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Eat some dirt!

This suggestion is not to be taken negatively – the dictionary says that by eating dirt you are having a really unpleasant experience. I don’t wish to take things to such extremes but it is a reminder to Sales Supervisors and Sales Managers that things can get really unpleasant later on if you are not willing to put up with some discomfort on a regular basis – discomfort by way of experiencing the heat and dust of the market.

You cannot rule a territory by sitting in the cool confines of an office…. Period!

I remember sitting in business meetings and listening to Sales Supervisors present the quarterly report for their territory. The charts are very slickly made and all the numbers are written in bold fonts. There would be all sorts of ratios presented and no dearth of drama in backing the number with their pitch – they are Sales guys after all.

(All names changed to protect identity)

Our Circle Business Head, Prasad, would listen to one animated report and quietly ask:

–          George, which are you key outlets in the Muvattupuzha Area?

George would provide a few names and Prasad would follow – up with:

–          How about XYZ Communication and ABC Mobile?

George would say that they are competitor’s strongholds and that he had tried hard to enter those counters. Satish’s next questions would be about the last time George visited those counters and what are the stock levels in each of the big counters?

George would provided random numbers but the answers aren’t convincing enough. The truth is revealed in due course – that it’s been a while since he visited that area and he had no data on stocks – he had sub-contracted the work to his juniors and was managing work remotely

What George had not realized was that it was Prasad’s habit to visit the market whenever he passed through any town. He had recently gone to a town beyond Muvattupuzha with George’s boss and the two of them had visited a number of counters to get some not so favourable reports about George.

George’s reporting Manager desperately wanted to help his team-member by giving him advance notice of the visit but he was operating some other market that day and could not reach Muvattupuzha on time.

What Prasad had found was the following:

–          George had not visited Muvattupuzha for the last 2 months.

–          The major counters were low on stock – they were not being visited regularly by the supply team

–          The competitor’s counters didn’t mind keeping other brands too – no one had approached them

–          Some of George’s own counters didn’t know him by name

Young George was only repeating the mistake made by many young Sales Professionals:

–          They were sticking to some territories close to the office and ignoring the ones further away

–          They were running the business remotely – by phone or through subordinates

–          They were not aware that the subordinates were doing their work as expected

–          Data presented on many reports were guesstimates and not the actual data

Prasad was a very level-headed Manager who had grown to the position of Business Head from the ranks. He had learned the business by working the market. He liked it when people told him that they had tried and failed and he was also willing to take shortfalls so long as they were backed with real data. But he disliked people who stayed away from the market and lied about it too.

Young George got a lesson which he would not forget throughout his career – he had to bite the dust that day because he had been unwilling to eat a little bit of dirt every once in  awhile.

P.S: Dirty shoes are one of the indicators of success in Sales!

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  1. April 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Nice one 🙂

  2. Kailash
    April 3, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Good one J

    • JayadevM
      April 3, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Thank you, K!! 🙂

  3. April 3, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I looked at my shoes it has very little dirt…guess its time shoes got more dirty..Jayadev,interesting story.Thanks for sharing with us.

    • JayadevM
      April 3, 2012 at 4:51 pm


      Am glad the story rang a bell!

      Yes,business benefits when Managers get their shoes dirty. Like there is a beat plan for the junior-most executive there ought to be one for the senior guys too.

  4. Jamy
    April 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    You got that right Jay!! If we managersI don’t walk around and mingle with oury guests- bang comes a comment- NO MANAGEMENT PRESENCE!! It’s essential to get the shoes dirty to get an idea of the pulse of the market right under your nose!!

    • JayadevM
      April 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      You said it, Jamy!

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