CBO- An Unheard Job Title

How do you feel when a salesperson is pushing you to buy a product from a particular brand (May be, because he receives highest commission on that brand, but not definitely), or when he has inadequate information regarding a product in which you are interested.

The reality is when we are buying a product for the very first time we are generally clueless about its specifications, or may not possess the technical knowledge related to its functioning, or don’t even know which all brands sell that product. We are confused and rely on the salesman to tell us which product is really good. And we take the salesman’s piece of advice and buy what he says.

Why do you buy this product at all? Who exactly is this salesman to you that you readily take his advice? A distant relative, may be? No! Exactly! No one! Still you bought this product. How did you even trust that sales guy whom you met at a store only few minutes ago? It is common knowledge that you shouldn’t accept things from strangers and you bought a television set because it is new on the shelf and hot-selling. Did you burn a big hole in your pocket? But you don’t think all this. You bring the television set home and cannot wait to call your electrician guy to install it.

Let’s rewind when I mentioned ‘a salesperson is pushing you to buy a product from a particular brand’. The word ‘push’ always creates a negative impact. But I will clear the air in the next few lines. The part where you, have installed the television set and are more than delighted. You want to thank the sales guy for making you buy this brand. When he said that this product was selling like hot cakes, what did that mean? People are buying that product because right now it’s the best you can buy in the market. The sales guy knows that this product will not fail in the market. It will not disappoint you when you buy it. This sales guy BELIEVES in this product.

Let us flip the coin. It is silly but an everyday story at ladies gathering where this particular woman in the very same gathering will act as an agent to sell the products (Since mentioning the brands is not a good idea, we will stick to calling it cosmetics and plastic-ware.). She shares her goody-goody experience with you and you buy it. The product does not suit you and you cannot stop cursing the company because you paid a price.

The salesperson in both the situations BELIEVED in their product because that product did not let them down as per their past experience. You feel the need to use a product, you are going to buy it anyhow, whether someone shares their experience or gives a demonstration or there is a sales offer. You will buy the product anyway. But when you do not have the need of the product or when the product is new and the demand has not caught up. What then? This very BELIEF of the sales personnel pays off.

Chief Belief Officer (CBO)

Devdutt Pattanaik is the Chief Belief Officer (CBO) at Futures Group. This designation is unique because it is not found at any other company. We have come across strategies like ‘Think Global, Act Local’, but Chief Belief Officer is something absolutely out-of-the-box. Kishore Biyani, the pioneer of the Future Group, in the awe of attracting the customers, buying from the mom and pops store, to his retail outlets, created this designation. He wanted to create a new experience for these customers, so it was crucial to understand these customers. You can find Big Bazaar stores all over India and in Biyani’s book, he describes how he selected the franchisee on two principles. First, the punctuality to open the store at the mentioned time and second, attaining to the customers first. With the principle of ‘Customer is God’, it is the need to create a designation like a CBO.

In Devdutt’s words, the work of CBO is (extracted from Devdutt’s blog) “to draw attention to the value of ‘belief’ in business. Modern Management Theory is based on the belief that objectivity and logic has all the answers to problems. Belief is subjective truth and is the cornerstone of mythology, and plays a key role in business. Belief can be religious as well as secular. My role is to draw attention to this invisible cultural lever that shapes our decision.”

The future group has come up with a new model called, ‘The Three B’ model: Belief, Business and Behaviour.

He divides the customers for a company into two categories depending upon the behaviour patterns: the Behaviour of External Customer and the Behaviour of Internal Customer.What should it be? The Behaviour or the Belief? To explain further, Devdutt mentions the ‘carrot and stick’ approach to influence the behaviour to achieve the desired results. But Belief still has an upper hand at influencing the behaviour of both the internal customers and the external customers. That’s why, Belief is pressed upon and belief alignment is considered. The CBO’s job is to make these customers believe in the business. If any of the customers lack in believing in the business, the firm will not be able to sell its products.


Article by Divyanka Gangurde

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