December 30

Aakif Ahmad, Entrepreneur, Investor, Co-Founder Zaphyre and McLean Intelligent Workforce

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Aakif Ahmad is an entrepreneur and investor with 20+ years of professional experience leading teams and growing businesses. Zaphyre Business Services is a company he founded that provides, sales, marketing, and lead generation service to small and medium-sized companies in the B2B and B2C sectors. Mclean Intelligent Workforce is a company he co-founded that provides companies around the world with recruiting services for IT, cybersecurity, engineering, operations, finance, sales, project and program management positions. He is also President of OPEN DC and premier Washington DC area not for profit that provides educational and networking services to a diverse community of CEOs, business owners, entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate professionals.  

Aakif has spoken at organizations including TEDx Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution, Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations and the Florida Network for Global Studies. Mr. Ahmad earned a B.A. from Yale University in Ethics, Politics and Economics, and M.B.A from the Kellogg School of Management.

Podcast Highlights:

  • Cold calling works
  • The sales process is your friend
  • Believe in yourself

Contact Aakif:

#Coldcalling #gettingappointments #salestraining #nolimitsselling

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone, this is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster, get ready for another episode.

Umar Hameed 0:36
Today, I have the privilege of having Aakif Ahmad, the managing director of Zaphyre. Aakif, welcome to the program.

Aakif Ahmad 0:43
Thank you, Umar, great to be here.

Umar Hameed 0:45
So Aakif, if I have it on good authority, that cold calling is dead.

Aakif Ahmad 0:49
That's what a lot of people say,

Umar Hameed 0:50
Don't they?

Aakif Ahmad 0:51
Yeah.

Umar Hameed 0:52
And I think it's very much. If something is uncomfortable, people will do the other things than do the thing that's uncomfortable. And the very thing that we need to do often is that uncomfortable thing. And that's what separates highly successful people in whatever endeavor from the ones that are either mediocre or just plateau at good.

Aakif Ahmad 1:11
I agree with you, I think cold calling, which is sort of at the root of sales process,

Umar Hameed 1:16
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 1:17
The root of developing a pipeline of potential customers has earned. You know, for reasons that are understandable, a very bad reputation is something which is now a competing channel for leads with inbound lead generation,

Umar Hameed 1:35
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 1:36
properly, doing marketing and promoting your brand and your company online, and helping those who are interested to find you. But, you know, the funny thing is, the folks who still do cold calling, get a great list of potential customers.

Umar Hameed 1:57
And usually they're at the top of their class in terms of sales, like they're the number one salesperson for the company.

Aakif Ahmad 2:02
Yeah.

Umar Hameed 2:03
And before we started, this program was telling you about a gentleman by the name of Steve Richard, he's the CEO of exact vision. And he came to Baltimore to do a couple of conferences for me, and ask the audience, who here is having a difficult time getting a hold of someone and somebody from the audience said, you know, I'm trying to get a hold of this person on an appointment, and he did a live dial on stage landed the appointment, and 200 people in the audience were like, you walk on water,

Aakif Ahmad 2:31
Yeah. It was a great story. And it's really the example of what you know, traditional sales is all about. Most people are interested in solutions that can help them grow their business, deepen their relationships with their employees, expand the market of opportunity for their firm. But it's, it's not easy to figure out. How are those people going to get to know you?

Umar Hameed 2:59
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 2:59
And how are you going to get to know them?

Umar Hameed 3:01
Absolutely.

Aakif Ahmad 3:02
The big chasm. Now, that chasm, in the last 5,6,7 years, has the dominant solutions that have been developed to try and cross that build a bridge is as marketing and, and cold calling has kind of fallen back as as a primary vehicle to get to your customers. But our experience has been my experience has been building

Umar Hameed 3:28
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 3:28
my businesses as an entrepreneur, is that if you can train someone to do the process myth correctly, and consistently, you can get in the door with so many businesses who are looking for your solution.

Umar Hameed 3:42
Absolutely. And if you you can have the best solution. If you don't get at bats, it doesn't make a difference.

Aakif Ahmad 3:48
You don't get sales, you don't grow.

