Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hard Work The most desired Quality of Sales Professional

Whenever qualities of Sales Persons are discussed qualities like good communications skills, good interpersonal relationship, knowledge about own products vis a vis competitors’ and Market Scenario are mostly talked about. Hard work either donot appear in list or given the last priority in the list. I am mentioning the hard word as the most desired requirement for this profession because hard work overrules all other qualifications .Hard Work is not only important in selling but it plays very significant role in all other professions also .The profession could be sales ,operation or anything else. I would rather say that hard work plays very important role in one’s personal life also . The first and foremost requirement which anybody should possess to succeed in any part of life is hard work . But the problem is that every body thinks that who hardly works is hard working.

Why Hard Work is very important specially in Sales?
To be successful in Sales I know one should have good communication skill, knowledge of the subject etc.. To be honest with you one need to put lot of hard work initially to be a good communicator and to have sound knowledge. As we know that our mother tongue is not English it is either Hindi or any other regional language but we communicate in English. If you need to have command on any foreign language you need to put lot of hard work. You will need to read a lot or listen to a lot. Same thing can be said about sound knowledge which can not be gained without hard work. I could have written about other qualities a sales guy should have to succeed in life but that will deviate you and me from the core issue of hard work. You can now clearly make out that hard work is the mother of all other requirements . If you are intelligent than it is not your achievement because this is the god’s gift to you. But to work hard is in your hand. Any body who has got moderate intelligence, moderate selling skill but is hard working will be successful .But same can not be said about a professional who is very intelligent ,he has got fantastic selling skill but is not hard working he can never can never get success consistently in his professional life.

To be successful in this form of selling you will have to interact a lot with your prospects(Probable Clients) and clients . Similarly you will have to interact a lot with your dealers, distributors or system integrator apart from the clients if you are working with Principals or manufacturing organization. For simplicity I will mention client instead of clients or prospects now onward. You will have to interact a lot internally also. Internally I mean to say you will have to interact a lot with various department in your organization. These departments are Project Department, Presale Department, Purchase Department, Support Staff , Operation Staff etc. To follow up internally or externally you need to put lot of Hard work. There is one more point which I would like to mention here is the optimum level of hard work.

I have seen during my career that lot of people put hard work but they are not able to achieve the success. You will have to put minimum amount of hard work to achieve the results. There are times when in spite of putting some amount of hard work result achieved is big zero. I would like to give you example here to make things more clearer to you .Suppose you want to lift the weight or you want to lift a stone which is weighing very heavily there is a optimum amount of effort which you have to put to lift that stone . Any thing less than optimum effort will not help you in lifting the weight . Same thing is true in the selling also .If you put 20 % efforts that does not mean that you will achieve 20 % results. You may have to put sometimes 120% efforts to achieve 100 % results. Once you achieve a breakthrough with any client than next 20 % effort may yield 100 % results. So optimum level of efforts are very- very important. It happens so many times with sales guy that he has made so many visit to client and client has reached a level where he may close the deal with one or more visit. But sales guy fails to analyze this and get frustrated as he thinks that he is not yielding results in spite of putting efforts so he stops going to the client or stops putting efforts .

So it is also necessary for sales guy to understand that he needs to put the optimum efforts to close the deals. When I talk about hard work . I put more emphasis on a sale guy to move out in the field . I have seen lot of people wasting their time in the office. In office hours they should meet their client. I have termed office as a relax zone. Lot of people waste their time unnecessarily preparing vouchers , make presentations or prepare reports in the precious time which should be devoted to field . Why I have called office as a relax zone because every body wants to relax. To be comfortable is the nature of any human being . The type of climate we have in India ,is very-very detrimental to any body . Some of the months in a year it is very hot then some of the months it is very cold and some of the months it is raining so you really have to struggle a lot ,You have to put a lot of physical effort to be in the field . Apart from this we do not have very good transportation in India we have to drive our own vehicle . Most of the sale guys are not paid very well & they drive two wheeler which also effect their performance. As a sales professional you will have to move out in the field in spite of all the problems. Until & unless you do not interact very frequently with your client the chances of closing the deal will be very minimal.

