1.  What was it like coming from a Scientific Background to a Sales role?

I started as a lab rat. It was my responsibility to maintain the lab while running my own experiments. As the person that had once been the main point of contact with our various vendors/ salespeople, I felt that I was able to move into a sales role with relevant firsthand experience. Having been the customer myself and therefore knowing how I wanted to be sold to, I was able to craft my style accordingly and bring more immediate connection and value as well as credibility to my own customers.

2.  How did you get into the Sales leadership role you’re in today?

I moved into a leadership role relatively quickly in my career due to a variety of reasons. I started with a small company that needed someone with a strong science background to help train their salesforce. From there I found myself wearing multiple hats and as I moved from one company to another, I was afforded many opportunities to work across a variety of departments always within the commercial team. All those experiences helped mold me into the professional that I am today making the transition to the role that I have now a natural fit.

3. How do you improve the skills of your sales team?

I feel that no one should ever stop learning in any role that you are in. I encourage my team to take on new projects all the time that stretch their skill sets to help them become more well-rounded individuals and contributors to our organization. We ensure we have an ongoing series of companywide training courses as well to keep skills fresh and sharp and to allow for each person to evolve over time.Once everyone has had the opportunity to take these core programs, we add on new ones to not only maintain fundamental behaviors but also to support further advancement of those key areas.

4.  What advice would you give to other Sales Leaders?

Invest in your people. Always.And never stop doing it. Whether it is for their immediate needs or their long-term growth, it is essential that you offer a variety of options for your team to learn and expand their knowledge base. Don’t expect them to do it on their own–rather make it a requirement. It is your responsibility to ensure your team knows their worth to the company and further training them is just one way to do so. They are your most valuable asset, and the investment is more than worthwhile–it’s necessary.

This guest article is written by Steve Goodman. Steve has been in sales for over forty years, and has had the fortunate experience to lead sales teams and divisional organizations in the laboratory supply industry for most of that time.  Customer interactions are a critical part of his duties all the time.


I love this time of year in the business sense.  A good year can become great and a close-to-target year can make it over that line with some hard work.  No matter what kind of a year you’ve had, improvements are possible and goals are achievable with a strong finish.

While your team is executing the year-end strategy, leadership is working hard to have executable plans ready to go on January 1.  A new year and a new start; all the promise for the best year ever!  Part of those plans should include an evaluation of your intellectual honesty— an honest reflection of your business. Am I and this organization being truthful as to why we win and lose in the marketplace?  Are our investments  driving results?

Pick up any of your sales reports and there is likely to be some reference to loss on price or loss on an RFP.  Look too at the wins. You should find  mention of what was done right!  Analyzing both situations is key to understanding market competitiveness and how to apply resources so you improve the odds of winning in the future.  How many reports referenced being outsold, late to the opportunity or completely unaware of the actual decision maker?  Hopefully not many but delineating reasons for the loss will turn the defeat into something you can use.  On the flip side, with your successes, what’s getting you the sale? Do you see the same individuals demonstrating their skill time after time and wish the whole team would too?  Without open reflection, the status quo will remain.

Being intellectually honest about the true nature of wins and losses is not always the most comfortable conversation to have with your team or with yourself. But it’s  the only way to accurately chart a new course of action or refine your current path.  Consider the following questions and how providing an accurate analysis of your sales process might benefit your team:

  • Do you know the customer’s buying process?
  • Who is(are) the decision maker(s)?
  • How will pricing be competitively tested and how are the specifications being formulated?
  • What part do you play in helping a customer formulate a solution to a problem?
  • Are you engaging at the beginning of the customer’s buying process, the middle or one out of three quotes?
  • Are you bringing value to the customer or just looking to perform a transaction?

How and when you engage customers affects the answers to all of these questions.  Investing in your people by offering a proven sales process and the right tools will answer the how and when.  A process is essential for building forecastable and repeatable results.  It formalizes how you deliver value to the customer and establishes an ongoing relationship.  It all starts with intellectual honesty around the current state of business affairs.

Here’s to an outstanding 2024.



