Once an American lady went to a Shop in Bombay . She was looking for a sky blue cloth piece. The shopkeeper was a talkative young man. He rated himself high on gift of gab. He opened reams and rolls of cloth in front of the lady . She kept on giving unapproving glances but the guy was persistent on showing all hues of blue he had. At the end ,the lady went away screaming , frowning at the man. The shopkeeper was still wondering why the woman was angry at him when he tried his best to please her. The woman was wondering why the man he didnt tell her in the first place that he didnt have sky blue.
This brings us to the eternal war between Sales and Customers. Some months back, a professional manager was a passive part of staffing proposal made to an American customer. The customer had specific skill and experience requirement for this major project he considered complex and critical. The Indian proposer knew he didnt have the exacting bodies with him. He didnt want to loose this major project (revenue) and wanted to grab it at all costs. He had a huge presentation lasting an hour, in which he tried to sell as many developers he could. Had he been successful , he would have bragged all over the organization and told every one how a sales pitch is made. Unfortunately, this was not to happen. The American knew exactly what he wanted and all the gloss, high words and candyfloss failed to make an impact. We had a repeat performance of American lady and cloth-seller .Each side wondering what was wrong with other. The customer was portrayed as an unreasonable tough nut who would always have his way.
A few months later , I met another Senior manager who prided himself as the best software sales person ever. He had umpteen heroic tales to tell about how he made some of the most incredible sales ever. On one occasion ,he crawled below the desk of a person and pleaded that he would be exterminated ,his children would starve if he didnt get that order. The Purchaser yielded and gave him the order. This guy came out of room , wiped out the tears and laughed out loud – “Kya ullu Banaya“( What an owl , I have made of him) .
The sales hero then said , ” The mantra in sales , is to never say no” . He said they used to cook up any kind of resume customers had in mind. The guys were shoved into flights to USA with ‘ How to master ….. in 12 days” books which they read through in their journeys and brought us huge revenues. What mattered to him were numbers and as long as they were ticking he couldnt care less for any thing that went against it.
A few months passed and the American customer again came up with a huge requirement. This time too ,he was clear about what he wanted. The Indian reaction was again to pitch up every available resource for consideration. They wanted to bag all staffing positions. This was a Do or Die situation and an immense opportunity to meet the ambitious growth targets. The customer had a nasty and ruthless reputation,the company didnt have matching resource. They were hectic parleys into instantly cooking the resources. Some body suggested that we give raw resources a 7 day workshop and they would deliver. The dates were committed by which full staffing commitment will be met. Every one out of projects, bench, recruitment pipeline was considered.
The manager this time however took a different approach. He knew , the organization wont be able to provide all resources needed for the current assignement . He chose not to project the misfits as worthy candidates. He ran the risk of loosing the opportunity as the customer wouldnt staff the project half here and half there. He candidly faced the customer and said, he only had half the staffing number available. The other candidates proposed by the company were not the ones he was convinced about and hence himself filtered them out. The customer said, he was heavily disappointed with the proposal. His requirements were not met. He awarded the project to the company nevertheless and asked him to look for more resource in an extended time-frame.
The manager was amazed. He had little or no hope of getting this project with a meager proposal. His conscience , however was clear. He had not fudged anything. He had decided to break the psyche of ” Never say No ‘ to customer. He decided to reject the irrelevant candidates himself rather than let the customer discover it. He chose to say – ” I dont have , what I dont have“. This worked. Probably , the new age of Indo American synergy has arrived
PS: The cartoons and illustration are images available on google image search. The creators have copyright on them. They have been used because of their relevance and i give credit to them for putting them up online.
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