“Hi, I am Mr. Raam and I need to meet Mr. Murugan, I am from ATZ pvt. Ltd. I have an appointment at 10.30 AM” I said.
The receptionist talked to someone over the phone and asked to wait. While I was sitting, I started to wonder.
“Am I doing the right thing? Is this really required? Am I being too honest? What will the company do to me if I did this?”
It was the end of the quarter, and we had to sign this deal to achieve our target for that quarter, otherwise my job would have be on the firing line. And they will fire me and hire another manager, who can provide them with better results. That’s how businesses work.
I always had high ethics and moral code even if I was a Sales manager. It’s always difficult to be in sales, if you want to be honest and straightforward.
“You see, you only have one problem. You are just too straight forward.” my first boss said, and asked me to improve.
I was wondering, what should I improve? Does being dishonest mean improvement in sales. Does telling a lie and cheating a customer mean improvement. I found it hard to digest the expectations, but that was the sad reality of the sales industry.
“Look, as sales people, our job is to sell. After that, if the product doesn’t absolutely fit the client’s requirements, it’s the headache of the product teams. Why do you bother? Once the deal is signed, we no longer deal with them. So just get rid of your honesty tag and get to business.” he used to say, every time I tried to argue with him.
But I have tried not to tell lies as far as possible. That’s why my growth was too slow. I am a sales manager in 13 years, some people become sales manager in say, 5-6 years.
But I have never bothered. I have been very honest till now. And I will continue to remain so.
That’s why I got severely upset when one of the Sales representatives dealing with Mr. Murugan’s company told me that he had lied about a product feature that is not yet ready.
His argument was “I spoke to the product team. They told me that the feature would be ready in another 4 months. And by the time, we sign this deal and take things to closure, train their team of 200 people, it will be like 2-3 months. It’s just a gap of a month, the head of the product said he should be able to push the feature to our client in 3 months timeframe. So what’s the big deal, we are getting the deal. Our client will also get the feature.”
But I didn’t want to start a business with a lie. The very foundation of business is trust. If you can’t trust your partners, vendors, then how can one do good in business. That’s why businesses mostly file lawsuits and make everything possible to protect their space.
“Mr. Raam. Now you can go inside.” the receptionist called me.
“Thank you mam.” I said and went into Mr. Murugan’s room.
“Mr. Raam, so nice to meet you ” he said, shaking his hands with me.
“Thank you Sir. The pleasure is mine.” I said.
“Please take your seat. And what you like to have? Coffee, tea?” he said.
“Just some water.”
“Are you sure?” he said.
“Yeah, I am.”
He gave a bottle of water to me. I opened the bottle and had a few sips.
“Mr. Raam, your team is just awesome, I love their energy and I love how they listened to our requirements patiently and recommended the right products. I also heard from my subordinates that they were pretty good.”
“Thanks. Thanks for that.” I said.
“So, is this meeting about the contract? If you have them ready, I can put in touch with the legal team and I can help you get it signed today. Do you have them ready?”
“I believe they are. But I have a small problem.” I said.
He thought for a while and said “Hmmm. Go on. What is it?”
“One of our lead sales guy has actually given a too optimistic picture of the product features.”
He started listening with intent. I explained him all the remaining things from the story about how my team member had actually lied to Mr. Murugan’s firm about the product features..
At last, Mr. Murugan sighed.
“Mr. Murugan, I know this is a multi million contract. And I also know that my job is on the firing line. If they know that I have screwed this up, they would fire me. But I have never tried to lie to get clients in the 13 years of my career. I always believed in my moral code. I would definitely get another job, but if I lost my peace of mind, I wouldn’t get it back.
The bottomline is maybe the feature would get ready by the time you expect, but now the feature isn’t ready, unlike that my team member said. I don’t want you to sign this contract without you knowing the full facts.”
Mr. Murugan was stunned by this, and I said “Thanks for your time.” and I left.
And as expected, Mr. Murugan called and informed the CEO of mycompany that they are not willing to do business with us, after knowing the reason.
After that, I was fired for not meeting the quarterly target and also unnecessarily screwing up a big opportunity.
But the same day, I got an invite from Mr. Murugan. He had asked me to visit him again, the next day. I didn’t know what it was about, but I went nevertheless, the next day.
When I met him, he just took me outside his room and clapped his hands.
“Attention everyone.” everyone in the office got silent, they stood up from their place and listened.
“Meet Mr. Raam. He is the new Sales head of our company. He has 13 years of experience in sales, Real sales I dare say, and his values match with the values of the company and my personal values. After doing business with him, I have found out that he is a man of integrity and as you all would know, that is one critical quality that I look in any prospective candidate besides the technical qualifications. Congratulations Mr. Ram.” he shook hands with me.
I stood there, remaining stunned, not knowing what to do. Eventually I ended up shaking his hands.
Mr. Murugan, at first thought he would still go ahead and sign the contract just for my honesty. But then, he had no idea how far the company would be honest, after that experience. So he rejected the contract. He also got to hear that I was fired from my job through some sources, he immediately called me to meet him.
That’s how this happened. After all this, he said to me personally “Mr. Raam, forget about the quarterly results of your previous company, let them rot in hell. I am happy that I just made the best hire of the current quarter.”
————-The end of quarter———–
Dear readers, please feel free to comment/critique my stories. It would be of immense help. In case you already don’t know, I am writing this as part of the A to Z short story challenge
Here are the other stories that I have written as part of this challenge :
Please do take your time to read and drop in your comments. Thanks.