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BW Businessworld


It is the lack of respect for the service providers.

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India is one of the toughest and the easiest countries to do a services business in. Easiest because of the sheer population of this country. More population, more needs. Even if there are more service providers, they will always find customers. Toughest because the entry barriers to starting a service business are lower and hence there will be more competition and hence, the margins will always be thin.

So finding business in India is not difficult, finding profitable business is difficult. But what is the Elephant in the corporate room that we are talking about?

It is the lack of respect for the service providers. Allow me to explain. You see, when there's infinite supply, you tend to be less mindful of the resources. You respect water levels only when you know there's limited supply, right? Unless you are a mindful environmentalist. Similarly, in a country like India, service businesses thrive everywhere. Lawyers, digital marketers, trainers, consultants, staffing services, repair services, real estate agents, even boutique, investment bankers. More the supply, less the respect. But you deliver quality and you're different? Rarely works in India.

As Indians, we all are very mindful of the money we spend. We tend to compromise on quality a lot. We want quality but are not ready to pay extra for it. So if quality and timely delivery is one of your differentiators, chances are that you may still not be paid for the extra hours you and your team are putting in. If you leave the money on the table, almost immediately someone else will grab it.

Take this relevant example: Since time immemorial, there's been a debate on whether lawyers, bankers, consultants, marketers, etc. should be paid for their time/ their pitches/ their groundwork even when the deal doesn't go through. Relentless man-hours go into creating pitches for companies that invite vendors for various services. Because of the intense competition, it is fair to assume that the ever hungry services companies, especially the smaller ones that don't have a huge brand behind them, pitch.

They pitch hard and aggressively and with all their heart. Eventually, of course, only 1 gets selected. The problem here is NOT of business development. Sales is an every day challenge that comes along with running a company, big or small. The problem is that post your long pitch to the company and the follow-up period, you realize that a lot of companies didn't have intent of awarding the contract, or were always in double minds regarding the project, or were testing waters, or worse, do it because they have to present free strategies and ideas given by third party vendors to their bosses internally. That real estate broker goes around spending days with you searching for a house and eventually the deal gets done through some other source. Are we compensating him for the time he gave us? While it's completely okay for the deal to not go through, the problem remains that the consumers tend to not respect the smaller vendors for their time.

We’re not talking about anything anywhere near the actual cost of pitching, but may be a token monetary amount is something that shows the seriousness of intent. Paying vendors for their pre-deal time is more a sign of “respect” than a financial consideration. Each one of us has been on both the sides. We've been clients, we've been vendors.

'Let's at least start a conversation around this hushed elephant in the Indian business environment.'

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Aanchal Arora

CEO and founder of 1702 Digital

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