How to be a super salesman

The art of selling, driving systemic change through open-source knowledge, bitcoins and the limits of AI

Founding Fuel

Dear friend,

Let me ask you a question: Do you enjoy the process of selling?

I know many who don’t. They look upon selling as something they’d much rather outsource to someone else. They feel queasy about asking a customer for his business.

I too may have turned out that way. Except that destiny had a different plan.

I began the early part of my career as an ad sales rep with one of the largest media groups in the country. I wasn’t sure how I’d fare. After all, I was quiet, not very aggressive—and had only about two year’s part-time experience in market research and as an internal auditor. I wasn’t sure if that prepared me in any way for a career in sales.

Surprisingly, it turned out to be excellent exposure. I learnt how to build relationships with clients and ad agencies. They seemed to trust me and were eager to meet me whenever they had big campaigns to plan for. And I was able to understand what they needed and offer sensible solutions. At 22, it couldn’t have been a better initiation into the art of salesmanship.

After a year, my sales stint was abruptly cut short when I gained admission to a full-time MBA programme. Yet that early experience of selling helped me build self-confidence and taught me the importance of listening to the customer.

As an editor for over two decades, and now as an entrepreneur, I have no qualms in describing myself as a career salesman of products, services and ideas. And that’s why I can identify with everything that noted author and entrepreneur Subroto Bagchi has written about in his brand new book Sell: The Art, the Science, the Witchcraft. It is a must read for every entrepreneurial leader. Lucidly written, and supported with a bunch of interesting stories, the blurb on the back cover says it all:

“Selling is not a pushy, winner-take-all, masculine act. It is an empathy-led, process-driven and knowledge-intensive discipline.”

Bagchi has been an important part of our lives for more than two decades now. He is one of the best chroniclers of entrepreneurship and leadership that I’ve known. He has a huge following. Throughout his long career in IT, we’ve had the good fortune to carry some of his wonderfully insightful columns, including a series called Ask Bagchi in the early years of Founding Fuel. In his current avatar, he is chairman of the Odisha Skill Development Authority, based in Bhubaneswar. We will soon engage him in a conversation about his latest book. So watch this space.

At Founding Fuel, we remain committed to leading engaging conversations around entrepreneurship, innovation, growth and leadership. And the rise of a new India. Having contributors like Bagchi simply makes our task infinitely easier and immensely joyful.

On behalf of Team Founding Fuel,

Indrajit Gupta

Co-founder & director 

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About the author

Founding Fuel

Founding Fuel aims to create the new playbook of entrepreneurship. Think of us as a hub for entrepreneurs- the go-to place for ideas, insights, practices and wisdom essential to build the enterprise of tomorrow. It is co-founded by veteran journalists Indrajit Gupta and Charles Assisi, along with CS Swaminathan, the former president of Pearson's online learning venture.

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