‘Internship Experience At Philips Made Me Fall Head Over Heels In Love With Sales’ – Aarushi Sharma – IIM Kozhikode

“The best thing about a sales and marketing intern is that you get to get your hands dirty” said all my seniors. I took all the necessary ‘gyaan’ from them about the working of the company, their expectations and what I should expect. I suppose for certain things you cannot be prepared enough. My intern at Philips taught me that!

As a sales and marketing aspirant, I had held numerous debates with my fin enthusiast friends and had consequently developed an affection for the field. But it was the out and out sales experience at Philips that made me fall head over heels in love with it.

After the welcoming 2 days of induction, the internship started on full throttle. The enthusiasm of team Philips was truly commendable. The top management made sure that they interact with us. In fact, the energetic CEO of my business unit, Personal Health, Mr A D A Ratnam was an inspiration. You could see Ratnam enthusing the team at any time of the day. The fact that his room was open to anyone at all times is an indication of the truly open culture at Philips. Taking a cue from Ratnam, the entire Personal Health team is enthusiastic and full of vigour. Maybe that’s why they call our side the ‘colourful side’ of the office.

My project was on increasing the penetration of Philips premium juicers in Delhi. The pre-assigned sales targets had already given me sleepless nights when I had received the project charter a full month before I was to join. I am happy that I got some time to prepare myself with the necessary skill sets required for the intern. But no amount of preparation could have compensated for the impeccable guidance and support offered to me at Philips. The daily meetings with my guide and mentor were the biggest motivator for me. They ensured that I do not loiter away from my target.

To ensure a successful project I carried extensive market visits across the entire length and breadth of Delhi region. Visited areas that I didn’t even know existed. Toiling in the Delhi summer wasn’t easy but the visits to the retailers, all 107 of them proved to be insightful. I had the chance to understand the diverse Delhi market. I had to draw a strategy to sell the juicer not only at premium market frequented by BMWs but also in those where even bullock carts could be spotted on the roads.

I decided to explore new channels for our distribution and engage with multiple stakeholders in developing them. The best thing about sales is that it requires you to think on your feet. Understanding your retailer’s business becomes the key and you have to wear the hat of his strategic consultant at all times. Having a business view of the retailer helped me identify his assets that I could leverage upon in order to increase Philips’ brand presence in multiple outlets. Furthermore, selling a premium product requires a thorough understanding of not just the product but the competition as well. Immersions with a customer, consumer and shopper were all pivotal for my project but what proved most important was my interaction with my sales team. In hindsight, the reason why my project was applauded across the organisation was that it plugged a lot of holes in the existing sales process there.

As the seniors rightfully preempted. I did get my hands dirty. In the two months that I was there, though I was primarily focused on sales, I was encouraged to look at the project from a marketer’s perspective as well. Product activations, brand visibility, asset designing and in-store promotions were some of the lenses I looked the project through. This coupled with the fact that my suggestions were not just implemented but I was also given full freedom to experiment and run pilots ensured a successful completion of the project. It was because of this support that I could finally achieve a momentous growth in the sales figure over the previous years.

At Philips, they make sure that the learning is not restricted to the project scope but goes well beyond to the overall business. One memorable incident was when the head of Trade Shopper Marketing got so involved in one of the recommendations I had made in my final review, that he even encouraged me to run a pilot on it!

All in all the intern experience at Philips was taxing and gritty but fun and exhilarating as well. I made a lot of new friends, not just amongst my fellow interns but also amongst the wonderful people who work there. Philips quite strikingly is a place which employs the friendliest of all people. That is one of the many reasons why I am so excited to work there again once I graduate from IIM K.

Aarushi Sharma

2nd year MBA student at IIM Kozhikode