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How I Saved the Day

Phaneesh Murthy
Phaneesh Murthy
CEO, 
iGATE Global Solutions
Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it,” said Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball player.

A memorable saying to recall when faced with a significant business challenge; like the one I encountered in 1995, while at Infosys.

At that time, GE was Infosys’ largest customer, contributing approximately 38 percent to the company’s revenues. It was the key growth period for the company. A phase when the kind of projects being executed was leading to the maturity of the organization, and skills and capabilities were being enhanced.

The GE contract was coming up for renewal. However, as the terms of renewal were not mutually agreeable, Infosys was certain to loose the GE account in the next 6 to 9 months.

The consequence of this eventuality looked disastrous. Not only would the top line take a big hit, it would also mean a large bench and half vacant buildings in the new 5 acre campus the company was moving into. For me it was a whammy, as I had just taken over as the Head of Sales.

What I did that year would determine how Infosys would fare immediately and in the future years to come.

I realized that proactive management, focus on the right issues, and an unambiguous internal communication was the key to circumvent the crisis.

Since a 38 percent revenue-contributing customer can threaten the survivability of the company, I proactively called on all our customers, informed them of our decision to conclude our relationship with GE, and sought their support.

Thankfully, their response was positive. They agreed to give us more work and provide reference. What helped was proactive communication. It also taught me an important lesson, that, however bad the news, customers would rather hear it from you.

While managing the severance was a challenging task, more pressing was the urgent need to bring in at least half a dozen new clients of significant size capable of absorbing people as they started rolling off from GE projects. As this called for a strong focus, I did two things. To begin with, I sharpened our service offerings and message, and got on the road to meet numerous prospects.

I also priced deals aggressively. This was really important as new customers that came in became the core set, responsible for fueling the growth for the future, besides picking up resources as they came about.
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Reader's comments(19)
1: Hello Phaneesh,

Thanks for sharing nice info.

Thanks,
~Vishwaradhya
Posted by:Vishwa - 06 Aug, 2012
2: Dear Phaneesh,
The great lessons for Business developers and leaders to face the challenges in coming days. Thanks for sharing.
Dr KS Gupta, Expert on Empowerment and Human Mins Reprogramming.
Posted by:Kripa Shanker Gupta - 06 Apr, 2012
3: Satyam and Tcs got all GE projects there after i believe
Posted by:Jolin Thakore - 26 Mar, 2012
4: I am much more curious - which company received the GE contract after Infosys and did they manage it profitably ?

http://twitter.com/thyaga
Posted by:Thyaga V - 28 Jun, 2010
5: Happy morning sir...

"Never decrease your goal upto your ability,
rather increase your ability to achieve your goal."

Though this article was late 2 me, its really a great lesson taught to us by your experience....
Posted by:supraja gudiya - 06 Oct, 2009
6: "The golden rule therefore is – communicate, communicate, and communicate."
Why don't many executives / supervisors learn this. It is the crux of anything in life, be it persons, software, business,entertainment or any other.
Thanks for sharing your experience and also leaving a lesson to be learnt that never give-up come what may. Face it head-on and one will succeed.

Regards,
M H Prasad
Banker.

Posted by:maruthi prasad - 15 Sep, 2009
7: Hello Mr. Murthy,
Thank you for sharing your real time experience which you faced being an Head-Sales. myself being a sales/BD person in IT company do understand how necessary is motivation reequired to keep going.
Would like to read more experience like this from legends like you.

Thank you.
Regards,
Shekar.
Posted by:shekar bhaskar - 01 Sep, 2009
8: thats make a company ahead of all and prepare to take challenges
Posted by:SWARNESH PATHAK - 03 Aug, 2009
9: Mr.Phaneesh, the article striked me at the right time,really great to see your determination, focused mind.This will be a motivational GITA for a sales guy like me.

Ramesh
TTK services
Posted by:Ramesh Kumar - 03 Aug, 2009
10: Its true that we are facing global recession but the impact is not seen in Indian market.Company like TCS are showing net profit.Its how to manage people and show cost cutting measures on different things instead of firing employees
Posted by:Arun Jain - 24 Jul, 2009
11: Great!!! an excellent demonstration of resilience and determination.
Posted by:Ame P - 23 Jun, 2009
12: Phaneesh,
Having worked with you during the more mature phase of Infosys growth, find this article not only inspirational but also insightful in terms of how some of the future success of Infosys came about. Thanks for sharing!
Arun
Posted by:R Arun Kumar - 23 Jun, 2009
13: Excellent article Mr Murthy .. Very inspiring. Good to know real experience
Posted by:Sunil Gandhi - 23 Jun, 2009
14: Legends like you inspire millions. I wouls like to meet you some time because we are working on historiometrics to study the mindset of legends
Dr Abraham. P Ruby
indiasixthsense.com
Posted by:Abraham P Ruby - 22 Jun, 2009
15: Awesome article. It is so encouraging.

Regards,
Sandeep G. Kashyap
Posted by:Sandeep G Kashyap - 15 Jun, 2009
16: Hi!its'a great practical lesson to all sales guys those are facing tremendous pressure due to 50-70%decline in sales .i am surely going to apply your technique .Thanks for this valuable sharing.
regards
jiwesh k shrivastava
Posted by:jiwesh shrivastva - 06 Feb, 2009
17: Nice one Mr.Murthy, It is very challenging to keep things calm on the horizons when things are fast changing. I personally look forward for hearing more from you.

:)

Amit Jain - MakeYourSoftware.com
Posted by:Amit Jain - 03 Dec, 2008
18: Brilliant strategist - i expect you to be heading a new economy company soon- or a great start up

Cheers!
Posted by:Geo George - 26 Nov, 2008
19: Dear Puneesh Murthy,

I specifically like how you have phrased this paragraph "I also priced deals aggressively. This was really important as new customers that came in became the core set, responsible for fueling the growth for the future, besides picking up resources as they came about.'

Well put! Must remember the jest of this phrasing, when quoting estimates for project proposals.

Thank you very much. :-)

Shree Rani Madalsa
Posted by:Shree Rani Madalsa - 25 Nov, 2008

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