“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. 🙂


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