Leadership Q&A – Ghay Haidar

Ghay Haidar is the Sales Director of FarmaForce, a contract sales organisation that specialises in healthcare sales. He is a highly regarded sales leader with an enviable record of success since 2001. He has well-defined business acumen, a strong focus on field force expertise & knowledge and a passion for coaching versus management.

Eight times, across different organisations in Primary & Secondary Care, Ghay has led teams who have won the coveted PRIME Awards’ “Sales Team of the Year”. He values coaching ahead of management, emphasises the importance of psychological safety in the workplace, and has a passion for sales mastery through expertise & knowledge in his teams’ DNA. Ghay holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Biochemistry.

1. What was your first sales role and in which industry?

In the pursuit of my career in pharmaceutical sales, I was told by recruiters that “you need a sales role” on your CV, so I went out and got one. I landed a commission-only role as a domestic and commercial security advisor. I had to pound the pavement to source my leads, win referrals and build networks. It was a brutal equation: no sales, no income – however, I learnt much.

2. What was the first lesson you learnt on the job? 

The importance of rapid rapport-building and creating a connection at the beginning of the sales call with your stakeholders. I found these were crucial when it came to the call close.

3. How or why did you become a sales professional? 

I completed a BSc Hons part-time whilst running my café. During those years, I did catering for pharmaceutical sales representatives, got interested in the industry and felt pharmaceutical sales was a good marriage between my commercial acumen and academic background. The rest is history as they say!

4. How would you describe your approach to sales and what are the values that you live by? 

I’ve always treated the sales call like a mental game of chess; sometimes it’s played out at speed and others over multiple sessions. Either way, you need the same fundamentals in place:

  • Have a strategy.
  • Put it into a plan.
  • Execute 2-3 moves ahead of the play. And 
  • Always be prepared to modify your plan, depending on how things play out.

Anyone that works with me knows that values are a core part of my cultural fabric: authenticity, a direct honesty, being present and respect for the individual are always at play for me.


5. In your view, what are the three most important factors that determine sales success? 

Top of my list will always be expertise & knowledge (know your product, know your competitors, and know your chosen sales area), a genuine curiosity and an authenticity that makes you relatable to your customer base.

6. What did/do you love about sales? 

I love the challenge that (ethical) ‘sales’ provides and for its ability to develop a livelihood for households.

7. What did/do you dislike about sales?

I have a genuine belief that an excellent salesperson can be a real asset to their customers. I never respond well to anyone who feels their positional power allows them to be dismissive or chooses to look down upon a salesperson because of their title.

8. Tell us about your most memorable sale and why. 

My very first sales call with my manager, Nic Persano, in attendance. It wasn’t because “I won a sale” per se, it was because my manager instilled belief in my ability. That interaction remains vivid twenty years on and influences my thinking on coaching.

9. What is the best piece of advice a sales manager passed on to you when you were in sales? 

“The one constant is change…and always use a pencil!” (Nic Persano…again!)

10. What do you wish you had known when you first started out in sales that you know now? 

Emphasise managing relationships – both internal & external.

11. What traits do you believe are critical for success in sales management and sales leadership? 

I’m incredibly passionate about both sales management and sales leadership; for the former, focus on being a great people coach first and management less and ABC: Always Be Connected (to your customers, to the market, to your managers and your field force).

Ghay Haidar Family

12. What is the secret for sales leaders to get the best out of their teams? 

I subscribe to the ‘law of 3s’ in so much I do, but on this one, I’m going with “3 + 2”!:

  • Have a clearly defined (sales) culture that cultivates the desired beliefs, behaviours and values; 
  • Be relentless in nurturing a psychologically safe work-environment that encourages people to get out of their comfort zone;  
  • Invest in diversity within your people fabric;
  • Focus on strengths and a growth mindset; and
  • Make trust a core part of your organisational DNA.

13. How has your industry evolved in the last 10 years or so and what changes do you see coming in the next 10 years? 

Specifically sales-related (as opposed to a broader & wholistic industry view), over the last ten years, pharmaceutical sales have seen a pronounced growth in multi-channel (digital) engagement and less emphasis on an absolute “share of voice” model where once upon a time big, loud salesforce numbers dominated. 

The next decade, I believe, will see a convergence of big-data analytics, AI and machine-learning that intersects (rather than compete) with the human-factor. The results: an even more empowered and superior version of today’s sales professional.

14. How do you balance life and work? 

For me, it’s three aspects:

  • Always know you need a fulcrum along the work-life balance continuum.
  • Know where your fulcrum is at all times. And,
  • Have the wherewithal to slide that fulcrum up or down your continuum depending on both work and personal circumstances.

Rarely ever is it a ‘50:50’ balance for me.

15. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

Four key areas: the pursuit of quality coffee, I’m a weekend warrior in the kitchen, my love for the Richmond Football Club (AFL) and above all, just being Dad, Husband, Son, Sibling, Uncle & Friend to the people who are dearest to me!

About FarmaForce

FarmaForce is a contract sales organisation that plays in the Australian Healthcare Market. We build scalable and customised solutions that are on-demand for small to multinational organisations. We focus on rigorous training and dedicated performance coaching to create a force of sales representatives who are ‘best in class’. That’s why we’ve been recognised multiple times as PRIME Awards’ ‘Sales Team of the Year’ and were named ‘Best Health & Pharma Sales Organisation 2019’ by the Global Healthcare & Pharmaceutical Awards.

For more information visit https://farmaforce.com.au