“IIM Ahmedabad? What IIM?” – Chronicles of a Travelling Salesman #2 – IIM A alumnus at Bharti Airtel

Pillion-riding in the heat and the drizzle; eating at every eatery – imaginable and the unimaginable; passive-smoking more in the last two months than I probably would have across the 24 years of my life; trying to make sense of what I learnt at BSchool and implementing at least pieces of it on the field. Sales has been a complete revelation. From what I heard in pre-BSchool life and BSchool life, my view of sales had varied from ‘Running from Door-to-door to sell soaps and razors’ to ‘Buying a couple of bottles for the distributor to make up for the month-end dumping at his doorstep’.

 

On a tangential view, sales has been a revelation in other terms as well. (And before someone asks, all the conversations obviously happened in Tamil) 

Retailer to me – ‘What have you studied, son’

Me – ‘MBA from IIM sir.’

Retailer introduces me to his wife a few min later – ‘This is new Airtel guy. He has done degree from IIPM’

And turns to me – ‘Sir both are same no!’

Well, BSchool did teach me about the power of advertising in the mind of consumers. But this was an eye-opener indeed, by all means!

___

Me: Sir, good morning. I’m Shrinivas from Airtel. 

Retailer: Good morning. New ah? Nice! Hope you service my outlet properly. What have you studied?

Me: Sure sir, I’ll ensure that. I’ve done MBA from IIM Ahmedabad in Gujarat. 

Retailer: MBA in some other state, and then you are doing this 5000 rupee job ah? Why? You didn’t get any government job? I have connections. Shall I recommend you for a better job?

Me: *Erm*

___

Me: Sir, Shrinivas from Airtel sir. 

Retailer: Super pa. Come in.

Me: Thank you na! 

Retailer: What have you studied pa?

Me: I did MBA from IIM Ahmedabad in Gujarat. 

Retailer: Gujarat? Tell me about Narendra Modi pa! Is he so good? Will he actually make our country like US and China?

___

Me: Sir, Good morning! How’s the business going sir? Any issues?

Retailer: Come pa. The last time you came, you were saying you were from Ahmedabad some college no? Is it the one where Laloo Prasad spoke?

___

Me: Hi! I am Shrinivas from Airtel. 

Retailer: Vanakkam sir. You look new. When did you join? Where were you working before this?

Me: Sir, I did MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. This is my first job sir.

Retailer: Why pa? You didn’t get admission in any Tamil Nadu colleges and all ah?

___
Me: Anna, I did my B.Tech in Bhopal and MBA in IIM Ahmedabad. 

Retailer: Ohh! My friend also wanted to do MBA. Can you get him some management quota seat in your college? You’ll know people there no?

Me: Illa na. You have to take entrance and then go. There are classes for it as well. 

Retailer: What pa. Tell me you don’t know the people. Even this TN Engineering entrance is there. But people still pay few lakh and get in through Management quota no? It will be there in your college also. Ask and tell me. Here’s my number.

___
Me: *introduced myself to retailer*

Retailer: Oh! IIM! I’ve heard of this. Similar to IIT no? But I though IIM people go into hi-fi jobs and earn in crores. Why have you come to Sales?!

*gives exasperated look*

My mind voice: Ah well, screw you media houses for this predicament!

Me: No sir, those crore packages include variable and are in foreign currency. So it isn’t right to compare.

Retailer: Enna pa. Just because you didn’t get; don’t badmouth your friends who are earning more than you.

Me: Argh!

___

Me: I did my MBA from IIM Ahmedabad sir.

Retailer: Ahmedabad? Gujarat? Wow. Nice! Gujarat is like foreign countries no? I have seen pictures on Facebook.

Me: Ohh! Is it? The cities are good, yes.

Retailer: Yes yes sir. That Narendra Modi has to become our next PM. He rescued 15000 people from flood and all it seems. He will rescue our country from this drought.

Me: Sir, that and all is false sir. You didn’t read the paper later ah?  The paper gave apology and all to Modi.

Retailer: You are a Congress supporter ah? I like Modi pa. See. I am running a special offer for his Birthday.

*And proudly shows me a Printout that says ‘Special offer on the occasion of Tomorrow’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday. Airtel SIM – 60 Rupees 99 Talk Time’

My mind voice: I thought this population was restricted to Twitter alone!

And thus goes Life in Sales! Learning every day, everywhere. The learning is a lot to do with your attitude as well, as some times we guys from the ‘Top’ BSchools land up in Sales roles with a sense of entitlement and expecting royal treatment for the diploma that we have completed.

We end up meeting a lot of people who are a lot more experienced, and knowledgeable about the field than we are; but are paid lesser (?) because they don’t have that diploma that we have. And I have seen a few BSchool grads display this ‘What do you know man. I have this diploma from a B School. I know a lot more than you do, with your years of experience selling jams and shampoos’ attitude. Life in your sales stint acts as that leveler, to bring you back down to earth from the high horse that some Top BSchool graduates fly on, post the lucrative ‘cattle fair’ that placements often are.

PS: This isn’t meant to demean anyone or display a ‘I am better than you’ attitude and what not. I know it is too much to expect people in such areas to know a post graduate institute in another corner of the country; and acknowledge the fact as well. This is just a collection of anecdotes of my interactions with people; and what they said when I did my MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. All meant in good humour. Pardon any hurt caused. 🙂

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an IIM A alumnus from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

 

You may also be interested :

My first 3 months at Bharti Airtel

Part #1 of Shrinivas’ Sales Chronicles

Industry Section

Everything about IIM A


Shrinivas SG

Message Author

Chronicles of a Travelling Salesman – An IIM A alumnus at Bharti Airtel

The sun shone down endlessly, without any respite, as if with a vengeance to absorb every drop of water that existed around the area. Despite the heat, I walked around with a determined look from one shop to another in the village, talking to retailers and taking a sip of water from my mineral water bottle to replenish the water I was losing quick and fast. My mind ran back to my CAT preparation days “Water in a tank is leaking from a hole. A motor running, pumps in water to the tank at a particular rate … and so on” and I gave myself a wry smile and walked to the next store to continue the never ending push for targets.

 

The road never taken 🙂


 

“So how is the business going?” I ask the old man who is running the store. “Ok types sir. Just about enough to rotate money and run my family. Things aren’t looking so good.” I probe him a little about his business. “Sir, my son used to run the shop before. Now it isn’t really enough to sustain the entire family. So he has left to Chennai to look for a job and I look after the shop. But he isn’t liking it there. He says things are too costly and he might have to go abroad to work for a bit.”
“Where is he going abroad?” I ask. With the look of a proud father, the old man said, “This Saudi, Dubai somewhere sir. So there are many construction jobs there. He will work there for a few years, save up some money and return to expand this store into a much bigger one; and also get married.”
 

 

How much did he study?” I ask, with the hope that recent emphasis on Right to Education etc. did have some impact. “Sir, with great difficulty I made him study till his 10th. After that, neither him nor me saw any point in continuing his education, as the money I would have spent on his college fees and all that; was better off being spent in running the store. So he joined me in the store to work with me.”

 

I sighed, and wondered what if my parents had thought about it the same way. What if I was born in a place like this? And I moved on, towards the next shop. There was a government school, with kids in the maroon uniform running around the playground; and a few of them ran out of the school when I reached there in my cab. “Anna, anna, oru ride kudunga” (A ride please). With the formal tucked-in shirt and dusty shoes, with a company ID card slung around my neck, I looked like someone who had landed there from an alien world.