There is a saying that out of sight is out of mind. Same is true for sale guy if they don’t put hard work, do not meet their client regularly they will be out of their clients’ mind. So keep on knocking at their doors and keep on reminding clients is very essential. This will help you pushing the sale and reduce the sale cycle. When I say that regular visits will reduce the sales cycle I really mean it. You would be quite amazed how visiting regularly a client can reduce the sales cycle. What happens in real life is that the client has got has got his own priorities in life and unfortunately most of the time buying your product is not his top most priority. Your frequent visits to your client will keep on reminding him that you exist .When you put lot of efforts and show your sincerity & hard work most of the time your client also appreciate it. He feels that he must also do some thing and it will not be possible for him to make lame excuses every time you visit him. Apart from this if you regularly visit your client you will have more visibility about your client. I have seen very moderate people growing very fast because of hard work and have seen very intelligent people not growing just because of lack of Hard Work. So please note that Hard work or lack of Hard work can change the course of your career. You should make hard work as your attitude It should be way of life. When I talk about hard work, It should not only be hard work but smart work also . Whenever you are working in lot of accounts you should be able to evaluate in early stages what are the accounts which need lot of your time and what are the accounts which need least of your time.

One should have clear cut visibility of his accounts that is only possible if you put hard work , visit your clients regularly. While you interact with them regularly you will be able to get a clear cut visibility of your account & that will determine the amount of efforts you should put in . You will be able to categorize your accounts . There will be some accounts which should be graded very hot accounts and can be termed as a ‘A’ grade accounts . There will be some accounts which are not very hot can be graded as a ‘B” grade accounts & you will take some time to take these accounts at maturity level. There are some accounts which are at very early stages & can be graded as a “C’ grade accounts .Then there are fourth type of accounts where there is no requirement . You have to create the need in these accounts .These accounts can be categorized as a ‘D’ grade account . So based on these grading you can organize your efforts. You can set priority of your accounts as per the grading . Most of the time I have seen sale guy are not able to evaluate their accounts and start putting efforts in wrong direction . In spite of their lot of efforts they are not able to close any sales.

So Evaluation of these accounts is very-very important. 80% of your efforts should go to your 20% account which are very- very hot & 20% of your efforts should go to 80 % of your account which are not very hot. All the accounts should move up in a chain . The account which are at very initial stage should move to semi hot stage after some time. Your priority on accounts should keep on changing . It is a very- very dynamic scenario and you know change is the only constant factor .Your assessment about the accounts should be very dynamic ,it can never be static . Your efforts & amount of efforts keep on changing as the accounts move up in the chain. To do all these the first and foremost quality you need to have is hard work.

I would like to mention one more aspect of Hard work which is must for any sale person or for that matter for any person to succeed in any aspect of life is sincerity . When we talk about sincerity it means sales guys need to be sincere to their profession , They have to be sincere to their Organizations , they have to be sincere to themselves and last but not the least to the customers . Actually a sales guy not only represents his organization to the customer but he is representing his customer to his organization also. He has to ensure that interest of his organization and his customers are well taken care of. He can neither take his organization nor his customer for a ride. There has been a very misconception that sale guys should be cunning and over smart to be successful . They have to be smart but not cunning , and they should be very sincere .

Sincerity pays you in long run . Most of the sales guy thinks that they can make fool out of the customers . But remember you can make them fool once but not twice . If as sales guy if you try to be cunning most of the time you will not be able to close the deal because after one or two meeting customer will be able to understand your real motive. You need to be very honest with him and try to explain what are the positive aspect of your product/ technology and solutions & explain him rationally. If you adopt this approach you may loose business but will be able to win customer’s confidence. Next time whenever he has some requirement he will definitely call you & will try to give some priority over others. Even the most dishonest person on earth wants honest partner. Sincerity towards the customer will pay you in the long run . I have seen most of the sales guys are not sincere towards their organizations also .They report false sales funnel which raise the expectations of the organization. Organizations plan as per the projections provided by the sales teams. Incase there is huge difference between the projected and actual sales all the planning of organization goes haywire.

