The E-commerce industry has been growing manifolds. The statistics not only substantiate this statement but also convey that the dependency on e-commerce is only going to increase. It has been predicted that by 2040, 95% of sales would be through E-Commerce. There are so many big players in the market already, so how can you make the name of your E-commerce brand? Learn it from the best! Here is a podcast of Gaurab Gaba, an experienced sales manager who has worked previously with brands like Make My Trip and Swiggy and is now a part of Flipkart. Learn how to become a better sales manager for your team as well as the organization through ‘Sales Wala Show’ sales podcast.
(Sanadh Srivastava from MyOperator in conversation with Gaurav Gaba)
Q: “Swiggy is a new age brand that has come and gained popularity in the digital era. On the other Make My Trip has been there for over a decade now. So what is the difference of experience in working with both these brands?”
Ans: “See Make My Trip has been around for one and a half decades over here and on the other hand there is about six and a half years old organization- Swiggy. I think they both are growing but it’s just that make my trip has now got a new platform with the internet as they can now reach tier 2, tier 3, and several other parts of India.
The main difference is in the kind of disruption that you do. The kind of disruption that you do on a weekly or monthly basis in new-age companies is very different from what we see in traditional organizations. And over here (at Swiggy) I think in a very young organization if you have an idea and you are able to prove it and run it successfully then the podium is all yours. A process like this would typically take a longer time period as you have to go through all the hierarchy levels, you have to get through all the fine print blueprints. So I think this is where a new-age internet company wins.”
Q: “What is your take on the amount of research that sales managers or salespersons should do? Also, what are the ways by which you do your research in order to come up with new things?”
Ans: So now so I’ve been a part of the sales managers and I think when I started, typically sales and data didn’t go hand in hand right. But now think a lot of it is changing as we speak of now a lot of data is being consumed a lot of data is being passed onto the frontline salespeople I would say so earlier the sales data was only available to a regional head. The regional manager then used to strategize they used to kind of plan things and the front line salespeople were executing things without knowing the back end of it- why this was taken up and what was the reason for it to happen.
Now there has been a fundamental shift over here uh in terms of using sales using data. Now I think everyone would like to understand in an organization why is that organization making this change. It’s not about selling it’s about kind of growing together. So the growth of an individual also depends upon their partner. For example, if a partner was doing 1000 orders let’s say in a month if I’m able to grow that partner towards 1500 orders that’s where my sales manager or anyone in sales would kind of Succeed. To grow that from 1000 to1500 a lot of data would help him that what kind of consumers are coming to his storefront uh what is that consumer’s age affluence what is the new customer coming for and what is the repeat customer is looking for and much more.
For instance, say that someone is ordering biryani 4 times a month, but they are coming to you only once. That means the other three times the sale is going somewhere else even though you have culinary expertise. That’s where the data is playing a huge role as it brings such things to light and I think it’s a great change.
Q: “Considering you do so much research for your business as a manager, what are the ways by which a sales manager can research and go about it?”
Ans: “Research starts with a partner that I am talking to right up, so for example what interests him, one of the partners would say that if he wants to launch a new brand why does he want to do that if he is not happy with his business then why is it and that’s where that gives us the first point of fundamental research.
If I talk about any external partners over there and develop our own research there to kind of overhear are two situations and when sometimes like you said you do not know where to start with then you should kind of research about your own consumers, what are they coming to you for, what is that they look up to you what is repeat frequency what is the retention of frequency. Also keep a track of what the consumer is viewing on your platform, what is the average viewing time. Our attention span is now less than 50 seconds right and people are kind of moving away from longer to shorter content forms.
Your research has a lot to do with you and your product. It should start by finding out why is a particular customer not coming back to me, or this was the benchmark that I have sold to me, and once the customer is not coming to me then where else is he going? The customer should come up to me in one month, two months or three months’ time. That will also help you understand where your product stands in the market. Like you did not fulfill the expectations of the customer. So your research and data should come out of consumer behavior and from that consumer behavior we would then derive what should be our next step.”
Q: There is always a tussle that marketing is bringing leads so they are getting power to the company but sales are converting those leads so sales team is giving that power to the company. Now Swiggy and many similar brands invest a lot in marketing and have such a big customer base. So how do you ensure that the sales managers, sales team and you yourself are in sync with the marketing team? ”
Ans: “So in my experience, this tussle is not so strong in new age internet companies. It’s like we would have an estimated idea that would the top of our funnel would look like. So, for example, there are one lakh visitors, so the sales team would ensure that they are getting the best of the deals but that’s where marketing’s role also comes to play. How many customers will come will be determined by what is being shown on the home page, what brands are being promoted in a particular area, what is the serviceable time, and so on.
