CategoriesEmployees Sales

How employees of earlier generation worked

Mahalingeshwara Bhat
Mahalingeshwara Bhat with Cocoguru Team

Couple of days back, our Sales officer from Udupi quit within 2 weeks of joining. Because working for 8 hours a day was not feasible for him. And today, I met Mr. Mahalingeshwara Bhat, Area Sales Manager at Jyothy Labs Ltd at Mangaluru market. He narrated his story and this inspired me to write this post. We met for hardly 5 minutes, still his experience had a lot of wisdom for me.

He is now 55, past the retirement age at his company. He has maintained fitness levels to work in the market after traveling for an hour from Puttur. Working in the market, walking, talking is physically very demanding.

Jyothy Labs may be a billion dollar revenue blue chip company now, but when he joined way back in 1990, it was a small company. He is financially well off now, but at the time of joining his salary was 1,000 per month. His father was a small time cook. He and his company stuck to each other and grew together.

He worked for 32+ years and carried the brand he worked wherever he went. His friends used to call him Ujala Bhatru. He feels proud about it. Employees of these days, feel ashamed to wear work uniforms outside work and they don’t like to associate them with the company/brand outside.

He was assigned with the responsibility to set up the market at Gujarath in early 2000. That is recruit and train sales staff, appoint super stockists and distributors. It is very far from his native place, hardly gets to travel back and meet family. He didn’t even see his newly born son for a couple of months. Still he is happy about the opportunity and responsibility the company has given him. It took him figuratively and literally to places. These days employees consider is outside their scope to travel beyond their office place.

During 2002 Gujarath riots, he was locked at a lodging for 3 days without any food and then the lodging owner provided food prepared at his home. He didn’t get angry with the company for the situation he was in. He understood that it was a external situation that was beyond his or company’s control.

He has grown slowly and steadily within the company and is content about it. Being content with what we have is the real recipe for happiness. He must have seen people much younger to him, with Engineering or MBA degrees from premier institutes getting into higher positions or drawing higher salaries. He must have seen colleagues jumping across companies and getting short term growths. He must have seen various types of bosses during his long career.

He still has the gratitude for the company for providing his daily bread and all the progress he has made in his life. Through he is very right if he thinks, he got his bread for the effort he has put into company’s business.

Though we cannot expect the present generation of employees to work like earlier generation, it is worthwhile to observe how it was earlier.

Disclosure –
Murali M, Operations Head is his wife’s younger brother.
Tharanatha S, ASM was reporting to him 10 years back while he was working at Jyothy.

CategoriesMarketing Sales

Cocoguru is now available at Reliance SMART Stores

We are extremely pleased to announce that Cocoguru coconut oil is now available at Reliance Retail Smart Stores! This Navarathri has been truly auspicious, Godess Durga has showered her blessings on us. For a small local player like us, it is a big breakthrough. Result of building the brand for so many years that Reliance has chosen Cocoguru among plethora of coconut oil brands.

Cocoguru is unique coconut oil brand in coastal Karnataka

  • to have a website explaining all the details about the product and the company
  • to have a major presence in e-commerce platforms like Amazon, flipkart and Meesho
  • to be run by a team of professionals in an organized way
  • to make roasted coconut oil for cooking use
  • to focus on automation and technology in operations
  • to provide purity and quality over lower price
  • to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in workplace and thick vegetation in campus
  • to provide ESI, PF, Health and Accident insurance to employees

When we started Cocoguru coconut oil, many of our well wishers casually asked if the product is available in super market chains like More, Big Bazaar, Reliance Fresh etc. It is embarassing to say No, but got away with a few lame excuses that they ask for low price, take long time for payments. 12 years back, we explored to place our coconut oil in super markets at Bengaluru. We learnt that we were no where near to placing it there.

What it takes to get into Modern Trade
The super markets have limited shelf space to keep a variety of brands for a product. They should optimise that space by keeping only a couple of brands that is most demanded. Note that is the most demanded, not the least priced or having the best trade terms. Consumers come and pick the brands they like and less likely the brands the stores push. So a brand makes into the super market shelf, when they are most liked. And that is hard and has no short-cuts. To be liked by consumers, the product should be of good quality at affordable price, have attractive strong packaging consistently.

Challenges for local brands in large supermarket chains
The trade terms for suppliers are highly one-sided and fully in favour of the retailer. Only way for small local brands is to fully agree to it. The super markets ask for a hefty listing fees, display rent, deposit to sell products and long credit periods. This can be financially daunting to the brand.

How did Reliance take interest in Cocoguru?
Reliance opened its Smart Store at Puttur. It started with a bang because of their aggressive pricing, wide assortment and convenience. Cocoguru is a highly popular brand at Puttur and it was not available there. Everyday there used to be many enquiries for Cocoguru at Reliance. Many used to buy all grocery items from Reliance and buy coconut oil from outside wherever Cocoguru was available. The store manager repeatedly informed the centralised purchase manager. We pitched them a couple of times. But they were content with the 2 brands they were keeping. One is a national brand, but not favoured in this region, priced at a premium. Other is a local brand, priced very low, unprofessional in dealings, poor on quality, irregular in supply. So market need and gaps with existing suppliers made Reliance look at Cocoguru.

