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The young Sales Executive looked crest fallen when he came to meet me. He was a guy who lived near my house and I knew him to be pretty successful in his work. He was invariably bubbly and highly enthusiastic. It turned out that not only was the last quarter a disaster in terms of his selling efforts. His boss had warned him to pull up his socks:or else………..

As we spoke the first thought that came to my mind was ” Feast or Famine”. His performance which was terrific the last few quarters had slumped to nothing this quarter. The man who proudly told me last year he was going to Sun City in South Africa along with Top Performers in his company, was asking for advice on getting sales to merely stay on the job. He was like an express train which had hit an unseen wall.

By a strange co-incidence, this erratic swing was captured in the performance of India’s vaunted Test batsmen yesterday. ” Massacre at Motera” screamed the TV headlines. Amazingly, the team that scored 627 just a week or so ago were all out, yes- all out- for a measly 76 in just about 20 overs.

The much hyped IPL Twenty20 championship begins April 18 (for which many of the same players have been paid princely sums). One wondered whether our batsmen were ahead of the clock by two weeks. Did they think they were playing a Twenty20?

My friend the Sales Executive was in a fairly similar circumstance. He had finished all the leads he had, expended all the winners, without thinking of the future. He had postponed basics like prospecting for new clients, sharpening his sales pitch and understanding the latest market trends. Now he was paying the price for his procrastination.

Careers aren’t built through erratic performances. A king one day, a pauper the next. We look for consistency, for sustained good performance- not brilliance on one day and abject surrender on another.

Planning your work, identifying opportunities, preparing yourself mentally and physically for tough times- these are hallmarks of a professional salesman. Just as they are , I guess, for a professional cricketer!

On a lighter note, due to all the trouble he has got into with his cricket Board, Shoaib Akthar who was supposed to be the fastest bowler in the IPL may not play for Shah Rukh Khan’s Knight Riders after all. This credit could go to the man who got 5/23 for the South Africans yesterday, Dale Steyn. I am glad to say he has been signed on for Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers. Take a bow for excellent foresight, Rahul Dravid.

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This is the 123 rd of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success