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Saleem Farooqi was a classic Sales Training Manager. He was MSc Microbiology and had joined Abbott as med rep in Karachi. He was quickly promoted as District Field Manager and sent to Multan. They spotted his great talent for training and brought him back to Karachi as STM.

Saleem Farooqi was rather quiet, timid-looking person. But he was a tiger in training. He was the sole trainer. He spoke all day and never tired. From second day onward, a routine was fixed. First thing in the morning, SF would listen to each trainee for memorization assignment given on the previous day. It was a feat of patience, listening to the same recording 18 times. And it took time. But the great SF listened and listened and interjected where required, and never showed any sign of boredom or weariness or impatience. He was otherwise gentle and maintained a good environment. As we became more familiar, we could even joke with him.

Late 1984; Abbott acquired an Australian program TOPS. TOPS was acronym for Techniques of Persuasive Selling. There were two modules; TOPS Selling and TOPS Management.

Saleem Farooqi went to Australia for getting training from the TOPS author/designer, Ian Smith.

TOPS was based on rather simple principles. It said that All Behaviors had some Motive. All Motives could be grouped into three main categories; Achievement, Power and Affiliation. It was universal that Achievement and Power motives went together. When you plot Achievement and Power Motives together on Y-axis and Affiliation on X-axis, you get four areas or quadrants, depicting varying degrees of concern for Achievement/Power (Results), and Concern for Affiliation (people).

TOPS emphasized on control of behavior in relation to the other person. It is logical; we cannot control the behavior of others but can control ours. TOPS provided guideline on how to understand others behavior and how to modulate our behavior in response. It was simple, yet powerful program, and it really worked.

TOPS transformed Saleem Farooqi completely. His persona changed. He became more expressive, more assertive, and more potent. He trained us on TOPS in 1984. He said to me, ‘Asrar! I have used TOPS on everyone; from hotel porter to the MD. It always works.’ Shortly, after he left the training job in Abbott and went into Marketing. Later, he immigrated to Canada. It is a long time since we last met but I have fond memories of him.

Back to training. We stayed in Army Barracks, went through army like training and saw STM more as a Drill Sergeant. To mitigate stress, we became friends with each other and tried to be as cheerful as we could be. We sang loudly and in chorus on the long drive to and from office.

Syed Rashid Mubashar was my training mate. He was Pharmacist from Multan. Rashid had great sense of humor and his humor often bordered on satire. We became buddies. We would memorize perfectly, reproduced promptly and then had some fun moments during the training. Every day we asked SF why on earth did we have to memorize every word. He always returned that it was the system, and everyone had to follow. He knew we were not serious because we never missed on any assignment. He did give us some margin. After third week, we invented the term that we were having ‘Abbottitis’, a newly defined medical condition. After fourth week, we said we were having ‘Acute Exacerbation of Chronic Abbottitis’. But it was all in lighter vein and SF got along with it.

Rashid and I were always interested in going to the city. He had to go to his relatives (young people interest), I wanted to go to Aziz Razvi’s house. On the weekends, we escaped from hotel against explicit rules, and disappeared for the whole day. It was great fun.

Rashid later joined Squibb, then shifted to Production, then went to Saudi Arabia and worked for a top company for several years. He returned to Pakistan and has been working as Plant Head in Karachi.

During the sixth week, there was the Mega Quiz. We had to write answers to a number of questions which basically meant writing everything we had memorized till then. You can gauge the size of the quiz from this. I have fairly good writing speed; I started writing at 9.00 am and finished at 5.00pm. There was a fifteen minutes break only for a quick lunch. When I stopped writing, my hands could not write anymore.

SF read every word on every quiz. I topped with 97.5% score.

What a quiz it was……

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