Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Saswatabanerjee
Partner - Risk Management
Paramesh1974
Executive - Sales Administation
Loginmiraclelogistics
Asso.prof.(commerce & Management) Pg
SAIBHAKTA
Retired From Air India
Talentsorcerer
Talent Acquisition Expert
Aparna Sanjiv
Hr Executive
+4 Others

Hi, I'm working in a co which provides financial services, so we have our sales team were the RM's have to meet the clients for a general discussion or a meeting to provide them financial advices. So, on such occasions the clients offer drinks and the RM's can't deny as they would want to create good rapport with the clients, So, we have decided to bring up a policy were it talks about the limitation of alcohol consumption. Pls give your suggestions on what could be the limitation on alcohol consumption just like we have for driving. Also pls share if you have some sample policies on the same.
Thanks in advance
Regards
2nd April 2015 From India, Bangalore
Dear Aparna,

Great! Your RMs are lucky to be tippled by their clients! There is lot to envy about their job!

Ok. Humour apart, your company appears to have been confused between "business call' and "general discussion". What brings you more business, former or latter? First decided on that count. Why do RMs visit their clients? Possibly to provide financial advice? Let the discussion be revolved around the financial investment and let your RMs leave the place.

Your RMs need to handle this matter professionally. If some client insists on taking drinks, they can be told politely "No'. Please note that liquor is such a liquid that makes one to spill the beans! In Hindi it can be said that Dil ki baat hote pe aati hai. Today it is just a peg or two of wine but these high and mighty people may go further also. Can you control this through HR Policies?

Psychology of rich is very different. Imagine for a while some RM is lured to become an agent and told to bring vital information from the business rival. If the project succeeds, the RM could be showered with some investment. Company will also become happy but you could be setting a dangerous precedent!

No need to make a policy as such on consumption of liquor. Since RMs role is advisory, its sanctity must be cherished. Nevertheless, in rarest of rare case they may consume a tot or two but such consumption must be reported on the same day or on the next day.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar


3rd April 2015 From India, Bangalore
Dear Friend,
This is happening in everywhere regarding for business approval among with clients and Corporate companies. But we have to bring some restriction for drinking Alcohol consumption with clients because of they should not suffer by health problem as well as company should not go to de-growth .
Regards,
Parameswari
Chennai.

3rd April 2015 From India, Mumbai
Aparna_Sanjiv- My opinion is firm in this regards and I would create a 'no liquor on duty' policy and apply it loosely. The RM's can decide if they want to indulge or opt out - if they want to opt out, they can cite this policy. If they want to be polite, they can stick to only 1 or 2 or whatever the case may be.
Enforcing this policy means that the RM's can't claim reimbursement for the liquor or alcoholic beverage.
And don't call them Relationship Managers. Maybe portfolio managers? or advisers or something appropriate.
Hope this helps.
3rd April 2015 From India, Mumbai
WOW! What a point!! Isn’t that what the OP just stated? or did I miss something?
3rd April 2015 From India, Mumbai
I don't see what is wrong with refusing liquor at client's place ? Remember that RMs are on official duty and not gone to the client's office for chatting/gossiping.They can very politely refuse and surely no client in the right state of mind shall feel offended.I liked Mr Divekar's reply to this post and he has highlighted a very important point.It's generally universal policy not to consume alcohol while on duty.
4th April 2015 From India, New Delhi
I do not understand this. Treat your RM as a responsible person, who can take/make his/her own decision. If a client discussion is followed by lunch including couple of drinks, so be it. Act as grown up individuals and let the RM decide what needs to be done, rather than being instructed by the HR/HQ. Anyone responsible enough will not get sozzled by few drinks. Where to put a stop is what the RM should know from his own drinking habits. Let's treat people as mature adults.
5th April 2015 From India, Mumbai
Certain rules and code of conduct needs to be spelt out in every organisation.
Treating people as adults does not mean that organisation can leave everything to maturity of employees.
This financial services organisation should clearly spell out no drinking with clients if meeting for an official discussion.
Every one has a different capacity to hold drinks.
The organisation cannot be expected to rely on any officials capacity to hold drinks and should frame a general rule for such interactions.
If client calls for a purely social interaction then off course we can leave it to maturity of officials to behave consistent with organisation culture.
5th April 2015 From India, Pune
Dear Mr CV Manian,

Your post implies that whether to take drinks or not should be left to the discretion of the RM. Nevertheless, organisations cannot run on individual's discretion. Objective of laying down rules and regulations is to bring uniformity in the behaviour amongst all the staff members. There is every possibility of difference in the interpretation of the phrases like "discretion" or "maturity". What if under the garb of "maturity", RMs start fulfilling their boozing instincts?

I have seen MNCs wherein the employees are not allowed to accept any gifts. Going further, these MNCs do not allow employees to accept even new year diaries from the suppliers or customers. However, the poster of this post, i.e. Aparna has asked about liquor. This is a far more personalised offer. Let us not forget the difference between "tea" and "wine". Former is a part and parcel of Indian's daily life but not latter.

The actual problem is not about acceptance of offer of liquor. The actual problems lies in not having business like approach by the RMs. Offering advice on managing funds is a highly cerebral activity. This would require understanding risk appetite of the customer and matching it with the right product.