 

I gave them the joy ride they wanted, and the smile on their faces made my day. “What do you study?” I enquired. “History, Geography, Tamil and all na!!” I was curious about what the kids do to pass their time. “Facebook, Youtube videos and we listen to songs.” Internet penetration has surely increased and these government laptops are definitely doing a world of good in these small villages. Their joy ride was to the town nearby, vacation was to Madurai, and Chennai was like the new world they’d land up after crossing a few seas.

 

I met a few village elders, who spoke about how they rain had dried up there was not much agriculture happening. “Income is drying up here sir. A lot of fights are happening these days. Thieving has increased over the last few months. People want to get to money somehow.” I ask them if the government does nothing about it. “Sir, there is drought relief money given. But we have to run from pillar to post to get that. Even to get the form, it is quite troublesome. The government guys come here just for the votes, and after the elections they don’t really bother much.”
 

 

I move on to the next village which is quite close to a fireworks factory. There’s a guy at the retailer talking in broken Tamil. I go over to him, and start making small talk in Hindi. And the guy is quite eager to talk to me. I ask him how he sends money home with the thought of pitching him Airtel’s m-commerce offering. “Mera manager hi bhej deta hai har mahine ghar ko. Free ke liye.” And I had hit a dead end. But I was quite surprised with myself that I managed to walk up to a random guy and speak to him. Things sales does to you!

 

Evening came, and with it, better weather and a slight drizzle. The smell of chemicals hits the air immediately. My activity for the day involves a kiosk for selling SIMs. People walk up to enquire, and most of them have a silvery tinge to their hands, from hours of stringing together crackers. A guy purchases a SIM, and has trouble putting it in his phone. I offer to help, and open his phone’s cover, and a spoonful of the hazardous cracker chemical falls out into my hands. I ask him if this doesn’t harm him much, given he talks with the same phone.“Sir, we are used to this now. We’ve been doing this for a long time. Our kids will probably end up stopping their education midway to join the same business.”

 

There had been a fire accident nearby a few days back, and hundreds of people had a lucky escape as no one was in the factory when it got blown up. I enquire about the frequent accidents and how people still end up working there despite the threat to their lives. “No other choice sir. What else can we do to earn a respectful livelihood? We are not educated like you and all. This is all we can do to get our food for the day. And things are improving slowly, after every accident. Roads are now atleast wide enough to accommodate fire engines. There have been tragic cases where the fire engine has not been able to approach the factory and hence a lot more lives have been lost.”
 

 

It’s time for me to call it a day. I say goodbye to him for his anecdotes (some of which I couldn’t write down here as he didn’t want me to) and pack up. He gives me a chemical filled handshake, and walks away into the sunset. “Sir, if you are born in Sivakasi, your death will be at the hands of these fire crackers sir. That’s our fate”

 

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an alumnus of IIMA from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

 

You may also be interested :

My first 3 months at Bharti Airtel

Industry Section

Everything about IIM A


Shrinivas SG

Message Author

“Sir, do you sell SIMs to women?” – My first 3 months at Bharti Airtel

It was yet another of those extremely hot days in Gurgaon where even a cold drink every couple of hours wasn’t enough to help my thirst. I had an appointment to keep, with a client to get some information for my summer internship project at a media house. And I walked out of the metro station, cursing my luck for having ended up in the concrete hell that Gurgaon is; only to be swindled out of more cash by the auto-wala to take me to the client’s office.

As the auto entered the Gurgaon-Delhi highway, the client’s office came into my gaze. Something a little different from the general glass-front-tall-tower buildings of DLF that Gurgaon is filled with. I gazed longingly at the building and clicked a snap of it for my presentation; I stopped to wonder if I would get to work in a company with a similarly exotic-looking office building …

Little did I know what life had in store for me later, as I ended up getting through into a Sales and Marketing Role, in that very company in the final placements at IIMA. While I came out of the interview room with the offer, my mind went back to that very day standing in the Airtel building and gazing upwards at the painting that stretches across five floors of the building!

Life in Airtel, apart from the first 20 odd days of induction has been spent far away from those corporate cubicles that I wanted to be a part of. But somehow, I don’t quite miss the AC office room that wanted to be in. The sweaty life, roaming around green fields, roads that aren’t quite roads unless you ride in your vehicle on them and talking to over 50 retailers in villages (Ok! Pan Shops I mean) and returning back to the hotel room, all alone in the evening has been quite satisfying.

Though I’ve wanted to write a blog post every week, I’ve ended up doing none so far. Laziness, work, sleep, travel and that devil called Facebook and Twitter; where I end up live updating has ended up meaning I don’t! Here’s a motley of saved drafts or thoughts in my head, about sales life.

Sales! After about 2 months in the field, my respect for those Aquaguard fellows who used to randomly disturb my sleep on Sunday afternoons has risen many fold. Persistence! That is the first thing you learn in this field. The guy used to visit over 100 houses and knock at the doors, and be greeted with angry customers like me; and still made a pitch; and if he was lucky, a sale. Every time I feel a little frustrated and hit a dead end, I think of that; and suddenly my work seems like a casual stroll in the park!

Talking, and making small talk with people you hardly know. For someone who is hardly a glib talker and is highly apprehensive of initiating conversations with random people; sales life has been a revelation. I’ve ended up walking up to migrant labourers on a road to talk, made small talk with 100s of retailers and did the unthinkable by sharing a lunch with a complete stranger (A North Indian stuck in South TN for work) who I just met at the hotel table. For someone who used to talk very little to girls, I had to go and talk to a bunch of college girls for some market research. And the worst happened, as a person came to warn me not to; to avoid being apprehended for eve-teasing!

Targets and the chase for the elusive growth in today’s climate is what life is about. Carefully made plans to achieve them go to the drain when there’s a sudden downpour for a couple of days; and the walk-ins into stores reduces, leading to all your carefully made plans to for a toss. The countdown starts from day 1, and the chase though is quite exciting when things are going your way. Like a friend said, in sales life; the salary/incentives become the drug that keep most people going.

insideiim-shrinivas-iima-first3months-airtel

Life in rural India has got me used to eating, and eating everywhere. From bhajjis for 2 bucks each to villages that did not have even a single hotel that served vegetarian food; to local delicacies at dead cheap rates. Just the minor problem of an ever expanding waistline. At times, my mineral water expense for the day used to be more than the money I spent on my food!

Rural India, was a complete eye-opener to me though; and I learnt a lot. The image that I had of open drainages, cows that roamed everywhere, green grass and huts turned out to be partially true. But there were a lot of surprises too.

Very few people recognized an IIM, but quite a few knew about IIPM and even thought it was the same as an IIM! IITs though are quite popular given India’s obsession with engineering, and the presence of one in Chennai. People were quite surprised that I had gone away from Chennai for my education; given everyone in their villages aspired to go to Chennai to study or work.

Talking to a few village kids (who gave me looks like I was an alien who had intruded their space!) taught how this ‘Small world’ thing is something that is quite restricted to ones in the urban areas. For them, a trip to the nearest town was a vacation in itself; and a trip to the nearby city – a holiday; and a Chennai trip, was to most a dream. Something like that Swiss vacation we dream about.

A whole bunch of completely unexpected people were on Facebook; and using “Googal” to explore the world of internet. People as old as my mom, village kids going to government schools and who not. The free laptops doled out by the TN Govt have opened up an altogether new world to these people!

