Friday, May 13, 2005

Ab Tak 56...

This month, I ended up counting that this is the 56th time I have closed a month (not counting the two/three times times I was getting married and changing jobs)!

And this month was quite a reminder of the old times when all we did was to 'thoko' stocks and then run to the HQ towns to convince the distributors to unload the trucks AND pass the cheques! (As one of my old Commercial Managers used to say, "If he has to do one, let him do the latter!")

Suddenly, you are reminded of the famous Ramgopal Verma blockbuster…

"It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it..." they state matter-of-factly as we see visuals of Nana Patekar polishing off goon after goon!

And that finds a fraternity among all those unsung ASMs in the world, who are clearing off warehouse after warehouse - all in the name of God, country and the Operations Manager!

And I realise I have made the transition from the Primary School to the Secondary... where it is no longer cool to have 8 weeks of paid up stock, you have to sell it in the market also!

Its actually a great thing that all that stock is no longer there – but one big loss is that all those wonderful “Primary Stories” can no longer happen!

Somehow, there is something inherently masculine about the whole process which reminds you of those dashing cowboys of Texas, the princely Afghan warriors and other such He-Men! And you really felt as if you were saving the company from total doom by invoicing lunatic amounts of stock!

And these stories moved around like urban legends...

"Maloom hain Bihar mein kya hua? Ek TSO ka target tha 82 lakh. Usne 96 kiya. Phir usko lagaa ki 1 crore nahin kiya to kya kiya? Yeh tha raat ke 9 baje... uske cheque distributor ka credit block ho chuka tha... lekin DD distributor ke paas cash pada hua tha... usne raat ke waqt cash udhaar dilwaya cheque distributor ko aur invoice karwaa diya... agle din cheque pass karwaya cheque distributor aur maal delivery liya DD distributor. Isiko kehte hain Distributor control, samjhe?"

"Maloom hain, Bengal mein to CFA ke farthest wall pe Maa Durga ka ekta tasveer hain... agar pura CFA khali nahin hua to woh tasveer dikhta nahin hain. To ensure this inauspiscious thing does not happen, no Bengal ASM leaves the CFA without clearing it out... Isiko kehte bhagwaan pe vishwas"

"Maloom hain Bangalore mein kya hua? Udhar lagaa tha transport strike... koi maal nahin jaa pa raha tha. Team ne saare distributor ko bataa diya ki pura din kaam karne ke baad, raat ke waqt woh log apna truck leke aa jayenge plant. Wahan pe billing hogi, maal load ho jayega aur woh log maal leke aa jayengey... transportation cost? Abbe margin nahin milta hain, kya?"

Seasoned practitioners of the trade discuss the two ways of doing that primary number – Halaal and Jhatka.

The slow and steady method is practised in cultured territories like West Bengal, Cal-Metro, Chennai Metro where ASMs want to bring some semblance of method to the madness. So you have the TSE on the phone, the computer operator yawning, endless cups of tea, Excel sheets (with DB-wise, SKU-wise averages) ready on the laptop... as the edifice is built meticulously, brick-by-brick...

The other (slightly violent) method is the preferred mode of operation in action-oriented states of the Cow Belt. So you have a very professional list of “value builders” (as defined by the products which have the highest rupee value per cubic inch of carton) ready... and at the end of the frenzied key-punching, the Region sees the depot going from –12 lakhs to +166 lakhs in 2 hours flat.

Innocent souls like the IT guys discount such improbabilities as system errors and log onto the Helpdesk. The ASM is obviously unavailable for confirmation... as he has left the CFA to take his team out for a sorrow-drowning session.

Other stories come back to you...

Of the time when your distributor in Begusarai got his bank manager to issue a draft from his residence on Republic Day (Yes, this can happen in Bihar! And bank holidays in the last week should be F#@$ing banned!!)

Of the time, your distributor held stocks in excess of 1 crore (yes, 1 followed by 7 zeros!) because he wanted to go to Bangkok in a distributor competition! (PS: What he did in Bangkok is another story!)

Of the time, a good friend of yours refused an opening in credit card sales because he did not feel comfortable in a job where he could not see 4 weeks of floor stock!

Of the time, you asked your star TSI if he needed anything to pull off yet another miracle and he replied, "Do cheez ki zaroorat hain... Hamari koshish aur aapki kismat!"

Of the time, your SO felt that there is a similarity between month-endings and Ashoka's Kalinga War... Something to do with the bloodshed and gore while it is on and of the repentance and mourning once it is over!

That is when you end up counting that this is the 56th time you are closing a month as the whole-and-sole in-charge of a sales territory...

55 times you have killed distributors under an avalanche of Dettol Soap 75 grams, Mirinda 2 Ltr or Saffola Gold 1 Ltr...

55 times you have surreptitiously exchanged Harpic orders with Haze Agarbatti, Pepsi 200 ml orders with Mountain Dew 2 Lt...

55 times you have written down the list of the "value-drivers" and referred to it repeatedly while doing the last 5 lakhs...

55 times you have vowed to quit and join a child-education NGO after the blood and gore of the closing...

55 times you have decided to stay on after reading the scheme approval mail...

55 times you have sung the signature tune of month-closing to your Boss... (Those who do not know this tune, it goes like this - "Cannot commit, Sir... But I will try")...

55 times you have led a territory, which is screwing up one way or the other...

And the likelihood of getting out of it alive depends on how well you manage to counter-balance the nuts with the screws!
Post a Comment