Bio: Mohamed Rachada (who prefers to go by “Rachada”) is a tech-savvy, multilingual, sales professional who is proficient in five languages and driven by a profound passion for technology. With a career rooted in the power of language and its ability to bridge cultural gaps, Rachada currently serves as a growth consultant in the language services industry at Nimdzi Insights. 

In this insightful conversation, Rachada shares his journey of growth, transition, and continuous learning. From tech layoffs to embracing a new industry, Rachada’s experiences offer valuable lessons for anyone navigating the ever-evolving landscape of sales and personal development. 

1.  What is it like coming from the technology space into a commercial language services sales role? 

 Transitioning from the fast-paced Web3 technology space to the world of language services was a leap of faith for Rachada. The decision to embrace this new industry brought challenges in adapting to different standards and conversation dynamics. Despite the difficulties, Rachada highlights that stepping out of one’s comfort zone is vital for growth. He emphasizes the importance of seeking guidance from industry experts and investing time to truly understand the nuances of a new field, reinforcing the idea that becoming an industry expert requires dedicated immersion.

2.  What keeps you going when you are having a bad day? 

Rachada shares his strategies for maintaining resilience on challenging days: 

Before (Prevention): By prioritizing tasks and shifting his internal perspective, Rachada preempts potential stressors. 

During (Coping): Employing box-breathing techniques helps him regain composure and detach from immediate situations, maintaining a broader perspective. 

Beyond (Continuous Growth): Rachada’s “Gratification Wall” at home serves as a reminder that difficulties are transient. Reflecting on achievements and challenges motivates him to overcome present obstacles, keeping an eye on future growth. 

3. How do you improve your sales skills? 

As a newcomer to the sales realm, Rachada adopts a philosophy of perpetual growth. He credits his colleagues at Nimdzi for their wisdom and guidance, considering them an invaluable source of knowledge. Attending skill-focused sales events and subscribing to informative sales newsletters reinforces his commitment to improvement. Rachada also dedicates his leisure time to enhancing his sales skills and forming connections with industry mentors. 

4.  What advice would you give to others who are new in sales? 

Rachada offers insightful advice to those embarking on a sales career: 

 Active Listening: Understanding prospects’ challenges precedes presenting solutions. Empathetic communication leads to tailored and resonant solutions. 

Embrace Rejection: Rejection is part of the sales process. Each “no” is a step closer to a “yes.” Analyze setbacks for continuous refinement. 

Problem Solving: Be a problem-solver, addressing pain points and offering solutions that provide tangible value to prospects. 

 Stay Resilient: While quotas can be pressuring, Rachada advises staying resilient, focusing on growth, and managing stress. 

Learn and Adapt: Sales is dynamic. Rachada encourages continuous learning, seeking mentorship, and maintaining a growth mindset. 


  1. What is it like coming from the clinical space into a sales role?

When a sales position opportunity came up, I jumped at the opportunity to build on my career.  I did question it as I was coming from the clinical space, but it worked out for the best.  It was apparent very quickly that coming from the clinical space enhanced conversations with customers and potential customers as selling became a conversation.  I was able to answer all of their clinical questions, and this became a trust builder.  I was (and still am) learning but I found out very quickly that I could leverage my clinical experience to discuss the benefits and the problems that our products could help solve.  At first, coming from the clinical space caused me some doubts coming into sales, but I have learned to use my clinical experience to my advantage.

  1. What keeps you going when you are having a bad day?

Several things keep me going when I am having a bad day.  First off, any job is going to come with its share of bad days, but you have to keep going.  In sales, there are always opportunities.  If and when one deal falls through there are a bunch of others out there to go after.  Also, there is always going to be a current customer that needs to be taken care of and taking care of your current customers is one of the most important things you can do.  Having the mindset that I will have a bad day here and there but there are always opportunities out there is what keeps things in perspective for me.  Always keep pursuing.

