“How much does these shoe-stands cost?”, one young passerby asked. I was in deep thought and suddenly realized that there is a prospective customer. Stood up and smiled as if I was the wrong person to answer this question. “I am not a salesman, I study in management school, This is part of my management project” I clarified and then said “As part of the project, I was told to meet people and understand sales in real life scenario.” paused. “That does not mean that I am not selling these, these cost Rs 400 a piece but they have a discount offer now. They are giving one shoe stand free with another one”. Young man listened to me patiently and then introduced himself as Ravi. He requested me to sit on the stairs of the closed shop and sat beside me.
I was enjoying the feeling of great success before Ravi came here. After 5 days of unsuccessful attempts, today I could sell 12 shoe stands and that to before 2:00 PM. Earlier I was feeling shy to ask somebody or knock a door to give a sales pitch of shoe-stands.Mechanical engineer in me was constantly interrupting me. I was not sure what I was doing and why I came into this field. Somehow I wanted to earn money and take care of my expenditures, till I get a job as mechanical engineer. But I was not successful since the day I joined Worldwide Warehousing. I was too shy and my educational background was haunting me. Then one morning, my colleague suggested me to feel as if I am a Master Of Business Administration student. He also advised to tell this to people, specifically elderly people then I may gain sympathy and buy these shoes stands. And that trick worked since morning. I could sell 12 shoe stands since morning, which was more than what I have sold in last five days. I was very happy and was enjoying my success when Ravi interrupted.
Ravi kept his hand on my shoulder as if he is my friend. He looked younger than me. He asked me “Worldwide Warehousing?” I said “Yes, that is the company whose products we are using for our management project.”. He looked straight at my eyes. “Are you really proud of the success that you get by telling lies?”. I was stumped, “How did he know?” I thought but kept quiet and wore a fake smile on my face as if I was not sure what he is talking about.
He said, “I have worked for this company and I know what they teach their employees. Every morning they teach you the 5 steps of selling right?” then he started telling me the five steps that every day they teach all salesmen in stand up meeting.
“ First, Greet them with a smile, Second, Request them to spare sometime so that you can explain them about the product, Third, Give the product in that person’s hand so that they feel the product, Fourth, Explain them all the great features of this product. Fifth and final, Tell them what is the price.” he said exactly the way the area manager taught us in the morning. “Then you must be unsuccessful for few days, then somebody would have told you to use this trick to gain sympathy.”
My smile had vanished long time ago and head was down. Never realized that I will be caught so badly. I was thinking of ways to escape from him. He said “Telling these lies, you may succeed and sell many shoe-stands, then once this does not work anymore you will find another lie and this will continue. Your success will be dependent on how best you can tell a lie.” I tried to interrupt him and explain my situation but he did not stop. “You will one day get married, you will have kids and they will know that their father earns by telling lies. Then they will not have a bit of respect for you. They will think whatever you do or tell, is a lie. They will not have any faith on you. One day you will realize that you have made mistakes by telling all lies. Then there will be no option to correct it. You will loose everything that you have earned” He stopped. I was sitting quietly and listening to him. I believed in what he said and felt great pain in my heart. Few drops of tears fell on my shining black shoes. I tried to control myself and said “Actually I am a mechanical engineer.I am searching for job, till I get a job, I am doing this to manage my expenditures. I am feeling bad to ask money to my Father”. He laughed loudly and got up. He said while going “Again another lie, till now you were telling that you are a MBA student and now Mechanical Engineer. I do not believe you. Correct it now, there is still time” he said and left that place. I sat there for another hour analyzing what he said. Then got up and went to the house next to that building. Rang the bell and one old woman opened the door. I said “ Hello Madam, How are you? Would you be interested to listen to the great new variety of shoe stands that our company has came up with”. She was interested and came forward. I handed over the box and started explaining about the features. I tried my best to convince her that this will be of great help for her. Finally, when she asked price, I said “It is Rs 400 per piece but now we are giving an offer. You will get one free”. She said no. I tried to explain the benefits again but she did not change her mind. I continued to the next door. I did this for few more weeks before I changed my direction from Mechanical Engineering to Software Engineering.
It is several years since this incidence happened but I will never forget Ravi. I do not know where he is or what he is doing. I know I learnt the biggest lesson in my life from him. Lies can never give you any happiness or success. If you achieve something by telling lies, it will never give you the satisfaction. Failure of honesty is far more satisfactory that success of lie. Most of the times complicated situations become easy when we tell the truth. But, fear of the consequences shake us up and force us to lie.
– Stray Dog