In conversation with Sharthak Shankar Bhagat, Area Sales Manager, GlaxoSmithKline
Please tell us a little about your professional & academic background. Can you also brief us about your role in your current organization?
I completed by B.Tech in Information technology from KIIT, Bhubaneswar in 2008 and during my 4th year there, I had a small stint as a Radio Jockey at Red FM which I pursued post my graduation for a year.
In 2009, I joined SCMHRD for my MBA and got the opportunity to do my summers with GSK Consumer Healthcare. A successful summer internship led to a PPO and three postings later, currently I am the Area Sales Manager, Orissa for GSK!
As ASM for the Orissa region, I manage both the urban and rural channels of GSK delivering an annual turnover of Rs. 250 crores, which is the 3rd highest revenue generated by any FMCG company in the state. I work along with my team of 14 executives and 140+ salesmen through a channel of 31 direct and 1000+ indirect distributors.
What is the single most important skill that you think is required to do well as a Sales professional?
In fact, there are two key skills that I believe every successful sales professional must have: patience and the ability to follow-up
What had driven you to choose a career in Sales and what motivates you everyday to go to work? Is it the numbers?
I heard a saying once, “In sales you are as good as your last month…”
Although there are enough instances to make us believe otherwise, I firmly believe that the above sentence carries a lot of truth. It is that feeling of waking up every day and experiencing something new – be it the travel, the locations, the challenges, the daily numbers; everything is extremely dynamic!
I love the challenges my job throws at me daily and without this, life would have been quite boring.
Can you tell us about any critical project that you’ve handled and what were your takeaways?
My 1st posting was in Rajasthan where I was made the ASM of arguably the youngest team in the country – all fresh out of college grads, hoping to make a mark for themselves. Rajasthan at that point in time wasn’t that big a market for GSK and we were up against the best of talents in UP and Delhi. The business contribution was skewed towards a few SKU’s and NHC as a category was very small.
From there I was able to mould a winning team that not only delivered the highest growth on Chocolate Horlicks in the country in 2012 but also won the best trade area award that year. All this was possible because of the belief we had in ourselves and the passion to outperform everyone else.
My biggest take away from this was that numbers aren’t the end of all things in sales – many a times establishing a winning team and best in class processes can make you the champion. It taught me that winning is not achieving targets every month but making every month’s target achievable.
What has been your most significant achievement till date and key learning in your career so far?
My teams in Rajasthan and Orissa have been adjudged as the best regional ASM trade area in GSK for 2 consecutive years 2012 and 2013 respectively at our Annual Conference.
As far as key learning’s go – well too many to put down! What I’ve realized is that sales is like a daily soap which goes on everyday regardless of the actors or changing characters – all that matters is that the show must go on!
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