Life from a saint's perspective

Friday, August 17, 2007

For Sale: Parachute. Only used once, never opened, small stain.

First thing Monday morning, you as a management associate walk up to your office swearing that you will just not be a part of the furniture any more. Since "Look Busy Do Nothing" is the typical workplace philosophy, you decide to call up a client requesting for an appointment. Every Tom Dick and Harry except fresh MBA salesmen have a receptionist these days who picks up these phone calls even when the boss is busy cleaning his nails in the next room. As soon as you introduce yourself, the receptionist assumes you are out to sell a credit card to her boss! If there is one thing on earth that you can give ICICI Bank credit for, that is the brand recall they have generated for retail banking! How else do you explain the inexplicable association of banks with credit cards? Now, if that receptionist passes on the call to her boss, that’s it! She joins the sea of unemployed youth in the US who lose their jobs to middle class Indians willing to make a career out of speaking on the phone!

One barren week without a single appointment, and you realize the first golden rule of prospecting. Differentiate yourself from the credit card seller. You then miraculously recall your organizational design lessons and creatively call yourself an “Associate Manager”. Well, it may not be cool.. But better than business developer or management associate at any rate! But before you get a chance to pat your back, you realize that your competitor has beaten you by calling all their management grads AVPs! Imagine calling up your grandma in cochin and announcing that you have been made an assistant vice president in HBSC!.............and then a year later to tell her that you have been promoted to an assistant manager! Don’t look so incredulous! Assistant managers probably don’t have to call up strangers and request for appointments. With this piece of innovation, for once HSBC deviated from their industry nomenclature of Habitually Second Behind Citi!

Anyway, the boss talks to you over the phone and finally agrees to meet this hotshot Associate Manager from the “global bank” only to discover that the hotshot is only a lean spectacled schoolboy. You later realize that when you go cleanshaven, it only creates the impression that puberty hasn’t kicked in yet!

All your practice of lecturing to your juniors on their choice of electives rise up within you like a crescendo, as you pounce upon him with your knowledge of forwards, futures, swaptions, circus swaps, cross currency swaps and a zillion charms conjectured from thin air to dissolve his financial misery into oblivion! You begin to look for a crack on the floor to disappear into, when the customer interrupts you in the middle of a lecture on futures to give his own opinions on star gazing and astrology. You finally end the meeting begging and stealing his financials away (more because of his interest in astrology, than because of your expertise in derivatives).

Ever heard of the theory of negative selection???? To find an analogy that you can easily identify with…. Girls that are hot are already taken… and girls who hit on you arent hot enough…. So if the client is interested, credit guy wont touch him with a barge pole…and if the credit guy is drooling all over the client, the client has a million banks sniffing around for some action…

That brings us to the discussion with the credit risk team of the bank. If you’ve had a lot of experience dealing with government officials, you can count on those coming in handy! Think of your typical experience in a government office…

Him: “I need a proof of identity and proof of address. Do you have a ration card?”

You: “Yes”

Him: “How about a telephone bill?”

You: “Yes”

Him thinking: Now what is this clown unlikely to have? “How about a passport?”

You: “Oh! No sir, no passport!”

Him: “Aaah!!! Passport lagega! Passport ke bina kaam kaise hoga?”

Well, this pretty much is the best analogy I can think of for describing credit meetings! The rest of the deal is all about pricing and the like. You can take an easy shot at guessing how these would be. No different from the bargaining you see your mom doing with fish vendors! Moms: Best teachers of management, I tell you….

Dalal Street is no different from Red Street. Sales people always fight for clients and make money after they are through with their clients! You curse it, or love it. Sales is fun. It gives you an adrenaline rush like no other job. Beating a thousand other suckers to the deal.

Sales is probably the toughest job on earth…. Well, for starters, you do it to rob money off the guy whom you are selling to. Simple logic. Or else why wud you do it? and it is tough coz nobody wants to let you rob them! The title in short, summarizes the enormity of a sales pitch. You are saddled with the not-so-enviable task of offloading a product whether it is good or not. This questionable piece of logic has just sunk in the mind of a 23 year old lured by big bucks and plush offices! The inspiration to squeeze out a few words for this blog amongst the zilion spent on clients from Bhayandar to Bandstand.


  • Nice to see another good blog from you. The corporate field has not "yet" ruined ur creative ability!!! Keep up the good work dude.

    By Anonymous Dan, at 10:37 AM  

  • Hey!!! This was a real good one.. as usual.. Really enjoyed reading it.. :)

    By Blogger Anumeha, at 10:42 PM  

  • Hey Rishi ..Nice take on HSBC AVPs ;-) Well although I can relate 100% to ur blog ..cant quite relate to the "adrenaline rush"....and something that nags me is "how much more do we have to lie" to convert this bufoon!

    By Anonymous Vishesh, at 7:33 AM  

  • hi man,
    Great blog... n i could not agree with u more on the sense of completion and achievement u get on ticking a deal. n also the kind of circus u ve to do for getting an appointment.
    one tip: for ur next cold call try using "i look after the corporate banking for the whole of maharashtra." The guy will stop filing his nails n listen to u ;)

    By Blogger Sapna, at 11:49 PM  

  • Thank God ur back..keep going team leader!!!

    By Anonymous Ashutosh, at 9:04 AM  

  • Finally u r bak.. good one as usual... !! espclly for ppl like us ! :D

    By Anonymous Anshul, at 4:57 AM  

  • Yupp yupp!
    Sales is difficult..but i still sometimes manage to have a good time.
    Thats another thing that its easier to sell chocolates than credit cards :)

    By Blogger Parul, at 12:33 PM  

  • very interesting...!

    By Blogger Santosh, at 8:13 AM  

  • Interesting post. Nice place to quote Friedman's warning.

    By Blogger Na.Su.Krishnan, at 3:40 AM  

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