IMT-Nagpur alumnus Alok D'Souza
People skills and perseverance are key qualities for a career in sales, says Alok D'Souza, senior executive in sales at Amul and Institute of Management Technology Nagpur alumnus.
"I would say the most important skill needed is people skills," he said in a recent interview. "One has to deal with all kinds of customers - from star hotels, the armed forces, retailers and direct consumers too. The challenge lies in identifying their unique need and catering to it in the best possible manner."
D'Souza said the second skill "is not so much learnt in any business school, but I would say it's perseverance. The targets keep getting higher and there will always be obstacles, but it is important to not get bogged down by them and keep at it."
While there has been a slight slowdown in the economy, he is sure there will continue to be jobs in the marketing and sales area and advises IMT-Napur students to: "Work hard and follow your gut feeling when selecting a job because at the end of the day, if you are not happy with what you are doing, you will not be able to stay on for long no matter how attractive the package looks at the start."
At Amul, D'Souza is in charge of franchisee operations for the Pune office which handles 15 districts in Maharashtra, mainly looking into the distribution and sale of the company's products.
There's really not a typical day in sales.
"It is a lot of field work and the majority of my time is spent meeting with our channel partners namely our distributors, retailers, modern format stores and franchisees," he said. "Being in sales, we always have targets to achieve, but what I like is that I am given the authority and the freedom to work in order to achieve these targets. The field work is an eye-opener in terms of gaining experience, which I probably would not have gotten had I had a desk job. I can't say I dislike anything about the job. There are always going to be ups and downs and we have to learn to work with the constraints."
The remarkable success of the company has made his job challenging.
"We have been growing at a rate of 20 per cent per annum for the past couple of years. The most challenging part is to constantly re-invent ourselves in order to maintain that level of growth."
He's currently at work on what he feels will be his greatest achievement with the company - implementing a new distribution system.
"This will cater to the rural segments where we have not been able to reach so far. It is an immensely challenging task and setting it up successfully would by far be my best achievement."
As for what the future holds for this highly-successful IMT-Nagpur alumnus "Although it may sound a little cliché, I see myself starting up a business of my own," he said. "Five years is a long enough span of time to gain the necessary knowledge and experience needed to run a business and I hope that I would be successful at it."