  1. How do you improve your sales skills?

Since I am only a few years into my sales career, I improve my sales skills in several ways.  First off, I love learning from colleagues who have been doing it for much longer.  My colleagues always have great advice and pointers and are a great resource.  Subscribing to newsletters such as the one from Flannery Sales Systems are also great resources as there are so many articles with valuable information in them.  Making sure I have complete product and company knowledge is very important for my sales skills. Lastly, attending seminars on different sales topics have been extremely helpful in growing my skills.

  1. What advice would you give to others who are new in sales?

One of the biggest pieces of advice I would give is to be totally transparent with customers and potential customers.  Being transparent even when the news is bad could and most likely will lead to good things in the future.  Customers will remember your transparency and will begin to trust you which could lead to more or new sales in the future.  Transparency is key even in the tough times.

Jim McNally is presently a sales consultant with Home Depot Installation Services. His specialty is exterior building products in the residential division. Jim has held sales positions of increasing responsibility throughout the U.S. with Pfizer and Cisco Systems. Prior to his current role with Home Depot, Jim launched a brew pub in a revitalization district in Hillsboro, Oregon. He was fortunate to have sold that business prior to the pandemic. 

How do you use sales process to consistently perform at a high level?  

 My organization’s sales interactions occur in a customer’s home presenting the solution and financial options for closing an opportunity after a lead has been entered into our CRM tool. Asking key discovery questions, and listening are the most important steps to understanding the homeowner’s motivation for the initial consultation. Something as simple as asking a prospect “what prompted you to contact us today”? Our process begins with training retail associates to engage with customers, ask open ended questions about their home improvement project, and entering a qualified lead into the CRM tool. During the initial consultation, discipline and self-control are critically important skills in allowing the customer to respond without immediately launching into a scripted value message or an opening benefit statement based on the customer’s initial responses. Additionally, having the self-control to restrain your passion & enthusiasm for your product or service, and permit the customer to effectively describe their needs & challenges. Slow down, and follow the steps.  

How do you build and reinforce sales skills development?   

Short answer is “avoid taking short cuts”! I find the most effective skills development is continuously practicing both pre & post call planning. Taking the necessary time prior to the initial discussion to research the lead, and understand the customer’s business objectives and potential obstacles. After the consultation, identifying what could have been more effective and asking myself, “did I skip or overlook critical steps in my consultation”?  

Please describe a recent success where you applied the techniques you have refined over the years.

My largest sales success took place last month when a homeowner shockingly did not qualify for credit on the purchase. Once the sales contract was signed, we applied for customer financing. Much to the embarrassment of the seated customer and a small group of assembled colleagues, the bank proceeded to explain over speakerphone the reasons for the denial. This was a very awkward and uncomfortable moment for any conversation. My natural sales response would have been to apologize and prevent further embarrassment by politely excusing us from their home, and request rescheduling. However; I let the silence and tension linger and much to my surprise the customer developed a financing solution of their own design. Imagine that! A customer solving my sales problem with their own solution! This was atypical sales behavior for me and quite likely for many other sales professionals too. Silence and tension are uncomfortable during the sales process, but when applied appropriately can lead to positive results. Having the discipline & self-control to “say nothing” at key times during the closing process was the learning lesson for me.  

What advice would you give to other sales leaders?   

Always seek improvement! As a youngster, my mother once took me to a retirement party for one of her elementary school teachers. After congratulating the teacher on her many years of teaching my mother asked the teacher, “what did she plan to do in her retirement”? The teacher responded that it was her goal to “go back to school because you can never stop learning or improving”. Keep learning, don’t take shortcuts! 

John shares his insights with of Selling Power Magazine. He has been voted by Selling Power as one of the Leading Sales Trainers.


Bill Otten specializes in relationship sales of complex outsourcing agreements. He has held positions of increasing responsibility with Chrysler Financial, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, InterLink Capital, ADP and now Executive Vice President of Sales at HealthEquity.

1. Describe how your customer facing teams use your organization’s sales process.  

Most of our sales come through indirect channels (partners) so my sales teams spend most of their time educating and supporting, our partners who are trusted advisors to our end customers. We track leads, opportunities, proposals, finalist meetings, and closing as our sales process in our CRM. In our business we have better visibility into activity levels than we do decisions since those generally happen with the partner in the SMB space. In the large Enterprise space we do have more visibility on decisions.  

