Note: The article below was written by Christina Low. It was originally published in The Star Metro on Tuesday, 30 June 2009. As I was not able to locate the online copy of the article (which Star usually have their articles online), I have retyped the article and repost in this blog (so that I can dispose the original article- I don’t want to keep newspaper clutter anymore).
Reason I want to post this article is because it carries a real life example of a man who was once very shy and unable to sell. He faced his fear of selling and today, he owns a liquid detergent company. He began from humble beginnings- selling from the night market, facing failure and overcoming it. He need not go for experience seminars or hire a sales coach to motivate him- he just plunged straight ahead and did it- solving problems as they come along. Sometimes, you just need to start- all the planning in the world has no use if you don’t start the practical.
The experience of having been retrenched twice while having to care for his family gave Simon Poi the determination to try a job he had once detested- sales.
Even though it was tough going at first, the Computer Science and Math graduate, eventually achieved success in his venture.
Poi had started working as a programmer in 1988 and then a Software Engineer in 1991 before moving on to work as a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) manager five years later.
However, in his last job, Poi was asked to work in the sales department of his company.
The 45-year-old then had no experience in doing sales and was not confident and hence resigned from his job.
“I had always wanted to try sales but it all sounded too difficult for me then,” said Poi who opted to learn about doing sales the hard way.
He bought washing detergents and pet food from a wholesaler and sold them at night markets near his home every week for two months while looking for new jobs.
“I had to convince the housewives there and being new at the place, it was not easy to sell anything,” said the soft spoken Poi.
The father of two said that he was a shy person and hesitant to talk to people he was not close to.
“I was always very nervous when I needed to make a sales call, sometimes I even hung up, not knowing what to say when my customers questioned me, “said Poi.
Earning just RM800 a month, he knew he had to work harder if he wanted to be a successful salesman one day.
Poi said to gain confidence, he practiced talking in front of mirrors as well as standing up to talk instead of sitting at his table.
“Every day before I leave home, I would look into the mirror and say loudly that I am the best, for self motivation,” he said.
After a few years, luck was on his side when he met a Korean friend whom he had liaised with during his earlier working days.
“He found out that I had left the job and was selling detergents. We met up and he passed me a sample of a Korean floor cleaner which he said I should try.
“Believe me, I was amazed with the outcome and thought the cleaner was excellent,” said Poi who then passed the sample to a chemist friend for testing before teaming up with him to produce similar product using the Korean-based technology.
The two started the Semarak Resources with four workers to sell the detergent to local grocery shops and supermarkets in Poi’s hometown, Seremban, as larger retailers were not interested in the product.
His first attempt was a failure as housewives returned the detergent saying their floors were rather sticky after using it.
“We took back all the stock and conducted tests”.
“We came up with a better product and introduced the ‘buy one free one’ concept for a month to regain confidence among users, “ said Poi, adding that the effort paid off.
Currently, the products named “Y-Slimz” (www.y-slimz.com) are available at major supermarkets and hypermarkets in the Klang Valley, Perak and Malacca.
His advice to those seeking jobs is not to be choosy and try new ideas.