Friday, June 28, 2013

ASM's surprise visit- The Devil is in the details... Always

It rained on the previous day... my formals had become soiled. I decided to dress safe- meaning, wear my worst clothes the next day since it was raining heavily. I also wore floaters to avoid damage to my formal shoes.
Guess what? Hash turned up at the market at 12 noon. He had told me he would come along on one of those days but I didn't expect it to be a surprise visit. This was new for me.

Lesson learned: Always... ALWAYS... give a surprise visit when in sales. Why? Thats the only way to know if someone is working. It is very easy to sneak away. I could easily have told the DSE to cover up for me while I slept in the hotel or sneak away early (since most days Bala and I worked in separate markets). In my current organization, it does not create a big issue if a MT does this. The feedback does not even reach the HO. That was not the case in my previous organization. The news would be all over by the end of the day... nothing remained a secret. For example, my junior had stepped out of the market during lunch to go to the cyber cafe to check his email (his version)... maybe he went for half an hour only when the salesman was having lunch... or maybe he sneaked away. Who knows? Fact is, the BSM (Branch Sales Manager) was in the market that day and got to know about the cyber cafe trip. By evening the HO and the entire company knew it.

Hash was not happy with my attire. He admonished me for wearing floaters. This is what he said... btw, he was wearing floaters too:

Hash: I messaged my Boss (the BSM) that I will wear floaters to work today. After his approval I am wearing them. Always dress in formals.

Good advice BUT... later I got to know, the BSM hardly cared who is wearing what as long as sales targets were met. If targets were not met, he would have a problem even with the colour of someone's underwear.

Later, when I was an ASM I chose comfort over rules. I used to travel a lot. My work timings were 9 am- 6 pm and I travelled before or after that. I lived in jeans, kurtas and floaters.

The market work with Hash was a big learning experience. I had been going with the salesman everyday and it had gotten boring. He knew his job and was doing it. Language was a big barrier for me. How do I communicate with the retailer? Has taught me to follow up on the salesman's focus brand target and day's sales. After every 10 stores, he would ask the salesman to total the sales till then and check on how many jars of focus brand he has sold. It seems like a little thing but helped a lot. The salesman became aware of what he was doing... he started focusing more since he now has a target in mind.

He also taught me to merchandise. After making the bill, we did not just hand over the jars of candy/gums to the retailer, we opened the jar... removed the cover... placed in a location where it was visible very well. This was our way of giving him service. It seems like a little thing but much later (when I was an ASM), the ASM of Cadbury would compliment on how good our market service and touch was... how well the DSEs and ASMs were in touch with the market. He was trying to develop that in his team but it was difficult.

Hash taught me to check the bill the salesman was making. I realized the salesman had been making mistakes... he was not good with calculations and did not carry a calculator (having lost the previous ones which further infuriated the distributor). I had been working with this guy for a few days and did not realize this. Again, a small thing but that is the role of the DSE. The devil is in the details.

Hash gave me an insight on the brands, supply chain, distribution, competition etc. He admonished me for not interacting enough with the retailers. He is from Mangalore but had picked up some Tamil and could understand, if not speak very fluently.

At the end of the day, I was glad he had come. I got a better perspective on what sales is all about... what is the DSE's role. I am so glad he was my first boss. Someone else would barely have cared.
Everytime a MT has been allotted to me (twice in the last 4 years), I spend enough time with that person to help her (it has only been females till now) understand sales and her project. It is very easy to ignore MTs... after all, how many actually add value? Can they compare with someone who has been in sales for a long time? But I remember the time given to me and do the same.

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