Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sales Terminology for Dummies

Every profession has its own jargon and Sales is no different. FMCG sales jargon draws heavily from Urban Dictionary and is, on its part, a top contributor to the aforesaid Encyclopaedia of abuses across languages.
The jargon is usually specific to a region, but a common thread runs across the length and breadth of the nation, especially the northern and central hinterland. Like the language that I’m writing in now, most phrases derive from a few elementary words. I have tried to cover these elements, hence making this blog piece a really poor salesman’s really poor Norman Lewis.

Building Blocks:
(1) Target: Target is something you HAVE to meet.
(2) Maal: Forget 90s Bollywood movies for a minute. Maal means stock. Any form of stock. Stock at the depot is maal. Stock coming from the depot to the distributor is maal. Stock at the distributor is called maal too. Stock in transit from the distributor to the retailer, unsurprisingly, is also called maal. Stock at the retailer, surprise-o-surprise is maal, as well.
(3) Peti: Peti or case is a carton full of an SKU. This is the basic unit of measurement at a distributor point. Peti can also be called a case, but the latter just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
(4) Claim: Claim is the money the company owes to the distributor. Claims are like monsoons, always late and always falling short of expectations.
(5) Scheme: Scheme is the extra retailer discount on a SKU.
(6) C.D: C.D usually means Cash Discount. However, any form of retailer discount over and above SKU schemes is called C.D. While schemes are SKU specific, C.Ds are retailer specific.
(7) Consumer Offer: Unlike a scheme or a C.D which is meant for the retailer, a consumer offer is meant for the end customer.
(8) Primary: A primary sale is from the depot to the distributor.
(9) Secondary: A secondary sale is from the distributor to the retailer.
(10) Coverage: The number of outlets your distributors serves.

Now that you’re familiar with the basics, let’s look at the minarets these basic building blocks are capable of making:  
(1) Maal thhokna: Usually used for primary sales, maal thokna happens when you dump stock over and above his capacity at the distributor. This happens
a. When there’s huge pressure to meet Primary sales target
b. Always
(2) Peti Chipkana: Usually used for secondary sales, peti chipkana occurs when you lure the retailer with schemes and C.D and bombard him with maal in multiple petis that is enough to last him this season and the next. This happens
a. When there’s a new product launch in the market
b. When there’s slow moving stock in your inventory that you wish to clear
c.       Always
(3) RTGS karwana: Coax your distributor into making advance payment to the depot for stock purchase. This happens
a. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (banks remain shut on Sundays)
(4) Claim Banana: When you sit at the distributor point three months after the month whose claims you’re making and take a lot of printouts. This happens
a.       In the months in which you were really busy looking after the business and had very little time to settle distributor issues
b.      When your software was down at the end of the month
c.       Every month
(5) C.D kaatna: When the retailer asks for discounts over and above the ones he’s eligible for and the salesman ends up paying from his pocket because he doesn’t wish to spoil his relationship with the retailer. This happens
a.       When the retailers discount has been suddenly  discontinued because he doesn’t give you the same sales volume as he used to
b.      Always
(6) Credit Dena: When the retailer asks for more grace period to service his due debt. This happens
a.       At the expiry of his credit period
b.      At the beginning of the credit period
c.       During his credit period
(7) 2 bill chalana: This occurs when the retailer doesn’t make the payment to the distributor during the one week credit cycle and makes another order in the meantime, thereby leaving him with two bills outstanding to the distributor. This happens
a.       When the retailer is new
b.      When the distributor is old
c.       When the retailer is old
d.      When the distributor is new
(8) Replacement Uthana: When the salesman takes back unsold stock from the retailer after the product expiry. This happens
a.       When the distributor is new
b.      Never
(9) FIFO karna: To arrange your products in First In First Out order so that the old ones are sold quicker and hence there’s lesser chance of product expiry. This happens
a.       When the salesman is new
b.      Never
(10) Petrol phookna/chappal ghisna/Poora area karna: To visit every outlet in the beat. This happens
a.       When there’s a crazy target to be met
b.      When your Area Manager is with you. This further happens
                                                               i.      Once in a blue moon
(11) Magajmari karna: To argue with the retailer that yours is the best product. This happens
a.       When you don’t know your product
b.      When you lie about your product
(12) Weekly dalna: To note the closing stock at the end of the week. This happens
a.       On whatever day of the week that is convenient for you
(13) Order dalwana: To place an order with the depot for stock for the distributor. This happens
a.       When there’s a stock shortage at the depot
(14) Chal jaega: A common phrase used by retailers when they do not wish to make an order for your product. This happens
a.       When peti chipkana happened last week
b.      Every alternate week
(15) Chamdi jalana: To make sales only under bright sunshine. This happens
a.       When it rains
b.      In winters
(16) Chamdi Galana: To make sales only when it is cold outside. This happens
a.       In summers
That’s it then. Feel free to add your own.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The First Job

