I am 38 years old and I dove into the business development function just 6 months back. I had always worked in the operations and implementation function before. Even in my stint as an entrepreneur, my role was more of general management handling operations and had very little to do with outbound sales. Needless to say I was nervous and had my fingers crossed.
This blog is not to peddle any ‘gyan’. As you can make out from the title I neither have the authority nor the experience to burden you with the Dos and Donts list. This is my small way of revisiting my last 6 months in a totally new function and may be highlight a few things that I learned or observed on the way.
Why Me ?
One evening my super boss called me in his cabin and inquired if I was interested in joining the Business Development function of my company. I was surprised and perplexed at the same time. A thousand thoughts hit me like a bag of bricks. I was asked to think it over the weekend.
Subsequently I discussed it with my family and friends. All were happy and all gave almost overlapping reasons. These went something like you would be the “front line warrior” with people’s eyes on you, you would get to travel and meet some very senior people and God willing you may earn good money as well. But my mind was looking for the answer to the question “Why me?”
The answer I got after talking to my old and new super boss was almost the same. Over the period of two and half years as the implementation manager, I had managed software quality efforts which led to a good product knowledge. I also gave face to face and online training which gave me good exposure in client facing jobs. Apparently, good product knowledge and good communication skills were a prerequisite for the new role and I had just checked both the boxes.
Deep end of the swimming pool
My stint started with attending a large event of a professional body forum in Jaipur. We had set up a booth at the event to showcase our product. I had my colleague, my boss, super boss who is also a co-founder and another co-founder attending the event with me. It was hard work standing 10-12 hours daily, talking to scores of people about the product and being ignored by even more number of people. At the end of every day, I could not make out which was hurting more, my jaws from smiling or my feet from standing. The fact that there were drinks at the end of every day of the three day event was the only saving grace.
If I thought I had seen the worst, I was about to be unpleasantly surprised. The first thing I realized was giving product demo was not the same as giving product training. The scope, depth and the narrative were not going in the right direction. If I myself could identify that I was not hitting the right notes, I am sure my more experienced colleagues would have found many more mistakes than me.
I soon realized how tough it is to sell especially if your product life time revenue runs into a few million of rupees. Why would people buy from you ? Why would people even listen to you ? It is tough to handle rejections in spite of putting hard work and emotions behind your efforts. Facing so many rejections day in day out was something nobody can really prepare for and I was no exception to it either.
I have made a personal commitment of minimum 10 years in this area of business. I not only want to know every big or small aspect of this function but also get better at implementing them. The future is in finite. With the current trends in Digital Marketing, Business Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, who knows how much knowledge there is to be gained.
My step by step method is to identify the different aspects of marketing and sales. Watch videos, read blogs and then make notes on each aspect. Practice them every time I get an opportunity. Track and observe if I am getting better at them. And then learn some more.
In my six full months, I have managed to get four customers with the help and guidance of my colleagues. I am doing OK and some may even call it beginners luck but I want to get better and keep getting better. Prepare for the tough times and challenges. Wish me luck.
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