Umar Hameed 3:49
So I was talking, I was doing a presentation and there was about 140 sales managers in attendance. And I put a small survey out. This is the sales process plus or minus, getting the appointment, doing the presentation, handling objections, closing the deal, and then getting referrals into other businesses or deepening into the account. Where is the number one spot where your salespeople struggle and two things made first place, getting appointments, and then closing the deal. And both of those things? It's not about sales technique, it's about that human equation, because asking for money, brings up money issues, and the stats on salespeople doing a sales presentation, but not asking for the sale is horrendous, right?

Aakif Ahmad 4:38
It's right. Look, Umar. You and I both get calls all the time,

Umar Hameed 4:42
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 4:42
right. telemarketing calls for people who want to sell you something or educate you on something. And what's the first reaction you have when you get that call from some number you don't know the first reaction?

Umar Hameed 4:56
Damn, I picked up the phone.

Aakif Ahmad 4:57
Right. And what's your second reaction? I got a hang up.

Umar Hameed 5:00
Yeah, I've got to get them off the phone.

Aakif Ahmad 5:02
Right? So the person is doing the cold calling.

Umar Hameed 5:05
Yeah.

Aakif Ahmad 5:06
that's a tough assignment. That's a very tough window,

Umar Hameed 5:09
Absolutely.

Aakif Ahmad 5:09
in which to generate success. So what do you do, right? Most people, when you get enough of that reaction, they just want to stop. Just isn't feeling.

Umar Hameed 5:20
And can I just say bullshit to this whole adage of, you know, seven knows equal a sale, and you're so much closer, intellectually, that may sound good, but emotionally, it's like, bullshit.

Aakif Ahmad 5:34
It's brutal.

Umar Hameed 5:35
So you need to follow the process.

Aakif Ahmad 5:36
You need to follow a process, you have to be committed to that. And you have to be trained how to do it.

Umar Hameed 5:41
So let's talk about that. So you started, when did you start at the Corporate Executive Board?

Aakif Ahmad 5:46
Oh, so Corporate Executive Board, I started there in 1996.

Umar Hameed 5:52
So I heard you were a bit of a freak in terms of you got the process, and you religiously followed it, which most salespeople won't do.

Aakif Ahmad 6:02
Yeah.

Umar Hameed 6:02
So A, how did you decide this process worked for you? How long did it take for you to kind of go tweak it or believe in it?

Aakif Ahmad 6:10
Yeah.

Umar Hameed 6:10
And then what kept you going? Because when you started getting success, a lot of people take their foot off the gas at that point?

Aakif Ahmad 6:16
Yeah, so it's good question. So So corporate executive boards, EB, for short, had designed a sales process for business to business, commerce,

Umar Hameed 6:25
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 6:25
that was very much built on a formula, right? You have to make a certain number of calls, you have to see a certain number of prospects in your target market. And then a certain number of those will close.

Umar Hameed 6:37
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 6:38
But you can't predict who's going to invite you in,

Umar Hameed 6:40
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 6:40
And you can't predict who's going to close.

Umar Hameed 6:42
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 6:43
So as long as you see enough, assuming you know, a healthy average conversion rate, you should get a certain number of sales, over the period of time you're trying to close. And when I joined the sales team, when I was hired into the sales team, that's what they taught from day one. Now, you obviously have to be very good at presenting your service or product, you have to be able to communicate effectively, you have to be able to build rapport. All that is true in terms of how do you improve your conversion of sales meetings into customers?

Umar Hameed 7:15
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 7:16
But getting in the door was getting in the door. And unless you met enough people, you were likely not going to hit your sales targets.

Umar Hameed 7:27
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 7:28
And that formula was very real to me in the first year as a sales professional, because I wasn't getting to enough appointments,

Umar Hameed 7:36
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 7:37
I wasn't a particularly good salesperson when I started. In fact, I was someone say quite bad. And it took me a while to learn to be effective as a communicator and effective as someone who people could, you know, trust and quickly connect with and and want to do business with. But when I as I was on that learning journey, my supervisors constantly emphasized, do this many meetings, do this many meetings, do this many meetings. And when I actually did, I got to my goal, even though I was an average,

Umar Hameed 8:15
Salesperson.

Aakif Ahmad 8:16
I was like, it works.

