A brief chat with Mr. Rajan Parulekar, Managing Director of Paradigm Trainers Ltd., a firm specializing in Sales & Behavioural /Soft skills training since 1995. Author of Contextual Selling: A New Sales Paradigm for the 21st Century
When did you decide to start writing this book?
I wonder if there is any salesperson who can say that he hasn’t lost an order. One learns the hard way in life and I have lost a lot of orders too. Back in 1983, when I started out, selling was easier. It was more of a sellers’ market, with fewer brands and less competition. You could revert to the customer’s query the following day. These days, especially post-liberalization, the market has become hyper-competitive and cut throat. The customer expects all queries to be resolved instantly. If not, there is a competitor ready to grab the opportunity!
I started writing the book in 2005 and the book was released 6 years later. The reason I decided to write the book is, even though I learned by trial and error, the younger generation need not go through that. They should have a template of a structured sales process.
The inspiration for the book?
My sales career started in 1983 with Toshniwal after completing my Electrical Engineering. Toshniwal, were the pioneers in instrumentation in India. On my very first day, the boss handed me a brochure and said “ Go to the field and sell.” I was supposed to sell an Oscilloscope, a device used for testing electronic assemblies, products etc. I hesitantly told my boss that I don’t know anything of my product. . He said “It doesn’t matter, don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.” So, I stepped out into the field, and as I feared, the customer asked me some very difficult questions which I was unable to answer. Embarrassed, I nervously told the customer that I would get back to him. That was my first day at work!
Here, I’d like to share a very interesting anecdote. I wrote about this in the introduction in my book too. Once, I had to sell oscilloscopes to Dr. Mohinder Singh, Head of the Department, Physics at Khalsa College, Mumbai. He obviously knew oscilloscope thoroughly and asked me few technical questions which I was unable to answer. Being a very kind man, and sensing my apprehension and lack of familiarity with the product, he sat me down. For the next hour, Dr. Mohinder Singh patiently educated me about the product. He added that the oscilloscope I had carried was indeed a great product and proceeded to place an order for five pieces! That was the story of my first sale!
I must add that even though I was not technically familiar with the product, I allowed the other person to go on talking without interrupting. That, I feel, is important during the selling process.
I started Paradigm Power in 1995, and started conducting my training programs in sales. From then on, in the last 22 years, through Paradigm Trainers Private Limited, I have conducted training, both in India and abroad, for over 1000 companies across various verticals like electrical, electronic, Real Estate. IT, IT Services, etc. A lot of customers suggested me to write a book. So, the inspiration for this book came from my customers and students!
The book is targeted towards working sales professionals or those who wish to make a career in sales. It is a practical book, unlike the conventional theoretical marketing books which are more suited for the management students.
The book is also for the people who are unable to attend my training programs due to price, time or distance constraints. My book encapsulates about 7 to 8 days of my training programs and covers all aspects of Sales from the negotiation process, Key Account Management,( KAM) to collecting outstanding payments. The book is written in a conversational tone, making it easy to read and understand. Due to the pressure salespeople tend to talk a lot than what is needed. After attending my training programs, people have told me they feel more confident, relaxed, and under less pressure to talk all the time. This book also seeks out to inspire that confidence in a salesperson.
How is it relevant today?
There is a quote which reads “A great salesman is one who can sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo”. Today about 95% of salespeople will agree with this. This kind of approach breeds “con-manship”.
This critical issue of ethical selling is the core foundation of my book.
This attitude of selling anything to anyone was never appropriate all these years. 20-25 years back you could get away with it, since it was a sellers’ market. But today, if you try and sell a product to an Eskimo that he does not want, you will be pilloried all over social media. You and your brand could lose future sales and worse, credibility as well. It is only through creating trust and credibility, that one can succeed in building long-term relationships to create an effective selling environment.
Sales can be a pretty challenging job sometimes..
Well, sales people go through a lot of stress compared to their counterparts in other departments, like programming, shop floor, administration, HR etc. These people often work from their office premises.
On the other hand, salespeople usually conduct their business in the customer’s space. In the customer’s premises or at the customer’s time (for phone sales). In a way, they are operating from “enemy territory”! Customers are often rude, unsympathetic, disrespectful, and do not even show basic courtesy to sales people.
Sales people are constantly under pressure to achieve targets. Unreachable targets, mostly!
According to you, what are the qualities that make a good salesperson?
The first important quality is effective communication which includes not just talking but paying attention, asking the right questions and knowing when to and when not to speak. Secondly, one should have a sound product knowledge with clear fundamentals. Thirdly, the ability to take rejection and bounce back is very crucial in becoming a successful salesperson.
Any advice for upcoming salespeople?
These days there is a tremendous opportunity for sales people, yet there is a dearth of good sales people. Nowadays, sales is a very respectable profession. So anyone with the right attitude, and the ambition, one can become very successful.
Thank you, Mr. Rajan, for your time and valuable advice. I am sure all our readers, especially the upcoming salespeople, will benefit immensely from this.
– Hubert J D’Mello
Rajan Parulekar – Founder Paradigm Trainers
Disclaimer: SaleS AddA has no financial interest in the book “A New Sales Paradigm for the 21st Century”