A Salesman’s Quagmire
By Gaurav Shrotriya, September 21, 2016
Disclaimer: All the characters and situations depicted are purely fictional and any resemblance is quite naturally intended 🙂
It’s 5.30 am and he is awake- is he an ‘early to bed & early to rise’ person…well, neither one, necessarily!! It’s the anxiety, similar to a student appearing for High School/Secondary school, keeping him up. He feels he is well prepared for the upcoming presentation, having gone through the slides multiple times not just in front of the laptop but also having played it again and again in his head. The flow seems fine – the customer will find it relevant to the business case and will hopefully relate to it. He works out the various possibilities from the meeting:
- Mr. X, you have wonderfully articulated your understanding of our business, our current challenges and your value proposition is in line with our expectation.
Mr.X, the salesman, plays a melody in his head and sings the tune that he is well versed with over the years. “As an outcome of this meeting, I will send you the necessary details along with our commercial proposal/proof of concept details”. He feels relieved, at least for that day, as he has achieved the planned outcome from this meeting, and can now go back to the office, make an entry and then write a big mail to the Pre sales team marking the boss in ‘cc’.
- Mr. X what you have shown us is great, and it seems to have done wonders for your other customers, but in our case, we have been using ABC solutions for over 4 years now and have not had much of an issue; we are just looking to use the same vendor for upgrading the version. Also, just to let you know since you drove all this way to meet us, which we greatly appreciate, we are in a vendor consolidation phase and thus will be very selective.
This innately triggers a chain reaction in the Salesman’s thought process; all the research about this account, this person, from the paid research reports, and obviously heavily loaded with Google results, and Glassdoor comments, all comes to naught. Now there are two options –
- Surrender!! Close the meeting with pleasantries; talk about some futuristic potential of collaborating together to work on things, which the customer may never end up doing in the conceivable future. This time, come back to office and write a long email explaining why this account is not worth pursuing anymore, marking ‘cc’ to the boss and move on to the next activity for the day (which is likely to be a quiet drink, alone at a place where he does not intend to meet, nor expect any known faces, especially from his organization).
- Thinking on his feet, the salesman tries to come up with an alternate approach, ‘So sir, if I understand you correctly, you are moving from version x to version y; is it due to some issues with the older version, because, while your upgrade may be free, you will still have to spend in implementation. Am I right?”
“Yes, the current version does not allow me to do 1, 2, 3 things and I need it to show improvement on this process which can only be achieved if I have this upgrade in place.” Sensing blood, the salesman goes for the kill. “Sir, how about I come back to you with an alternate approach which will enable you to achieve the 1, 2 & 3, with perhaps a lower cost than what you would incur during your upgrade, and at the same time save you the risk of drastic change management that may be required with the upgrade.”
“Now we are talking Mr. X. while honestly my instincts tell me to still go with the upgrade, I don’t mind spending a few extra hours to explore your new approach to this. Do get back to me soon, though.” The Salesman then finishes the rest of the pleasantries, comes back to the office, partially relieved, that ‘it didn’t go that bad’, writes a long mail to the pre sales team, marking the boss in ‘cc’, and then, still, proceeds to that quiet place for a drink.
A normal day in the life of a salesman – a perpetual quagmire.