I will summaries everything that when I ask you to put hard work I just donot want you to put some efforts you have to put more than 100% efforts in this profession . Just by putting 25% effort or just by putting 50 % of effort will not yield any result . You need to put the optimum efforts. Any thing lesser than that will not yield any result.

Investigate Your Future employer before you accept the new Job

A huge shock was in store for Rajesh Sharma on the first day of his joining new organization. He was informed that even if he was late by one minute his half day salary will be deducted and his new organization followed this rule very religiously. As a sales guy he was used to flexible hours. He used to visit his clients in the morning and than go to office later on. Meeting Sales target was the main benchmark rather than reaching office on time. In the new organization it was a rule to first report to office and than visit clients. This happened to be ineffectual and inconvenient for him. Similarly there could be some other cultural shocks once you join new organization. After you have given offer letter and you decide to resign from your present job. Please be sure about the following because once you have put up your papers it may not be possible for you to take back your resignation. It is always prudent to keep it confidential even if you are planning to resign. These things spreads like fire in the jungle and some of the Organization may take proactive actions. There are still some organizations who feel that sacking an employee is better for the Organization rather than him deciding to quit the job. The following information should be gathered before you decide to tender your resignation.

Financial of the organization : This is one of the most important information you should gather before you take up job . Munish Khanna after taking up new job was dismayed to know that the organization has not paid salary for last three month to their employees . When he went for the interview he was impressed by the huge office infrastructure of the organization. The office was lavishly decorated. Large number of people could be seen working there. He could never imagine that the Organization will be in such immense financial quandary. If it is a listed company the financial statements are easily available. Just look for their turnover and net profit in last three years. Please don’t be guided by their share prices. Share prices are some times manipulated by the organizations. If it is not listed Organization than please ask for audited balance sheet. Please note that you have also the right to know about the organization in the same way they have the right to know about you. You can talk to their existing employees , their suppliers ,their vendors etc. You should also try to know that do they pay on time or not because lot of the organization even being financially strong have strange habit of paying late.

Management of the Organization : You should try to find out if the organization is professionally managed or it runs on the whims and fancy of promoters. Is it employee oriented organization looking for welfare of the employees or it only thinks about creating wealth. You also need to find out that they do not follow unethical practices to gain business. Once you join them you may have to follow same unethical practices which you may not like to do. Please note that Organization who promotes corruption ultimately become victim to it. It is better to join a smaller organization who believes in employee welfare rather than joining a giant who just believes in only wealth creation. It is a different issue that no organization can create wealth if they don’t think about the welfare of their employees.

Business Module of the Organization : It is also imperative to know that your prospective employer’s business module is feasible or not. If you are not able to understand the business module try to discuss it with your seniors friends or some professional in the same field. It is always advisable to join the organization with strong business module. Remember what happened to those who left their stable jobs and joined startup organizations who had unproven web based business module. Once the bubble got burst they were jobless and did not know what to do.

Job profile :

Sunil Srivastava got a shock of his life when he was told that he has to look after sales even though he has been in Pre Sales (Technical) since starting of his career. His interviewer somehow could not differentiate between Pre sales and Sales. Sunil also did not bother to find out the exact job profile . It is always better to understand the exact job profile , exact designation ,expectation of the organization and hierarchy . If you have all this information you can always find out your compatibility with the Job and the Organization.

Salary and other Perks :

Anish Bhardwaj was very disappointed to find out that gratuity and employer’s contribution toward PF was also deducted from his salary. He assumed that employer’s contribution will be in addition to the CTC . It is always advisable to discuss your salary details with your prospective employer. You should ask your prospective employer to clearly mention each and every component of salary in your appointment letter. One more thing where employees feel cheated is the Travel and local conveyance reimbursement. Lots of organization pay handsomely but become very squirrel while reimbursing tours and travel bills. If your job involves lots of travel than these allowance also become very important.

If you have thoroughly investigated all the aspects related to your new job mentioned above please go and resign. Please note that making enquiries regarding your prospective employer without arousing any suspicion in your current organization is going to be a difficult game.

