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Sales masters

How to Transform Your Sales Approach: Mastering AI, Networking, and the Human Touch -- Malvina El-Sayegh, Oyster

November 3, 2023

Arjun Krisna


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Welcome to our exclusive interview with Malvina EL-Sayegh, Director of Revenue Enablement at Oyster. In this conversation, we delve into the highlights of Malvina's career, her invaluable insights on sales, some timeless sales strategies and evolving trends.

Join us as we uncover the secrets to success, the surprising lessons from customers, and much more. Whether you're a seasoned sales professional or just starting your career, this interview offers a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

Also, don't forget to check out our previous blog, where we put together a list of 7 must-follow B2B sales leaders to nail your cold outreach.

What do you consider as some of the highlights of your career so far?

The first and probably the biggest highlight for me has been understanding what sales enablement is and where it fits in the commercial function. Having gone through multiple account executive roles and account manager roles to then actually progress into enablement, it's interesting that no one really chooses sales or revenue enablement as a career path. Everyone somehow ends up falling into it, but you really realize what an important role it plays in setting account executives up for success. This is both in terms of the training required, internal processes for a smooth commercial team and sales process, as well as leveraging technology in the right way.

I think a lot of companies have too much technology, but it's never really fully utilized. So the biggest learning that has really shaped my career has definitely been that transition to enablement, but also that deep understanding of how different elements of a sales process and a commercial team have to work well together to deliver a great experience to the end buyer.

If you could write a letter to yourself at the beginning of your sales career, what would it say?

Don't take things personally, and don't let hurdles demotivate you, make you feel less worthy, and make you want to give up. It's very easy, especially in the early days of a sales career, to look at negative interactions with prospects, such as receiving a bad email or losing a deal that was expected to win, and let these things become demotivators that question your career choice. Rather than giving up, it's about having resilience and determination to keep going.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned from a customer?

From the customer's perspective or the buyer's perspective, it's just as difficult for them to buy as it is for us to sell. There's so much information out there, and buyers will do all of their research before they sit down and talk to a salesperson. It's almost paralysis through the amount of information available. Our role as sellers is to simplify the sales process to make decision-making seamless. Buyers appreciate someone who helps them consider factors when making a purchase decision.

What’s your most unforgettable "behind-the-scenes" sales story that no one knows?

In my early days in sales, I actually thought that you can completely disassociate the personal Malvina from the work Malvina. I didn't want to engage in networking events, dinners, or lunches; I only wanted to keep the relationship strictly business. That approach quickly taught me that it's not the right way to build a strong connection with buyers. While you want to keep your personal life separate from your work life, you do need to let your human side in a bit and be a little vulnerable with buyers to establish a genuine connection.

If you could have a mega billboard to share one sales tip with the world, what would it say?

If I had a billboard to share one sales tip, it would be to talk less and listen more. Share insights about the market and the industry with your customers. Don't be solely focused on your product; remember that people buy the end result, not the product itself.

Imagine sales strategies as fashion trends. which are timeless classics, and which are outdated?

There are certain sales strategies that have stood the test of time. Cold calling is one of these classics. It should always be an integral part of a seller's role and should never be dismissed as a passing trend. Another enduring classic is the significance of building authentic connections with buyers. Instead of maintaining purely transactional, business-focused relationships, sellers should focus on establishing genuine, human connections with their customers. These timeless strategies continue to be effective and relevant in the ever-evolving world of sales

In today's sales landscape, one hot trend that stands out is the use of AI and personalization at scale. However, it's crucial to consider that more concrete data and evidence are needed to fully understand the effectiveness of these strategies. On the other hand, the age-old principle of 'less is more' in the sales process remains a classic. Focusing on what truly matters and aligning with what buyers genuinely care about is a timeless approach.

If you had a magic wand, what’s one sales challenge at you would instantly solve?

If I had a magic wand, I would create the perfect onboarding experience for new sellers, allowing them to be fully ready in a month, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to excel in their roles.

How do you see the evolution of AI in sales?

There was an interesting report that was done by Boston Consulting Group on AI and B2B SaaS. One of the findings was that when you have a low performer, someone who's maybe below average, actually utilizing the likes of chat, GPT, and AI can help raise the bar and can almost help level them out with some of the top performers. However, when you introduce AI across the board, actually results are quite the opposite. It decreases innovation and creativity within a company.

So, while it's great when you're using it on a singular basis, there are still a lot of considerations to take into account when you're doing it across the board. AI has the potential to enhance individual performance, but implementing it universally can have unintended consequences, such as stifling creativity and innovation.

What are some of the books or podcasts you recommend for upcoming sellers?

I recommend "The Enablement Brew" podcast, which I co-host with Carly, where we discuss sales enablement and sales. In terms of books, I really enjoyed "The Jolt Effect," which focuses on how buyers make decisions and "Meddic," a book about qualification frameworks and helping sellers and buyers understand the decision-making process.

As we wrap up our conversation, we've gained profound insights into the world of sales. From understanding the importance of building genuine connections with buyers to navigating the ever-evolving landscape of AI in sales, Malvina's perspectives have been invaluable. Don't forget to check out the recommended resources and tips for upcoming sellers. We hope this interview has provided you with new perspectives and strategies to excel in the world of sales. Stay tuned for more engaging conversations and insights in the world of business and beyond.

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