1. Do tell us something about yourself, Devang, before we discuss about the book.
I am a Senior Consultant with Acumen, a business consulting firm. So by profession I am a consultant and a coach on leadership and sales. I am known for making complex topics easy to digest, bringing out of the box ideas and for creating lasting impact with people that I work with.
In my free time I love writing fiction concepts, being inquisitive about businesses and interacting with people.
I am passive on the social network and very active on the real network. My real network comprises of my clients, my training participants and all the people I meet through my work. Apart from them, my network also consists of my other set of gurus and teachers with whom you would find me chatting in my free time…. panwalas, shop owners, vegetable vendors, people selling in the malls, possibly everyone that I meet.
2. What was the idea behind writing Best SELLERS? What made you think that the story has to be told to people?
It was just out of a crazy thought. You know how sometimes you get up in the morning and have this thought of going to the beach or go on a long drive someplace. It was something similar. It was one of the days while we were working on a client engagement, that Tanveer pulled me out and said, “Devang, let’s write a book on sales.” I was like, “OK.” Tanveer being a creative guy often has these creative pangs to do something new. So, my first response was it’s just a thought, he will forget it over the weekend. But then on Saturday, he called back and asked, “What do you think?” I was like, “Are you serious?” He said, “No two thoughts about it!” Now, that was something Tanveer would never say if he wasn’t sure. So I said, “let me think over it.” You know how it is, I am a Consultant first then an author. I have been conditioned into rechecking first, only then giving commitments. So I went out and made all the authors on sales happy that day. How? I bought their books. And then, there was no looking back. We just wanted to be a part of that league.
In our work domain, we constantly interact with clients and share different thoughts towards making their businesses more robust and sustainable. For this, we get trained on being observant about things happening around and of course being well read. Lately we had worked on some really great stuff in the sales and customer experience domain which had given our clients some fantastic results. If people and businesses have got success out of this, why not share this simple but powerful thoughts with everyone. Hence the idea of sharing our experiences with people across the nation emerged.
3. What made you give the title to the book - Best Sellers? Didn't you know that it takes lot of time for an author to achieve this tag? :)
Title!! That is one amazing incident. It was almost similar to what is mentioned in the book. I was in office sitting late evening while Tanveer was at Bangalore airport waiting for his flight. And we two were discussing about the name on phone. He was already working on something else on his laptop, when we were discussing this. And I was rattling off different names that I had enlisted. I asked him, “Tanveer, what do you think?” “Best Sellers”, he responded. I asked him, “What?” and he says, “You asked me what I am doing, isn’t it?” He was actually checking the list of Best Sellers to understand how others have put their names. That’s how the book got the title, Best Sellers.
Yes, we are aware of the fact that it takes a lot of focused effort in the right direction to achieve the tag of best sellers, but our aim for the book was a bigger game. It wasn’t about making the book a Best Seller, it was about making the readers across India as Best Sellers.
4. What made you and Mr. Tanveer come together for this book? Whose idea was it to write this story?
Tanveer and me both work at the same consulting firm, Acumen. We have been on the same team for a lot of client engagements related to strategy, change leadership, customer experience and sales. As mentioned in the previous response to one of questions, it was Tanveer's thought to write a book on sales.
To portray it in a story format, was my idea.
In my experience, I have found management books being read through their table of contents. Readers pick and chose the topics they wish to read and only read those topics. The other dilemma is that very few management books are read through till the last page. That is something that an author would never want.
Stories are easy to remember and comprehend as well. And stories are a powerful medium to impart learnings. Our thought was to make learnings simple to understand for the reader and ensure that they go through each learning, till the last page.
That is how we thought of penning our thoughts through a story rather than plain fundamentals.
5. How easy or hard was it to get published?
To tell you frankly, this entire life cycle of book writing, publishing and marketing is a first time for us. Having a publisher by your side, who knows the entire life cycle at the back of his hand and also someone whom you can trust on, is critical for every author who wishes to take this leap. We found that partner in Sohin Lakhani, from Embassy. His passion has always been books which makes him an avid reader and an even bigger critic of the art.
Coming out with the first draft took us only 45 days. The dry spell started after we got the first feedback from Sohin. The first thing he told us was, “Boss, this is good. But won’t work!” And he shared his experiences and gave feedback. He further told us that, “Why are you guys writing on sales? Sales people don’t buy or read books.” And I still remember we were sitting in a café in Andheri, Lokhandwala, and couldn’t gulp the coffee further.
Then it went on a pause for a month. And then the zidd came back. One weekend, we just sat and made the changes based on the feedback.
Now this time, Sohin was the person who couldn’t gulp his coffee. “You guys made all the changes? That is not something authors do.” And we replied, “Our book talks about Listening. If we are too caught up with our own views, what are we expecting the readers to do?” And after that, Sohin has been our fuel in this entire journey. To tell you, the book went through 7 version changes before it got finalized. He has been a partner in true sense and gave a lot of insights to us through this journey.
6. Is there an Entity in your real life too? What gave you an inspiration to build this character?
In fact we play the role of Entity for our clients providing direction to them in growing their businesses.
While etching the character we had our CEO, Jayesh Talpade, in our mind. The personality of the Entity in the book has a strong resemblance to him. And he has been like the Entity for us in our lives, guiding us and helping us search for answers within ourselves.
7. What expectations do you have with the book?
If you read the book you would realize that the Best Sellers depicted here are people from everyday life. These are people who do things differently and leave a mark for a lifetime. With this book out, I would want to see more and more Best Sellers around me.
8. Are you applying the same strategies to sell and market your book as even it is considered to be product these days?
We did apply the differentiation element in the book launch by having all elements in it which were different from regular book launches. Well, it was in a lounge to start with. The book was creatively launched witnessing a mix bag of interesting flavors like a chat between Dr. Kalim Khan and the Authors, followed by a brief talk on Leadership and Cricket by Ayaz Memon, a live soul funk music performance by Thomson Andrews and a short play performance by Rishi Khurana and team.
Throughout the book we are talking a unique experience. So if we don’t give it our clients and audiences ourselves then who will? We made a laundry list of things that people do during book launches and ensured that we don’t do the same. Acumen team through its creative brainstorming brought to life the unique book launch.
9. Suppose if you win a major award for this book, what speech would you give?
If we win a prestigious award, we would first and foremost appreciate and thank all the Best Sellers in our lives. And too all those who read the book, had faith in what we wrote and reinvented themselves to become Best Sellers in whichever field they are in.
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