The dark side of the country was not too far away though. I saw an old lady attempt to throw out her daughter’s baby from a moving bus; and thankfully the baby was saved from a gory fate by quick action from the other passengers on the bus.

The highlight of the rural stint was a conversation with a woman in a deep rural village in South TN when she came up to our sales kiosk and asked me “Sir, do you sell SIMs to women?” My nod was met with a look of extreme surprise, and she told me how women in her village were under the impression that SIM Cards were sold only to men. Watching her joy on purchasing a SIM under her own name, made my day!

With the elections round the corner, political talk wasn’t too far away with people wondering if Narendra Modi was actually as good as the papers were telling him; and if Gujarat was that wonderful a place. It was quite surprising to see people interested and aware of a BJP leader in this part of the country, given the party’s next to zero presence in the state. And I am not sure I did NaMo-ji any favours either, with my reply to the people who asked me about him.

Being in a majorly service-based company, the customers weren’t too far off; nor were the retailers. Having been a frustrated and angry customer myself on quite a few occasions, I felt the heat from the other side of the table on a few occasions. Irate customers who called me up to abuse me for some issues, retailers who let lose some of their choicest words on me, after having faced an irate customer in their shop; and of course, the multitude of Facebook status messages of friends and Tweets where I was tagged on to, for issues I had no clue about!

Life in the corporate world also taught me to be ever-ready. Important calls when I was out in the market were quite the subject of amusement of onlookers, as I stood by the roadside jotting down notes! And now on this bus from Ambur to Chennai; where I typed out this blog post with the gentleman next to me gazing awkwardly at me …

– S.G. Shrinivas

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an alumnus of IIMA from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

You may also be interested :

Industry Section

Everything about IIM A


Shrinivas SG

Message Author


Message Author

It was yet another of those extremely hot days in Gurgaon where even a cold drink every couple of hours wasn’t enough to help my thirst. I had an appointment to keep, with a client to get some information for my summer internship project at a media house. And I walked out of the metro station, cursing my luck for having ended up in the concrete hell that Gurgaon is; only to be swindled out of more cash by the auto-wala to take me to the client’s office.

As the auto entered the Gurgaon-Delhi highway, the client’s office came into my gaze. Something a little different from the general glass-front-tall-tower buildings of DLF that Gurgaon is filled with. I gazed longingly at the building and clicked a snap of it for my presentation; I stopped to wonder if I would get to work in a company with a similarly exotic-looking office building …

Little did I know what life had in store for me later, as I ended up getting through into a Sales and Marketing Role, in that very company in the final placements at IIMA. While I came out of the interview room with the offer, my mind went back to that very day standing in the Airtel building and gazing upwards at the painting that stretches across five floors of the building!

Life in Airtel, apart from the first 20 odd days of induction has been spent far away from those corporate cubicles that I wanted to be a part of. But somehow, I don’t quite miss the AC office room that wanted to be in. The sweaty life, roaming around green fields, roads that aren’t quite roads unless you ride in your vehicle on them and talking to over 50 retailers in villages (Ok! Pan Shops I mean) and returning back to the hotel room, all alone in the evening has been quite satisfying.

Though I’ve wanted to write a blog post every week, I’ve ended up doing none so far. Laziness, work, sleep, travel and that devil called Facebook and Twitter; where I end up live updating has ended up meaning I don’t! Here’s a motley of saved drafts or thoughts in my head, about sales life.

Sales! After about 2 months in the field, my respect for those Aquaguard fellows who used to randomly disturb my sleep on Sunday afternoons has risen many fold. Persistence! That is the first thing you learn in this field. The guy used to visit over 100 houses and knock at the doors, and be greeted with angry customers like me; and still made a pitch; and if he was lucky, a sale. Every time I feel a little frustrated and hit a dead end, I think of that; and suddenly my work seems like a casual stroll in the park!

Talking, and making small talk with people you hardly know. For someone who is hardly a glib talker and is highly apprehensive of initiating conversations with random people; sales life has been a revelation. I’ve ended up walking up to migrant labourers on a road to talk, made small talk with 100s of retailers and did the unthinkable by sharing a lunch with a complete stranger (A North Indian stuck in South TN for work) who I just met at the hotel table. For someone who used to talk very little to girls, I had to go and talk to a bunch of college girls for some market research. And the worst happened, as a person came to warn me not to; to avoid being apprehended for eve-teasing!

Targets and the chase for the elusive growth in today’s climate is what life is about. Carefully made plans to achieve them go to the drain when there’s a sudden downpour for a couple of days; and the walk-ins into stores reduces, leading to all your carefully made plans to for a toss. The countdown starts from day 1, and the chase though is quite exciting when things are going your way. Like a friend said, in sales life; the salary/incentives become the drug that keep most people going.

insideiim-shrinivas-iima-first3months-airtel

Life in rural India has got me used to eating, and eating everywhere. From bhajjis for 2 bucks each to villages that did not have even a single hotel that served vegetarian food; to local delicacies at dead cheap rates. Just the minor problem of an ever expanding waistline. At times, my mineral water expense for the day used to be more than the money I spent on my food!

Rural India, was a complete eye-opener to me though; and I learnt a lot. The image that I had of open drainages, cows that roamed everywhere, green grass and huts turned out to be partially true. But there were a lot of surprises too.

Very few people recognized an IIM, but quite a few knew about IIPM and even thought it was the same as an IIM! IITs though are quite popular given India’s obsession with engineering, and the presence of one in Chennai. People were quite surprised that I had gone away from Chennai for my education; given everyone in their villages aspired to go to Chennai to study or work.

Talking to a few village kids (who gave me looks like I was an alien who had intruded their space!) taught how this ‘Small world’ thing is something that is quite restricted to ones in the urban areas. For them, a trip to the nearest town was a vacation in itself; and a trip to the nearby city – a holiday; and a Chennai trip, was to most a dream. Something like that Swiss vacation we dream about.

A whole bunch of completely unexpected people were on Facebook; and using “Googal” to explore the world of internet. People as old as my mom, village kids going to government schools and who not. The free laptops doled out by the TN Govt have opened up an altogether new world to these people!

The dark side of the country was not too far away though. I saw an old lady attempt to throw out her daughter’s baby from a moving bus; and thankfully the baby was saved from a gory fate by quick action from the other passengers on the bus.

The highlight of the rural stint was a conversation with a woman in a deep rural village in South TN when she came up to our sales kiosk and asked me “Sir, do you sell SIMs to women?” My nod was met with a look of extreme surprise, and she told me how women in her village were under the impression that SIM Cards were sold only to men. Watching her joy on purchasing a SIM under her own name, made my day!

With the elections round the corner, political talk wasn’t too far away with people wondering if Narendra Modi was actually as good as the papers were telling him; and if Gujarat was that wonderful a place. It was quite surprising to see people interested and aware of a BJP leader in this part of the country, given the party’s next to zero presence in the state. And I am not sure I did NaMo-ji any favours either, with my reply to the people who asked me about him.

Being in a majorly service-based company, the customers weren’t too far off; nor were the retailers. Having been a frustrated and angry customer myself on quite a few occasions, I felt the heat from the other side of the table on a few occasions. Irate customers who called me up to abuse me for some issues, retailers who let lose some of their choicest words on me, after having faced an irate customer in their shop; and of course, the multitude of Facebook status messages of friends and Tweets where I was tagged on to, for issues I had no clue about!

