Hello - Can You Hear Me?
It was a normal Tuesday morning in the office. Billy, Joe, Jim and Bob from sales were all out on important client calls and Jill was meeting the marketing consultant at their office. At about 11:30am Jack stepped out to get some fresh air and prepare his mind for the presentation he was about to give at 2pm to a major new client prospect in the office. The client had insisted to come to the office to see how a day-in-the-life of a potential key supplier would spin out.
That left Harry from Accounts and Sally in Reception. Harry was going over the cashflow statement from the bank and Sally was spending the late morning lull tending to her manicure, when suddenly the door opened and a booming voice demanded:
"Where are the two most brilliant business people I have met in a long time? Tell Jack and Jill that Naylor-Leyland from NL Industries is here with his team to see their presentation. I hope you got our fax this morning that we would arrive early?"
Sally was nailed to the floor, to coin a phrase. She had known about the meeting and how important it was. But it was not due for another two and a half hours. And which fax? Noone had used the fax machine for years. It had been moved to the stationary cupboard and had been all but forgotten. She would need to get hold of Jack and Jill immediately. And then there was the thing with the team.
"How many of you in total will there be for the meeting, Sir?" she queried.
"Four. I said so in the fax." was the gruff answer.
Jill had told her only that morning that it would be just old NL himself and that it would be overkill to have more people present at the meeting. That now seemed to be an underestimation.
"This is Jack's voicemail. Please leave your name and number and I will get back to you as soon as I can."
Sally was under pressure. She had had the same result when she called Jill on her mobile only minutes ago.
"Where is my beautiful business team?" pressed the gruff voice.
"They will be here any minute, Sir." Sally was far too experienced to say "I think.."
She knew that mobile coverage in their part of town was patchy around lunchtime when every office-worker for miles called girl/boy-friends on their lunch-break. She had heard that SMS messages would get through even when voice calls were impossible.
"NL Ind r here. Cm bk now. Said faxd tday wud be 4 and 2 hrs erly."
She went to the stationary cupboard. Sure enough, the fax was waiting in the fax machine out-tray. Noone had heard it ring.
Jack nearly knocked his cappuccino over when he saw Sally's message. "Holy smokes!" was all he could utter. He tried to call Jill, but got her voicemail instead. He wished he had not let Bob go out today. NL Industries were in his area and Bob was an experienced salesman, but they had agreed that three to one in a meeting would be inappropriate. Now it would be two to four. And he was still going through the presentation. He called Sally.
"Please show them into the conference room and ask if they want anything for lunch. Ask Harry to go out to get it. When he complains, tell him I am asking him politely and that we need this client if we want the cash-flow statements to look better. Then you try to call Jill again and try to see if you can get through to Bob. Tell him to come back to the office. He has to make excuses for dropping his meetings for the rest of the afternoon. We need him back here asap. Do we know where he is right now? I am coming back now. I am 10 minutes away!"
Jack started to run.
Having successfully tracked Jack down with SMS, Sally now set about to contact Jill and Bob the same way, only this time there was no answer. But Sally knew the firm Jill had gone to see, so she called their switchboard and got through to her contact's PA.
"He is out to lunch with a client and cannot be disturbed" was the indifferent response.
"WE are the client", said Sally, "and I urgently need to get through to Jill. Please let your boss know on his mobile." She was quite resourceful when she had to be.
Which was just as well, as she also had Bob's call itinerary in front of her. She had the name of his meeting contact written down and called him through that client's switchboard. It was the same story there, but she got through to both in the end.
"Sally, I am just going through the details of the next order here, so I can't leave. In any case, Jim's district is closer to the office than mine and I think he told me last night that he does not have a lunch appointment today. Why don't you try to trace him instead?"
Fortunately Jim was in between meetings and crucially not calling anyone from his phone, so Sally got through at the first try.
"But I do not know a thing about the client", was his answer.
"Yes, but you know our products and you know how to sell. Bob said he would owe you one if you would help out!"
Sally was being tough now.
Jack, Jill and Jim were rushing back to the office.
"Thank goodness for Sally", thought Jack. "Without her we would have had a major disaster on our hands."
Later that afternoon Jack, Jill, Sally, Jim and Harry sat quietly in the office over a cup of coffee.
"What went wrong here?", said Jill, as if to herself.
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