If the quality is advice is of superior level then there is no need to satisfy the client by accepting a peg or two. There is a difference between "customer delight" and "customer appeasement". A customer can be delighted even if the service is provided is within the parameters of service. To delight a customer, employees need to go extra mile. Nevertheless, that extra mile should not lead to regalement. Otherwise that extra mile could bring extra problems in its wake. Let us not forget about it.

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

I do not understand this. Treat your RM as a responsible person, who can take/make his/her own decision. If a client discussion is followed by lunch including couple of drinks, so be it. Act as grown up individuals and let the RM decide what needs to be done, rather than being instructed by the HR/HQ. Anyone responsible enough will not get sozzled by few drinks. Where to put a stop is what the RM should know from his own drinking habits. Let's treat people as mature adults.
5th April 2015 From India, Bangalore
We have seen comments from both sides. I would like to give my support to the "ban drinks" group.

The first point was about the fact that the RM can't refuse to drink because they have to develop a raport with the customer. Well, this is definitely a wrong idea that someone has put in because he likes free drinks. He may even be asking for the drinks.

You are talking of an Indian business scenario. In a business meeting in india, drinks are not on the table. Even if you meet someone at home they don't offer drinks, they offer tea. If you come in the evening when the client mortally has a drink, they will offer you one out of curtsy but not be offended if you refuse.

There are many grounds for refusal. One is to say that our new HR rule is that we are not allowed to drink while on duty, so please excuse me. Other is to take the excuse of having to drive / ride and the law does not permit. The fact that one has to take a public transport where even the smallest infraction takes a massive leap in perception of others if you smell of alcohol (say he stumbled and fell on a lady, if he smells of alcohol, the public will beat him up or the cops around will simply jail him as drunk predator)

If you want to soften the blow, he can say "I would appreciate a coke or a soda if it's not too much trouble"

What exactly are your RM trying to do ? They are suppose to sell mainly on professional skills and the companies ability. Some of them may get friendly and become close to the client and family. But those are exceptions, not the rule.

Next you will find bills of RM asking for reibmursement of "escort costs" because that helps him develop raaport with the client ?

(Yeah, I know that's extreme, but where does building a report end and non professional behaviour begin ?)
6th April 2015 From India, Mumbai
Hi Aparna,

Wow, your RM's seem to be really smart..... They are trying to have their cake & eat it too.....

Asking for ‘HR approval’ for allowing ‘customer paid liquor’ during business meeting is a nice move... :-)

So, tell us what your policy would achieve:

1. If someone does not consume alcohol, then won't this policy discriminate with him saying he is not able to follow 'guidelines' to build rapport with customers?

2. If someone gets arrested for drunk driving, would they state HR policy & say the company asks them to do so?

3. If the RM misbehave at customer premises / public place under the influence of alcohol, then could they state HR policy & say the company asks them to do so?

There are already many ways, that employees in such sales position twist the rules with (claiming false receipts for liquor under restaurant food bills, etc). Why do you want to give them a "free hit" to do it officially.

Tomorrow, they will say "There was only one committee member opposing our deal; so to get the business, I had to bribe / kill him". Make a policy for that.....

If RM's want to go extra mile with the customer, then they should do it at their cost & at their time. Business hours & budgets should be strict to business. Officially, you would surely want to earn business with your products, & not with booze.

My suggestion is, Do not get lured into the false premise build by RM's, that Alcohol is mandatory for cracking the deals....

Regards,

Amod.
6th April 2015
Serving drinks in many of the offices is not in practice in India except in a very few instances when parties are thrown to mark certain special occasions, get-together, end of seminars etc. These occasions need not necessarily be considered "during working hours". There are instances where banquets are also orgainsed by offices with limited amount of drinks. These occasions are not to be treated as "no drinks". About the query, it may not be possible for an employer to assess the level of alcohol intake when and how much was consumed etc. And it would be difficult task to establish whether the RMs consumed via a clients' force or enroute from a bar/store. And even if it is established, what such a policy going to be aimed at as and when put in place. Punish the RM for excessive intake ? So long as it remains as "not a habitual drink" during office hours it shouldn't harm the official circle. A moral policing is going to be difficult task to enforce in such situations. Also it shouldn't go to the extent of the clients start complaining about RMs keep coming to their offices just for a sip of drinks. All said and done, drinking alcohol during office hours shouldn't be allowed for obvious reasons and reign in certain etiquette. And better not to talk about reimbursing it's bills. Socially, better not to encourage drinking from the very first instance to build a character of a future generation which in recent times take to frequent drinks which become order of the day for every occasion and non-occasions promoted by the IT boom in the country. And, how about drink and drive, whether it was sponsored by the clients or on his own ?
6th April 2015 From India, Bangalore
Allowing RM to have drinks with clients is against Indian culture .If it is kept on record as HR policy company have to offer employment to candidate who are habitual drunker & as statutory compliance you have to check they got the necessary permit from concern department to consume alcohol or you have to arrange it . Once allowing drinks while on duty & unfortunately if any accident or employee develop any deceases due to drinking with client you have to give compensation of the record to such employee due contradiction between company's policy & insurance company's rules.
Shirish Kulkarni
11th April 2015 From India, Pune
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