistently late. Instead, most times I reach before time and have to spend time waiting for my team/colleagues. 

- There is no ego in sales. Imagine selling product of Rs 100 to a paan wala. He can easily brush you off or even throw you out of the shop. You can't pick a fight 'coz you need him (more than he needs you). You will visit him over and over again for business. 

- Lunch was a practical problem throughout my sales career. Where do you eat lunch? Nobody likes to eat out everyday... even if I carry a tiffin where do I eat it? For a lot of people, it is easier to get into the habit of skipping lunch. 

- If I was the Professor teaching sales/distribution, I would throw away the textbooks and make the students work in the market for 1 day. Thats all that is needed... everything else is gyaan (gaaassss). 

To be continued... 


  1. Not bad ! keep writing more..


  2. @ Mysterio: Thanks... coming for you thats quite a compliment... since you already know all the stories

    @ RT: Tomorrow...