Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Salesman’s Spiel – Are Writers Salesmen?

This is the age of instant gratification, instant results. A salesman visited me today and gave me his sales spiel in what could only happen in India. He was a pleasant guy but the way he talked set me on the edge, wanting to throw him out of the office before he had done any damage. I guess he is a product of the age. Can’t help himself. These days communication is squeezed out, forced, edgy and battered. You open your mouth and anything that comes out is conversation. That’s it, accept it, reject it, what does it matter? Eh?

He is pushing a cell phone carrier’s special offer to only 200 preferred customers, one of which is I.

“This too good offer sir. Only for 200 customers today like you. You get 300 Rupees free talk time, plus 300 Rupees of free SMS. All for Rs 450 sir.”

But, but, (I use a lot of “buts”) he somehow turned me off. I would have liked to go for it. But (see) somehow his anxiety, the pressure of work, the change in habit, everything worked against him. He was letting me know that he was nervous.

“Besides, sir, we give you a free gift. An MP3 player, an LCD television if you change now. Your scratch a card and you will get a gift, you get a gift anyway. You won’t regret it, sir.”

Without asking me he whipped out his registration form and started filling it up. He must have heard my jaws drop because then he started his harangue again.

“Sir, you will not regret it sir, ever. Please sign up sir.”

How to make him understand? I found it awkward to sit there before him and reject him. But rejection is a part of every salesman’s life, of writer’s life, too, I might add. Writers sell their writing and salesmen their products. What’s the difference? Eh? They have their targets; they have their pressure to handle. But when the pressure spills over, it irritates. We have to handle our pressures internally. That’s what salesmen and writers do. In fact, all creative people do. Do not underestimate it. We live a pressure cooker life. Anything could blow up at any time.

Says my friend Dhansukhbhai Jethalal Shah, a billionaire by his own admission, “the pressure, ne, is so great I can’t sleep. I take big, big, risk, ne, therefore, pressure too much. I find myself dozing on my desk, ne, this pressure, ne, too much!” Before he can pressure me into buying his ghost-written, self-published novel (yes he has ghost-written a novel) I escape.

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