Sell Blankets to Eskimos

This post requires you to think a bit. Might be difficult on a Friday night, but do give it a thought over the weekend.

We all know how challenging the life of a salesperson can be. Unrealistic sales targets, unwelcoming prospective customers, unending follow-up calls and meetings, demoralizing posters outside offices, the crushing pressure of time as the end of the month approaches, and clients who like the thrill of being pursued by multiple businesses.

Salesperson 3

image: glasbergen

And if all that was not bad enough, there are the trials of making it through the day with erratic food timings. I have spent a grueling stint in a Marketing role, and while I had the luxury of driving for meetings, lunches were more like a mirage in the desert. I always had 6-7 bottles of water stacked up, and that usually kept me going. From skipping lunch to spending time explaining a concept to a prospective client, to pecking at food at god-forsaken eateries, to the thrill of eating after a chain of hopeful meetings.

The internet connection at home was down recently. Finally when the engineer showed up, it turned out that the re-configuring would take about an hour. There was a big mug of tea waiting for me, so I offered the engineer some. He declined, saying he suffered from acidity, and tea would only worsen it. Something I am very familiar with, thanks to the poor eating regime I’ve followed over the years. But, it got me wondering about the thousands of sales people and field engineers who spend long hours chasing prospects or fixing things, resulting in them neglecting their own health. So I wanted to ask you, for ideas on how we could find a solution to the people who sell all the awesome stuff, and for those folk who fix our gadgets and appliances whenever they act up.

Salesperson 2

image: TrinityMarketingSystems

Can you think of ways and means of making it possible for sales and support folk to be able to have their meals on time, especially when they’re doing the rounds?

To get the ball rolling, here are a few initial thoughts that came to mind…

  • a very basic concept of a reminder app on the mobile, reminding the person to drink water, or have lunch, etc.
  • food delivery services specially focused on delivering to sales & support personnel on the go. They should deliver to anything from the crossroads at ABC junction, to outside XYZ company’s office, or outside the PQR store
  • this one’s my favorite, something I’ve personally been longing for, to streamline my eating schedule. Food in capsules. Just pop a few in, and you’re good to go. Beats even the army’s combat ration MREs

Let’s have your ideas, and hopefully someone can actually start working on a business service that’s focused on selling to those who sell.

12 thoughts on “Sell Blankets to Eskimos

  1. most of the time the issue is with how these service mechanics schedule back to back appointments and inevitably one of them overruns due to some issue. The key is to get them to schedule a lunch break which might not be practical from an operational efficiency perspective.. end result eat on the move(wada pao and the like)

    1. Thanks for the comment, Karthik. It does make sense, but is it something we could hopefully change? Perhaps if companies take a little effort to better plan and schedule visits (with harder appointment timelines, etc.). Sure you might be compromising on one visit a day (which, I’ll agree can be huge), but in return, you get a healthier employee who hopefully appreciates the company’s gesture of factoring his health in to their business. Which is a big deal. And he or she will perhaps work with more efficiency, towards delighting more customers, rather than just hurried rushing through the day’s checklist.

        1. Agree. But then what we get, is a generally bored sales or service folk with slowly deteriorating health, and who switch jobs only for better salaries and an equally poor work environment/schedule. Given a choice (I’m assuming), a sales/service person wouldn’t mind settling for a marginally lower salary if the company factors such small initiatives into the process. So you have healthier employees, slightly lower pay than the competition. And you have a good pipeline of job aspirants because of the ‘better work culture they’ve heard of’. What do you think?

    2. Well Karthik What is a company without its people? Just Imagine if these guys don’t get us the numbers the profit will become an alien term for us. These guys get us the revenue so why not share with them? Just A Thought!

      1. All the great visionary companies going back over a hundred years too, had profit-sharing with employees as a norm, really progressive for those times, and yet it is surprisingly uncommon in businesses nowadays.

      1. Rj, you mean when the sales person gets hungry, go get a snack? Yeah, that would be something. But apart from the few people who might acknowledge the step, most others might take offense. It still is a good idea, sales people got to eat too after all.

  2. As a safe bet, I usually pack a fruit-apple, Monginis-Donut, energy-nutrition-bar half-a-litter water bottle.
    There are many apps best suited for reminder my recommended is https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=se.lixi.mychain&hl=en

    I use clinchpad.com my friends web app for lead capturing, it has a feature which is called as zone, which helps me tag the leads in western, central zones. Thus if I am travelling to western-line I make a point to cover as much leads from that side.

    One thing which I don’t like is salesman are not offered a seat as soon as they enter office they are asked bluntly who are you? kaya kaam hai? I think I also do the same thing, My deep observation is offering a seat won’t come because people need to gauge body language of the salesman and set an initial level of trust in that person.

    Recently I came to know that my mother started offering water to all the salesman, thinking that even I must be making visits in the office in hot, humid afternoon and persuading client to take product or service 🙂 She is not wrong.

    Thank you Shrutin, It takes courage to write a blog about uncomfortable stuff, you are an inspiration.

    1. Thanks for the informative and encouraging comment, and the really kind words, Arun. I am truly humbled.
      It’s a great habit to carry food. Though some foods might be great in the short term but harmful later, like some energy bars (unless burnt appropriately by way of an active sport). Thanks for the app suggestion, am sure a lot of people will find it useful. Thankfully I’ve never had a bad experience with marketing visits. I do recommend going with an appointment though, that way you know whom to ask for, as soon as you get in, and that person is expecting you. Without appointment, we do have to adapt as per the welcome. And moms, yes they do make life much easier. There should be more moms in the corporate sector. Imagine how less gruelling selling will then become..

  3. Great Post! Shrutin What If People Offer The Salesperson Some Refreshers As A Courtesy By Religion Or Maybe The Company Itself Starts Charging The Refreshers From The Customers As A Part Of Service Of course The Beneficiaries Being The Salespersons Themselves? Just A Thought! What’s Your Take?

    1. Thanks a lot Abhishek. And sorry for the late reply. The ‘offering refreshers’ is a brilliant idea.! Not sure to what extent it will be implementable, but HR at companies could educate their colleagues about such initiatives. Lives of sales people would then perhaps not be as tiring and trying as it is. Brilliant idea, Abhishek.!

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