If you can sell a service, you can sell almost anything in this world!

Tue, Aug 5, 2014

The Lighter Side

The First Day

New day, new hopes, and a new company (a startup); DeliveryChef.in.

You are told a day before your internship begins to decide the venue for the first meeting with your colleague. GIP mall it is. You reach the place well in advance so as not to leave a bad impression on the very first day of your internship. Well, life as they say, has some different plans for you. You keep waiting for an hour for your colleague and of course your boss or your manager I should say. Aditya, my colleague; is pursuing his MBA from DOMS, IIT Roorkee. Oh, before that I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Ketan Bagga, an MBA student at IIT Kanpur having a prior experience of around a year in the IT industry, obviously as a software engineer. Coming back to the story, Aditya greets me with a smile and a handshake, which is the first pleasing thing of my day. And bangs me with this huge surprise when he says that no one else is going to join us now and we are going to do this internship with all the coordination and communication on phone calls with the company’s only office located in Mumbai.

Expectations Vs Reality

“He must be kidding”, was my first reaction at that time. But, unfortunately not, which I realized when his phone rang (with the idea’s official ringtone) and I was praying inside, “Oh God, aap humein ullu mat banao” (Oh God, don’t fool us around). Anyway, on the other side of the phone, was Mr. Sachin Kinny, The Business Manager, welcoming both of us with his warm wishes straight from his heart. Wait, “straight from his heart”? No! straight from the Head Office in Mumbai, I should say!

The phone call lasted for an hour and by the end of it, the profile of Marketing and Business Development was turned into Core Sales, the office hours were replaced by convenient timings, the office building was replaced by the entire Delhi/NCR and last but not the least, the expectations of sitting in an AC were instantly replaced by the rigorous travelling in the summers of Delhi. And on the top of that, it was announced that there will be no travelling allowances or any other amenities be provided to such excellent interns (at least one of them was excellent).  But that is fair enough from a startup’s perspective, I believe now.

Initial Struggle

So the initial few days went in hustle and bustle while we had no clue what exactly we were doing except exploring different restaurants and their cuisines in Delhi. I’d be honest in confessing something here, that I faced almost 40-50 failures in a row in the first week itself. Some restaurants owners won’t even ask you for a glass of water, while others would candidly say that they are too busy for a salesman like you. At times you’ve to talk to the waiters and convince them for a meeting with the manager, and mostly they’ll hand over to you a visiting card of their restaurant (which is good for nothing, I realized later on). Soon, I figured out that if you got to sell an idea, or a service concept, then the first thing would be to believe in it yourself. Thereafter, present it as if you were the one who is behind it. As if, it is the next big thing which is going to transform the industry. And last but not the least; generate a trust with the help of your own credentials alongside your other reputed clients you added already.

Learning to Adapt

The next phase comprised of preparing a database from the existing competitors, then calling the restaurant owners randomly, asking them for their mail ids, try scheduling a meeting and fortunately if you get their time, make sure that it’s worth it for both of you. The process of following up your clients, almost every single day till they are convinced or they seriously block your number; is very important from the sales perspective. You ought to pitch in at the right time, to the right person. While the negotiation power lies with your client, the negotiation skills must lie at your side; only then would you be able to crack the appropriate deals.

Targets in Sales

Last but not the least, let’s talk about targets! Sales without targets would be like sky without the stars; incomplete. Meeting these targets is never an easy task (you usually realize this reality a little late), especially for a novice intern in a new domain. Yes, it’ll be frustrating sometimes, but might be exciting the very next moment, depending on the deals you make or break. All you need with you is domain knowledge, the analysis of competitors’ strategies, the never say die attitude, and a little bit of luck on your side. However, all this would work only after you keep your ego aside. People would shut doors on your face, they would disconnect your calls without listening to your name, they won’t trust you(unless you’re working for a big brand), they would literally be cruel while negotiating for commissions (or sharing of profits), they won’t value your time and it doesn’t matter to them where you come from. The only thing which they mean is pure business, and how much money you can bring to them in the shortest period of time.

The Saga Ends

Summing it all up, I’d say that an MBA in Marketing would be incomplete without getting your hands dirty in real time sales. At the end of 2 months as a summer intern, neither do I have a big brand name to boast of, nor do I have a highly reputed niche profile with some financial services which most of the MBA students would dream of. But I’d still admit that working for a startup is an exciting task to take up and I enjoyed the work I did during my internship. There is surely a lot of learning involved which can be termed as “self-management” and you get to see a completely different side of the business by not sitting in an air-conditioned office, rather grilling yourself on field. I’m sure my experience would help me in more than one way in the upcoming years. And after the completion of this different kind of internship, I surely feel open towards working in different domains and ready to take up a challenging profile which offers me more of freedom than money!

Ketan Bagga

M.B.A. 2013-2015

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