How is it like to be in Sales?

No matter howsoever little time I have spent in Sales, but nevertheless, every now and then I have been asked this question - "How is it like to be in Sales"? If not the exact verbatim, then perhaps a variant of the same. I was guzzling with thoughts on this and thought of penning it down right now itself (0118 hrs IST).

Frankly, I don't really have a well framed, certified by all answer to that question. All that I can tell you is what comes with it and then you make your choice on whether it is good or bad, suits you or not.

A sales person I think is very much like the Striker in a Football Game. Backed by mid-field (mainly Marketing), his/her job is to convert and Score.

Yes, Sales to me is like a sport. For that matter everything to me is like a sport, so let's chuck that for a moment. (that's a side effect of me loving and being into lot of sports). But somewhere at the end of this post you will perhaps agree that it is like a sport.

Sales is indeed about numbers and people and behaviour. Lets start with numbers first. Achieving them gives you a sense of joy, immense joy especially at the start of your sales career or when it had come after a close finish.

There are times when you end up feeling like a Dhoni, turning a nail-biting finish in your favour and then there are also times when you end up with the feeling of the Duckworth Lewis Method being applied to you and that you obviously feel its illogical and utter nonsense. (Apologies for the extreme cricket analogy but I just couldn't help it).

You can just imagine what wonders the above two extremes of feelings do when in a team. They bond you like anything. Forget your own team, it also acts as a bond between two otherwise strangers, sales persons.

Its like people who smoke, no matter if they are meeting for the first time, they just bond over it! They bond over hundreds and thousands of stories and experiences about, well yes, sales (sales calls, customer reactions, numbers achieved, targets missed and so on).

One other advantage, at least it is in my case, is that a sales guy has a network of people (other sales guys) throughout the country! A true blessing in disguise. You have a known face, in every part of a huge country i.e. India! If not directly, then through another sales fellow. How cool is that?

Moving on to the next bit of people and behaviour. One integral part of sales is meeting and interacting with people. New ones, old ones, every day, many times a day. Couple it with the fact that these people belong to different parts of the country (more on it later in the post). I have realised and truly appreciate the kind of dimensions it adds to one's perspective. I have certainly benefited from the same. I have met all kinds of people, road side mechanics to business tycoons with networths in crores! And that, across different parts of the country. Trust me when I say it totally modifies the way you think with more and more number of new people you keep on meeting and more and more number of interactions you have.

Not many would be wondering, but worth while explaining how and what of "different parts of the country". As a sales guy, you do not stick to one particular role or geography for a long long period (again its not something etched in stone, but sort of a generalised observation). This also means that you are most likely to have at least one stint in a non-hometown geography. Now just imagine, traveling to a new place becomes a PART of your JOB! I have traveled to so many different cities across the country as a part of my job. Travel might not excite you, like it didn't really 'excite' me so to speak few years back but now I love exploring. New places, different kinds of food, new people, different languages and what not! And of course, you've guessed it right, its all paid for by someone else :)

Belgaum to Pune to Goa to Chennai to Hyderabad to Vizag to Jaipur to Jodhpur to Lucknow to Varanasi. I have travelled this ON WORK! The Hyderbadi Biryani to munching on squids and crabs to gorging on Tundey Kebabs to feasting on Dal Baati, it has all been a part of this journey!

Of course, its awesome but yes its tiring too. Travel and lot of travel do take a toll on your body, both physically and mentally but then again you have to balance. I have met quite a few people who "envy" my "sponsored" travel to so many different places and then there are ones who would straightaway say, "pata nai yaar tu kaise kar leta hai, mere bas ki to nai hai" (I don't know how you do it, I just can't). 

But then, that is why they say - To each his own

Since I am anyway writing about it, I'll also touch upon 2 other questions that I have been asked at some point in time. 

First - What do you NOT like about sales?
A few people I know would say, "Pressure to perform", could be, but for me its something different. For me it is those periods where you have to stay in a geography where you don't have friends/family. For me, those periods have been slightly tough. You will point at what I wrote above about meeting new people and exploring new places. Surely that's what you can do, but somethings just do not have replacements. I still remember some of those periods when I would be eyeing for that one long break (even 3 day off meant 'long') when I would visit friends in Bombay or be back home in Delhi. I always tried to race against time in that period. I tried to live a full week in every single day. And boy was the "vacation" withdrawal syndrome difficult to handle? You bet!

The other question I distinctly remember was when I was interacting with a bunch of students at SPJIMR and someone asked "Do they fire you if you don't meet the targets?" This, that student told me was one fear that stopped her from even thinking about pursuing a career in sales. Frankly, I do not have a full proof well researched, yes or no answer to that. All I know is, meeting targets is just one aspect and there are hell lot of other things that a sales guy does and is expected to do (the approach, thought process, execution, etc) that determine his/her performance. This again is from what I have seen and realised as a result of discussions with fellow sales guys across organisations.

Well, that's it on "how is it like to be in sales?" I'll say again, that am no Sales Expert or Legend or something. Just shared few snippets of my observations and assimilation from whatever little experience I have had.

One thing writing this post has made me realise is that perhaps meeting different people, traveling to different places, trying out different kind of food is perhaps something that I can or rather should share here. Will think about it again and try doing it.

Until then, cya! Do let me know what you thought of this post.

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