Life in the corporate world also taught me to be ever-ready. Important calls when I was out in the market were quite the subject of amusement of onlookers, as I stood by the roadside jotting down notes! And now on this bus from Ambur to Chennai; where I typed out this blog post with the gentleman next to me gazing awkwardly at me …

– S.G. Shrinivas

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an alumnus of IIMA from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

You may also be interested :

Industry Section

Everything about IIM A


Shrinivas SG

Message Author


Message Author

It was yet another of those extremely hot days in Gurgaon where even a cold drink every couple of hours wasn’t enough to help my thirst. I had an appointment to keep, with a client to get some information for my summer internship project at a media house. And I walked out of the metro station, cursing my luck for having ended up in the concrete hell that Gurgaon is; only to be swindled out of more cash by the auto-wala to take me to the client’s office.

As the auto entered the Gurgaon-Delhi highway, the client’s office came into my gaze. Something a little different from the general glass-front-tall-tower buildings of DLF that Gurgaon is filled with. I gazed longingly at the building and clicked a snap of it for my presentation; I stopped to wonder if I would get to work in a company with a similarly exotic-looking office building …

Little did I know what life had in store for me later, as I ended up getting through into a Sales and Marketing Role, in that very company in the final placements at IIMA. While I came out of the interview room with the offer, my mind went back to that very day standing in the Airtel building and gazing upwards at the painting that stretches across five floors of the building!

Life in Airtel, apart from the first 20 odd days of induction has been spent far away from those corporate cubicles that I wanted to be a part of. But somehow, I don’t quite miss the AC office room that wanted to be in. The sweaty life, roaming around green fields, roads that aren’t quite roads unless you ride in your vehicle on them and talking to over 50 retailers in villages (Ok! Pan Shops I mean) and returning back to the hotel room, all alone in the evening has been quite satisfying.

Though I’ve wanted to write a blog post every week, I’ve ended up doing none so far. Laziness, work, sleep, travel and that devil called Facebook and Twitter; where I end up live updating has ended up meaning I don’t! Here’s a motley of saved drafts or thoughts in my head, about sales life.

Sales! After about 2 months in the field, my respect for those Aquaguard fellows who used to randomly disturb my sleep on Sunday afternoons has risen many fold. Persistence! That is the first thing you learn in this field. The guy used to visit over 100 houses and knock at the doors, and be greeted with angry customers like me; and still made a pitch; and if he was lucky, a sale. Every time I feel a little frustrated and hit a dead end, I think of that; and suddenly my work seems like a casual stroll in the park!

Talking, and making small talk with people you hardly know. For someone who is hardly a glib talker and is highly apprehensive of initiating conversations with random people; sales life has been a revelation. I’ve ended up walking up to migrant labourers on a road to talk, made small talk with 100s of retailers and did the unthinkable by sharing a lunch with a complete stranger (A North Indian stuck in South TN for work) who I just met at the hotel table. For someone who used to talk very little to girls, I had to go and talk to a bunch of college girls for some market research. And the worst happened, as a person came to warn me not to; to avoid being apprehended for eve-teasing!

Targets and the chase for the elusive growth in today’s climate is what life is about. Carefully made plans to achieve them go to the drain when there’s a sudden downpour for a couple of days; and the walk-ins into stores reduces, leading to all your carefully made plans to for a toss. The countdown starts from day 1, and the chase though is quite exciting when things are going your way. Like a friend said, in sales life; the salary/incentives become the drug that keep most people going.

insideiim-shrinivas-iima-first3months-airtel

Life in rural India has got me used to eating, and eating everywhere. From bhajjis for 2 bucks each to villages that did not have even a single hotel that served vegetarian food; to local delicacies at dead cheap rates. Just the minor problem of an ever expanding waistline. At times, my mineral water expense for the day used to be more than the money I spent on my food!

Rural India, was a complete eye-opener to me though; and I learnt a lot. The image that I had of open drainages, cows that roamed everywhere, green grass and huts turned out to be partially true. But there were a lot of surprises too.

Very few people recognized an IIM, but quite a few knew about IIPM and even thought it was the same as an IIM! IITs though are quite popular given India’s obsession with engineering, and the presence of one in Chennai. People were quite surprised that I had gone away from Chennai for my education; given everyone in their villages aspired to go to Chennai to study or work.

Talking to a few village kids (who gave me looks like I was an alien who had intruded their space!) taught how this ‘Small world’ thing is something that is quite restricted to ones in the urban areas. For them, a trip to the nearest town was a vacation in itself; and a trip to the nearby city – a holiday; and a Chennai trip, was to most a dream. Something like that Swiss vacation we dream about.

A whole bunch of completely unexpected people were on Facebook; and using “Googal” to explore the world of internet. People as old as my mom, village kids going to government schools and who not. The free laptops doled out by the TN Govt have opened up an altogether new world to these people!

The dark side of the country was not too far away though. I saw an old lady attempt to throw out her daughter’s baby from a moving bus; and thankfully the baby was saved from a gory fate by quick action from the other passengers on the bus.

The highlight of the rural stint was a conversation with a woman in a deep rural village in South TN when she came up to our sales kiosk and asked me “Sir, do you sell SIMs to women?” My nod was met with a look of extreme surprise, and she told me how women in her village were under the impression that SIM Cards were sold only to men. Watching her joy on purchasing a SIM under her own name, made my day!

With the elections round the corner, political talk wasn’t too far away with people wondering if Narendra Modi was actually as good as the papers were telling him; and if Gujarat was that wonderful a place. It was quite surprising to see people interested and aware of a BJP leader in this part of the country, given the party’s next to zero presence in the state. And I am not sure I did NaMo-ji any favours either, with my reply to the people who asked me about him.

Being in a majorly service-based company, the customers weren’t too far off; nor were the retailers. Having been a frustrated and angry customer myself on quite a few occasions, I felt the heat from the other side of the table on a few occasions. Irate customers who called me up to abuse me for some issues, retailers who let lose some of their choicest words on me, after having faced an irate customer in their shop; and of course, the multitude of Facebook status messages of friends and Tweets where I was tagged on to, for issues I had no clue about!

Life in the corporate world also taught me to be ever-ready. Important calls when I was out in the market were quite the subject of amusement of onlookers, as I stood by the roadside jotting down notes! And now on this bus from Ambur to Chennai; where I typed out this blog post with the gentleman next to me gazing awkwardly at me …

– S.G. Shrinivas

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an alumnus of IIMA from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

You may also be interested :

Industry Section

Everything about IIM A


Shrinivas SG

Message Author


Message Author

It was yet another of those extremely hot days in Gurgaon where even a cold drink every couple of hours wasn’t enough to help my thirst. I had an appointment to keep, with a client to get some information for my summer internship project at a media house. And I walked out of the metro station, cursing my luck for having ended up in the concrete hell that Gurgaon is; only to be swindled out of more cash by the auto-wala to take me to the client’s office.

As the auto entered the Gurgaon-Delhi highway, the client’s office came into my gaze. Something a little different from the general glass-front-tall-tower buildings of DLF that Gurgaon is filled with. I gazed longingly at the building and clicked a snap of it for my presentation; I stopped to wonder if I would get to work in a company with a similarly exotic-looking office building …

Little did I know what life had in store for me later, as I ended up getting through into a Sales and Marketing Role, in that very company in the final placements at IIMA. While I came out of the interview room with the offer, my mind went back to that very day standing in the Airtel building and gazing upwards at the painting that stretches across five floors of the building!

