MY FIRST Sale: I’m not a conventional salesman. I am a storyteller: Bhaskar Das

09 Aug,2012

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As part of our Thursday series of getting personal with industry folk, we look at getting the big guns in the fraternity to reminisce their first sale, copy, creative, news report, article, news show etc etc. We thought it appropriate to quiz the master salesman Dr Bhaskar Das. He’s been at it for 33 years with The Times of India group. MY FIRST… will appear on the second Thursday of every month…


You are essentially a salesperson, do you remember your first sale?

I first sold to Bennett, Coleman… they recruited me. You are first a product or brand yourself and you get selected. I think that was the first selling I did. I had a two-year management training course but they stopped training after nine months saying you don’t require training. And then I was given the charge of developing classifieds in The Times of India Ahmedabad edition in 1981. TOI Ahmedabad was launched in the 1970s and they were not doing very well. And classified development is very important, so I was given the charge.


My first sale, I still remember, I went to Vatva Industrial Estate and got a 30 rupees ad. At that time Rs 30 were valuable. But fundamentally when I say I am a salesman, I love selling but I am not a conventional salesman. I am a storyteller. I don’t just offer solution, I create insights for the client and create a story around access points and not selling of space. I think that’s why my sales track record in the company for 32 years continuously has been flawless.


And did you have to spin any yarns to sell stories?

No, I think for selling stories you have to do your homework and empathy is very important. That why should my advertiser buy? I have never focused on only supplies side, I’ve focused on demand side as well. I used to also research on reader reaction, on the demand side, and I used to marry both of them in storytelling. Obviously over the years, storytelling ability improved.


Any sale you are particularly proud of?

There are a lot of them. When I became Western Director, when I was responsible for Ahmedabad and Kolkata, I always used to go to clients who would say no. I had a fetish that when they say no, I would turn it into a yes. Apart from leading by example, I always believe my knowledge should start where my colleague’s ignorance begins. And then it gives a different kind of kick of my storytelling ability.


Is ad sales a thankless job…

I never believed so. For me no job is a dirty job, I think it depends on the person. I feel sales job is the best because it has great learning about human psychology, sociology, about economics of operation. I have worked in one company but I have learnt from so many industries when I go, inquire, understand and empathize with the client. My learning in the industry is amazing, it creates tremendous sense of resilience. Every time someone says no, it strengthened my intention to succeed.


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