Sales Calls.

My curt responses to many sales calls on my cellphone have reduced the number of calls that I receive to perhaps one or two in a week. I find them most annoying as I am sure are all my readers.

I get calls pitching new flats, health insurance policies, loans, etc mostly but, today I just burst out laughing when I received a call promoting a Matrimonial Site.

There was this very sweet voice saying, “Sorry to disturb you sir but, I am calling from xyz Matrimony.” My initial reaction was to burst out laughing which must have puzzled the lady and when I eventually told her that I am 79 years old, even she burst out laughing, apologised for calling and disconnected.

Have you been approached on a telephone call by a Matrimonial site?

Change.

Since the onset of the Ukrainian war, prices generally have been showing upward movements and there are many shortages being reported in many markets. When some friends chat with me about these developments, I tell them that they have seen such situations before and this time too, this phase will pass.

In just such a recent discussion, a 65 year old friend who is a highly respected trader in my part of the world  spoke to me about the changes that have taken place since my time of association with him in a client, manager relationship. I have been associated with the firm that he represents for the past more than fifty years and he particularly  for forty years.

He agreed with me that he has seen other such periods of price and supply volatility and how they had tackled them but, he added that during the time that he was associated with me, there was personal involvement in the supplier / buyer relationships which in today’s commerce, has been replaced with rapid turnover of people in positions and also a system heavily dependent on laptops. On probing I found that supply chain management has now been highly mechanised and computers do most of the work that people did during my times. He derisively called this “Laptop Management” and its practitioners “Laptop Managers”.

I was amused as well as sad that the personal touch has gone from a very long relationship between his firm and the one that I was part of.

I however decided to share some humour with him and sent him the following cartoon in WhatsApp with the message that during my time, in Management Laptop usually meant this type of relationships.

Today, I hesitate to use such cartoons lest I be accused of male chauvinism! That is also a significant change that has taken place in our lives!

A Treat!

Amul is a famous dairy products organisation of India offering a variety of products which are household names. It is also famous for its hoarding advertising which are humorous and topical. If you follow the link given earlier, there is a special column for its advertising which will be interesting for strangers to read.

Amul has constantly been innovating and launching new products and customers are delighted with the range and reach via all traditional and non traditional distribution channels. My family and I are great fans of it and its products.

Amul’s Camel Milk Chocolate was launched three years ago and I came to know of it only last year through an advertisement in a magazine that I normally do not read. Since then, I have been wanting to taste it but thanks to Covid, had to wait for it till earlier today when my son on an outing found it in a store, remembered my craving for it and bought it for me.

(If you look at the image carefully, you will see an embossed image of a camel and pieces of chocolate at the bottom right corner.)

I am delighted. It is everything that I expected from an unusual source. It tastes kind of strange but still very addictive. Now that I know where it can be bought from, it will regularly feature in my snacks.

Anything exotic like this recently in your life?

Old Ways.

I am currently unable to pay for any shopping done online as I am going through a problem with my bank’s net banking service due to my telephone number not being able to receive OTPs from them. This matter will take a few days to resolve and till it does I would not be able to use the internet banking service.

In the meanwhile, thanks to modern targeted marketing I came across an online bookshop offering some books on Indian Spiritual matters. I decided to buy two books to see how good they are and completed all the formalities till I came to the payment section. I then remembered about my current internet banking problem and gave up the exercise without concluding the transaction online.

This happened yesterday and this morning I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from the online books shop wanting to know why I did not complete the transaction.

On explaining the problem of online payment that I was currently facing, the lady offered to send me the books on Cash On Delivery basis but, that would cost more as the courier companies charged collection charges at the time of delivery.

I then suggested to the lady that she sends the books by VPP and she was stumped. I had to explain what it was and she said that it was the first time that she was hearing about it. I asked her if she was a very young person and she said yes and I understood the reason for her not knowing about VPP.

In any case, she was reluctant to use the VPP system as it  perhaps would mean going to the local post office whereas the courier companies collected from their office. I reluctantly agreed to her sending on COD basis.

The world has changed. People like me need to find ways to adjust to new ways!  Including COD instead of VPP at extra cost.

Have you had any such experiences?

The Relationship Of Sales, Politics And The Truth.

Although I had reached General Management positions before I retired from active business life, I spent most of it in Marketing and more specifically in Sales. I never however, sold or tried to sell Snake Oil. A salesman however is always looked upon suspiciously and terms like Snake Oil Salesman, Used Car Salesman, Wheeler Dealer etc,  are more common than just plain salesman. I am a rare salesman who even now calls his occupation as a Retired Salesman.

So, when this topic was suggested by The Old Fossil, I was intrigued as to why he would have come up with this odd combination and racked my brain to find something linking these three words. It has not been easy but, I hope that what I have come up with here finds my readers’ approval.

The best description of a Salesman’s job that I have come across is “creating a demand and catering to it”.  This can mean creating a demand for something for which demand did not exist as well as diverting demand from a competitor’s product to one’s own. I flatter myself that in both these activities, I have had a fairly successful career and though I have met failures, they have been much less in comparison to my successes.

I also strongly believe that I was successful because I did not take recourse to politics to sell which I have seen many salesmen do. I use the word politics in a broader sense than the narrower one of the field of politicians. For instance, I had an experience of losing a customer to a competitor because the Purchase Manager of the customer was bribed. I could have politicked and gone over his head but, preferred to wait out and was rewarded with my patience when the product failed on the shop floor and investigation found out the reason for the shift and I was back dealing with the same customer but with a different Purchase Manager.

Another example was doing the opposite.  Influencing production people to complain about a competitor’s product so that the purchase department is forced to buy from another source.  I never indulged in this kind of politicking either.

Such experiences repeated  many times and my advice to Sales Professionals was and is even now to avoid such traps / temptations.

Coming to Truth, I inevitably found that truth eventually wins in Marketing and hype inevitably fails in the long term. This however need not be the mantra for all Sales Professionals. Let me give an example. When I was a Sales Trainee, I had gone with a Senior Salesman to a customer to learn the ropes and despite much effort, my senior could not clinch a deal. On reporting back to the Sales Manager, after asking a number of questions he came up with a statement that I will never forget in my life. “Gentlemen, you failed because you did not give the customer facts. They don’t have to be facts but, give customers facts to be effective salesmen.”

Fortunately for me I did not take this particular piece of training to heart and that particular Sales Manager came to a bad end eventually.

My motto was always “promise less and deliver more” and this worked and I did not have to resort to telling lies or twisting truths in my career. The fact that many of the customers with whom I had established strong relationships continue to be my friends even now bears testimony to that.

This is my contribution to this week’s Friday 8 On 1 blog post topic. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman , Srinivas and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad The Old Fossil. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Focussed Advertising.

My friend Arun sent me this photograph yesterday in WhatsApp and went on a nostalgia trip about a pheriwala (door to door hawker) who used to visit their home selling a variety of biscuits and asked me if I too remember such pheriwalas.

I responded that even now, a hawker  comes to our neighbourhood every morning selling the same variety of biscuits. I added that till a couple of years ago, he used a bicycle with a trunk on the carrier to carry his ware and that he would use a claxon type of horn to announce his arrival. Now, he has upgraded to a moped due to progress. I added this photo obtained from Google Images to show the kind of horn that he used.

Today, as I was browsing my Facebook account, lo and behold, I get this advertisement on my screen

Do you now see why WhatsApp and Facebook apps are for free?