Haris Ahmed Chicago: Why Everyone Should Learn Sales Talk
Haris Ahmed, a Chicago PR consultant, heads Pragmatium Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting company that does project management and public relations in the Midwest. The services offered by Pragmatium and Haris Ahmed in Chicago are much sought-after by many of the region’s largest companies, including some that are listed in the Fortune 500 list.
While sales is often seen as the domain of marketing and advertising departments, Haris Ahmed says Chicago entrepreneurs and CEOs should make selling products and services their top priority. For him, sales do not only take place at the check-out counter or when a check is issued; it is the culmination of a process that involves convincing multiple layers of people; from the ones who decide to fund production of a new product to the ones who decide to stock a new product in their shelves, as well as those who will buy and use the new product.
Thus, Haris Ahmed believes Chicago businesses should do a better job adopting this mindset. Would-be investors and potential customers are more discerning now; they ask more and wiser questions, and are not easily convinced about the quality of a new product or service. Whether a CEO appears in front of a TV camera or a sales team leader explaining strategy to their team, they are already doing sales – and unfortunately, not everyone is aware of their own importance in buoying up the sales figures.
Let’s say a startup owner goes on YouTube and explains the various features of a new gadget. A poor public speaker will just drone on and on about the product without engaging his/her audience, thus wasting his/her time, as well as the audience’s. Even in media that don’t allow for direct interaction between the speaker and the audience, there are feedback mechanisms that are also influential in themselves.
Twitter and Facebook, for instance, are known for influencing consumers’ buying habits. If a CEO of a startup goes on Facebook Live and doesn’t articulate his thoughts clearly, he runs the risk of alienating his audience and wasting the exposure. This, in turn, means the loss of potential sales. It is no secret, says Haris Ahmed, that Chicago startup Groupon built its fortune on TV appearances and thought leadership under its founder Andrew Mason, who sold the idea of deals to local businesses to increase sales. While Mason was replaced as CEO in 2013, Groupon’s business model still heavily revolves around driving up local businesses’ sales, and the company has Mason’s public speaking skills and natural charisma to thank for its success.
Haris Ahmed reminds Chicago entrepreneurs about the art of the “elevator pitch” – that is, a company or product introduction that is short enough to be delivered while inside an elevator, while being interesting enough to merit another conversation. This skill is not learned, but developed; much like sales is not a sprint, but a distance race. Haris Ahmed suggests practicing one’s pitch not in front of a mirror, but with new people; this will give the CEO or business owner a chance to gauge one’s reaction and to fine-tune the pitch to suit the potential audience, whether it is one angel investor inside a boardroom or a crowd of thousands in a TED talk on Facebook Live.