How to Become a Sales Jedi

We interviewed Jason Chen a Sales professional with IBM Singapore to find out his Seller journey in IBM, tips to succeed as a seller and what to look out for in an aspiring seller

Read on…


What is your current role in IBM and how long have you been with the company?

I am currently into my 10th year as a Strategic Alliance Manager under the IBM Global Business Partners. In this role, I manage the business relationship between IBM and our strategic business partners.  We work collaboratively with business partners to leverage IBM’s solutions to solve the challenges faced by our clients.  To achieve this goal, much of my time is spent strategizing with the business partner, as well as enabling them on IBM’s offerings. This ensures that we provide the best services for a seamless solution deployment.

We heard you graduated with a degree in Biomechanical Engineering. How did your career in sales come about?

When I was still studying, I worked as a professional emcee and it was through this experience that I learned how much I enjoyed engaging with people. After I completed my studies, I applied for the IBM Team Blue program – the sales program for fresh graduates joining IBM back then. I went through three months of training in the IBM global sales school, and three months of job rotation before starting out as a sales professional in the Business Partners unit.

NCS and I

I am grateful that my application was successful and I was given the opportunity to be part of the learning experience. My sales training in the IBM global sales school gave me the much needed foundation to develop my competencies as a seller.

 In your 10 years with IBM, what would you consider as the highlight of your seller career?

The highlight of my career will always be my role as the ASEAN Pure System channels leader. I was given the opportunity to launch a new product to the ASEAN market. It gave me my greatest learning as we had to dive deep into the internal processes of IBM to allow us to build a robust go-to market strategy from ground up. We had the support of the distributor to build demonstration centers on their premises to help engage the volume and voracity of sales.

In this era of Cognitive Business and Internet of Things (IOT), how do you think sellers can leverage this and position themselves to succeed?

Cognitive business and IOT indicate the level of maturity of technology adoption in our society, and are key trends that require sellers to evolve their skills and competencies.

To succeed in this era, we will need to continuously develop ourselves into T-Shaped professionals – sellers who are equipped with broad-based competencies across many disciplines, coupled with a very deep mastery of one discipline.

This involves developing depth in a specific field, while engaging our clients across a broad spectrum of themes.

How do you strike the balance between work and your personal time?

I subscribe to the belief of work-life integration. When we serve our clients, we serve them wholeheartedly.

I am also passionate about advocating Infocomm Technology (IT) to the youth in Singapore. I am a volunteer at the Singapore Computer Society, IT youth council, where we serve as the voice for the youth. Through our activities, we strive to bring this community closer together. An example is the Youth Engagement Series (YES) event which we organize for IT leaders to share their career journeys with young professionals.  The university students who attended these events have shared how inspiring and motivating they were. I enjoy a deep sense of fulfillment from knowing that we’ve helped many youths discover IT as their career paths.

If you are growing your team and looking for young sellers to join you, what are core skills and capabilities that you would look out for?

I will appreciate the following in any individual, but especially someone in a seller role.

Attitude – Who you are as a person and your willingness to learn.

Aptitude – Your ability to learn.

Acumen – Your ‘gut feel’ and business intuition.

Dedication to every client’s success – To me, sellers are ‘servant leaders’. This is a style of leadership that guides us to empower people around us. Leaders become mentors and coaches who are trying to serve a greater purpose. This creates a genuine humility in the person and a desire to draw upon help from others.  By doing so, we create a collaborative culture from a complementary team of people, who possess knowledge and abilities that can compensate one another’s weaknesses.

And for the most important element that I will always respect – Tenacity – the spirit of never giving up!

Chen Jianwen Jason is a Strategic Alliances Manager at IBM Singapore

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