Wholesale vs Super Market
Many a times, brands go all the way to please the wholesalers to buy in bulk. But at Cocoguru, we look to please the consumers. Consumers demand for Cocoguru and retailer is left with no option but to stock our product. Our biggest buyer is not any wholesaler, but a standalone super market here at Puttur. At super market, consumers can freely pick the product they like without much influence from the retailer.

So, Cocoguru being available at Reliance Smart is a win-win situation for local consumers, brand Cocoguru and Reliance Retail. This should be the first of many more placements at bigger supermarket chains. Cocoguru should soon be available at and consumers will be able to get door delivery in local area at much lower costs compared to Amazon and Flipkart.


Retailer Objection – No response

We looked into the common objections by retailers to salesman. The toughest objection to crack is when retailer doesn’t respond. He just shakes his head and moves on. Or before you say anything, he says that he has stock and is not interested to buy. Here, we will look into how to handle this.

Objective in this situation is to not sell but to strike a conversation, build a connection, showcase the product and then see if anything can be worked out later.

“Sir, I understand that you are not interested in buying our products at this point. That is fine but I just want to showcase our products. We are doing a lot of marketing activities, our products are getting popular among consumers and there are good chances that you may get a few enquiries. The information I share with you may help you to understand your customer needs better and when you want to buy, we will be more than happy to supply to you.”

Introduce about you the salesman, name, native, past experience, when he joined the present company. Seek the shop keepers support in giving advices, references, consumer preferences etc. Share/exchange business cards.

At this point when the retailer is not under pressure to buy, and when the salesman is knowledgeable, simple and capable of understanding retailer’s concerns, he will open up. Then, products can be introduced, prices can be shared, supply mechanism, frequency can be discussed.

No matter, how disinterested the retailer will be. There is always a chance that he will face issue with present supplier in terms of quality, pricing, supply and terms. If we are able to build a relationship with him, we will be the first alternative that will come to his mind. Knowing that he has a solid alternative in us, he will start pressurising the present supplier for better deals.

A way to strike a conversation would be to keenly observe the shop. All retailers like to publicly display their say political affiliations, favourite God/Godess, owner’s car, their values, likings. One can talk about it. Each shop has its own strengths like cleanliness of the store, reputation in the locality, heritage, variety of items available, competitive pricing, size of business. Salesman can observe and appreciate the retailer and talk more about it. Also, they can discuss among their common contacts.

Eventually, probe more about the nature of business, how the retailer has grown the business, family connections, native place, his interests etc. Then, get into the demand for coconut oil in his shop. What do consumers ask for quality, price, brand etc What does he like about his present supplier, would he use it at his home?

All along the way, the salesman must be attentive, never look at his cell phone, read between the lines, be patient when the retailer is doing something else, keep eye contact, nod, stay in the topic. Never lie whenever he talks about himself, company, products, competitors, market. Keep all the information handy for ready presentation. Another point that is mentioned separately is “don’t attempt to sell”.

Before leaving, inform the retailer that the distributor or sales van would visit him for enquiring. Also, salesman would visit him say next week same day. Ask him if he needs any more information that he has to work on before coming next time.


Retailers objection to sales

Recently, we decided to be active on social media and updated Facebook cover photo. A subscriber from Mangaluru commented saying your product is not available anywhere here. Fact is it is available at many outlets at Mangaluru. But he has a valid point, that it is not available at many shops where he has tried out. I replied saying that we are working hard to place the products at as many shops as possible. How is it such a hard work to place the products? Because of objections by retailers. Retailers have limited shelf space, inventory budget and no intention to promote any product. So, they will only sell those brands that are fast moving. Here are the common ways in which they object to our salesman when he tries to sell.

  • No response – This is common when you are not interested in what the salesman is offering
  • No consumer demand – retailers will take the pain to stock a brand only that has consumer demand
  • Price is high – He needs to earn a decent margin and yet compete with other retailers
  • Low margin or MRP – He wants MRP to be printed higher so that he can offer a significant discount to consumer and yet earn decent margin
  • Credit – Retailers are habituated to purchasing on credit from local distributors and will object to anyone with cash and carry terms
  • Oil is yellow/not pure – His imagination of pure coconut oil is one that is extracted from Ghani/Chekku and is clear white, anything different is considered not pure
  • New brand – He is not interested in selling new brands because he is not sure about consistent supply and he has to work hard to promote It to consumers
  • Dictating terms – He is already getting the product from another source. Here he would like to exploit a new supplier by dictating terms like discount and credit

These are some of the common objections which may be presented in different ways. It is up to the salesman to answer these objections skilfully to earn a sale. In the coming posts, we will answer these objections.