Monkey Business

Customer Perspective

About a century ago, mankind was going through some traumatic times triggered by a cut-throat survival duel that was wildly rampant in the uncivilized world. One great leader, Mahatma Gandhi, realized the need for inspiration on a personal code of conduct to unify humanity. Thus came the creation of three timeless, famed monkeys: Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.


We now live in ‘civilized’ times. Appropriately, the survival duel has moved from personal to corporate arena. Gandhiji did not anticipate the competitive dynamics of the 21st century. So he never planned for any motivational ‘corporate’ version of his monkeys. Thus, it was left to the ingenuity of corporate wizards to improvise on monkey business that best suited their commercial needs. And they did a fabulous job of it. Only one error! Instead of self, they ended up stamping their potential customers with twisted versions of “monkey” metaphors!

Today, the corporate strategies for customer acquisition revolve largely around showcasing self-strengths on what we want to sell to our prospective consumer. In the process, the hearing, speaking, or seeing part from customer’s perspective often takes a back seat. Big mistake! When we ignore prospect’s perspectives, we are effectively rendering them into one of Gandhian monkeys… coaxing them to shut their ears, mouths, or eyes to our advances! And what happens when our frustrated prospect decides to block one or more of his senses towards our approach? Simple. We fail to earn their patronage.

Over the next month, I will be publishing three hilarious incidents from the early years of Cybage. On each occasion, Cybage unwittingly made one of the three Gandhian monkeys of its customer. And, of course, in the funny bargain—we also ended up harvesting three priceless lessons in relationship management. After all, monkey business sometimes can hold more important lessons than imparted by the best of breed corporate trainers happy.

While I work on assembling and penning these episodes, it’s time for yet another survey relevant to the topic in discussion. Among the following three qualities of human ‘senses’, which one is most critical to achieve effective closures of new business accounts? a) What the prospect is ‘speaking’, we need to decipher its meaning correctly; b) What the prospect is ‘hearing’, it should be relevant to the queries; c) What the prospect is ‘seeing’, needs to be properly packaged and presented by a polished team.

Original, Customer, Understand, Style


  1. As far as I understand working in two different business models for different organization by now, I say its c) Seeing..
    I state my reason as follows: Unless someone has the potential to see what are opportunities which can be harvested and become key pointers which would differentiate our products or form the objective for development of product, no customer can become a revenue generating customer. Its rather different these days in corporate world, their are no prospect customers, their are opportunities, problems and possible solutions. Problem: The suspect customer is always one who comes to you,
    Opportunities/Solutions: the prospect customer is one for whom you target the development of a product.

    If you can SEE it, you have the potential that you would asked and spoken to and also will have the chance to hear about any gaps (ideally if Seeing part is done properly) as feedback or appreciation if we can see like a vision. 🙂

    • I guess its a tough choice. Though all three are vital, i would focus more on a – as b and c would be the reactionary outcomes of a. Effective de-cyphering would equip you with “whats on the mind” of the customer and forms the basis of a meaningful, polished response (be it verabl (choice-b:saying) or on a slide in ppt (choice-c:seeing)) that would appeal to the prospect. Active listening helps ….Cheers 🙂

  2. I feel it should be all 3 we should mix in appropriate manner.
    When prospect is speaking means telling their requirements, note it down.
    When prospect is hearing means checking what all solutions you have for his requirements. In this case explain past experience similar to his requirements and mention the points which we have not worked at all but at same time show readiness to work on those.
    When prospect is seeing, make sure what all we present should be correct and comprehensive.

  3. All 3 are critical but the first one is the most important “a) What the prospect is ‘speaking’, we need to decipher its meaning correctly”

    This is because the next 2 can be tailored based on what you decipher from “a”

  4. I would say that it has be ‘what the guy sitting infront of me is speaking’ so that we not only understand what the customer wants but also figure out what they need. Just providing solutions to their wants may land us the account now but unless we listen to their unspoken needs and provide solutions for those we will lose them if our competitors also start fulling their wants at a lower price.

  5. a, b and c are all related to each other like 3 sides of a cube(height, width and depth). “b” is most criitical b’coz If we focus on “b” then “a” and “c” are automatically covered.

  6. In today’s corporate world an appropriate mix of all 3 qualities mentioned above would help the business achieve its aimed goals.Just using this qualities is not important but an effective usage is equally important.So in short,its more of not just hearing but listening,not just seeing but watching the details of each aspect and not just talking but putting forward your ideas in an effective manner.In our world of corporate business a more focused approach using all the above 3 qualities would certainly help us grow.

