Our Fireside Fridays series is where we have the opportunity to sit down with top B2B revenue leaders for 7 questions and get a behind-the-scenes look at their recommended best practices, their background, and factors that have contributed to their success. This is our interview with Vrahram Kahkhodaian, CEO at PROLIFIQ.
Give us your background in sales
I started my career in sales at Wells Fargo. Most of my career has been spent in enterprise software for companies like Pivotal and Salesforce as an Account Executive or Sales Leader within the CRM space, building high-performing teams locally and internationally.
What’s the best piece of sales advice you ever got?
To listen more than to talk. Most people do not listen with the intent of understanding. They are listening so they can respond – that is very dangerous in sales, especially if you want to be good at it.
What’s the biggest challenge for a sales rep today, and how can they overcome it?
Don’t be afraid to fail and to fail often. Too many sales professionals try to have the perfect pitch, the perfect due diligence, the perfect objection handling in place before they pick up the phone. That’s not natural and doesn’t help them develop skills. In my opinion, the best way to learn, especially in sales, is by repetition, not perfection.
What’s the best sales or business book you’ve ever read?
There are so many, but I’d have to say The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino is my favorite.
Who is your mentor, and what did they teach you?
I’ve had two who really stick out: 1) My Father: He was an immigrant to this country and could barely speak English, but his relentless pursuit for survival and success gave me an education one couldn’t buy. He taught me about GRIT and how it’s an equalizer to almost any shortfall in life. Many of those lessons have translated into my own life, career, and especially sales.
2) Bruce Cameron: Bruce gave me my first shot in tech sales. He was the President of CDC Software (Pivotal CRM) and a very well-respected industry veteran. He taught me about investing in and getting really good at the science behind sales and becoming a student of it, especially, if it was something I wanted to make a living doing. This process never ends, and I still remember listening to him tell me to keep learning and practicing (failing).
What’s the best advice you’d give someone just starting a career in sales?
Get really good at the fundamentals – there are a lot of sales “hacks” out there that can prove to be valuable, but if you don’t get good at the basics, you’re in for a tough ride. Also, make sure you are careful about from whom you’re taking advice – it’s so important to have the right people coaching you especially when you’re early in your sales career.
What predictions do you have about sales in the future?
I think information and intelligence are only going to help sales professionals in the future. Consumers have so much information, and they’re getting smarter about what they want. Artificial Intelligence and Predictability are going to drive a lot of what our industry sees in the years to come.
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