15 Feb 2019 19:18 IST

A peek into an intern’s life at TVS Motors

A phrase we often come across — ‘be strong with your fundas’ — came in handy during this time

On an early Monday morning in July 2018, I found myself among a bustling crowd at Chennai’s hyperactive market place, the Koyambedu Wholesale Market Complex (KWMC), to interviewtwo-wheeler riders.

About a month earlier, in mid-May, I joined the TVS Motor Company Ltd as ‘Sales/Marketing Customer Research Intern’ in Hosur. I was inducted as a Project Trainee and when I was handed over the identity card it gave me a feeling of ‘the game is on’. Soon after a small chat with a BIM alumni, I was deputed to Chennai Area to kick-start my role of customer research activities.

Deputation at Chennai was really like a ‘homecoming’. The Area Sales Manager welcomed me and briefed me on the two upcoming projects that had to be completed during my two-month internship period. With this started the great adventure of my summer internship at TVS Motors.

Give me some sunshine

A sales/marketing role in customer research translates to ‘miles to go before I sleep...’ It is obvious that one cannot sit in an air-conditioned cabin and learn customers’ buying behaviour or customer psychology.

The summer of 2018 was a reality check for me, as I visited showrooms and scooter exchange carnivals and interacted with customers in the scorching heat, as I logged an approximate 2,000 km on my TVS Jupiter over the months of my internship.

Exploring the unexplored

Though I belong to Chennai, and completed my schooling and under-graduation in the city, travelling around for TVS took me to places I had just heard of but never expected to visit.

The internship gave me an opportunity to go to the city’s far-flung areas, and made me break boundaries during my encounters with the coastal and agricultural communities on Chennai’s outskirts.

Following the practice of Gemba (a Japanese term that refers to making physical visits to a site, for better understanding of problems and gathering data), my visit to KWMC, among many other field visits, was an education in customer behaviour.

A one-day saleswoman

An important phrase that we have all come across in management studies — be strong with your fundas — came in handy during this expedition. Whether it is to understand a potential customer’s psychology or learning the customer’s choices or the reasons why someone buys a particular scooter at the carnivals, the role of a salesperson is of great significance.

There are several opportunities to navigate conversations along a path that will unveil some hidden points which wouldn’t get disclosed otherwise. I believe this is a fundamental requirement for a salesperson. For me, it was a reality check on my marketing ability, and a test of my persuasiveness that I was able to make 10 bookings at the carnival.

True vs real

Towards the end of my internship, my Area Sales Manager arranged for a meeting with the Vice-President of the Utility Products of TVS Motors at Hosur. I felt elated at the opportunity to meet the VP and discuss my findings and recommendations for the projects.

The most significant takeaway from that meeting was the ability to distinguish between the ‘true reason’ and the ‘real reason’ for the purchase/non-purchase of a product. The true reason is upfront and can be learnt through surface-level research, while the real reason requires experience and field expertise.

These were some prominent learnings that I gained during my internship at TVS Motors, an experience I will cherish for long.

The writer completed her PGP from Bharatidasan Institute of Management, Trichy.