The Salesman Who Hated to Talk

Between 2002 and 2004, I worked in London, heading the European business development function for a mid-sized Indian IT company with a travel and hospitality sector focus. 86

I must have been the worst selection they had ever made for sales.

My prior background was that of a software product manager, and then a co-founder of a dot com startup. In none of these roles did I much bother to pick up the phone to talk.

My mediocre social skills and reticence to talk, especially over the phone, continued in my sales position too with fairly predictable results in achieving sales targets.

During the two years I was in London, I made precisely two phone calls to home – one was to enquire about the death of amma’s elder sister (very dear to me) and another to tell amma that I would be soon on my way back to India as I was being transferred to another role – the company had belatedly recognized its mistake. 87

Back in India, I decided to be on my own and tried my hands at various things, but my reticence to talk over the phone continued.

I still am an extremely poor phone talker, but if someone looked at my outgoing phone call record in the last five years, a sizable portion would have been to amma.

The first call I always made every morning while not in the city would always be to her. Even though my calls were very brief – “I am OK, hope you are OK. Talk to you tomorrow,” would have topped the frequency distribution chart – I knew that the very fact that I called her made a big difference to her. Not surprisingly, research by psychotherapists too suggest that the number one thing aging parents wanted from their kids was simply to hear from them 88

I still don’t take most telephone calls, even today. Some of my clients and business partners have complained about this many times, and I’m sure I have lost a lot of business owing to this poor habit. But if there’s one call I’d take within the first two rings, even if I was in an important business meeting, it would be from her. She rarely called me while I was at office, and this made any call from her take on an extra urgency.

Sense and sensibility <= The salesman who hated to talk => A wave with a hope

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Notes

86. InterGlobe Technologies – https://www.igtsolutions.com/

87. I however used to get constant updates from my cousins through SMS and online chats

88.  https://psychcentral.com/blog/8-ways-to-help-your-aging-parents/

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