Umar Hameed 8:19
I was talking to we're gonna come back to CEB, I was talking to somebody who's a super successful million dollar producer in financial services. And he was talking about one of the legends in the industry, that when he was trained, rightly or wrongly, his trainer instilled in him that you have to close one policy a day, or you're going to be fired.

Aakif Ahmad 8:40
Right.

Umar Hameed 8:41
I think he was kidding but this guy took him seriously. And for his 17 year career, even if he had to buy another policy for one of his kids, he would close a policy a day, just keep on going. And the guy I'm talking about his wife was walking by when we're having this conversation said, and he's got like a number of calls he has to make. And on snow days, where everybody's closed, he'll walk to the fire station because they're trapped there. And he'll go to a pitch to come back to CEB, So you truly believe that this is the process. If I follow the formula, I'll be successful. And you started working your way up the company. Talk to me about that progression. Like what other skills did you bring in? What other insights did you get?

Aakif Ahmad 9:22
Sure. So it again, as I mentioned, I started not as a very strong sales performance wasn't a native set of skills,

Umar Hameed 9:29
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 9:29
I wasn't. In fact, you wouldn't have pegged me for that through when I first started working. But as I began to excel as I began to produce as I began to hit my targets, your confidence grows.

Umar Hameed 9:45
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 9:46
That's a natural function of being a sales professional is achieving your outcomes and as they get harder and as you are able to achieve them. Your confidence grows your knowledge and understanding of what it means to be effective grows and your Your ability to coach and mentor begins to develop if you choose that.

Umar Hameed 10:03
Yeah. So let's pause there just for a second. So who are the people that were deconstructing sales meetings and mentoring you in coaching you like was there anybody in particular that became your rabbi to kind of shepherd you in?

Aakif Ahmad 10:16
Sure. I had a lot of great teachers, you know, Elizabeth Kaffir, Christa Conte, Jonathan [garbled]

Umar Hameed 10:22
So talk about Elizabeth, but just I don't know where but, give me an example of I went to this meeting, and this is what she insight she gave me. Do you have one of those off the top of your head?

Aakif Ahmad 10:32
So she was so she was the one who hired me, she was the head...

Umar Hameed 10:36
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 10:36
...of department. And...

Umar Hameed 10:38
Damn. I'm responsible for him. But anyway, please go on.

Aakif Ahmad 10:41
No, no, no. Again, as I told you, the first couple...

Umar Hameed 10:43
Yeah.

Aakif Ahmad 10:43
...years, were not very strong year and a half.

Umar Hameed 10:45
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 10:47
But at moments in my early career, when most other people would have, you know, hung the towel,

Umar Hameed 10:53
Yeah.

Aakif Ahmad 10:54
she refused. And she saw something in my potential. And maintain that support that eventually Aakif will be an excellent salesperson.

Umar Hameed 11:06
Nice.

Aakif Ahmad 11:07
And so that rock solid belief was quite important to me working my way through this learning journey, to become a successful professional in this capacity. Because when you're in sales, as you know,

Umar Hameed 11:24
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 11:25
coz there's so much rejection and so much, what I call one way communication,

Umar Hameed 11:30
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 11:30
You don't get someone to call you back or respond. Your self doubt is ever present.

Umar Hameed 11:37
Absolutely.

Aakif Ahmad 11:38
But if someone else...

Umar Hameed 11:40
Trusts you, believes in you.

Aakif Ahmad 11:41
...believes in you. That's very important.

Umar Hameed 11:44
So let's pause I'm gonna tell you a quick story, then we'll come back to this. I got roped in pun intended, by the way to do one of these chapels down a building to raise money for the Kidney Foundation. And as I was on the edge of the building, and it was really scary being on the edge of the building, and the harnesses are attached, and I had a thought it's like, you know, the only reason I trust these people with my life, is because I trust the executive director. And these people are borrowing her trust from me. And so it was like an insight it was uh huh. Isn't that interesting how we can take trust from this and move it over there? And it sounds like the faith and belief that elders both had in you, you got to borrow that in times of need that kept you going? Is that a true statement?

Aakif Ahmad 12:33
That's a true statement.