For many of us so called freshers back at B-School, the idea of The First Job was extremely intriguing. A lot of it had to do with the idea of The First Paycheque. However, every climax is preceded by a character, a story and a situation. In other words, a foreplay.   

For starters, life as a professional earns you the respect of one and many and many but one. Your subordinates glance at you, smirk at the volume of work you do and get shocked at the money you make. Your boss is shocked at seeing you work, glances at the volume of work you do and smirks at the money you make. This is so unlike college where your friends would smirk at seeing you work, yet get shocked at the volume of work you could muster and then just glanced at the grades you received.

Mathematics seems all too easy at college. You have the skill to work out many a tough problem on your fingertips. Post college, however, even the alleged simplest of problems such as conversion of CTC to take-home salary seem the most arduous, even with the most advance calculators.

However, contrary to popular belief, spending on ecommerce decreases. While you do have the money to move products from your Wishlist to your Cart and the capacity to choose Debit Card instead of Cash-on-Delivery as the mode of payment, no one is home when the shipment is delivered.
With extra income, come added expenses. New outflows such as house rent, food and transport crop up out of nowhere. With them, comes the realisation that electricity does not come free, water shortage is the country’s bigger problem than its ability to win Test matches abroad, cost-effective and high-speed Internet is one adjective too many for your budget, credit card interest rates run higher than Rohit Sharma’s batting average and if one rupee is equivalent to a foot, then your education loan EMI would stack up as high as Mount Everest.

And once you see your hard earned salary being taken away from you even before it hits your bank account, you start empathising with the businessmen who stash their black money in Luxembourg and Switzerland. How does it matter what colour the money is as long as it’s green?

On the bright side, at work you do meet a lot of new and interesting people. There is always someone who you aspire to be like. You call her/him the MD/CEO of the company. Then there are some you never want to be like, but are certain to become one. You call her/him your boss. Finally, there are those you never want to see again. You call them colleagues.  Outside of work, too, the new phase would ensure you meet people from all walks of life. There are landlords who are omniscient when it’s the first of every new month and disappear from the surface of the earth when the kitchen sink has a blockage. Then there are electricians and plumbers who, no matter which part of the city you live in, always seem to live in the diametrically opposite side. And then there are property-brokers, who, true to their name, lease you a property and make you broke in the process.

Work life also sees a lot of new people take up far more important positions in your life. The maid becomes the lady you now cajole the most, for she is your dish-washer, your vacuum cleaner, your washing machine and on most Mondays, your morning alarm. You can live with an upset sister for a week, an upset mother for three days and an upset girlfriend for two…but an absent maid can take your life in just under 24 hours on account of either skidding over the dust brought by your shoe-sole and consequently hitting your against the shoe stand and/or chocking on the dishwash bar left at the end of the spoon after a failed attempt at doing the dishes yourself.

The one thing, though, that remains constant is the quality of food, which, like Dhoni’s captaincy record overseas, hasn’t improved. During work, all you get is food for thought and post work, all you have is thought for food. However, unlike the option to dine thrice post dinner that you enjoyed back at the dorm, you get just the one shot now. And hence in the struggle to decide between eating the inedible and waiting 30 min and making a hole twice as big in your pocket, Nestle and ITC make merry yet again!

