Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sell it, dear

We are all salesmen. It seems to be the new mantra. A few months back, a friend of mine was coerced by his boss to don the hat of a salesman. But my friend resisted and his boss metamorphosed into a guru imparting wisdom on how we are all salesmen. Not only it is part of the job but also a necessary trait for progressing in the career. My friend was always involved in the execution phase. In common parlance of the IT industry, he is a delivery guy and not a sales guy. When someone is not interested in doing a particular type of job, what is the point in forcing him to do so against his will? Despite chanting the famous adage about riding a horse into water and inability to make it drink it, we often try to do the opposite.

Recently, there has been changes in the ownership of the local dry cleaners. It is under new management. They have kept the previous staff who were primarily senior women. Most of them have a kind and melancholic look on their face. They bring back memories of home. They also make you think that your clothes are in the right hands. With the new management, there have been changes. There are additional services like key cutting and shoe repairs. When I took my suit for dry cleaning last time, the kind old lady at the counter asked me. Would you like to go for our premium service?

Of course, I was confused. The dry cleaners were already giving me a good price. If I dropped my suit today, I could always pick it up the next day. As far as I am concerned, it was premium service. So I asked her if she could explain. They will iron the pockets of the pants and the waistbands. They will be using a better hanger and covering the clothes with a better cover. The explanation did not help me at all. I was unhappy to find they are not doing a thorough job all this time. I have many hangers in my house.  The cover is always a pain to throw away. Although these questions were playing out in my mind, the kind old lady could quickly read mine. Suddenly, her face reflected discomfort. She suggested the way out. Probably, you don't need it.

The flushed out face of the old lady kept coming back to my mind long after I had dropped my suit. I was perplexed, and she was uncomfortable. Why was she uncomfortable? There was the only one explanation. She didn't want to do the peddling. Then why was she doing it? There is only one explanation. The new management intends to increase the price without invoking anger in the existing clientele. What better way than to use the existing workforce to do the job for them? It is a brilliant solution. Where is the new management failing? They are not training their staff for donning different hats. Unless their workforce is comfortable with selling, there is no point in forcing them to do so.

Unfortunately, asking someone to do something without providing the adequate support or training has become commonplace. Even while we drive to get the numbers up, we forget the basics. People are built differently. Their interest and aspirations are different. When the interest, aspirations and the skills do not match, people will do a sloppy job. If you are the management, you should set people for success and not for failure.


Photo Courtesy: Todd Lappin

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