Umar Hameed 12:34
Nice. So how do you exemplify that when you started coaching people and mentoring people, when you were there?

Aakif Ahmad 12:42
Look, as a manager in a sales, any type of sales capacity, you have a constant source of internal conflict.

Umar Hameed 12:48
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 12:49
One is you have to achieve certain results in a certain timeframe, until you have to have good people to be able to do that. But those people are each on their own learning journey.

Umar Hameed 12:58
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 12:58
To becomes sales professionals. And you have to make judgment calls as to how much time? And how much effort are you willing to give as a manager? And are they willing to commit as an individual to get to that point of success? Because you both need them to work out. And you can't wait forever, because you still have objectives you have to hit?

Umar Hameed 13:17
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 13:17
That tension is an how each sales manager makes their decision on the people who they support work for them, they coach and mentor, is I think, those decisions are made based on experience. So when I've hired and when I've trained, I always come in with full conviction the person can work out,

Umar Hameed 13:41
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 13:41
And what I'm looking for is not necessarily that they're going to work out immediately, what's their work ethic? What's their mindset, how committed they are the objectives they have to achieve? And what are they willing to do to be successful?

Umar Hameed 13:53
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 13:54
And when you see certain qualities that you know, will be winning qualities long term, you spend more time with those individuals,

Umar Hameed 14:03
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 14:03
they're not the ones where those qualities may not be exist.

Umar Hameed 14:06
So let me ask you a question as sometimes we see the universe as we want to see.

Aakif Ahmad 14:12
Sure.

Umar Hameed 14:13
So you can have a sales rep that's seeing a situation in a certain way, you've got more experience, and you're seeing in a different way, but they're not altering their worldview. How do you get them to see the light? Any particular techniques, or is it a taser, like what's going on here?

Aakif Ahmad 14:29
So my experience with this is, there's no substitute for constant dialogue and iteration. So it's hard to train salespeople from a distance,

Umar Hameed 14:42
Yes.

Aakif Ahmad 14:43
right? The best place to train salespeople is side by side in appointments, in interactions with potential prospects, where, you know, they have the space to work and interact and they know they have backup, and you have space to observe, exemplify strong performance and give feedback immediately after the appointment is done.

Umar Hameed 15:08
When it's relevant rather than...

Aakif Ahmad 15:10
Right.

Umar Hameed 15:10
...months later.

Aakif Ahmad 15:11
Right. So that sort of what's it call when I train sales folks, I'll do the appointment, there'll be with me, then they'll do the appointment, I'll be with them. And that back and forth,

Umar Hameed 15:23
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 15:23
That back and forth. For 5,10,15 appointments is essential to transferring the knowledge to transferring the experience to being able to model good performance and good behavior and for them to pick it up.

Umar Hameed 15:36
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 15:38
When that works, it's beautiful.

Umar Hameed 15:40
At CBE, went all the way to managing director, so how did that change things? Were you still briefcase carrying sales guy? Or were you just managing the organization at that point?

Aakif Ahmad 15:54
Yeah, at some point, you become less and less a part of the direct interaction with prospects more and more a part of building and coaching a team and building and coaching a team of managers. So sure, your frame changes how you teach changes how you coach changes, where you spend your time changes. And at that point, what you're trying to do is codify what you think are best practice. In writing, so scripts, process outlines, you know, all sorts of sort of have descriptions of what someone can do in a particular sales situation. And then you teach that you teach that to small groups and large groups, you, you roleplay, you practice and rehearse. And in that way, what you've been able to bring to the table as a manager gets transferred to your people.

Umar Hameed 16:55
Nice. The skill set for your sales managers, is different than the skill set of the people actually making the calls and doing the appointments. Sure. So when you were talking about salespeople, it was like their work ethic that tenacity, their mindset, were all critical elements. What are the elements for sales managers?