All these internet companies are a marketplace where you have a demand and you have a supply and you are kind of the middleman and your job is to always ensure that you got the best of the supplies so the consumer has an assortment. So marketing and sales work very closely over here. Marketing has to make plans about the spending and we have to make sure that we are giving better offers and services to the consumers.”
Q: As a person who regularly monitors sales funnel, how can they actually improve their sales funnel and reduce their sales cycle?”
Ans: “I would typically rewrite my funnel on high confidence and on low confidence ones. So high confidence is usually your easy killer where you would know that with a little bit of persuasion and more meeting you would be able to close those deals. So I learned something a term is known as ‘eat the frog’ so we kind of keep on lingering the difficult tasks. So we would pick up easy leads first and close them and since we know a particular lead is difficult so we approach it half-heartedly and very late.
So my strategy usually is which is also my tip here that one should start with low confidence leads. Because then you have a lot of time to strategize how to go about things or if you need a new strategy or something. If we don’t do that then I personally think that by the month-end or quarter-end salespeople will and they tend to suffer.”
Q: “So if given a choice between a client which is difficult with big-ticket size and the one which is easier but with smaller ticket size, then which one would you choose?”
Ans: “Being in sales you would definitely want a client which gives you more money right (chuckles). So handling tough clients is part and parcel of the job. In the end, if it works out or it does not you always have learning that will help you deal better with the next client. So my approach would be going after the harder and the bigger client, but I think at the early stages of our career we typically are inclined towards an easy client. Because we think that this is an easier one and let’s finish off with this one to complete the target.
Q: “As your profile says you have done a lot of innovation as a salesperson in both your previous companies. So I would like to know how we can bring innovation to sales as several people say that they cannot become innovative and they would rather stick to traditional methods?”
Ans: “So every sales manager knows about every single market change or market sentiments as they are on the front lines. I can say this as a part of this that you kind of understand from them and ensure that you make timely changes to it. For example, if we talk about fortune 500 companies the change is there every 20 years and now that time period is reducing. The companies who did not make the changes were done and dusted in 5-10 years.
So I think innovation is very-very critical because if you don’t understand what consumers are coming to you, what market you are in, and maybe what lacks in your product. Because if something is working for me right now it might not work in the next 6-8 months so that’s where innovation plays a huge role. To be in the market you need to talk to your consumers. You have to be at the front line taking the feedback that is very critical as every product has room for growth.
Q: “I now have a very important question for you. At MyOperator we provide you with a call management system and we firmly believe that it is very essential for every business. Swiggy is a platform that depends largely on calls. So how important do you find call management systems for these new-age internet-based businesses?”
Ans: “So I think neither of the mediums out there can take over calling. It is very convenient, it is also the oldest form of communication so I personally feel that you cannot replace calling no matter what technology comes into play.
So yes, a call management system plays a very very vital part it is useful for call masking, better management, and much more.
Q: “You did your MBA from IIM Ahemdabad pretty recently in 2021 only. So I want to know what led you to do that? Is it a requirement as a sales manager or you did it just because you wanted to expand your horizon? So what is the importance of an MBA in sales?”
Ans: “It is very important for me to keep learning and doing something along with working. So when you are at a sales executive level you learn a lot and in the middle, we learn a lot about business strategies. So we tend to think that we have a lot of experience, but at the same time, there are a lot of things happening side by side that we are not always able to capture. So you lose touch with a lot of things like finance and marketing. So my reason for doing MBA was to get a 360 view of the market, to become a better leader, to understand the nuances of the new age departments like product and data analysis.
So that is why I did an MBA and my advice to youngsters will also be that you need to keep investing in your learning. Not necessarily do MBA but anything that you need to upskill yourself. It is very-very important at every stage of one’s career.
Q: “See like you said that you lose that 360-degree view as a salesperson. I feel it has a lot to do with the job profile and pressure. It is always there running at the back of your mind even on off days. So how do you relax or take a break from all the stress?”