Life in Airtel, apart from the first 20 odd days of induction has been spent far away from those corporate cubicles that I wanted to be a part of. But somehow, I don’t quite miss the AC office room that wanted to be in. The sweaty life, roaming around green fields, roads that aren’t quite roads unless you ride in your vehicle on them and talking to over 50 retailers in villages (Ok! Pan Shops I mean) and returning back to the hotel room, all alone in the evening has been quite satisfying.

Though I’ve wanted to write a blog post every week, I’ve ended up doing none so far. Laziness, work, sleep, travel and that devil called Facebook and Twitter; where I end up live updating has ended up meaning I don’t! Here’s a motley of saved drafts or thoughts in my head, about sales life.

Sales! After about 2 months in the field, my respect for those Aquaguard fellows who used to randomly disturb my sleep on Sunday afternoons has risen many fold. Persistence! That is the first thing you learn in this field. The guy used to visit over 100 houses and knock at the doors, and be greeted with angry customers like me; and still made a pitch; and if he was lucky, a sale. Every time I feel a little frustrated and hit a dead end, I think of that; and suddenly my work seems like a casual stroll in the park!

Talking, and making small talk with people you hardly know. For someone who is hardly a glib talker and is highly apprehensive of initiating conversations with random people; sales life has been a revelation. I’ve ended up walking up to migrant labourers on a road to talk, made small talk with 100s of retailers and did the unthinkable by sharing a lunch with a complete stranger (A North Indian stuck in South TN for work) who I just met at the hotel table. For someone who used to talk very little to girls, I had to go and talk to a bunch of college girls for some market research. And the worst happened, as a person came to warn me not to; to avoid being apprehended for eve-teasing!

Targets and the chase for the elusive growth in today’s climate is what life is about. Carefully made plans to achieve them go to the drain when there’s a sudden downpour for a couple of days; and the walk-ins into stores reduces, leading to all your carefully made plans to for a toss. The countdown starts from day 1, and the chase though is quite exciting when things are going your way. Like a friend said, in sales life; the salary/incentives become the drug that keep most people going.

insideiim-shrinivas-iima-first3months-airtel

Life in rural India has got me used to eating, and eating everywhere. From bhajjis for 2 bucks each to villages that did not have even a single hotel that served vegetarian food; to local delicacies at dead cheap rates. Just the minor problem of an ever expanding waistline. At times, my mineral water expense for the day used to be more than the money I spent on my food!

Rural India, was a complete eye-opener to me though; and I learnt a lot. The image that I had of open drainages, cows that roamed everywhere, green grass and huts turned out to be partially true. But there were a lot of surprises too.

Very few people recognized an IIM, but quite a few knew about IIPM and even thought it was the same as an IIM! IITs though are quite popular given India’s obsession with engineering, and the presence of one in Chennai. People were quite surprised that I had gone away from Chennai for my education; given everyone in their villages aspired to go to Chennai to study or work.

Talking to a few village kids (who gave me looks like I was an alien who had intruded their space!) taught how this ‘Small world’ thing is something that is quite restricted to ones in the urban areas. For them, a trip to the nearest town was a vacation in itself; and a trip to the nearby city – a holiday; and a Chennai trip, was to most a dream. Something like that Swiss vacation we dream about.

A whole bunch of completely unexpected people were on Facebook; and using “Googal” to explore the world of internet. People as old as my mom, village kids going to government schools and who not. The free laptops doled out by the TN Govt have opened up an altogether new world to these people!

The dark side of the country was not too far away though. I saw an old lady attempt to throw out her daughter’s baby from a moving bus; and thankfully the baby was saved from a gory fate by quick action from the other passengers on the bus.

The highlight of the rural stint was a conversation with a woman in a deep rural village in South TN when she came up to our sales kiosk and asked me “Sir, do you sell SIMs to women?” My nod was met with a look of extreme surprise, and she told me how women in her village were under the impression that SIM Cards were sold only to men. Watching her joy on purchasing a SIM under her own name, made my day!

With the elections round the corner, political talk wasn’t too far away with people wondering if Narendra Modi was actually as good as the papers were telling him; and if Gujarat was that wonderful a place. It was quite surprising to see people interested and aware of a BJP leader in this part of the country, given the party’s next to zero presence in the state. And I am not sure I did NaMo-ji any favours either, with my reply to the people who asked me about him.

Being in a majorly service-based company, the customers weren’t too far off; nor were the retailers. Having been a frustrated and angry customer myself on quite a few occasions, I felt the heat from the other side of the table on a few occasions. Irate customers who called me up to abuse me for some issues, retailers who let lose some of their choicest words on me, after having faced an irate customer in their shop; and of course, the multitude of Facebook status messages of friends and Tweets where I was tagged on to, for issues I had no clue about!

Life in the corporate world also taught me to be ever-ready. Important calls when I was out in the market were quite the subject of amusement of onlookers, as I stood by the roadside jotting down notes! And now on this bus from Ambur to Chennai; where I typed out this blog post with the gentleman next to me gazing awkwardly at me …

– S.G. Shrinivas

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an alumnus of IIMA from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

You may also be interested :

Industry Section

Everything about IIM A


Shrinivas SG

Message Author


Message Author

It was yet another of those extremely hot days in Gurgaon where even a cold drink every couple of hours wasn’t enough to help my thirst. I had an appointment to keep, with a client to get some information for my summer internship project at a media house. And I walked out of the metro station, cursing my luck for having ended up in the concrete hell that Gurgaon is; only to be swindled out of more cash by the auto-wala to take me to the client’s office.

As the auto entered the Gurgaon-Delhi highway, the client’s office came into my gaze. Something a little different from the general glass-front-tall-tower buildings of DLF that Gurgaon is filled with. I gazed longingly at the building and clicked a snap of it for my presentation; I stopped to wonder if I would get to work in a company with a similarly exotic-looking office building …

Little did I know what life had in store for me later, as I ended up getting through into a Sales and Marketing Role, in that very company in the final placements at IIMA. While I came out of the interview room with the offer, my mind went back to that very day standing in the Airtel building and gazing upwards at the painting that stretches across five floors of the building!

Life in Airtel, apart from the first 20 odd days of induction has been spent far away from those corporate cubicles that I wanted to be a part of. But somehow, I don’t quite miss the AC office room that wanted to be in. The sweaty life, roaming around green fields, roads that aren’t quite roads unless you ride in your vehicle on them and talking to over 50 retailers in villages (Ok! Pan Shops I mean) and returning back to the hotel room, all alone in the evening has been quite satisfying.

Though I’ve wanted to write a blog post every week, I’ve ended up doing none so far. Laziness, work, sleep, travel and that devil called Facebook and Twitter; where I end up live updating has ended up meaning I don’t! Here’s a motley of saved drafts or thoughts in my head, about sales life.

Sales! After about 2 months in the field, my respect for those Aquaguard fellows who used to randomly disturb my sleep on Sunday afternoons has risen many fold. Persistence! That is the first thing you learn in this field. The guy used to visit over 100 houses and knock at the doors, and be greeted with angry customers like me; and still made a pitch; and if he was lucky, a sale. Every time I feel a little frustrated and hit a dead end, I think of that; and suddenly my work seems like a casual stroll in the park!