Aakif Ahmad 17:17
Sales managers need to be strong. First of all, they had to be very goal committed. They need to be able to, to, on the one hand coach and mentor on the other hold individuals and teams accountable to those results. And that includes being firm on what the objectives are being clear, and being able to communicate those in a way that motivates the work and the performance to achieve them. It also means being able to give honest and clear feedback,

Umar Hameed 17:47
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 17:47
Being able to assess and evaluate effectively, not necessarily just in comparison to what you know how to do, but against the standard that you're trying to get your team to achieve. Those are hard skills to develop, they take time. It's not easy to give tough feedback. It's not easy to be candid and honest. It's not also easy to know what to do after you give that feedback,

Umar Hameed 18:13
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 18:14
right? Especially if that feedback does require tough love. So managers who are new often struggle with those qualities. The job of the senior manager is to work with them to become effective in those ways.

Umar Hameed 18:37
And so how did you look with salespeople people that had the tenacity and the drive and the work ethic you invested in them? In managers, what would the critical things you were looking for to continue the investment of time because you only had a limited amount of time.

Aakif Ahmad 18:53
Look, the managers are effective when they carry the burden of that objective on their shoulders, the burden of the goal they have to hit

Umar Hameed 19:08
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 19:08
It's one that they own internally. It's not one that they own because it's their job that someone else gave it to them. They feel responsible for that outcome. They feel responsible for getting to that target. They feel responsible for building the the base of new customers for the organization, and they feel responsible for their team's performance, it's that sense of accountability. To me that's the single most important attribute a manager can have. Once you have that once you feel that.

Umar Hameed 19:37
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 19:39
Once you recognize that your own career advances, because of that very visible and clear sense of accountability. You're on track to take your career in this direction. If you don't feel that if it's someone else's problem, or someone else's fault. or there's some other reason why a sales or contract didn't come in, or a salesperson is not performing,

Umar Hameed 20:08
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 20:08
If you start blaming other things, then the manager role may not be the best one for you.

Umar Hameed 20:18
So even though they may have had responsible for some of the deals going south, if you use that as an excuse, then you're giving power away if you have to fully accept, this is my mission, whatever it takes to make that happen.

Aakif Ahmad 20:32
That's right.

Umar Hameed 20:33
Any takeaways from your experience at CEB?

Aakif Ahmad 20:38
CEB, was, I think one of the most disciplined sales environments, I've had the privilege to work in, it was the main sales environment I worked in. It's where the skills that I now bring and apply both as an entrepreneur and as a sales professional, were honed.

Umar Hameed 20:55
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 20:56
And where I had the opportunity to practice a lot in terms of developing those capabilities, and seeing the fruits of that effort. So I attribute today's success to that experience. And I attribute what I do today to the many mentors and leaders I had, over the course of that 12 and a half year career in this in the sales profession, both the ones who were early in my career, and then the ones individuals who, you know, were very central to my success later on. The thing that I think is the most important takeaway for me, and what I apply Zaphyre, is you can't substitute process.

Umar Hameed 21:44
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 21:44
You can't replace a commitment to doing things in a certain way, each and every day consistently.

Umar Hameed 21:52
And I think for sorry, go ahead and inventory. In a lot of sales teams, one of the challenging things is getting their salespeople to follow the process. And if you don't have a process, then you can't figure out where it's broken, if people are just doing random things.

Aakif Ahmad 22:08
Exactly.

Umar Hameed 22:08
So as much as a process should be hated. It's the best thing ever.

Aakif Ahmad 22:13
It's the best thing ever. And as I've built my companies, what we do very early on is understand which procedures and which techniques work.

Umar Hameed 22:24
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 22:25
And then once we believe this model works based on observing it based on assessing the information and data around it, you codify it, you literally write it as a set of steps. And you then make sure that as employees come in, they learn and follow those steps to do that particular role, or that particular job. In the case of cold calling and lead generation, we have a very simple formula. Number one, and associate once they're trained on a script, and once they're trained to understand what product or service they're representing in the market. And as they have a list of prospects to call that we build on behalf of our clients or on behalf of my own companies, then they have to make at least 80 to 100 calls every single day. They have to make that number of calls we track every hour, when you make sure those calls are done.

Umar Hameed 23:21
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 23:21
As long as they make 80 to 120 calls. They will talk to 30,40,50 people within that 10 to 15 need to be what we call decision makers or decision influences people will have the potential to buy that service or product.

Umar Hameed 23:38
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 23:39
From that, they should get one meeting, maybe two in a day, but one scheduled meeting and three to five what we call callbacks.