Ans: “So I think when you have partners 24/7, over a period of time you kind of build a relationship with them so I set up some expectations on what is the burning issue or what is not a burning issue. So once you and your partner identify this line, that’s a mutual line that they can easily cross but it is slightly difficult for us to do so. Over time, partners also realize that it’s a Sunday it’s a Saturday. Plus a lot of organizations have a helpline toll-free number where one can call and get their minor issues resolved in real-time through the IVR system.
So a lot of organizations are moving towards this as they have started to understand that an employee cannot be available around the clock for 365 days and hence, the dependencies have to be reduced. Also, I think a lot of players have their own web apps where they have given powers to the partners so that they can do the majority of the tasks themselves and their dependency on the salespeople is just for keeping the relationship healthy and growth building.”
Q: “So as a sales manager I understand you have a big team working with you. So how often do you have casual sessions with your team and how do you explain to them that it is not a 24/7 job, you can take a break and how do you give them sales motivation?”
Ans: “This comes from my experience in handling a larger team in Make My Trip, where 17-18 folks were a part of it. So ensuring that you got some unofficial vibes on your official WhatsApp groups on a weekend kind of kicks in the mood where people are sharing some light messages sharing pictures of the drinks, of them taking a break.
So these little things bring the team together, help you gel better, and sets the tone that one should relax for at least 1 or 2 days. So I think that is very very important and sometimes as the manager, you have to set that vibe. As a leader, you have to take that initiative because since you work with them every day for 10-12 hours you do develop a special bond with them. That is why your colleagues also become very good friends of yours. If you are able to get that environment of friendship, the environment of bonding, the environment of togetherness that helps the team a lot.”
The conversation with Gaurav Gaba was both enlightening as well as fun. Here is the rapid-fire from the sales podcast round where we learned more about his personal choices, his take on sales, and much more.
Q: “What is your favorite part of the sales job?”
Ans: “The energy and the improvisation that you do from 25th to 30th where you make sure all your horses are running and you try your best to achieve the target. That has to be my favorite part.”
Q: “Do you prefer working from home or working from the office when it comes to sales?”
Ans: “I would choose the middle way out, I would choose a blend of both. Because I personally feel that sitting at home for one and a half years that the learning you get from your peers and the organization is very immense. Working from home has its own benefits, you save a lot on commuting time and many other factors. But I think going to the office twice or thrice a week will help us grow as an individual faster.”
Q: “Which was the toughest deal or client that you have so far cracked in your sales career?”
Ans: “I think a lot of partners are there who were very difficult. But in that entire process, you learn a lot like how to ensure that you have a win-win situation for both yourself and them.”
Q: “Since you already told us what you love about sales the most, I want to know what you hate the most about sales?”
Ans: “I think the denominator increases every month. For example, if a sales guy has a target of 1cr then they have to move onto 1.5cr so this movement of the denominator faster than the numerator is something I do not like.”
Q: “What is that one question that you always ask while hiring your team as a sales manager”?
Ans: “I ask about the situation, the most difficult situation he cracked, what was his approach to it, what solution did he choose, and why did he choose that solution. Also the outcome of it. The outcome can be both wrong and right but the approach and the logic behind the approach give me a sense of how a person deals with different situations.”
Q: “What is that one thing that you would want to tell beginner Gaurav Gaba about sales?”
Ans: “Don’t stress too much! As it takes a mental toll on you sometimes when you are not achieving things. So not all days are going to be good. Some quarters are going to be very good some might not be. If you are not doing good in some quarters then don’t stress about it too much. It all kind of works out in the end.”
The learning was immaculate from the beginning. Here is the crux of what one needs to do to win in the sales department:
- Never be afraid to present your new ideas to your team. You never know what might succeed when.
- Researching about the market is very crucial before you step into it. Research about your audience, consumer behavior, as well as your competitors.
- Data is important but do not run behind numbers alone.
- The marketing and sales team must work hand in hand to both succeed and grow in the end.
- Always deal with difficult clients first so you have enough time to convert them until the end of the month.
- Innovation is very critical when it comes to sales. Come up with new ideas every now and then as per the market and consumer preferences to keep your organization up to date as well as profitable.
- Invest in your learning! Upskill yourself at every step of your career.
- Invest in a good call management system for the growth of your business as well as keeping the environment healthy and facilitating your employees.
- Do not stress too much, every day cannot be similar. Build a bond with your team beyond just professional workspace.