A Marketing Miracle? Take Your Pick!

By: Dr. Sanchita Ghatak ( Associate Editor-ICN Group )

LUCKNOW: Courses in Business Management are modern era’s magic wand, which are supposed to transform any aspiring young person into a management wizard. 

One of the major fields of specialization, which every ambitious management student wants to opt for, is sales and marketing. Management gurus teach these young abecedarians many fancy concepts on strategies of marketing: What products to be sold; at what price; in which place and; how to promote them?

Another important marketing concept that management gurus love to lecture on is, “Sales Pitch”. Sales Pitch can, in one sentence, be defined as, “How to close the sale of both saleable and less-saleable stuffs?” Being a member of the same fraternity of management educators I consistently hammer-on these theories in the restless and inquisitive minds of my promising students. 

Not infrequently, however, one does witness glimpses of such a clever and highly successful sales pitch by apparently semi-literate persons that one is forced to ask oneself whether sales and marketing really require Kotler to be mugged up or whether the real sales and marketing talent is acquired during the rough and tumble of one’s journey for survival?

Recently, my husband and I were at the receiving end of an amazingly successful sales pitch by a couple of young men, barely in their teens and certainly not MBA. Since then I have constantly been wondering how we both, holding Degrees, Masters, Doctorates in business management and technology, could fell for that sales pitch – hook, line and sinker. It happened as follows.

One fine day two young men in their teens, clad in white dhotis and saffron colored shawls – a supposedly bhramachari (monk) attire – came visiting our home pushing a decorated hand cart  mounted with an idol of Sai Baba.  In a typical Maharashtrian tone, one of the young men asked for some “daan” in baba’s name. As I handed him some petty cash, he asked for a glass of water.

After handing me back the glass, he began a general talk about matters spiritual as well as on the art of life. He then slowly but subtly steered the direction of his talks and began telling many things about our domestic and conjugal life, which were supposed to be known by my husband and I only (or so we believed till that time). He continued in the same vein and, quite unoffending, said so many things which, apparently, sounded true and convincing.

Suddenly, to my surprise and embarrassment, he took out the money I had given him as ‘daan’ and handed it back to me saying it is baba’s prasada for me. Then, continuing with his talks, he turned to my husband and asked him to donate an amount equivalent to the market price of a 50 kilograms bag of basmati rice. Promptly my husband got up, went inside the house, brought some cash and offered it to him.  

The young man, in an apparent show of hesitation, said that this amount is not what he had asked for.  He kept the amount nonetheless. I was amused and flabbergasted to see the way the young man, through smooth talk and clever maneuvering, made my level-headed and prudent husband to unhesitatingly part with a substantial amount as donation. 

Later, when I sat down and analyzed the whole incident, I realized that those two teens coolly ‘sold’ us a non-existent item at an exorbitant price. They made us pay them for those few minutes of talks of general nature! What else was it but a strong and effective sales pitch?  With confidence and conviction they ‘sold’ some vague and ambiguous thoughts. And interestingly we got carried away and loosened our purse string. 

I also realized that whatever they said about our personal life were probably those common things which every married couple is aware of  and are common to every family. What they actually did was to cast a mesmerizing spell on us by weaving a web of clever sentences. What should we call it? An effective sales pitch… or an effective communication. It can be any one of the two or none of the two. Only certainty is that those young men, with no formal education or management course, can give any Harvard Management Graduate a run for his or her Dollars. 

Not quite strangely though, I also wonder whether this actually was sales pitch; or whether it was a case of encashing other persons’ religious belief; or was this a real miracle that we were witness to? I am still wondering!

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