Talking, and making small talk with people you hardly know. For someone who is hardly a glib talker and is highly apprehensive of initiating conversations with random people; sales life has been a revelation. I’ve ended up walking up to migrant labourers on a road to talk, made small talk with 100s of retailers and did the unthinkable by sharing a lunch with a complete stranger (A North Indian stuck in South TN for work) who I just met at the hotel table. For someone who used to talk very little to girls, I had to go and talk to a bunch of college girls for some market research. And the worst happened, as a person came to warn me not to; to avoid being apprehended for eve-teasing!

Targets and the chase for the elusive growth in today’s climate is what life is about. Carefully made plans to achieve them go to the drain when there’s a sudden downpour for a couple of days; and the walk-ins into stores reduces, leading to all your carefully made plans to for a toss. The countdown starts from day 1, and the chase though is quite exciting when things are going your way. Like a friend said, in sales life; the salary/incentives become the drug that keep most people going.

insideiim-shrinivas-iima-first3months-airtel

Life in rural India has got me used to eating, and eating everywhere. From bhajjis for 2 bucks each to villages that did not have even a single hotel that served vegetarian food; to local delicacies at dead cheap rates. Just the minor problem of an ever expanding waistline. At times, my mineral water expense for the day used to be more than the money I spent on my food!

Rural India, was a complete eye-opener to me though; and I learnt a lot. The image that I had of open drainages, cows that roamed everywhere, green grass and huts turned out to be partially true. But there were a lot of surprises too.

Very few people recognized an IIM, but quite a few knew about IIPM and even thought it was the same as an IIM! IITs though are quite popular given India’s obsession with engineering, and the presence of one in Chennai. People were quite surprised that I had gone away from Chennai for my education; given everyone in their villages aspired to go to Chennai to study or work.

Talking to a few village kids (who gave me looks like I was an alien who had intruded their space!) taught how this ‘Small world’ thing is something that is quite restricted to ones in the urban areas. For them, a trip to the nearest town was a vacation in itself; and a trip to the nearby city – a holiday; and a Chennai trip, was to most a dream. Something like that Swiss vacation we dream about.

A whole bunch of completely unexpected people were on Facebook; and using “Googal” to explore the world of internet. People as old as my mom, village kids going to government schools and who not. The free laptops doled out by the TN Govt have opened up an altogether new world to these people!

The dark side of the country was not too far away though. I saw an old lady attempt to throw out her daughter’s baby from a moving bus; and thankfully the baby was saved from a gory fate by quick action from the other passengers on the bus.

The highlight of the rural stint was a conversation with a woman in a deep rural village in South TN when she came up to our sales kiosk and asked me “Sir, do you sell SIMs to women?” My nod was met with a look of extreme surprise, and she told me how women in her village were under the impression that SIM Cards were sold only to men. Watching her joy on purchasing a SIM under her own name, made my day!

With the elections round the corner, political talk wasn’t too far away with people wondering if Narendra Modi was actually as good as the papers were telling him; and if Gujarat was that wonderful a place. It was quite surprising to see people interested and aware of a BJP leader in this part of the country, given the party’s next to zero presence in the state. And I am not sure I did NaMo-ji any favours either, with my reply to the people who asked me about him.

Being in a majorly service-based company, the customers weren’t too far off; nor were the retailers. Having been a frustrated and angry customer myself on quite a few occasions, I felt the heat from the other side of the table on a few occasions. Irate customers who called me up to abuse me for some issues, retailers who let lose some of their choicest words on me, after having faced an irate customer in their shop; and of course, the multitude of Facebook status messages of friends and Tweets where I was tagged on to, for issues I had no clue about!

Life in the corporate world also taught me to be ever-ready. Important calls when I was out in the market were quite the subject of amusement of onlookers, as I stood by the roadside jotting down notes! And now on this bus from Ambur to Chennai; where I typed out this blog post with the gentleman next to me gazing awkwardly at me …

– S.G. Shrinivas

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an alumnus of IIMA from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

You may also be interested :

Industry Section

Everything about IIM A


Shrinivas SG

Message Author


Message Author

It was yet another of those extremely hot days in Gurgaon where even a cold drink every couple of hours wasn’t enough to help my thirst. I had an appointment to keep, with a client to get some information for my summer internship project at a media house. And I walked out of the metro station, cursing my luck for having ended up in the concrete hell that Gurgaon is; only to be swindled out of more cash by the auto-wala to take me to the client’s office.

As the auto entered the Gurgaon-Delhi highway, the client’s office came into my gaze. Something a little different from the general glass-front-tall-tower buildings of DLF that Gurgaon is filled with. I gazed longingly at the building and clicked a snap of it for my presentation; I stopped to wonder if I would get to work in a company with a similarly exotic-looking office building …

Little did I know what life had in store for me later, as I ended up getting through into a Sales and Marketing Role, in that very company in the final placements at IIMA. While I came out of the interview room with the offer, my mind went back to that very day standing in the Airtel building and gazing upwards at the painting that stretches across five floors of the building!

Life in Airtel, apart from the first 20 odd days of induction has been spent far away from those corporate cubicles that I wanted to be a part of. But somehow, I don’t quite miss the AC office room that wanted to be in. The sweaty life, roaming around green fields, roads that aren’t quite roads unless you ride in your vehicle on them and talking to over 50 retailers in villages (Ok! Pan Shops I mean) and returning back to the hotel room, all alone in the evening has been quite satisfying.

Though I’ve wanted to write a blog post every week, I’ve ended up doing none so far. Laziness, work, sleep, travel and that devil called Facebook and Twitter; where I end up live updating has ended up meaning I don’t! Here’s a motley of saved drafts or thoughts in my head, about sales life.

Sales! After about 2 months in the field, my respect for those Aquaguard fellows who used to randomly disturb my sleep on Sunday afternoons has risen many fold. Persistence! That is the first thing you learn in this field. The guy used to visit over 100 houses and knock at the doors, and be greeted with angry customers like me; and still made a pitch; and if he was lucky, a sale. Every time I feel a little frustrated and hit a dead end, I think of that; and suddenly my work seems like a casual stroll in the park!

Talking, and making small talk with people you hardly know. For someone who is hardly a glib talker and is highly apprehensive of initiating conversations with random people; sales life has been a revelation. I’ve ended up walking up to migrant labourers on a road to talk, made small talk with 100s of retailers and did the unthinkable by sharing a lunch with a complete stranger (A North Indian stuck in South TN for work) who I just met at the hotel table. For someone who used to talk very little to girls, I had to go and talk to a bunch of college girls for some market research. And the worst happened, as a person came to warn me not to; to avoid being apprehended for eve-teasing!

Targets and the chase for the elusive growth in today’s climate is what life is about. Carefully made plans to achieve them go to the drain when there’s a sudden downpour for a couple of days; and the walk-ins into stores reduces, leading to all your carefully made plans to for a toss. The countdown starts from day 1, and the chase though is quite exciting when things are going your way. Like a friend said, in sales life; the salary/incentives become the drug that keep most people going.

insideiim-shrinivas-iima-first3months-airtel

Life in rural India has got me used to eating, and eating everywhere. From bhajjis for 2 bucks each to villages that did not have even a single hotel that served vegetarian food; to local delicacies at dead cheap rates. Just the minor problem of an ever expanding waistline. At times, my mineral water expense for the day used to be more than the money I spent on my food!

Rural India, was a complete eye-opener to me though; and I learnt a lot. The image that I had of open drainages, cows that roamed everywhere, green grass and huts turned out to be partially true. But there were a lot of surprises too.