Umar Hameed 23:48
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 23:48
People who, you know, weren't didn't have their calendar in front of them or they were too busy at that moment. Are there some other reason to call him back? As long as you consistently do that? You will develop one to two new scheduled appointments a day that becomes 15 to 20 to 25 appointments in a month. And as long as that is accomplished, the person doing those appointments will generate sales for the company.

Umar Hameed 24:17
Yep.

Aakif Ahmad 24:18
Right? When we work with clients, when we do sales for my own businesses, we do not veer from that formula. And as a result,

Umar Hameed 24:30
We are on dog food.

Aakif Ahmad 24:32
Correct. As a result, we're growing. If you can't do it for yourself, you can't do it for others,

Umar Hameed 24:39
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 24:39
So we grow and our clients grow.

Umar Hameed 24:42
So just from my point of view, because I happen to be a customer as well. So we are actually one month and two days into our relationship. So it started off with a conversation about Umar, who are you? What are you trying to accomplish?

Aakif Ahmad 24:59
Sure.

Umar Hameed 25:00
And then it was very much, who was your target audience? Why should they do business with you? So very good kind of interview process to really figure out what makes me different from others who are looking for what we sell. And then from that you guys went away. And a week later you came back with, here are the scripts that we've developed, let's go through those what needs tweaking? And of course, you didn't have it right, because there's not your business. So we collaborated on that and got it to a place where it wasn't awful. And then you got somebody to make the calls, got them trained, so tell me about that. So how did you hire that person and how did you train them just generally? And how did you train them for me?

Aakif Ahmad 25:45
Great. So absolutely, right. The first thing we do is we interview the you interviewed you or any client to develop our course, calling scripts. Those are the introductory scripts. What questions can we anticipate what the answers to those questions are? What objections can be anticipate what the answers what the responses to those are? The design of those scripts are how do you earn the right with someone you're calling for the first time who doesn't know who you are, where their first instinct is to be upset, they pick up the phone,

Umar Hameed 26:16
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 26:17
and the second instinct is to hang up? How do you earn 10 seconds of time to then earn another 30 seconds of time to have enough time to be able to ask for the appointment. That's how those scripts are designed. As we're doing that, we have a second team that then takes your feedback on who your target market is.

Umar Hameed 26:36
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 26:36
What kind of revenue size, employee size, industry geography, other parameters, and we go and research and build a list of the companies that we're going to approach. And then within those companies, who are the individuals, what title, what position, are you looking to introduce to talk to, we'll find those individuals will find contact information, and we'll develop a list of prospects to reach out to. While we're doing that, we then train the individual who was going to be assigned to you. Look, there's no there's no magic or secret sauce to hiring a sales professional.

Umar Hameed 27:15
Speak for yourself. A lot of people have a lot of challenges. That's how you do that.

Aakif Ahmad 27:19
There's no magic is you interview a lot of people who are interested, and you evaluate them on, I think four or five qualities?

Umar Hameed 27:27
For example, those qualities will be?

Aakif Ahmad 27:28
So first of all, whatever stage of life they're in, do they exhibit a consistent goal oriented focus? Are they are they? Is it important to them to hit an objective?

Umar Hameed 27:38
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 27:39
Independent of what, whether they work for you or not, is that matter to them? Number two, are they competitive? Because in sales, you need that you need the attributes that a competitive spirit brings? Number three, are they social? Meaning is it is do they have the qualities and ability to communicate effectively? On the phone or in person? Have they been in environments or in you know, university programs or in clubs or in the active in social circles? So Can they communicate? Are they competitive? And then fourth, what's their learning ability like, having the aptitude to quickly learn something adjust and adapt is essential to sales success, because you're constantly learning, no matter how much how many seconds or minutes or hours you spend with someone, you have to constantly adapt what you're saying, to what you're hearing.

Umar Hameed 28:34
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 28:34
That's continuous learning. So those are the qualities that we look for when we find them, we still don't know if you're going to be successful,

Umar Hameed 28:42
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 28:42
they can hire you. And when you hire you, we then have a week long training program around the scripts and around our CRM tools and around, you know, how we track and record information. And by the fourth day, you need to be actually practicing your scripts real time with your mentor and with your supervisor. If you do not sign off on that script in a roleplay situation with by day five or six, we're likely not going to see success.

