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Mazen E. Farah - "It Needs Guts to be a Salesperson"

A Tribute to my Former Employers
2006 at 9:00 in the morning, we were all sitting in the weekly sales meeting but with different vibes this time. We were depressed, feeling insecure, Lebanon was under the Israeli bombardments, people leaving the country, others were dying but our General Manager, Mr. Marwan Chehlawi, was standing up full of energy, genuinely saying “I have experienced this through my sales career. You have a great opportunity out there. A lot of companies are relocating; they are in a quick demand for laptops, servers, and other IT solutions. The biggest opportunity lies in being the only ones out in the market. Go meet with clients as other sales people are sitting in front of their desks. Put your guts on, grab this opportunity, it’s your best time to build your future..”

We all looked at each other speechless, felt like standing in the front-line of soldier battle, full of energy to take it. In a silent moment I said to myself, it takes a wise man to be successful in such bad days, this is exactly what I would like to learn.

THE BEGINNING
Years back on Friday April the 7th and after being preached much from my MBA HR professor about having the guts and courage to quit our unhappy jobs, I decided to quit my IT job at LAU. To most people, #7 brings luck, but on that specific night I had a terrible accident where I lost my car, but I did not lose the discipline in quitting my job. I was reborn, exceptionally free with a lot of newly discovered capabilities serving as the foundation of my new journey.

During my 48 hours stay in Qatar for my new job, I decided again to quit, and come back to my hometown after foreseeing that this job wasn’t as agreed on.

Two months later and after a thorough search for a job, I was offered a Sales Executive position within SETS. Referring to my past experience and decisions where my guts and capabilities have developed to enjoy the insecurity and challenges of life, I had the courage to accept the job, and the persistence to stay during that tough start. On the contrary to my previous decisions where I wanted to quit, now I wanted to challenge and strive jumping over the most fearful thing that was described by Maslow theory, leaving frequently our comfort zones.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SALESPEOPLE
I remember what great lessons I have learned in my sales career, especially during crisis or war. It is the salespeople’s persistence and guts of jumping over all barriers that keep the flywheel of the economy running. We could all remember what Lebanon have passed through from difficult times back from the 1975. Entrepreneurs and CEOs of successful companies remember further the guts they had when they invested during such crises. It’s these decisions that lie behind building their companies’ success. The same people recall the support, push and motive they required for such actions. What I learned from Mr. Chehlawi, it was the trustworthy persistent salespeople who aided and facilitated such investments.

In one of my recent coaching sessions for a very successful real estate sales consultant, I asked him: what’s your intent in working as a real estate sales consultant? He imminently responded: “Other than the individual learning experience and the contacts I build, and other than what I pass along to my organization to further develop, I’m proud of what I bring to our economy.” He continues, “through the deals I personally facilitated, more than 12 million USD has been circulated and injected in the Lebanese market within the 1st quarter of this year.”

I believe if every sales person could have such an understanding and intent of being in this profession, we could bring our economy faster to a next level.

Today with the dotcom and tech boom, and the new perspective of consumers shopping behavior and how clients became warriors of being sold to, many companies laid off lot of salespeople or even replaced them with cheaper telesales personnel, but research have identified a shrink in their sales turnover by not less than four times.

As noted in an article in The Economist “Whether they are called rainmakers or peddlers, whether their feet are on the street or in the door, whether they are pushing metal (cars) or slamming boxes (photocopiers), sales people are the unsung heroes of business. They battle daily and bravely against rival firms and consumers who foolishly prefer to save their hard-earned cash. They gather vital intelligence about customers’ preferences and competitors’ moves.”

DISCIPLINE AND ITS EFFECT
In one of my intellectual and friendly conversation I had with my last former employer, Professor Aouni Kawas, discussing how to transfer what we have learned in childhood and teenage to our profession. Knowing well the family bonds and the way I was raised he replied: “I believe that your parents had taught and implanted in you the most important thing in life and in business – Discipline.”

Coming from a school that believes a salesperson is not the talkative guy with a fox mentality, smart enough to trap his clients, rather he should be passionate about his job that goes beyond listening to his clients by providing a long term solution, I sat down examining a way I could combine my discipline with what I believe we as successful salespeople should have:
• Honesty: Unlike what they say about sales people. Self-discipline is what allows us to be honest when it is not easy to be. That honesty, our ability to deal with the uncomfortable, makes us someone worth doing business with. The ability to be honest requires the self-discipline to tell the truth, even when the truth will hurt. It’s easy to retreat from such situation, especially when it is our fault.
• Courage: isn’t the absence of fear. Self-discipline is what allows you to stand, conduct cold calls, do the tough follow ups and close difficult deals when inside you are quaking with fear.
• Integrity: Al Pacino in his inspiring speech in Scent of Women talked about coming to the crossroads in his life. He always knew what the right path was; without exception, He knew it. But never took it. It was damn hard. He then continues: “I don’t know if Charlie’s silence here today is right or wrong; But I can tell you this — he won’t sell anybody out to buy his future! And that, my friends, is called integrity. That’s called courage. Now that’s the stuff leaders should be made of.” It’s his discipline that made him choose the right path. It’s a path made of principle that leads to character and it is integrity that makes clients trust you.
• Delayed Gratification: It needs high discipline for an individual to work hard, jump over barriers, face challenges, and focus on the long term reward while being the unsung hero throughout his journey. It needs a very disciplinary person to keep fighting challenges and objections raised by clients that became warriors of being sold to, when he knows very well, it’s a win-win situation.

CONCLUSION
There are two kinds of people in life. One that dances under the rain and another that runs for a cover. I have learned through my sales experience all the foundations and capabilities needed to be a successful person. And I learned from my parents the discipline required to dance under the rain. And I learned as a salesperson and from the experience, success and failure of every individual I have met with, that impossible is nothing, difficulty is just a perspective.

• Founder of HEED, a sales management consulting firm operating from Beirut, Lebanon as the principal hub. A passionate savvy sales consultant and one of the very early few to call for integrating science into sales within the region

(Heed-mm.com)


 
 
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