A rather less common change is the shift in prime mode of time wastage from laptop to television. Laptop has just the three channels: TV Series, Movies and Porn; first two of which are limited by the capacity of today’s memory disks. Television has many. Plus, television is the medium where you would find all the recent works of Sunny Leone.

The final avenue of change is social media. No, Facebook is still the dominant medium and LinkedIn is used only when you wish to know which donation college your boss passed out of. Yet, a lot of friends are checking in at restaurants and theatres with their graduation friends/colleagues you know as little of as the friend himself.

Having said all that, there are plenty of silver linings too, I think. For starters, you divert all your hatred from people to occasions such as Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. There’s also the added excitement for waiting for that SMS at the start of the month. Even the alphanumeric codes such as 80C, 80CCC and 80CCD (the last of which bears no resemblance to a popular cafeteria chain, living or dead) all make sense now. 

Eventually, you realise that the high-school Physics formula equating Work to Force times Displacement is the greatest discovery ever made. For even if you think your Force is unstoppable, the targets are usually immovable. Naturally, your boss sees you as a lazy bum who does no work. Remarkably, another high-school Physics formula comes a cropper. Power isn’t the rate but the rank at which you Work.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Change We Can Believe In

Every post of mine is like a Jugal Hansraj movie. So sporadic that everytime I come back, it’s a comeback. Understandably, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since I last wrote. We still had a PM who had more hair on his head than on his face, Karunanithi and Mayawati were thinking which portfolios they would get in the new cabinet, the defence minister and finance minister were two different people (so were the PM and the Gujarat CM) , Bihar still had a chief minister whose name you didn’t have to Google, Sr. Yadav was the most embarrassing CM UP had ever had, West Bengal divisions of Asian Paints and Akzonobel still had White and Blue colours in stock, thirteen IIMs and sixteen IITs were considered aplenty, train was still the cheapest means to reach Kochi from Bangalore, Iraq had only one notable militia: its government, the most gruesome death in Game of Thrones was Ned Stark’s, the two kids in HIMYM didn’t know who their mother was, Sri Lanka didn’t know how to win tournament finals, Mayanti Langer had the best figures in the Binny family, Netherlands was supposed to be van Gaal’s toughest assignment, so many on Twitter had Spanish Flags and Federer as their DPs and you finally thought you had seen the end of Sreesanth on TV. 

But things change, don’t they? We live in a world in transition. So much so that every voter demands change, every politician promises change and every government delivers change: a change of personnel. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this constant craving for change is what sets us apart from other species. From the average voter to the subziwallah, everybody wants change. When we had very big computers and phones, we wanted small ones. When we finally got small ones, we then wanted big ones. I am sure the sine wave was discovered as a result of curious change-seeking scientists trying to plot a graph of the average screen size of electronic devices on the y-axis and time on the x-axis. Even within electronics, the change is not restricted to screen sizes alone. Remember the good old CRT screen days? That was the era of the Thomsons, BPLs, AIWAs, AKAIs, SANSUIs and ONIDAs; the era of curvilicios televisions. But then could we settle for something that had lasted for so long without suggesting alterations? Hell no! So we invented flat television. Scarlett Johansson gave way to Kiera Knightley. And just when you thought flat television was here to stay, Samsung is now trying to sell curved TVs. 

I am sure, somewhere in her Malibu penthouse, Scarlett just winked.

The need to change isn’t restricted to the accessories we use. The rot runs much, much deeper. While travelling, those with confirmed seats in AC bogies want to peek out of the compartment doors while ticketless travellers want to rest their butts on air-conditioned seats. Those on the upper birth want erect postures while sitting while those with lower births want the no-nonsense comfort of the upper birth. In flights, those who chose the window seats now want the leg space of the aisle and those who opted for the leg space now find the scenery ever so attractive. The poor fellow on the middle birth always wants change. 

