Lessons from Lata for salespersons
Imbibing values from the legend of playback singing for salespersons
I was thinking of penning a tribute to the legend and I realized there are so many of them being written and that too by celebrities who have actually interacted and worked with her. Nothing that I write will come anywhere close to their articles. But then, I am a professional salesperson. Salespersons don’t give up so easily.
I am a die-hard fan who spends hours listening to Lata as a routine, as I go about my work. It got me thinking. How has Lata inspired me over the years and is there a learning for the sales fraternity from this “Jewel of India”? Most importantly, the learning had to be heartfelt, real, and relevant so that they can be understood and practiced. Thus this blog was born.
I have filtered the essence of all learning in to four values that all salespersons can learn from Lata and imbibe in their day to day work, to excel in their profession. Hope you find the below useful and of value. Please do share with all salespersons you are in contact with. Let’s look at each one of them.
Lata sang for over 7 decades. She sang tens of thousands of songs. Even in her eighties she was singing with same passion and commitment as she was in her twenties.
What is the lesson here for salespersons? When you love what you do and keep doing it with passion, you will become the best in the profession.
Many salespersons, once they become team leaders or managers, stop contributing individually. They stop doing cold calls and warm calls. They stop doing proposals and quotations. They stop absorbing product knowledge beyond few key features and positioning statements. They are only thinking about discounts and terms. Over a period, they tend to become disconnected from customers and even products. They become a backend manager just handling numbers, reviews, reports, and escalations. They stop being a role model. A true salesperson irrespective of levels he or she achieves (even if they become the CEO) keeps meeting prospective customers, closing sales, and showing the team how it is done.
Lata would be the first to agree to sing to any new music director and composer, without wrapping herself in a comfort zone or being worried about what others will think. She sang for almost every composer, be it an established one or an emerging one. If you glance at the roster of people she worked with, you will get an idea. Shankar Jaikishan, Naushad, S. D. Burman, R. D. Burman, Madan Mohan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Bhupen Hazarika, Roshan, Rajesh Roshan, Sardar Malik, Anu Malik, Chitragupta, Anand-Milind, Sardul Singh Kwatra, Amarnath, Husanlal, Bhagatram, C. Ramchandra, Hemant Kumar, Salil Chowdhury, Datta Naik, Khayyam, Ravi, Sajjad Hussain, Kalyanji-Anandji, Vasant Desai, Sudhir Phadke, Hansraj Behl, Madan Mohan, Usha Khanna, Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Vasant Prabhu, Srinivas Khale, Shiv-Hari, Bappi Lahiri, Nadeem-Shravan, Jatin–Lalit, Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen, Uttam Singh, Aadesh Shrivastava. Raamlaxman, Ilaiyaraaja, A. R. Rahman and many many more. She sang in so many languages. She sang in different genres.
What is the lesson here for salespersons? Being able to adapt to changing products, technologies, processes, managements, markets, but still doing your job diligently.
I have seen salespersons struggling to sell new products, premium services or adopt to new processes like Sales Force CRM or shy away from doing a sales pitch over video on a VC, because they refuse to get out of their comfort zones. If you become the first person to embrace the new, you will forever be young, energetic, and connected to ground reality and always deliver results.
Lata never took her talent for granted. She rehearsed constantly, ensured perfect diction irrespective of the language she was singing, insisted on memorizing songs to have complete command on the lyrics and most importantly understood the emotion behind the song and did her best to convey it through her enchanting voice. For ex., she learnt Urdu to ensure right pronunciation and accent. Be it playback singing for eight hours at a stretch or delivering live concerts in front of hundreds of thousands of people, she gave her 100% and the results are there for everyone to see and hear.
What is the lesson here for salespersons? Many salespersons do not practice their sales pitches, do not know answers to FAQs, do not show proper product demonstration. Instead, they experiment with customers and learn through failures and rejections.
It takes many customer meetings before the salesperson gets a decent grip on their job. This means when you pitch to 10 customers, 7~8 reject you, leaving you with just 20%~30% success ratio. You end up leaving so much business on the table because of your lack of training. It is very important for a salesperson to keep training and rehearsing on product knowledge, sales pitches, answers to FAQs, countering competition and all related topics that would help ensure every single meeting with a customer has a higher probability of success.
Lata was an extremely confident person because she was not only talented but always well prepared. She was also willing to adapt to changing trends and circumstances and contribute positively to the change. All this made her assertive in her approach and this added tremendous value to the people she worked with. It helped composers create tunes that would become chart bursters and help movies succeed at the box office.
What is the lesson here for salespersons? Many salespersons do not communicate assertively, either externally to customers or internally within their organization. This reduces their success rate and makes them struggle for everything. They struggle to convince their managers for support. They struggle to convince their customers to consider their point of view.
It is important for salespersons to become assertive and exude confidence in every activity and interaction. However, this can only happen if they hone their skills, sharpen their knowledge, and practice their pitches before interacting with customers. Also use the learning from their experiences to continuously improve.
Remember, any salesperson can become a Champion Salesperson and a successful leader though out his life and carrier provided they imbibe the values of LATA – Longevity, Adaptability, Training and Assertiveness.
Do comment below on how Lata has inspired you in performing your job better. Would be happy to learn from your experiences.
Image courtesy: outlookindia.com and shutter stock