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Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review: 'A Salesman's Lessons - What I studied and What I failed to see' by CR Jena


CR Jena, the business head of Mahindra Satyam, Africa has written this self-help book, drawing into the chapters, a variety of his own understandings, during his career as a salesman. These experiences, juxtaposed with the basic theories, hypothesis, and principles attempt to make the reader an efficient salesman or manager. But this book is for reading pleasure and is not a knowledge module, he says.

Since I never had any personal experience with sales, I probably would not have liked it. I opened it warily, and despite my doubts about how I would finish it, I began to like it. But that was only for some chapters of the book.  

The first chapter was Leo Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’, and of course you want to read that because it raises the question, of what a successful 19th century book could have to do with the sales theories. He likens Tolstoy’s words on happiness in marriage to a successful sale, making the vice-versa true, as well.

In the following chapters, Jena draws quite a bit of theories from subjects such as history, science, interpersonal skills, mathematics, biology and mythology. Add to it, are the diagrams and statistics. But his understanding of these theories is slightly different because of his own experiences.

Reading as a layman, I felt my own ideas could have been better, due to the recommendations he gives. The following are chapters that I liked:

The Inverse Square Law - Here he suggests that the salesman should be in constant touch with the client. Without this a detachment is formed, which could end badly for the salesman.

Favourite Subject: History – He stresses on the importance of research about the client, whether it is old or new. 
Build Your Own WWW – Here, he talks of the importance of networking. 

Showing Up – This would be something, which is of primary importance to a sales job. The hows and whys of networking are mentioned here.

The Ravan Effect of Mankind – The perils of procrastination and how it could affect a sales man are mentioned.

From a Doctor’s Rx to Your Sx – The effectiveness of writing everything down and keeping the sales process updated is an excellent tip.

This is when the book slips into a school book mode. The book’s tips and methods had the value, which seem to be lost in the next few chapters. It got slightly dull for me from here on as I felt that these chapters could have been parts of the earlier chapters. I felt that ‘The Heat is On’, now for the author.

Every chapter ends with statements to use and a small space for notes. I do not know how these parts could have helped the book, but hey, perhaps a salesman would know. :)

Note on Cover :  I liked it, since I spent the first few minutes doing the puzzle.
Author: CR Jena
ISBN  978-93-81-5764-41
Cover Design: Fravashi Aga
Price: India:  Rs 195 ; Elsewhere: $10

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