Zeenath Kuraisha: Women in Sales Talk Productivity
In this series, we delve into the personal and professional dimension of female thought leaders from the world of high tech sales to explore their views on productivity and sales effectiveness.
Cien connected with Zeenath Kuraisha, CEO, Head of Sales Academy and Advisory at Asia Pacific Sales & Marketing Academy (APAC SMA) and Singapore Chapter President of AA-ISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals) for the 6th installment of Cien’s Women in Sales Talk Productivity Series. As a self-made professional and passionate trainer for individuals who couldn’t necessarily fund their personal development needs and find credible sales certifications, Zeenath created INSEAD inspired business development, sales, marketing and CRM academy and consulting firm.
Zeenath, where are you from, where are you currently living and what do you enjoying doing outside work?
I am Singaporean, lived in Singapore all my life with frequent travels globally. Outside of work, I enjoy catching up with family and friends, travelling, movies, music and learning about new life-changing technologies.
How long have you been in sales?
I started my career in sales in 1994, so 24 years and counting.
What is it that you like about sales?
This is the only profession that allows you to earn as much as you want.
Why did you choose this as a career?
A natural customer pro individual, I like people to benefit from what I think is best. From this perspective, sales have never been difficult as I only choose and advocate what I believed in. Since I have been involved in Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience – this is my forte and have become part of my DNA naturally.
What was your first sales job?
I was in front line sales serving B2C.
What factors contributed to your success?
It was the continuous learning, keeping myself updated with latest trends and growing myself in the same profession that help with my success in this industry. As well as, the ability to be real, see my customers as human beings first and see my role in service rather than seeing them as numbers.
In your opinion, has sales changed in the last 5 years? If so, how?
Except for tools and sales automation helping ramp sales efficiencies and productivity, I don’t see anything changed. I am surprised seeing so called “new inventions” or “eureka moment” shout outs claiming trust, empathy, relationship and every soft skill mentioned as the one thing someone need. Excellence in sales is a combination of various things with human interpersonal skills being most important. Having a very good understanding in the industry and competitive environment to convince digitally info rich buyers has become key for sellers.
What are the advantages or disadvantages of being a woman in sales, if any?
The advantage is we are more empathetic, naturally able to see and connect multiple things at the same time. Our feminine nature gives a natural soft touch to all heavy situations. For disadvantage, while I don’t see much, I must admit we may tend to face monthly health issues that may cause loss of energy.
How can sales teams increase their productivity and effectiveness?
While effective sales ops is the answer, sales team can leverage on new tech solutions to improve and support them on mundane tasks giving them the ability to increase engagements with customers. Having a disciplined work focus and taking a good break completely off work would rejuvenate and give new energy.
Where do sales leaders often fall short?
There could be various factors and depending on the type of organizational support systems they are surrounded with, there could be many reasons why a sales leader may fall short which may not entirely be his or her shortfall.
Some sales leaders are hard focused on numbers and immediate results full of boardroom egos without having a sense or pulse of the ground. Others are focused on clearing roadblocks quickly, having an agile process, adopting and implementing new tools and keeping an active and interesting work environment for sales teams.
What KPIs do you recommend sales leaders should track to ensure a highly productive sales team?
Sales is about revenue. However, having a balanced scorecard with qualitative KPIs to evaluate genuine work contributed might help a sales team feel appreciated beyond just numbers. KPI setting can be handled in fun manner too, for example – enabling gamification styled work based KPIs. Other metrics that can be considered are team based KPIs to promote team collaboration.
How do you see artificial intelligence impacting the way sales teams work?
It’s not ‘impacting’, its ‘enabling’. AI helps keep sales teams focus and engage customers intelligently and huge relief from mundane tasks.
What advice would you offer to other women to be successful in B2B sales?
Sales is not complicated. You should see customers as humans and empathize. Show your prospects the possibilities with what you have to offer. Don’t feel pressure, because everyone has a reason for not buying or if they are not ready to buy. Be authentic in building relationships, because customers know whether you are genuine or not. If not now, your customers will follow you if you have developed real relationships with them beyond short term transactional contracts.
What does your sales stack look like?
It’s a simple operation. I have a powerful sales AI ‘functionality packed’ Sales & Marketing integrated CRM tool in addition to other cloud tools I use to automate most of my business.
What publications, sites, podcasts or books about sales do you enjoy?
If you weren’t in B2B sales, what would you be doing professionally?
I’d be in customer service or training.
What should the sales community look out for from you in 2019?
You should expect refreshed sales training and sales content with an online version release. As well as, UK diplomas, degree accreditation and certifications pegged to the student’s learning efforts, updated team of global sales expert portfolio with more personalized coaching offering.
About Zeenath Kuraisha
Zeenath is the CEO and Head of Sales Academy and Advisory at Asia Pacific Sales & Marketing Academy (APAC SMA) as well as the Singapore Chapter President of AA-ISP. She was awarded the Top 50 Asian Women Leaders of The Year Award from CMO Asia in Singapore, ‘Most Admired Entrepreneur Award’ by Global Marketing Excellence and ‘Executive of the Year – Education’ Award by Singapore Management Excellence, Singapore Business Review with the recent ‘Asia’s Best Brand Award’ by CMO Asia. Zeenath has worked in the outsourcing industry since 1998, with jobs involving sales, business development and customer relations.