Funny as it may sound; I believe Mothers are the biggest and the best institution to learn from. I have been in sales for 15 years now and that’s exactly how much time it has taken me to realize that I have inherited my sales abilities from my Mother! Let me give you a glimpse:
Must Haves which organizations look for in a sales individual are more associated with skills like, Probing, negotiation, Confidence, positive mindset and a go-getter attitude. During my younger days, my mother had imparted these skills by giving me a live demonstration, which has cling to my mind.
Every time when my family used to go out shopping, say groceries, my Mom would inherit the negotiator avatar. It was either her way or No way! Poor hawkers would have to give in to my mother’s exceptional negotiation skills and let go off few bucks in order to sell and move on to the next sale. I asked my mother why she has to negotiate so much and Why not pay what the Vegetable seller was asking for. I got the typical mothers response to that question – Selling at the right price is important, He was charging too much.
Lesson Learnt – If you cannot demonstrate the value your service or product is offering to solve the problems of the person at the other end, you are fighting a lost battle! Negotiation is a two-way affair – Buyer sets a target for himself and seller sells the value to widen the target!
Due to my parent’s sports background, I enjoyed a lot of time playing the sports I love without any restrictions. This would also mean that I would burn myself out and fall sick. My mother, the more concerned one of my parents, would ask so many questions on why I felt sick, that I used to feel better already! Mild fever? The questions would be as follows – Did you drink cold water? Did you take a cold shower? Did you play a lot in the sun? What did you eat? That time, I used to curse God, why did I fall sick. If I have to think of it now, it gave me a great lesson to learn, probe to find what the root cause of the problem was.
Lesson learnt – Probing is very important to know what your customer’s problem is. The more layers you peel, the more you know about the problem and the better you can serve your customer.
Being in the paramilitary forces, bestowed her with the responsibility of managing a unit of 1500 people out of which 70% were Men. I fondly remember an incident when my mother’s unit, posted in Kashmir, was given the responsibility of managing the Amarnath Yatra, a holy place visited by thousands every year. Many dignitaries used to come to visit and the responsibility of their security laid upon the brave soldiers. A common question everyone had – Is everything alright? The answer – Yes, everything is under control. I never realized how difficult was it for her to say everything was under control, until, summoned by my manager on the status of sales!
Lesson Learnt – Confidence is the most important aspect every individual needs to be successful, but only with better groundwork and research to back the facts you present.
I had the privilege to represent Delhi state in the open Tae-Kwon-do championship in 1996. I won a silver. I was dejected that I lost the finals because of my silly mistake. My mother celebrated my Silver as a presidential award. She will not stop calling my family members to tell them how well I had done. I was perturbed by her reaction and asked her, Why are you celebrating so much? I lost in the finals. Her answer changed my life and the way I started thinking from then on. In a gist, she made me realize that I beat six talented people to reach the finals and knew the reason for my failure in the finals. When you know what went wrong, the chances are that you also know how to fix it!
Lesson Learnt – Often times we get dejected by what we lost but never cherish what we gained. Having a positive mindset not only helps you in enjoying what you gained but also gives that relentless energy to pursue what we want.
She has retired now and lives with my brother and our adorable dogs on the outskirts of Delhi. Before retiring though, she passed the baton to my wife, who has now become a constant source of learning for me!