Very few people recognized an IIM, but quite a few knew about IIPM and even thought it was the same as an IIM! IITs though are quite popular given India’s obsession with engineering, and the presence of one in Chennai. People were quite surprised that I had gone away from Chennai for my education; given everyone in their villages aspired to go to Chennai to study or work.

Talking to a few village kids (who gave me looks like I was an alien who had intruded their space!) taught how this ‘Small world’ thing is something that is quite restricted to ones in the urban areas. For them, a trip to the nearest town was a vacation in itself; and a trip to the nearby city – a holiday; and a Chennai trip, was to most a dream. Something like that Swiss vacation we dream about.

A whole bunch of completely unexpected people were on Facebook; and using “Googal” to explore the world of internet. People as old as my mom, village kids going to government schools and who not. The free laptops doled out by the TN Govt have opened up an altogether new world to these people!

The dark side of the country was not too far away though. I saw an old lady attempt to throw out her daughter’s baby from a moving bus; and thankfully the baby was saved from a gory fate by quick action from the other passengers on the bus.

The highlight of the rural stint was a conversation with a woman in a deep rural village in South TN when she came up to our sales kiosk and asked me “Sir, do you sell SIMs to women?” My nod was met with a look of extreme surprise, and she told me how women in her village were under the impression that SIM Cards were sold only to men. Watching her joy on purchasing a SIM under her own name, made my day!

With the elections round the corner, political talk wasn’t too far away with people wondering if Narendra Modi was actually as good as the papers were telling him; and if Gujarat was that wonderful a place. It was quite surprising to see people interested and aware of a BJP leader in this part of the country, given the party’s next to zero presence in the state. And I am not sure I did NaMo-ji any favours either, with my reply to the people who asked me about him.

Being in a majorly service-based company, the customers weren’t too far off; nor were the retailers. Having been a frustrated and angry customer myself on quite a few occasions, I felt the heat from the other side of the table on a few occasions. Irate customers who called me up to abuse me for some issues, retailers who let lose some of their choicest words on me, after having faced an irate customer in their shop; and of course, the multitude of Facebook status messages of friends and Tweets where I was tagged on to, for issues I had no clue about!

Life in the corporate world also taught me to be ever-ready. Important calls when I was out in the market were quite the subject of amusement of onlookers, as I stood by the roadside jotting down notes! And now on this bus from Ambur to Chennai; where I typed out this blog post with the gentleman next to me gazing awkwardly at me …

– S.G. Shrinivas

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an alumnus of IIMA from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

You may also be interested :

Industry Section

Everything about IIM A


Shrinivas SG

Message Author


Message Author

It was yet another of those extremely hot days in Gurgaon where even a cold drink every couple of hours wasn’t enough to help my thirst. I had an appointment to keep, with a client to get some information for my summer internship project at a media house. And I walked out of the metro station, cursing my luck for having ended up in the concrete hell that Gurgaon is; only to be swindled out of more cash by the auto-wala to take me to the client’s office.

As the auto entered the Gurgaon-Delhi highway, the client’s office came into my gaze. Something a little different from the general glass-front-tall-tower buildings of DLF that Gurgaon is filled with. I gazed longingly at the building and clicked a snap of it for my presentation; I stopped to wonder if I would get to work in a company with a similarly exotic-looking office building …

Little did I know what life had in store for me later, as I ended up getting through into a Sales and Marketing Role, in that very company in the final placements at IIMA. While I came out of the interview room with the offer, my mind went back to that very day standing in the Airtel building and gazing upwards at the painting that stretches across five floors of the building!

Life in Airtel, apart from the first 20 odd days of induction has been spent far away from those corporate cubicles that I wanted to be a part of. But somehow, I don’t quite miss the AC office room that wanted to be in. The sweaty life, roaming around green fields, roads that aren’t quite roads unless you ride in your vehicle on them and talking to over 50 retailers in villages (Ok! Pan Shops I mean) and returning back to the hotel room, all alone in the evening has been quite satisfying.

Though I’ve wanted to write a blog post every week, I’ve ended up doing none so far. Laziness, work, sleep, travel and that devil called Facebook and Twitter; where I end up live updating has ended up meaning I don’t! Here’s a motley of saved drafts or thoughts in my head, about sales life.

Sales! After about 2 months in the field, my respect for those Aquaguard fellows who used to randomly disturb my sleep on Sunday afternoons has risen many fold. Persistence! That is the first thing you learn in this field. The guy used to visit over 100 houses and knock at the doors, and be greeted with angry customers like me; and still made a pitch; and if he was lucky, a sale. Every time I feel a little frustrated and hit a dead end, I think of that; and suddenly my work seems like a casual stroll in the park!

Talking, and making small talk with people you hardly know. For someone who is hardly a glib talker and is highly apprehensive of initiating conversations with random people; sales life has been a revelation. I’ve ended up walking up to migrant labourers on a road to talk, made small talk with 100s of retailers and did the unthinkable by sharing a lunch with a complete stranger (A North Indian stuck in South TN for work) who I just met at the hotel table. For someone who used to talk very little to girls, I had to go and talk to a bunch of college girls for some market research. And the worst happened, as a person came to warn me not to; to avoid being apprehended for eve-teasing!

Targets and the chase for the elusive growth in today’s climate is what life is about. Carefully made plans to achieve them go to the drain when there’s a sudden downpour for a couple of days; and the walk-ins into stores reduces, leading to all your carefully made plans to for a toss. The countdown starts from day 1, and the chase though is quite exciting when things are going your way. Like a friend said, in sales life; the salary/incentives become the drug that keep most people going.

insideiim-shrinivas-iima-first3months-airtel

Life in rural India has got me used to eating, and eating everywhere. From bhajjis for 2 bucks each to villages that did not have even a single hotel that served vegetarian food; to local delicacies at dead cheap rates. Just the minor problem of an ever expanding waistline. At times, my mineral water expense for the day used to be more than the money I spent on my food!

Rural India, was a complete eye-opener to me though; and I learnt a lot. The image that I had of open drainages, cows that roamed everywhere, green grass and huts turned out to be partially true. But there were a lot of surprises too.

Very few people recognized an IIM, but quite a few knew about IIPM and even thought it was the same as an IIM! IITs though are quite popular given India’s obsession with engineering, and the presence of one in Chennai. People were quite surprised that I had gone away from Chennai for my education; given everyone in their villages aspired to go to Chennai to study or work.

Talking to a few village kids (who gave me looks like I was an alien who had intruded their space!) taught how this ‘Small world’ thing is something that is quite restricted to ones in the urban areas. For them, a trip to the nearest town was a vacation in itself; and a trip to the nearby city – a holiday; and a Chennai trip, was to most a dream. Something like that Swiss vacation we dream about.

A whole bunch of completely unexpected people were on Facebook; and using “Googal” to explore the world of internet. People as old as my mom, village kids going to government schools and who not. The free laptops doled out by the TN Govt have opened up an altogether new world to these people!

The dark side of the country was not too far away though. I saw an old lady attempt to throw out her daughter’s baby from a moving bus; and thankfully the baby was saved from a gory fate by quick action from the other passengers on the bus.

The highlight of the rural stint was a conversation with a woman in a deep rural village in South TN when she came up to our sales kiosk and asked me “Sir, do you sell SIMs to women?” My nod was met with a look of extreme surprise, and she told me how women in her village were under the impression that SIM Cards were sold only to men. Watching her joy on purchasing a SIM under her own name, made my day!