  7. According to me all the three senses/prospects are of equal importance (considering the feasibility of resources) with a twist in all of them…See clearly, Listen carefully, Speak intelligently and Act wisely 🙂

  8. One cannot say with certainty what the prospect is ‘seeing’ and interpreting. Your own blog a while ago is a testimony to that. When you were proudly showing customers the WA facility, the customer was thinking that he could set up similar operations in India instead of giving Cybage his money.
    For anyone to address the prospect’s queries (what the prospect is ‘hearing’) is possible only if they understand what the prospect is ‘speaking’. So for me the answer is (a).

  9. All 3 are relatively important and interchangeable based on scenario. However looking at the scenario of new engaging prospect I feel following should be the precedence:

    a. We must listen carefully to what prospect is speaking, to understand/decode the tricky requirements. We should be open to listen/capture it from all angles, may be prospect is speaking in terms of body language/emphasizing the requirements which may be critical for his business which we should observe/decode and give highest priority.

    c.As per the famous development methodology “what you see is what you get” : WYSIWYG. So prospect is more happy when he/she sees/gets what is expected(the requirements). So showcase/market your ideas based on scenario, what prospect is expecting or even beyond his expectation.

    b. Prospect should hear relevant explanation to what we are presenting and appropriate solutions to his queries.

  10. Whether it is the perspective of business accounts or personal our observation always starts with vision. The first stage that connects either with the things or people no matter at professional or personal level are our eyes. What that looks good leaves an indelible imprints on the mind of the viewer. Although seventy five percentage marketing or publishing is done through presentation and the rest is done through effective speeches.

  11. I believe “a) Need to decipher its meaning correctly” is most important. We can deliver the customer best solution only when we have understood his requirements correctly. If we fail at a, our expertise at b and c is not of much significance. Someone adept at b and c may get success for some time but is bound to fail if he is not enough skilled at a.

  12. Practically,whether it is speaking,hearing or seeing by the prospect we have to understand it because we are here for business 🙂

  13. i believe all the prospects need to be taken care of with a little twist where
    ‘speaking’ is replaced by ‘Communicating’
    ‘hearing’ is replaced by ‘Listening’
    ‘seeing’ is replaced by ‘Observing’

  14. Definitely seeing because a picture is worth a thousand words
    I can tell the story of Pulp Fiction as many times as I want, but people will only see its true beauty only when they get to see it.
    Smooth talkers (S&M) can take a deal only so far, ultimately it’s up to the painter (dev/QA/Doc) to deliver and bring in the money.

  15. a) Mouth = Speaking
    b) Ears = Hearing
    c) Eyes = Seeing

    If ony one body function was enough for effective communication, God would be foolish to bless us with multiple senses. He also gave us a magnificient CPU to control these senses as per situations which makes us different from each other.

    Leave away corporate or marketing closures, using this awesome CPU we have & still give more importance to any one function is certainly not wisdom.

    In Photograohy aswell, It needs a fine balance of Shutter speed, Aperture & Exposure to make a perfect picture. 🙂

  16. I presume what the prospect is ‘speaking’ is most critical one as it is a primary step, if that deciphered incorrectly what prospect is gonna ‘hear’ and ‘see’ subsequently is sure to be fallacious 😉

  17. I believe its c – What the prospect is ‘seeing’, needs to be properly packaged and presented by a polished team – to be the most critical quality to achieve effective closures of new business accounts.

  18. It’s a) What the prospect is ‘speaking’, we need to decipher its meaning correctly
    a is the input for b and c; and out put will dpened on high quality input so its (a).

  19. Interesting take on the Gandhian monkeys. I particularly enjoyed reading about we turning our prospects/customers into the proverbial monkeys thus distancing them from us. The misplaced paradigm of following Gandhian beliefs does cost us a lot in terms of customers turning away from us.

    The survey is tough, a equal response from me on each option, and in the right sense. I believe all 3 senses of “seeing”, “hearing” and “speaking” have to work in conjunction since the prospect can not be speaking the right message if he hasn’t been enticed by the right hearing and seeing experience from us. New business acquisition should start with the right “seeing” and “hearing” while leading up to the right “speaking”.

    But if I had to absolutely select one, I would go with the “speaking” to be of higher importance. There are meanings from that from the prospect’s end about his actual business needs, technology challenges, economic pressures, skill shortages, planning issues, Funding limitations, future expansion plans, and many more. All of these inputs need to be put into perspective to better propose a solution that resolves most of a prospect’s issues.

    Looking forward to reading about the “incidences” and learning more.

  20. As per the question “most critical senses”, it should be a-speaking. Unless you understand what is required you cannot give enough justice to b & c.

    I have seen many incidences where people start with b & c which hardly meets prospects requirements.

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Monkey Business - Arun Nathani Blog