Monday, April 22, 2013

Armor test to get a lifelong client

Akbar was a noble mughal king who ruled India in 12th century. It is said that he had a very intelligent, witty and smart advisor called Birbal in his court.

Birbal was quite friendly and approachable for anyone who faced problems with burocracy or dealing with ministers, courts and the King in general. One day he was approached by the best armor supplier for royal army. When the supplier's men were delivering armors as per usual routine, they were stopped by some ministers who were jealous of his success and wanted to promote other suppliers. They took out an armor kept it on floor and attacked it with sword with all their might. The armor broke into pieces. They reported this to Akbar who was naturally very upset and had summoned the armor supplier to the court the next day. He sought Birbal's advice on how to deal with situation.

"But why did your armor broke into pieces? Was it bad quality?" queried Birbal. "No", exclaimed the supplier, "you put any armor on the floor and attack with the sword it would break. Thats not how it is supposed to be tested. An armor is supposed to be tested by putting it on". Birbal thought for a while and said, "then that is precisely what you should do tomorrow".

The next day, the armor supplier reached the court wearing the armor. He requested, "I would ask the mightiest warrior to run a sword on me now. If I survive that means my armor is good quality. If the armor breaks, I would die any way and thats the punishment I deserve". Needless to say, he passed this test with flying colors and won back the armor contract.

I thought this story is relevant in corporate environment today. Isn't it quite common that no matter how good you are and how well you serve the client, there would be a set of people who would not want you to be there. They will put roadblocks and create situations to get you out. Sounds familiar?

It is also quite common that the clients would evaluate your product or service in a completely wrong way and blame you for results. Thats not all, it may be impossible to tell the client that their testing or evaluation criteria are wrong. What do you do in such a case?

Well, the big boss has to wear the armor and face the mightiest warrior from the client side. No doubt it is risky. There are chances that armor may break. But that is your best chance. Unless you show unshakeable confidence in your product, service or solution, how can you win back the trust? What is good about risky decisions is they also come with high reward.

You can earn clients for life but you should be ready to pass armor-test with them every once in a while.
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