‘MBA Mania’

During my direct sales stint I came across many talented sales people who could never make the transition to the next level of managing a team. They failed to understand that being a Manager called for very different skills than managing one’s own work and motivations.

And so we viewed visits by the Management Trainees from the Corporate office with a mix of envy and derision – they were rookies who had not toiled hard on the field but still were never at  loss of words to advise us on how we should go about doing our work.

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Bhandari owed it to me as a ranted about the latest Management trainee he had sent with me today on our sales calls. He had dropped me into rather innocuously, ‘Vijay, you are one of the guys who like to interact with our customers and are prompt in recording their feedback in the survey forms. So I would like to send this chap with you.’ I should have known better than let him fob off the rookie on my beat.

It ended up being a bad day as none of the potential calls clicked and I had to listen to rookie criticize me on every move that I made. One call in particular was baffling as I spent 45 minutes convincing a lady customer to make the switch and she seemed to be convinced. And yet she put it off at the last moment and asked me to come back after a few days. It was my last call for the day and naturally I felt a bit let down. So it cheered me not one bit to listen to further criticism as we trudged back to our ‘meeting-spot’.

Bhandari indulged me a bit further as I vented my frustration. But he did promise not send me another ‘rookie’ for at least a week.

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But it is very interesting to meet other sales people as potential customers and get to hear their feedback. Most of them are supportive of us attempting to learn about sales job the right and royal way. Quite a few of them inquire about our studies and plans for the future. I mention to them that I am pursuing my B.Sc. degree and a bit unsure on what to do next. In the field of sales, B.Sc. graduates do have a chance to work as Medical Representatives with Pharma companies and it is regarding to be a good opening option. So it is interesting to hear them recommend that I would brighten my prospects by doing a full-time MBA course. They are veteran on field with years of work experience who are very pragmatic about this. And one further piece of advice is – ‘Be flexible on your choices – ready to move cities, product lines, even companies – multiple years of experience of doing the same job will leave you in a rut and be of no help.  A change of situations and interacting with new people and places will always be to your advantage’.

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Met a rather interesting lady during my campaign in Aundh. She was very receptive to my sales pitch and listened attentively for about 15-20 minutes before she conveyed that she could not take the offer as she was moving to Bangalore to pursue her MBA from IIM (Bangalore). I wished her luck but possibly she could sense my disappointment on not making the sale. She cheered me on by saying that she had looked at our interaction as a ‘role-play’ and I had been good both at ‘objection handling’ as well as reading her cues to adjust my pitch. It all sounded weird ‘gobbledygook’ to me. And guess what was her parting shot, ‘You speak English well and are still young – do an MBA even if you want to pursue a career in Sales. It will help you move up the Corporate ladder faster.’

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The lady I had met with my ‘rookie’ finally agreed to take the offer. Post closing the deal, I felt it was safe enough to ask her why she did not agree to it when we met the last time. She looked a bit embarrassed but then let on that she had made up her mind only to realize that she was short of cash at hand and so decided to ask me to come after a few days. I thanked her for being so honest about it. I shared the anecdote with Bhandari and mentioned with a wan smile that the rookie had given me a 15 minute lecture of not ‘closing the sale’ properly. He had a laugh as well and remarked that I sure met some odd people in my course of work.

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PS: It is a bit ironic that three years down the line, rather by accident than by any design I managed to land a seat in a good MBA  college and so joined the very gang that we derided so much in our summer part-time jobs.

Collection:E+ Courtesy: Getty Images
Collection:E+
Courtesy: Getty Images

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