Remarks : Names mentioned in the article changed on request

How to retain Employees

The biggest challenge faced by an organization today is not one of growth or profitability. Rather, it is about retaining one’s best employees. For a qualified professional these days, there is no dearth of jobs. He only needs to send out feelers before he’s flooded with offers. This allows him to operate from a vantage position, imposing his terms on an organisation and negotiating a lucrative deal. No wonder every Human Resources manager has recurring nightmares about an employees’ movement.

But let us delve further. Let’s look at the different types of employees that work in an organisation. Essentially, there are three:

Attached: They are motivated individuals with a strong sense of belonging. They are the prime movers in an organisation, responsible for its growth and progress.

Not Attached: They are mechanical workers. They simply do as they are told and don’t exercise their imagination in any way. Their contribution to the organisation is only in terms of the time they spend working.

Detached: They are individuals with a negative mindset. They are unhappy most of the times and spread gloom in the workplace. This adversely affects the performance of other employees.

The first task of management is to identify ‘detached’ employees and motivate them to become ‘attached’. If this fails, then the management would do well to get rid of them. The age-old maxim ‘one rotten apple spoils the entire basket’ is perfectly applicable here. The next step should be to focus on the ‘not attached’ employees and try and increase their attachment levels. Only after these conversions have been carried out successfully should the management shift its focus on ‘attached’ employees and think of ways of retaining them.

Selection of candidates: It is best to nip the evil in the bud. Hiring managers should take pains to hire candidates who have a positive outlook on life and work. A proper background check should be carried out prior to selection. This could be a tedious affair and even expensive, but it’s definitely worthwhile in the long run. During the interview, a Hiring manager should be open and frank with a prospective employee when discussing scope of work, compensation, growth prospects, and other information which could be of interest to the candidate. Driven by targets themselves, a lot of Hiring managers withhold important information from the candidate. This could easily escalate into something serious later on, where an employee feels cheated and either quits the company or turns detached.

Adequate Compensation: Money is one of the biggest motivating factors. Therefore, employees should be well-compensated to keep them from looking for better alternatives. An organisation should adopt a policy of bi-annual appraisals, though ideally it should be every four months or so. Apart from regular salaries, an organisation should device a formula whereby the performers are rewarded monetarily.

Training: There is a strong misconception in the industry that employee turnout is greater immediately after the initial training/orientation phase. Contrary to this, as is evident from a number of independent surveys, training helps reduce attrition levels. The lesson here is that organisations need to organise regular training programs to provide employees with the necessary motivation.

The role played by the supervisor: Does a supervisor play any role in influencing his subordinates, either to remain with or leave an organisation? As per one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind undertaken by the Gallup organisation, which analysed responses from a million employees and 80,000 managers, it was revealed that: if you're losing good people, look to their immediate supervisor. He is one of the biggest reasons why people remain with an organisation. He's also the main reason why they quit, taking with them their much-valued knowledge and experience - straight to the competition!

A public reprimand by a supervisor is one of the main reasons why people leave an organisation. At the first instance, an employee may not leave. Nevertheless, a thought has taken shape in his mind. The second time around, this thought gathers roots. After that, the employee starts browsing job sites and getting in touch with placement consultants.

An individual who leaves an organisation becomes its spokesman - either to enhance or tarnish its reputation in the market. To counter this, organisations should adopt a 360ยบ appraisal system whereby employees are not only appraised by seniors, but also by their peers and subordinates.
A number of employees are afraid of giving honest feedback about their superiors as they’re afraid of the repercussions. To avoid this, a system that protects the identity of the person giving feedback should be enforced.

Negative feedback should not be taken on face value. It should be properly investigated with an unbiased mind. If found guilty, the erring supervisor should be summoned and advised to change his management style. If the management receives repeated complaints against a supervisor, and there’s also no discernible change in his working style, disciplinary action should be considered. After all, a manager with excellent leadership qualities but moderate skills set is far better than a manager with excellent skills but who is not a team player.

These are some fundamental but hugely effective methods that an organisation could profit from. Once set into motion, they will result in greater employee satisfaction and lower employee turnover. More importantly, it will result in happier and more productive employees. Growth and profitability will automatically follow.