With the elections round the corner, political talk wasn’t too far away with people wondering if Narendra Modi was actually as good as the papers were telling him; and if Gujarat was that wonderful a place. It was quite surprising to see people interested and aware of a BJP leader in this part of the country, given the party’s next to zero presence in the state. And I am not sure I did NaMo-ji any favours either, with my reply to the people who asked me about him.

Being in a majorly service-based company, the customers weren’t too far off; nor were the retailers. Having been a frustrated and angry customer myself on quite a few occasions, I felt the heat from the other side of the table on a few occasions. Irate customers who called me up to abuse me for some issues, retailers who let lose some of their choicest words on me, after having faced an irate customer in their shop; and of course, the multitude of Facebook status messages of friends and Tweets where I was tagged on to, for issues I had no clue about!

Life in the corporate world also taught me to be ever-ready. Important calls when I was out in the market were quite the subject of amusement of onlookers, as I stood by the roadside jotting down notes! And now on this bus from Ambur to Chennai; where I typed out this blog post with the gentleman next to me gazing awkwardly at me …

– S.G. Shrinivas

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an alumnus of IIMA from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

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It was yet another of those extremely hot days in Gurgaon where even a cold drink every couple of hours wasn’t enough to help my thirst. I had an appointment to keep, with a client to get some information for my summer internship project at a media house. And I walked out of the metro station, cursing my luck for having ended up in the concrete hell that Gurgaon is; only to be swindled out of more cash by the auto-wala to take me to the client’s office.

As the auto entered the Gurgaon-Delhi highway, the client’s office came into my gaze. Something a little different from the general glass-front-tall-tower buildings of DLF that Gurgaon is filled with. I gazed longingly at the building and clicked a snap of it for my presentation; I stopped to wonder if I would get to work in a company with a similarly exotic-looking office building …

Little did I know what life had in store for me later, as I ended up getting through into a Sales and Marketing Role, in that very company in the final placements at IIMA. While I came out of the interview room with the offer, my mind went back to that very day standing in the Airtel building and gazing upwards at the painting that stretches across five floors of the building!

Life in Airtel, apart from the first 20 odd days of induction has been spent far away from those corporate cubicles that I wanted to be a part of. But somehow, I don’t quite miss the AC office room that wanted to be in. The sweaty life, roaming around green fields, roads that aren’t quite roads unless you ride in your vehicle on them and talking to over 50 retailers in villages (Ok! Pan Shops I mean) and returning back to the hotel room, all alone in the evening has been quite satisfying.

Though I’ve wanted to write a blog post every week, I’ve ended up doing none so far. Laziness, work, sleep, travel and that devil called Facebook and Twitter; where I end up live updating has ended up meaning I don’t! Here’s a motley of saved drafts or thoughts in my head, about sales life.

Sales! After about 2 months in the field, my respect for those Aquaguard fellows who used to randomly disturb my sleep on Sunday afternoons has risen many fold. Persistence! That is the first thing you learn in this field. The guy used to visit over 100 houses and knock at the doors, and be greeted with angry customers like me; and still made a pitch; and if he was lucky, a sale. Every time I feel a little frustrated and hit a dead end, I think of that; and suddenly my work seems like a casual stroll in the park!

Talking, and making small talk with people you hardly know. For someone who is hardly a glib talker and is highly apprehensive of initiating conversations with random people; sales life has been a revelation. I’ve ended up walking up to migrant labourers on a road to talk, made small talk with 100s of retailers and did the unthinkable by sharing a lunch with a complete stranger (A North Indian stuck in South TN for work) who I just met at the hotel table. For someone who used to talk very little to girls, I had to go and talk to a bunch of college girls for some market research. And the worst happened, as a person came to warn me not to; to avoid being apprehended for eve-teasing!

Targets and the chase for the elusive growth in today’s climate is what life is about. Carefully made plans to achieve them go to the drain when there’s a sudden downpour for a couple of days; and the walk-ins into stores reduces, leading to all your carefully made plans to for a toss. The countdown starts from day 1, and the chase though is quite exciting when things are going your way. Like a friend said, in sales life; the salary/incentives become the drug that keep most people going.

insideiim-shrinivas-iima-first3months-airtel

Life in rural India has got me used to eating, and eating everywhere. From bhajjis for 2 bucks each to villages that did not have even a single hotel that served vegetarian food; to local delicacies at dead cheap rates. Just the minor problem of an ever expanding waistline. At times, my mineral water expense for the day used to be more than the money I spent on my food!

Rural India, was a complete eye-opener to me though; and I learnt a lot. The image that I had of open drainages, cows that roamed everywhere, green grass and huts turned out to be partially true. But there were a lot of surprises too.

Very few people recognized an IIM, but quite a few knew about IIPM and even thought it was the same as an IIM! IITs though are quite popular given India’s obsession with engineering, and the presence of one in Chennai. People were quite surprised that I had gone away from Chennai for my education; given everyone in their villages aspired to go to Chennai to study or work.

Talking to a few village kids (who gave me looks like I was an alien who had intruded their space!) taught how this ‘Small world’ thing is something that is quite restricted to ones in the urban areas. For them, a trip to the nearest town was a vacation in itself; and a trip to the nearby city – a holiday; and a Chennai trip, was to most a dream. Something like that Swiss vacation we dream about.

A whole bunch of completely unexpected people were on Facebook; and using “Googal” to explore the world of internet. People as old as my mom, village kids going to government schools and who not. The free laptops doled out by the TN Govt have opened up an altogether new world to these people!

The dark side of the country was not too far away though. I saw an old lady attempt to throw out her daughter’s baby from a moving bus; and thankfully the baby was saved from a gory fate by quick action from the other passengers on the bus.

The highlight of the rural stint was a conversation with a woman in a deep rural village in South TN when she came up to our sales kiosk and asked me “Sir, do you sell SIMs to women?” My nod was met with a look of extreme surprise, and she told me how women in her village were under the impression that SIM Cards were sold only to men. Watching her joy on purchasing a SIM under her own name, made my day!

With the elections round the corner, political talk wasn’t too far away with people wondering if Narendra Modi was actually as good as the papers were telling him; and if Gujarat was that wonderful a place. It was quite surprising to see people interested and aware of a BJP leader in this part of the country, given the party’s next to zero presence in the state. And I am not sure I did NaMo-ji any favours either, with my reply to the people who asked me about him.

Being in a majorly service-based company, the customers weren’t too far off; nor were the retailers. Having been a frustrated and angry customer myself on quite a few occasions, I felt the heat from the other side of the table on a few occasions. Irate customers who called me up to abuse me for some issues, retailers who let lose some of their choicest words on me, after having faced an irate customer in their shop; and of course, the multitude of Facebook status messages of friends and Tweets where I was tagged on to, for issues I had no clue about!

Life in the corporate world also taught me to be ever-ready. Important calls when I was out in the market were quite the subject of amusement of onlookers, as I stood by the roadside jotting down notes! And now on this bus from Ambur to Chennai; where I typed out this blog post with the gentleman next to me gazing awkwardly at me …

– S.G. Shrinivas

S.G.Shrinivas-insideiim

Shrinivas is an alumnus of IIMA from the Batch of 2013, and a ardent blogger at www.sgshrinivas.blogspot.com. He is now one of the many MBAs into the world of Sales, and is loving life at Bharti Airtel!

You may also be interested :

Industry Section

Everything about IIM A


Shrinivas SG

Message Author