Saturday, August 13, 2016

Not a Story

The Conference had just commenced.

The hall was brimming with smiling faces of heads of Branches, a good many waiting to be patted on the back by the highest dignitary.  The Office as a whole has done indeed well in reaching the targets set by the highest office.

Sitting in the dais was the visiting dignitary from the highest office of the land. On both sides flanking were the in charge of Local Divisional office and  the marketing man in charge of selling and servicing of products .

A ritual welcome was followed by a shower of garlands and shawls for the dignitary.

The compere announced as the next item in the agenda "Report by Manager Marketing ."

For the next fifteen minutes, the hall heard beams of figures and plethora of statistics that poured all sweet honey into the ears of all participants.

Hardly the report was finished, thunderous applause followed.

The visiting dignitary asked for the mike.

"A very Good Morning to everyone of you." 

An applause followed.

"I am indeed pleased what your Team has done in the last half year . I am proud of you"

Again another applause.

"Let me congratulate all of you. But, at  the same time, I have a question in my mind."
I would better ask it straight to my friend who presented the report.
I am sure he would answer my query in all earnestness.

Yes. Sir, said the Officer who presented the report, with an air of expectation.

I have a feeling that the report speaks about  what others did.
What did you do ?

The straight question from the visiting dignitary put that Officer - second-in-command - who had just finished reading his report , in a fix. Frankly it appeared he did not quite understand what the dignitary meant.

It looked and sounded too as a  direct punch from the opponent in a Boxing Match..

Heads of Branches looked bewildered.  For years this was the practice.  Business performance statistics of the current half year used to be collated,  matched with the annual target, compared with corresponding previous  year's  figures, policy wise, sum assured wise, branch wise, dev.officers wise, agents wise, absolute number wise, percentage-wise.

The visiting dignitary however appeared to think otherwise.

"It is all Ok. All your  statistics Ok. You all deserve highest praise. No doubt about it.  But they tell me nothing about your interactions with the field force, their strengths, their weaknesses, their areas of concern, their opportunities.particularly when competitors have entered into their market."

"Sir, it is our usual practice only to supply our figures.which reveal our performance........"

"Collecting and analysing figures is fine. But is it not  the job of a statistician.  ?"

"Yes Sir."

"My good friend ! In the wake of competition, should we not be listening to our field force as to how best we compete with others,? Should we not be training them as to how they should be able to convince prospects of our products ? On how to face  objections from the prospects who interact with agents from other companies too?"

"yes. sir."

"Have we done any study as to how best our competitors have been able to erode into our usual  market share ?"

"No Sir."

"Have we done at the local level any study as to which of the products of the competing companies score over our products ? Precisely, what are our deficiencies where we fail when compared to the companies who compete with us ?  Is the deficiency related to the product or the people who communicate with prospects?  Any study done? "

"No Sir."

"May I know why we have not started thinking in these lines? As marketing people, why is it that we are not keeping our antenna wide open ?"

"Sir, honestly speaking, there is no circular from C.O. in this regard."

There was a lull.

And  that was understandable.

We used to do only
when we felt a
whack on our heads.