As a part of our “My Life at SAP Academy” blog series, we interviewed Kasra Houshidar, Academy Account Executive – SAP Canada. He told us tells us how important and helpful SAP’s Mentor program has been to his and other Early Talent careers at SAP, and how SAP Academy can give recent graduates and young professionals the tools and traits to start their career at SAP!

/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/sap_kasra_659994.jpgWhat does the partnership with your Mentor mean to you and how has it improved your Academy experience?

Working with Kris gave me access to years of experience that I could tap into. His style and approach are very similar to mine, so there has been great synergy as a team.  This partnership has been the highlight of my Academy experience. Kris gave me the guidance on how to approach customers in the field and run successful meetings, took the time to explain and debate with me on why a certain course of action was best, and trusted me to independently run my own sales cycles in his accounts. More importantly, Kris treated me like a peer from day 1, never like an intern. This built a mutual respect that made this experience a positive one for both of us, leaving me with feeling confident and able to apply what I learned from Kris and the Academy in very real situations with customers.

Describe a situation when your Mentor allowed you to independently execute with a customer and what was the outcome?

Within the first week of the program Kris had given me a list of accounts – one was an existing ARIBA customer.  I was working with their Sr. Category Manager for procurement and the Supply Chain manager. They had a renewal coming up, but had expressed some challenges they were having in realizing the value of the solution as they didn’t have enough licenses for the whole team, they lacked training on the solution, etc.

I took these challenges back to my team, and working closely with internal resources, we were able to get the licenses they would be purchasing with this renewal given to them early so they could start realizing the value immediately.  We proposed this to the customer and they were ecstatic!  SAP was able to give the customer not just something they wanted, but something they truly needed.  We were able to expand their footprint, and bring in Q4 revenue.

What strategies do you use to develop your personal network and how does your mentor support the development of your personal network?

One of the key things that Kris had said to me early on in our mentorship was the fundamental concept that “people buy from people they like”. I watched how Kris implemented this in his personal brand, and how he used it to build his network.  He’s incredibly successful in the way he cultivates, but also maintains relationships with customers and prospects – every detail is important.  I’ve incorporated so many valuable strategies into my own style, and have seen incredible results.

Additionally, Kris has taken the time to introduce me to key contacts (both internally and externally) which has enabled me to develop my network.  But the focus is not just adding contacts in LinkedIn or on a virtual Rolodex.  It is definitely important to expand the size of my network, but at the end of the day it’s about relationships and keeping open lines of communication with customers and prospects.

How do you feel about your success and career at SAP?

I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime, and all the training and support that I could possibly have asked for!  I work with the greatest team with colleagues from SAP, Ariba, and Fieldglass; they have confidence in me, and I’m grateful to have been given the chance to prove myself and demonstrate real value to the business.  I can say with complete confidence that SAP Academy for Sales is the cornerstone for long and successful career in Sales at SAP.

If you’re a student or recent grad looking to start your career at SAP, find out more about SAP Academy here: http://spr.ly/6183oQS3

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