People who owned two wheelers now want four wheelers while those who owned four wheelers now think four are two wheels too many. Women are proud of well toned bodies while certain men flaunt their 56-inch chests.

Prime Ministers are becoming Presidents and Presidents becoming Prime Ministers. Batsmen are turning their arms over and bowlers are flexing the willow. Off-spinners are bowling doosras and leggies bowling googlies. Fast-bowlers are bowling slower ones and spinners bowling arm-balls. Strikers are finding the midfield more challenging with the midfielders becoming more attacking. The lunatic is adding method to his madness while the methodical is throwing caution to the wind.  

Clearly, such changes aren’t limited to our lives alone. They have had an irreparable and indelible impact on art and literature as well. While it has helped in coining of new terms such as anti-incumbency, at the same time, it has made redundant others such as status quo. It has made immortal lines such as ‘the times they are a changing’ while made others such as ‘change is constant’ paradoxical, because truly speaking, nothing is. Remember Calculus from High-School? Wonder if teachers still deduct marks for skipping the constant you needed to add after Integration.

With the Left looking Right and the Right looking further Right; the East looking West and West looking East, at least we’re all headed in the same direction. South.    

Friday, March 7, 2014

IIM Kozhikode: The Learning

As our PGP program draws to a close, everyone's been asking each other the same question: what have we learned in the two years here.
So like we do everytime, or at least we think we do everytime, I'll try to break down the question into smaller components. Going term by term, subject by subject. 
Almost two years ago, I penned down a post highlighting my learning from the courses in the first term.
I take it forward from there.


Term 2: 

Business Ethics:
(a) Oxymorons
(b) China
Financial Management-I:  
(a) Brealey is the Kotler of Finance, which in turn is the Bible of Marketing
(b) If your calculator fails you in the exam, you fail the exam
Organizational Behaviour- II:
(a) Just as no one knows whether the egg followed the chicken or vice versa, no one really knows whether the organization's culture should follow its strategy or the strategy should follow its culture
(b) The Matrix structure is the one in which an employee reports to two bosses. No, no. Neo reporting to only Morpheus in The Matrix was all wrong.  
Management Accounting-II:
(a) Business Costs and businesses cost
(b) The first three letters of the alphabet stand for Activity Based Costing 
Macro Economics:
(a) In the long run, we're all dead
(b) Shit happens -> A curve moves -> Further Shit happens
Operations Management-I:
(a) Shit happens -> You intervene -> Lesser shit happens
(b) Shit happens -> You don’t intervene -> It stops shitting
Operations Research:
(a) Story of life: objectives, relations and constraints
(b) ‘Dijkastra’s algorithm' is easier done than pronounced
Business Laws:
(a) Oxymorons
(b) Screwing yourself: Sole Proprietorship. Screwing each other: Partnership. Screwing everyone: Public Limited


Term 3: 

Strategic Management
(a) There’s more to the word ‘core’ than hardcore and softcore
(b) Starbucks’ coffee” beans cost per cup: Rs. 20
Starbucks’ per cup cost related to proving the experience”: Rs. 30
Confusion charge as to whether their core competency is (i) Coffee (ii) Coffee + Experience (iii) Coffee related experience, or (iv) Experience related to coffee. : Rs. 450
Total charge: Rs. 500
(c) Had Michael Porter written Harry Potter, ‘Diagon All(e)y’ would have been called ‘Diagon Acquire’
Environmental Management
(a) Environment Management is very important
(b) Yes. Very important
(c) Like very, very important
Financial Management-II
(a) That marriage is a Call option while sex is a Put option
(b) No matter how impotent your asset is, don’t worry, you’ll have a Beta
(c) Such is its infatuation with this word that if Finance were a movie, FM-1 would be ‘Risk-iya’ and FM-2 ‘Dedh Risk-iya’
Human Resources Management
(a) While Finance looks at the West and Operations at the East, Human Resources looks at ‘South-West’
Indian Economy
(a) Oxymoron
(b) The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh means that two Indian states have Self Help Groups now. This is inorganic growth
(c)Serial killers are products of contract killing. Cereal Killers are products of Contract Farming.  
Marketing Management-II
(a) Survey-bhavantu-sukhinah
(b) Bogus Group Discussions
Operations Management-II
(a) HRs lean left, Marketers lean right. Operations guys just Lean
(b) Remember the story of the ants who proactively covered their bricks before the rains arrived? Well, they got rid of their Inventory Just-In-Time! 
(c) If Bihari labourers work for Toyota, they’ll converse in something like: ‘A: Kaizen ho? B: Zukham hai. Naak-Kanban hai’
Business Information System Management
(a) E-R-P…E-R-P…E-R-P
(b) E-R-P…E-R-P…E-R-P
(c) E-R-P…E-R-P…E-R-P