2.     What is your Management’s approach to Coaching sales reps?  

We have a formal, one hour, training for the entire sales team every Friday. This tends to focus on more tactical issues the team needs to do their job. My sales leaders focus on field sales skills and are very active with their team members. We recently completed a diagnostic to identify leader burden, those things that keep them from doing field coaching, and we are developing an action plan to reduce the burden. 

3.     How do you reinforce sales skill development for sales reps?  

Over the past 12 months we have begun using certifications to make sure the team is getting the training they need. After each training session all team members are required to take a skill assessment and a minimum score of 80 is required to move forward. Outside of the certifications we have our field sales leaders perform regular assessments on their team members. We use these to guide additional training needed. We also survey our sales rep’s and ask them what they need. 

4.       What advice would you give to other sales leaders ?  

We have all heard the quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Strategy is important but creating a culture where sales people feel they are on the right team is more important. Teams can achieve amazing results when they believe in what they are doing. Also helps with attracting, and retaining, the best talent.  

Nika Allahverdi
Global Marketing and Engagement Manager at Nimdzi Insights

Do you know many kids who dream of a career in sales? Maybe you do, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The idea never crossed my mind. Which may explain why I did not go into sales. But it would have been unquestionably rude if I didn’t open the door when Sales finally came knocking with a few words of wisdom about learning to ask the right questions and listening. Lessons we can all learn from.

As a marketer, I know that there will be crossover and collaboration with my colleagues working on deals with other organizations. As a company, we want to make sure people in need of our services can find and work with us. In order to do my job, I have to ask myself the same questions that you would hopefully hear in a sales call. And questions about challenges are challenging. For me, the change in perspective came through a Flannery Sales Systems workshop where a wee little question had a colossal effect on how I approach my marketing work. It was a paradigm shifter:

What are you looking to achieve?

It all starts here – the salesperson looking to see what a potential client identifies as a need and pinpointing a concrete business objective. You would be surprised at how often people are focused on a single puzzle piece without seeing the whole picture. Salespeople, on the other hand, not only map how products or services fill gaps but also shine a light on gaps the client may have completely missed. In a sense, the salesperson is the link between prospects identifying what they really need and actually getting it. It would not be ridiculous to say that the word “salesperson” doesn’t cover the work salespeople do, work that goes beyond “selling” and encompasses listening, understanding, and truly connecting the dots. 

The paradigm-shifting question above moves us away from voraciously closing deals and towards a hunger of truly understanding someone’s business challenges. Closing a deal prematurely and neglecting to understand a client’s business objective is a gateway for future misunderstandings. Losing a client down the line may not be the result of bad account management but rather the incomplete identification of what your client was looking to achieve in the beginning. Which is why I prefer “matchmaker” to “salesperson.”

What are you looking to achieve? I repeat the question to myself like a mantra in both business conversations and outside of work. You cannot fill a gap without knowing anything about it or why it was there in the first place. When your product is a service like market research, consulting, or custom workshops, as is the case for us at Nimdzi, it becomes more critical that early conversations have truly identified a concrete need the potential client has. I know my colleagues make it a priority before even mentioning what we can offer. And of course, the paradigm-shifter is only a part of the conversation. Flannery covered much more than asking an opening question and listening for concrete needs. Our team walked away calibrated and equipped with a framework that helps us serve our clients. 

If you’re a marketing manager not in direct sales, you could greatly benefit from understanding the sales process. This is because it will equip you with a new acuteness for identifying needs, listening for challenges, and orienting yourself. What are you looking to achieve?

Nika Allahverdi is the Global Marketing and Engagement Manager at Nimdzi Insights, an international market research and consulting firm. She drives the marketing efforts at Nimdzi and works with various departments to conceptualize campaigns and strategize to implement them. She is also Nimdzi’s marketing consultant for localization business professionals.