June 11, 2008

Small-town syndrome

I had mentioned about this syndrome in one of my earlier posts about my trip to Kanpur. Small town need not mean a very remote place from the city and all. Basically, it’s a fairly relaxed and laid back place relative to our own Mumbai. Actually, any city would look ‘small’ in that sense relative to Mumbai. Any way, I am sure you got what I meant to say.

My role at my previous organization was to give gyaan to whosoever needed it! Not quite everyone… Well, my job was to analyze few markets/countries and educate clients, team and counterparts regarding the same. I also used to go out with my sales team to meet clients and share our views to them. More of support role to the sales function, yet very crucial when it comes to reflecting on our domain expertise.

But in many cases, the real objective was to present a new face to the client who might have got bored meeting the same sales person! Unless, of course, that specie is a hottie… At times, my role could also be to iron out a slightly strained relationship with the client due to some not-so-profitable trades that he did through us. Some other time, it could be to try and push him to buy a trade after the initial efforts of the sales person.

Many of such clients were really, really interesting. There was this guy who thought he was the king of this world and a big tiger, whereas the fact is that he was a stupid fool! And worse... (Sales madame, are you reading this??? :)). Clients I met also belonged to the small towns that I am referring to in this piece. They treat you well, will welcome you as if we are their personal guests with that ever-lasting smile on their faces. A large part of the discussion would be unrelated to business. It would surround weather, my background, his visits to Mumbai, his recent vacation to some exotic place, the shopping his wife did there (madame, remember?) and everything under the sun not even remotely related to the purpose of the meeting.

Finally, we would get down to business, and I play my ‘role’ of being a guru who understand everything and suggest him to buy a deal that my sales person would have already discussed. The background to this is the fact that the sales person would have threatened me to sell that trade/view to the client before-hand! And dare I not oblige!! Yet, the client will assign a lot of weightage to what I say because he might think I ‘care’ for his interests! How naive... how can he forget I work for the same bank my colleague works for and our interests have to be similar. Nevertheless, they would not let this get reflected in their face/talks.

Client: So Menonji, you think this deal would work for my portfolio? Me: Yes Sir, definitely. (Did he expect me to say… No Sir, my colleague is trying to strip you off some money?) Client: Hmmmmm (scratching some part of his body, generally a part of his face). It works well on the risk-return profile Menonji? Me: Yes Sir, it does. Client: Hmmmmmmmmm. Chalo, let’s do it. Menonji itni door se humse milne aaye hai, to kuch karna hi padega. (This is a dialogue I heard often in the North). Never thought traveling a certain number of miles was good enough to get a trade done. But who’s complaining any way.

Eventually, me happy. Colleague, happier. Client, hmmmmmm.

Talking of client meetings, I remember an incident very, very distinctly. If the person in reference would not have been a dumb, we would have definitely lost the account. Me and my sales colleague are in their office to discuss markets and views. This guy is sitting with his boss, trying to act smart. He looked a bigger idiot that way than what he was. He could have been much better off remaining silent... or even better, if he was sitting about 50kms away from us!

Before any of us could even think of talking, this guy was already half-way in explaining what he thinks of the market. As if that mattered to the rest of us! His tone and throw of what seemed like English sentences were annoying. And with a face and voice that he somehow manages to possess, even Mahatma Gandhi would have attempted to kill him. But end of the day, he is the client. Me and my colleague nod our heads and smile. Our hearts feel for his family members, especially wife for obvious reasons. Poor souls...

Enough of the description of this creature...let’s go to the incident. At one point in the meeting, my colleague is busy explaining a deal to this guy’s boss. She is writing something to explain him and every one’s silent waiting for her to complete. One, two, three... and the guy starts again. You know what Mr. Menon, I got promoted last month. We all look at him... no, not with any admiration but his stupidity to bring that irrelevant topic up. Oh, many congratulations Sir, we had to say. I have been promoted to Senior Manager after 5 years in this organization. We are amazed about how the organization still existed to see this day. Miracles do occur.

Now, check this out. His boss looks at this guy with a doubtful face and asks, you got promoted as senior manager? I was about to laugh, but the thought of my colleague’s reaction after that stopped me. This guy is clearly taken aback. Kya Sir, aap hi ne to promote kiya aur ab aap hi yeh pooch rahe ho! All this with a very dirty smile... eeeeks. His boss nods his head. My colleague still working on something. Silence all around for few seconds.

I break the silence and say – 'Hope your boss did not realize that promoting you was a mistake'!!! Yes, I said it. Yiippiieee... My colleague looked up, stunned and surely wanted to kill me. But the boss was the first to laugh, followed by me and then my colleague. Now, it did not mater how the guy felt. I felt on top of the world to have been able to slap this guy... literally.

I still cannot forget the stare of my colleague after we came out of the meeting. To be frank, she looked cute that way. Hehe... Deep down, she was elated! :) Right Madame?


Diviya said...

ooh, nasty!

Madhurima said...

as expected............!

Someone, u no ;) said...

So Menonji you really took advantage of the situation as usual and bounced on that man, but that was really nice one.