London-based Malvina El-Sayegh is a Sales Enablement Leader. Malvina took some time out from hosting her own podcast and working for a fast-growing start-up to talk to The Industry Leaders about how she got started, what she does, and where she wants her industry to be in the future.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
For many ambitious university graduates, telling your parents that you are going into a career in "sales" doesn't exactly fill them with excitement.
The stereotypical image of a salesperson we tend to see in the movies and perhaps even from our own experience is very product-focused and "selfish". I, however, was very fortunate to work for a company that shattered all the stereotypical images of salespeople and instead opted for a consultative approach, where ultimately you become a long-term trusted partner for your clients. I learned very quickly that success in sales is dependent on how well you connect with your clients. Their trust and confidence in "you" ultimately determines how much business you can win.
Throughout my now nearly 11-year sales career, I have fallen in love with the "human" side of sales and turned my "career" into my passion. After being in various sales roles and given my active involvement in training and coaching, I fell into Sales Enablement. I now empower sellers, working with them and guiding them on the believer's journey of our customer's which has become the cornerstone of what I do.
What kind of work does your role involve?
Besides being a full-time sales enablement leader at a fast-growing technology scale-up, I am also a podcast host of the #stayhuman podcast that focuses on demystifying sales! I had the great pleasure to have the likes of Dean Karrel, Mark Roberge, and Michael Bungay Stanier talk about the key elements of successful sales interactions on the podcast.
The role of sales enablement has changed tremendously over the last few years. While, in the past, "enablement" was seen as an ad-hoc profession, companies now strive to have a dedicated group of individuals looking after the content, processes, skills and training of all customer-facing roles.
What gets you excited about your industry?
Sales has changed so much over the course of the last decade. Sellers went from being "information givers" to "meaning makers". If we look at society today, buyers are equipped with all the information they need to make an educated and well-informed decision before any purchase. Let's face it: before we buy anything, we tend to look at reviews, product ratings, product features and any sort of customer complaints. We are no longer depending on the "sellers" to give us all the details and hope that they are being honest and trustworthy.
I am excited about the change that the sales profession has experienced and continues to undergo.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
"Be adaptable and coachable."
For sellers, the concept of adaptability and coachability is one that cannot be underestimated. It is a concept that has guided my career and given me the ability to look at the concept of "sales" through a different lens.
How do you support aspiring leaders in your field?
I'm very active on LinkedIn, and I am also coaching people who want to become sales enablement leaders like myself.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I read books on subjects like sales, negotiation, business acumen and coaching. I also take part in online courses, and when possible, go to conferences and networking events.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
The current global pandemic has forced all of us to reevaluate how we work and deliver training. For me, the greatest change has been to now train and coach people remotely. While in the past it was something that I have done in person, delivering training via "Zoom" is a completely different ballgame. The ability to foster discussion and engagement has forced me to rethink my delivery.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would continue focusing my efforts on sales training and coaching. However, perhaps I'd be doing that from a beach hut in the Maldives!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I am a full-time mom to two beautiful children that definitely keep me busy and entertained. When they are finally asleep, I enjoy a glass of wine and a movie.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
More opportunities for aspiring sales coaches and trainers, as well as the realisation from "sellers" that we should all be coachable to truly excel in our careers.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
The Challenger Sales by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
The Challenger Customer by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon
Sales Enablement by Byron Matthews and Tamar Schenk
Also,my podcast #stayhuman
How should people connect with you?
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