Some business stories I hear are worth telling and this is one of them. About a year ago I had the opportunity to work with a large technology company headquartered in San Jose, California.
The task here was for me to work with their sales team to draw real life business stories that could be used in the future for sales storytelling.
This story was told by 2 sales people. I will call them Arun and Rohit. They sell education technology. So, their typical clients would be universities, polytechnics and academies.
Rest of this blog is written exactly how Arun spoke.
It was a few years ago around Diwali ( an Indian festival ) I got a call from Mr. Balwant ( not his real name ) who is a faculty member of a leading university and a client that we had been working on acquiring for a while.
Mr Balwant said ” How come I never hear from you on festive occasions ? ( it is a custom to visit clients on Diwali and thank them with gifts.) Your competitor has given us a lot of products this Diwali that we can use in our data center.” I was taken aback by Mr Balwant’s statement but I said to him, “ A very happy Diwali Mr. Balwant and some day I will be able to give you a gift of being a trusted advisor.” We ended our conversation that day but as a sales person you always get a little worried when your competitors who claim to have equally good products strengthen client relations by thanking them with gifts.
However, our mandate is always to add value not valueable gifts to customers
4 months later, very surprisingly I received a call from Mr. Balwant who sounded a bit worried on the phone and asked us to come for a meeting asap. Both Rohit and I reached the client’s office as soon as we could, but what was running through our mind was – what is this meeting about?
Anyway , we got there and walked in to a boardroom full of people who looked gloomy. Not sure of the reason for doom and gloom we asked,” Mr Balwant , how can we help ?”
Mr Balwant replied, “ There was major security breach. The Harry Potter Movie’s producers have filed a case against the institute, as somebody a couple of months back had downloaded the movie before it even premiered ! You see this institute produces some of the best geeks in the world.”
Mr Balwant looked and sounded extremely concerned. Both Rohit and I wondered, how come we can’t track who did this? We asked Mr Balwant a few questions and he mentioned that there had been issues with the datacenter performance and the institute had no idea on the source of the problem. What was critical for the institute was to get back to the legal authorities on what we are now doing to be able to track culprits in the future. That was the only way out from the current chaos. You cannot stop downloading from internet site in an educational institution because access to the internet and downloading is key to learning in the current environment.
We asked the client’s permission to investigate the matter further. Rohit through his attention to detail made some fundamental discoveries.
The institute at the time of the incident had an average but a large network supported by wireless across the campus. The customer had not purchased any security technology gear for the last 4 years and had not upgraded any of their legacy networking systems.
The gifts received on Diwali and installed in the datacenter had poor security framework. There were several loopholes in the wireless system.
For the next 6 weeks we replaced all the underperforming technology with our products that we were confident would not only solve our client’s existing issues but also make them future proof.
So, you see our client’s expertise lies in education and technology enables access to education. Our client Mr Balwant needed a trusted advisor who could provide the best technology that is safe and efficient. We were glad we had the opportunity to help our client live their vision of contributing through excellence in scientific and technical education.
This become a marquee win for us as it is one of the strongest references in the education segment for any new higher education customer. The customer being a strong technical decision maker is also a consultant on multiple Smart City projects and has been pushing our products strongly because of his experience with us and the support he received from the team.
And thank you Harry Potter for giving us a chance to be a trusted advisor.
You may not be there in good times with your clients but if can be there in tough times you will build relationship for life.
To read rest of sales storytelling blogs click here
"I attended your story telling course some time back. And I've enjoyed keeping up my knowledge with your blog. You may not have realised however, that the Whole of Government is implementing Internet Seperation. Hence I'm not able to access the links to read your articles. Could I suggest including a QR code in your emails so that I can use my mobile to scan it and gain immediate access to the article? It would be most helpful"