Umar Hameed 29:11
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 29:12
So we might move on from that. But as long as you do, you're on the phones. And then you have about two to three weeks to demonstrate getting from, you know, one or two appointments a week to one every day. So it's a very methodical, and it's very much measured by daily performance against an onboarding program, and then daily performance against very specific targets in terms of what you have to achieve. But those four or five qualities I mentioned,

Umar Hameed 29:40
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 29:42
If you have those, your probability of success is much better than if you don't.

Umar Hameed 29:48
And so you got such an individual. She was already part of the company or new to the company.

Aakif Ahmad 29:55
The one we assigned to you?

Umar Hameed 29:56
Yeah.

Aakif Ahmad 29:57
He's already part of the company.

Umar Hameed 29:58
Nice and And then how do you keep them in the right mindset? Because this is like drudgery,

Aakif Ahmad 30:06
Right.

Umar Hameed 30:07
to do. So are there any particular techniques you use to keep your people motivated other than dollars?

Aakif Ahmad 30:11
Sure. So our business model is very, our internal model of how we train and manage people is very much built on continuous learning. So whether it's me or anyone else who works with us, daily coaching, weekly training sessions, monthly feedback and discussion of careers and opportunity, and how they can progress over time, very central to the way we work.

Umar Hameed 30:38
Nice.

Aakif Ahmad 30:39
And that that culture, which is also supported by very open discussion, right, candid conversation. Honest feedback in both directions from employee to manager and manager to employee, is I think, what is an inspiring and rewarding culture for people to be a part of, because it's hard work.

Umar Hameed 31:01
Absolutely.

Aakif Ahmad 31:02
As you know, sales can be one of the most lonely professions out there. Because you're out there on your own, when you're on the phone, it's just you and whoever you're talking to,

Umar Hameed 31:12
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 31:12
when you're in the field, it's you in that person. And very few people can relate to what you're going through. When you're only batting 25%. Maybe, if you're super successful 30%. On in most cases, 10-15%. That means 70 to 85% of your life is failure.

Umar Hameed 31:35
So if it's baseball, least you're having fun, you're out in the sunshine hanging out with your buddies.

Aakif Ahmad 31:39
You don't have that.

Umar Hameed 31:39
But if you have that gift.

Aakif Ahmad 31:40
Sitting in the office or the cube,

Umar Hameed 31:40
You calling your phone.

Aakif Ahmad 31:42
You're looking at a phone, at the left, a computer screen. So very few people can relate to whatever you go through emotionally, day in and day out in that experience. But if you create an environment, which is everyone's going through it, and they can always interact and talk to each other and share. And their managers, although they're holding them accountable. There's a lot of trust in that relationship. Because it's open and honest, you create a environment where those individuals can still thrive.

Umar Hameed 32:13
Nice.

Aakif Ahmad 32:14
They can still can feel connection, they can still feel support, very important in any sort of environment, call center environment, where those qualities are there, you want to absolutely avoid an environment where the competitive nature of it, or the way people interact with each other is politicized or somehow, you know, negative.

Umar Hameed 32:43
Right.

Aakif Ahmad 32:44
It happens and you have to really quickly stamp it out by removing people, or by addressing it upfront and directly, that behavior not acceptable. As long as you protect the environment. This role, no matter how much drudgery it is, everyone knows who's in it, they're learning skills and techniques and confidence that it's going to be very hard for them to learn anywhere else.

Umar Hameed 33:14
Before we part company I've met a lot of people that used to do door to door sales have encyclopedias, which has not done any more obviously, but they attribute this success the skills I learned there and this is that version, no matter what you do that skill set the ability to pick up the phone and talk to someone and get them say yes to a meeting is is magic. Thanks so much for sitting down with me.

Aakif Ahmad 33:37
Thank you Umar, it was great to talk to you.

Umar Hameed 33:39
And just before we part company, I must share a joke.

Aakif Ahmad 33:41
Sure.

Aakif Ahmad 33:42
How do you get a salesperson to shut up? Give them a telephone. [Aakif laughing]

Umar Hameed 33:52
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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