Term 4: 

Enterprise Resource Computing
(a) E-R-C…E-R-C…E-R-C
(b) E-R-C…E-R-C…E-R-C
(c) E-R-C…E-R-C…E-R-C
Game Theory
(a) John Nash indeed had A Beautiful Mind
(b) No bank should ever lend money and no borrower should ever return it
There are three types of pricing techniques:
(a) Cost plus mark-up: The constipation pills cost us $2 to make. We’ll charge you $4
(b) Competitor Based: Whoa! The competitor charges $ 5. We’ll also charge you $5
(c) Value in use: The pills save you from 3 daily trips to the public toilet worth $2 each. We’ll charge you $6
Ultimately the product fails and shit happens
Sales & Distribution Management
(a) If you’re a salesman, before you close your fly, close the deal
(b) A salesman’s Green Mile is called The Last Mile
(c) The Beer Game isn’t half as interesting as it sounds
Advanced Methods in Marketing Research
(a) An Average person is Mean
(b) No matter how many tools you learn, only mean and standard deviation will be useful
(c) There are lies, damn lies, statistics, fifty feet of crap and then there’s Market Research
International Business
(a) Sympathy as you feel sorry for IIFT people. They study this for the whole two years.


Term 5

Financial Reporting & Analysis
(a) While Mathematics moved to Proportions long back, Finance still can’t get over Ratios.
(b) If you’re not Quick enough, Acid-Tests await you
Consumer Behaviour
(a) Producers' hidden motive behind every product is Sex
(b) Marketers' hidden motive behind every advertisement is Sex
(c) Consumers’ hidden motive behind every purchase is Sex
Integrated Marketing Communication
(a) Divided We Fall and United...Breaks Guitars
(b) Writing it as ‘Scorpio by Mahindra’ instead of ‘Mahindra Scorpio’ wasn’t just a drafting error
Product Policy & Brand Management
(a) Look at the Stars…Look how they shine for you
(b) And everything you do, make the Question Mark yellow
(c) Dog came along, and then it barked at you
(d) But let it do anything, as long as the Cow is "Yellow"
Rural Marketing
(a) Contrary to general logic, village people who are poor people are actually rich people
(b) Contrary to general logic, village people who are sad people are actually happy people
Supply Chain Management
(a) IIM-Ahmedabad doesn’t call the Dabbawallas for Fancy Dress Competitions.   
(b) The movie Lunch-Box where a Dabba was delivered by the Dabbawalla to the wrong address can only be made 3.4 times in a million years.


Term 6

Retail Management
(a) Traditional Retail is like shit. It’s everywhere.  
(b) Modern Retail boom is like constipation. It threatens but never comes
Strategic Marketing
(a) To gassify a course, add ‘Strategic’ before it
(b) The first rule of any simulation is to understand the rules first
(c) Your life should be open book, not exams
Entrepreneurship and New Ventures
(a) How to keep writing ‘Entreprenuer’ each time and let MS Spellcheck auto-correct it for you
(b) If you don’t get a good job in the final placements, your Plan-B should be a B-Plan
(c) There are Angel Investors and then there are Venture Capitalists
Globalisation and Culture
(a) The Good, the Bad and the USA