Posted in Internship Experience Stories, Total Reads: 996
Name: Utsav Shah
College: IIM Udaipur
MBA Batch: PGP 2014-16
Summer Internship Industry: Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)
Location: Pune, India
Profile: Sales Strategy
Brief Project Description & Responsibilities:
Project statement was “To create a Distributor Performance Evaluation & Incentive Scheme”. My responsibilities were to do relevant primary and secondary research, and design an excel-based automated evaluation model for distributors. Based on the evaluation model, an incentive scheme was to be designed to reward the distributors for their performance.
What was the overview of the project? Elaborate with some details
My project goals were to make an evaluation model which was:
a) Very Objective: Reduce subjectivity as much as possible so that distributors could not contend the company’s assessment of their performance.
b) Comprehensive, yet very simple: The model should take into account all feasible evaluation criteria and yet be simplistic enough for any regular graduate sales person to comprehend.
c) Robust: Evaluating distributors on one particular scale is tricky as their performance is driven heavily by regional factors. Thus, the model was to be made robust enough to be applied to any geography.
d) Not Time Consuming: The sales force is extremely busy with a gamut of sales & promotion activities and hence cannot allot too much time for evaluating distributors, which made it important for the model not to be very time & effort intensive.
Performance Evaluation Scheme
I started off by doing some secondary research by going through research papers by scholars and industry practices followed by leading companies in evaluating their channel partners. After getting a bird’s eye view of the situation, I proceeded with on-field primary research. This entailed interviewing about 40 retailers, 4 company distributors, 1 competitor and about 20 sales executives. I obtained 39 evaluation parameters at the end of the two-week long research.
Now, it was time to check the feasibility/appropriateness of the 39 parameters. After intense discussions with the Senior Sales Manager, the 39 parameters clubbed under 7 major heads. Thus, the model was to be designed to evaluate distributors based on:
1. Target Achievement & Q-o-Q Growth
2. Financial Soundness
3. Width of Distribution
4. Support Rendered to Focus Brands
5. Infrastructural Adequacy
6. Sales Mix of SKUs
7. Quality of Service Provided to Retailers
The most difficult part started with excel modelling where various scenarios were to be tested to make the model completely error free and enable it to work like an automated ERP software.
Based on the evaluation scores obtained, an incentive scheme was designed, which categorized distributors into two “Clubs” – the promising performers and the star performers. Incentives were to be given accordingly. Reference incentive schemes were studied by doing primary research on schemes followed by leading FMCG companies.
The model was tested by evaluating 6 distributors using their actual sales data of past 2 years. Suggestions were sought from the sales team and incorporated. Reports were developed which would automatically represent the distributor’s performance in graphical & printable format.
A ‘manual’ was designed to aid operation of the evaluation model, just like a ‘usage manual’ accompanies all electronic items.
Finally, the project was documented in a report and a presentation was made to the Senior Sales Manager. A demonstration of the model was given to the sales team also.
Share your daily routine & overall summer internship experience.
Being an open-ended project with no fixed set of activities to be performed, there was no particular schedule that I had to follow daily. Sometimes, I was not in the office for several days and observing on-field sales & promotion activities along with doing my primary research. I was meeting channel partners for primary research at any time that was suitable to them and hence had to change my schedule accordingly.
A considerable part of my time was also spent in the office, where I did secondary research, developed the excel-based model and simulated the model with actual data.
As and when I got time, I also used to accompany the sales force on their daily beats so that I got under the skin of an actual sales executive. I also attended their weekly and monthly review meetings to understand the business better.
All in all, the internship was a brilliant and enriching experience for me, where I interacted with really knowledgeable people, observed the use of interpersonal skills by sales persons and got first-hand insights into a very important sector of the economy.
How was the selection process conducted?
The selection process was conducted in 3 stages:
• Write-up (Elimination round): Two profiles were offered during summer placements. Interested candidates were to submit a one-page write-up on opportunities and innovations possible in the profile that they wanted to apply to. Based on the write-ups, a certain number of candidates were shortlisted for further process.
• Interview Round 1 (Elimination round): In the first round I was questioned mainly on the write-up that I had submitted, along with random questions ranging from graduation to work-ex to generating innovative ideas.
• Interview Round 2: Lengthy discussion on write-ups (delving into finer details), gauging my interest and understanding of the profile and also my ability to innovate. Final offers were made after this round.
What were your key learnings from the summer internship?
• Thorough know-how of the industry in which I worked
• Two-months in the life of a sales person as well as a sales manager – the hundreds of activities they perform apart from the general myth that sales people only “take orders for goods” from retailers
• Use of interpersonal skills to handled disgruntled channel partners and customers
• Some really advanced functions and features of Microsoft Excel
• To apply the case studies I read every day in college, into real-life problems
Three tips would you give to your juniors
• Have an open mind – Do not go with pre-conceived notions or too many expectations. Take the internship as it comes. Never judge a project by its “project statement”. There’s a lot you can do in each project, if you apply yourself diligently.
• Don’t just have a horse’s view where you just think related to your project – Gain a holistic view of the organisation you work for. Gel along with people; try to learn about the organisation as a whole and work done by different departments.
• Structure your project into smaller identifiable deliverables – Make a preliminary project schedule on the very first day and try to meet it. Makes changes to it if necessary but have a schedule which can guide you throughout the internship. Have enough buffer time for enjoyment and delays which cannot be perceived.
The most important thing –
Take the project as a challenge. Be inquisitive and eager to learn. Everyone will be busy with their work. But be persistent and use interpersonal skills to get things done smoothly. Enjoy a lotttt. This time won’t ever come again. :)