Monday, June 25, 2012

Prologue: (Indian Public Sector business)

Some commonly used abbreviations

NIT: Notice inviting Tender
EMD: Earnest Money Deposit
ICB: International Competitive Bid    NCB: National Competitive Bidding
RFQ: Request for Quotation  

RFP: Request for Proposal
P&F: Packing and Forwarding
DGSD: Directorate General of Supplies & Disposals (Under the ministry of Commerce and Industry)
ST: Sales Tax   CST: Central Sales Tax
IC : Interchangeability Certificate

These are some abbreviations, which you will come across when you do business with the Indian Public Sector. It is an irony that the very rules, which were, enforced for transparency in Public Sector dealings have now become the bane of the Public Sector, for you can take advantage of them if you wish to.

It should not be assumed that the Indian Public Sector is totally corrupt. It is nothing like that. Corruption is a way of life in the states but not in the centrally administered Public Sector Units. If fingers can be pointed to the Public Sector then it is only in the respect that they are bound and tied by the lowest rule, even if they are well aware that the lowest party got through the technical scrutiny only based on assumptions.

What is true is that the Public Sector Officers remain confined to their departments. If  the maintenance department and the planning department have got some overlaps, no one co-operates officially because “it’s not my job”. This attitude and the so called transparency attitude are now the major woes of the Indian Public Sector. As a reputed Materials Manager once told me “As per the existing rules, we can remove our clothes. But if you think that we are going to show you our briefs, you got another think coming”. Bully for him.

In this section, I’ll guide you through the quagmire of doing business with the Indian Public Sector, but never in a negative way. The State Government departments.... They are beyond salvation now. What do you say about the Chief Engineer of a WB State department who on asked to state the reason for the discrepancy of  official treated water figures and actual treated water says that he will be risking his pension if he makes public the figures for the public works that his department has done. All this in a linked in discussion forum, too. And this gentleman is now looking for a consulting position (after his impending retirement) abroad in the US(probably where his sons or daughters are settled) so that he can pass on his expertise in showing 1 equals to 2, to his US bosses.

Here I conclude this prologue, friends with the hope that you will like it.
It is not my intention to thrill or educate but only to tell you what you will be able to find yourself but at the cost of time. The novel, the plot of which, is outlined here. starts from my next post.
Till then,
Merci et Adieu

Tuesday, June 05, 2012



I have read the Carnegie classic " HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE
PEOPLE" ( and it is a classic) a "two decade" period back but the best 
illustration of my point is a story narrated in the book. ( Due to many years, the story may not be 100% accurate and my apologies).

A Motor salesman visits a customer who is dissatisfied because the supplied motors    are  running hot. After some Q-A sessions, it comes out that the operator cannot place his hand on the motor comfortably. At this point, our salesman says bingo! but that's the point because the motors are supposed to run at 60 deg F and at this temperature, human skin  of the operator will have a natural aversion to the motor's body heat. 

So everyone is happy and our salesman comes out with applause and the confidence that the next motor order is in his pocket.

Now let's imagine the same thing in India. The salesman will be told ( first
 after some bullying by the guard) that the Purchase Manager is in a 
meeting. He goes away and next time comes with an appointment. The 
Purchase Manager meets him and expresses his disappointment with the 
salesman's motors. They run hot and are expensive!! The salesman wants 
to go to the shop but the operator is not in. Next day, he meets the 
operator who just says that his motors are hot. The salesman gives the 60
 deg F logic but the operator says no. He has other motors where he can
 place his hands and he has been running motors for 30 yrs, so...! The 
salesman slinks out of the factory with his tail between his legs and goes 
back to his office to lick his wounds. 

Does that sound familiar! so, what should the salesman do to receive 
the applause that Dale's salesman gets?? I'll explain in my next post 
but why don't you try to think about it yourself and post it here as a 

Bye for now... 


Friday, June 01, 2012



          If all the selling I have been actively involved in  is analysed today, I bet that the amount of Public Sector to the Private Sector selling, will be something like 60%-40%. This is not because I was a "Public Sector Selling Expert" or anything like that. Actually, I did not have much choice because then and even now,the Private sector did not have that much of a presence in North East India. And NE India was the territory which I was invariably asked to represent by my employers for the first ten-twelve years of my career.

There are many differences in selling capital high value equipment to the public sector from the private sector and some of these are vital. These can be advantages or disadvantages. It depends upon how you look at them.

In this and subsequent posts, I will share with you the invaluable experience I gained in selling to Public Sector Units in India, so that you avoid making mistakes I made and thereby waste time. I will first  outline the road to traverse for selling in PSU's. You need to be acquainted with it if you do not want to lose time. Please do not be under any impressions that your Private Sector Selling experience will help you out. It will definitely be of help, but at different points along the standard selling route. But the outlined route from point to point is what you have to traverse. There’s no getting over it(as Ronnie Milsap may have said).

The Initial Approach" How to go about it.

A Public Sector Plant consists of two parts-(1)The Administration and General Office and (2) the Plant Area. You need to have vetting from different grades of officers to visit different sections. If you plan to visit the more sensitive plant area, then you will probably need approval from a department head. Making your appointments with the relevant officers and get all vetting done the previous evening is a good idea. This is because you waste the least time in getting your passes made. I have seen people wasting entire day in getting their passes made.

First of all, you need to visit the Materials Department , who will float the enquiries and place the Purchase Orders. You will be required to formally register yourselves in their approved vendor list before they can send you enquiries.  Next comes the “Engineering Services ’Department’ who will have the requirement. Get introduced to all the top bosses and find out about the functions of the different departments in the plant. Make  a mental family tree and replicate it on paper as soon as possible. Arrange a product presentation and invite everyone relevant and a few non-relevant people too. During the presentation, get introduced to all the individual bosses who sit inside the plant and make appointments with them.

Visit the different departments inside the plant and see where your product is required. But, do not try to push your product where it is not needed. Stay true to relationship selling.  Hold individual meetings and presentations. Convince the people who matter inside the plant and they will draw up the tender specifications, in line with your equipment, for tendering.

This is the easiest way to start and it is also useful when your boss asks you to account for your time. I have had plenty of bosses who had not even the slightest idea of how a Public Sector Plant operates. You may be under a little pressure initially. This has become a rather long post but there was no other way. Next time we will take up tendering.
So its bye from