March 27, 2010

Actors on the sales teams in India

Whenever you want to pump up your sales team, take them to the nearest multiplex to enjoy a hindi potboiler. Hindi cinema has predictable storyline comprising a hero, heroine and the ubiquitous villain. You would wonder how it would help in improving the target achievement. Well let me explain the relationship. The sales guy (hero) has to constantly fight with the villain (competition) to wrest the heroine, which is the sales target. And the story is complete with few songs & dances. Therefore lots of rehersal would be required before the actors face the audience. So training sales team can not be a one time activity it must be an ongoing process.

India is a land of SMEs and these businesses face unique challenges, particularly in organizing the sales & marketing function. Many a SMEs that have regional & national sales organizations are still straddled with teams that were relevant 20 years ago.  Sales teams are full of people who have no business education and have never been trained on the job. Such teams function in a bureaucratic manner and lack creativity essential for real success in the market.

Few years ago I was hired by an established SME to rejuvenate & reengineer their sales team. The said company has been led by an amiable technocrat engaged in manufacturing of capital equipment for high speed packaging machines catering to the need of business organizations. The machines they made were quite complex and were generally sourced from abroad. Therefore there was a ready market of export substitution at an Indian cost to the entrepreneurs.  But their sales team having national presence had become an obstacle in achieving higher sales numbers as they were the only people that were in close contact with the customers. Another company manufacturing bath fittings had virtual no control over their major market as the person incharge of the territory told the company to route all communications through him exclusively.

Several SMEs are in awe of the power & hold of their sales people on the market. The company is held hostage to the ways of the existing team that controls the top line. There is need to create & train the sales teams to face the challenges of the contemporary market scenario in India. SMEs need to audit their sales team periodically and organize them based on their objectives such as nature of the competition, product handled, type of market and demand structure in the market. The top management must keep two paces ahead of their sales force to get the desired results.

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