Home » Work » Corporate Lesson 3 : Do your homework

Corporate Lesson 3 : Do your homework

Continuing on my series of posts on lessons learnt in the corporate world, here is the latest one:

Yesterday was arguably the most critical day of my professional life. We had our mid-year sales review meeting with the Executive VP , Senior VP, Sales Director, a few other managers and my team. The reason this meeting was critical because 2009 was not a particularly good year for our team in terms of numbers. Long story short, lets just say that some important internal policy changes have severely affected our revenue lines. And this meeting was scheduled to discuss the same.

And as expected, the meeting room was very heated up. Each project dissected and discussed at length. Every activity in the account questioned. Every action scrutinized. Tempers flaring all around. I was fourth in line to present. And it was three and a half hours before my turn came! My boss started the presentation before handing it over to us. My first colleague, who is doing reasonably well this year, was not really in the firing line. Her presentation lasted 8-10 mins. The second one lasted around 20 mins. Mind you, all we had to do was talk about our top 5 projects on 1 slide. Normally that would take less than 5 minutes. So you can imagine the barrage of questions from the panel. The 3rd presenter broke all records. His slide lasted 55 minutes!!! He was crucified to say the least. And with that behind me, I stood up.

I was asked to pick my best project and speak about it. That’s actually not a good thing, rather very dangerous. Coz then there is no scope for error. If I don’t get the facts right, I don’t have any other chances or deals to fall back upon. My whole year’s work was down to this one project. And so I started speaking. And barely three minutes into the presentation, they told me to sit down! And I thought, “uh oh!”

I was shocked. Didn’t move an inch. My mouth was open. I didn’t know what to do. After what looked like an eternity, my boss snapped me out of it. “C’mon, sit down” she said. Hesitantly, I walked back to my chair. My face was white! Someone noticed and finally said, “Masood, you did good. Now relax and sit down!”

And that’s when I started breathing again!

Finally the Exec VP spoke up. “Why did I ask him to sit down?”. And he answered his own question. “Because he did not leave me with any questions. He had everything. All the information, all the facts in place. He knew everything about this project and much more. That’s how its gotta be done”.

And that’s when I started smiling again!

Before the meeting started, I sat down in front of my laptop and did some research. Not about the project. That’s my baby so I know everything about it. But about the country, the economy, the industry, industry numbers, the company, went through latest annual report of the company, profit margins, expected annual and quarterly growth rates, planned investments etc etc etc. And I spoke about all this before getting into the project details.

Moral of the story: Do your homework. In front of a c-level panel, talking non-stop about the project may not help. Know the whole picture – not just from a micro but from a macro point of view as well. Do the research. And remember it. Be confident. And go for it.


26 thoughts on “Corporate Lesson 3 : Do your homework

  1. clap clap clap! well deserved! Just like in school…homework is what needs to be done well.
    true…its the competition, the industry, the scenario that we hav to consider today and then place our product against it.

    By the way – just saw on TV – Khalifa was struck by lightening!!! Haw!!!

  2. waaaaaaaaaah !!!!! Congrats bro !!!!! for a moment I was thinking oh dear… !!!! but waaah dost waah !!!!

    I remember our sales review meetings as a medical representative… and it used to be the most irritating part… especially since I was from a small city I was alone where as all other territories there would be teams that would have to display their figures jointly.. !!!

    Thankfully mine was a performing territory and I had very good relations with docs who wrote thousands of prescriptions for me and I didnt have many embarassing moments with my presentations !!!

    • yes, normally these sales reviews are pretty tense..and ours was too.

      glad that yours was a performing territory…its one thing to be a good sales rep but it is completely another thing if a territory is slow and nothing sells there.

  3. Been there done that, but the outcome was’nt exactly as yours. Had a little hot tempered guys munching on me till i could finish mine. Neways congrats bro keep up the gud work

  4. Great…. yes doing home work helps a lot. I knoe from my brother, who is a sales manager, how these sales reviews are…
    Keep posting under this series, it’s good.

    • Thanks dude…yes, sales reviews are an important part of a sales person’s life. and a good sales guy is normally not worried of such reviews…regardless of his numbers.

      • Yeah, in fact I think sales is where you get to see the business more closely, sometimes I feel like swicthing into sales.. wht say will it be a gud idea!!! 🙂

  5. Way to go Masood!!! hugs!! makes a lot of sense, to do homework. and am so glad u got the recognition and appreciation you deserve!

    sometimes, if the top management is well…. incompetent…. they just love to hear a mindless ramble garnished with impressive yet empty words over plain facts… sheesh 😐

    yes, speaking with facts makes so many things clearer to understand and visualise!!


    here’s to many more such fantastic review meets!!! 😀

    • Crafty!!! Good to see you here… 🙂

      Yes, in the end, it all worked in my favor. So can’t complain. Now if only those deals close and I hit my quota!

      Thanks Crafty 🙂

  6. Good lesson…I too do bit of homework before imp meeting…i like jotting down imp points which i need to raise nd discuss.

    And congrats …you turn out as hero in middle of recession 🙂

    • yes, making notes in advance and having all the important points in place is the least we must do before meetings and presentations!

      hero? well not yet…but hope to be one by the end of our fiscal year 🙂

  7. Bravo!!! So true, one should have an eye for details before any presentation..as u never know from which direction a question pops up!!


    • Yes, absolutely. I’ve always done adequant homework before heading into meetings and presentation but this was the first time it has helped me so dramatically. Only reinforces my belief in pre-meeting/presentation researches.

  8. That is so wonderful, Masood. And what you say about homework is so true. SO many times, I have come across people who just do not do their homework, who don’t feel the need to make that effort. At the end of the day, it is those people who go the extra bit, who do what needs to be done and more and who feel passionately enough to want to do that extra bit, who succeed! Congratulations!!! You so deserve all that applause!

  9. man! that review meeting sounds like a firing squad to me!! scarrry!! glad u came out unscathed… it obviously pays to be fully prepared. good job, masood! 🙂

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