The Truth of Balance
The Truth of Balance
  • Yeo Ho-young, CEO of GIS (
  • 승인 2011.07.18 10:58
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Yeo Ho-young, CEO of GIS and Professor at Korea University.

Not long ago, I received a call from a customer requesting after-service for a computer our company sold him several years ago. I don't normally deal with after-service requests, but this particular customer was an old personal friend. He asked me to help him because he knew that my department would provide the service free of charge.

That evening, I visited my friend's home with an after-service technician to see what could be done. The computer in question was sitting on the floor in the corner of a small room, covered in dust. It was a discontinued model that my friend bought from another friend several years ago.

The old machine looked rather lonely, sitting there in the dusty corner all by itself. I could still see our company's logo through the dust and grime smeared across the front of the monitor. I felt as though this computer was a lost son, my own blood. The very sight of it made me feel quite heartbroken. I wanted to embrace the monitor, press my flesh against it for warmth, and give it all my love. I felt extreme regret that I had not brought a cleaning rag and spray to wipe the poor, old machine clean.

I felt this way because of the Truth of Balance. Perhaps a short story is the best way to explain what I mean...

One hundred years ago, there was a rich merchant who lived in Western Japan. His greatest hope was that his only son would be able to take over the family business some day. When the boy turned twelve years old, the merchant ordered him to travel to the neighboring villages selling wooden pot lids.

The boy walked to the closest village carrying a big bag of pot lids on his back. He visited every house, but was unable to make a single sale. He returned home at sunset, totally exhausted. A teardrop fell from his mother's eye when she saw how disappointed he was. She massaged his swollen feet with warm water and whispered kinds words of encouragement in his ear as he fell asleep.

The next day, the boy woke up early and tried again. Once again, he was totally unsuccessful. The same, sad scenario played itself out day after day, week after week, and month after month until, after six months of continued effort, the boy hadn't managed to sell a single lid.

Puzzled by his son's continued failure, the merchant decided to go on a tour of the neighboring villages to scout out potential customers and visit some of the people he had sold lids to in the past. As he visited each of his old customers, he collected the old lids he had sold them, fixed them up a little, washed them in the creek, and laid them under the shade of a tree to dry. When he returned the lids to the customers' homes, he received several orders for new lids.

Now, as I understand things, the reason the merchant's son was unable to make any sales after six months of effort was because the customers didn't know if they could trust him. People don't always have the expertise to know the difference between high or low quality products, so they have to rely on the word of the salesman. If they don't think they can trust the salesman, they will wait until a more worthy salesman comes along. In order to be successful, a salesman must cultivate a good relationship with his customer base, and one of the best ways to cultivate a good relationship is to provide reliable after-service. A salesman's credibility is based on how well he fulfills his customers' expectations. This is the Truth of Balance.

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