May 2019 marks exactly 10 years since I joined Cadbury Ghana, now Mondelez International, Ghana.
It’s been such an engaging journey having spent almost all my career here, with the exception of my budding days at Nestle.
Along this journey, there have been some keys lessons I have picked on my way and thought of sharing same with others as well.
These are important principles that have always guided me through my days as a Territory supervisor through Divisional manager to Field sales lead and now National sales manager and also acting as a leader for the Ghana market.
Chase career not money
Two years after I joined CGL, almost all the Team I had met at the time left the company to seek for greener pastures. Some of those pastures were twice greener than the known pastures at the time – and to say they were tempting would be an understatement.
I actually attended some of those interviews and got selected but turned them down because I was not convinced about how strong my career had been in 2 years and whether or not money should be the ultimate decider in choosing a career.
But over the years, I have realized that , It is always better to learn the rudiments of the job and develop a strong career path than to keep jumping after the pastures, as the pastures would always be greener somewhere.
Hard work always pays
One of my favorite quotes from Floyd Mayweather is this one, -‘To be the best you have to work overtime’.
In the last 10 years, I have learnt that hard work that even goes unnoticed comes to play when you least expect it. In Sales and marketing, it’s quite easy to loaf around under the pretext of chasing numbers or doing a market visit, but I have realized the amount of work/effort you put in your job always tells on your performance.
It is therefore vital to always put in the extra work that will change the narrative and throw you a challenge to do more.
Be patient, some things take time.
I have heard the word ‘aggression’ been used and misused many times in my career. In most cases, it is wrongly interpreted as being able to shout and yell at the least opportunity or perhaps been overly combative and saber-rattling.
A former boss jokingly described such behavior as , – calling a wolf, when indeed there’s no wolf.
But I’ve come to understand that being aggressive – which is a key requirement to a successful sales career – really denotes been assertive, forceful, competitive, dynamic and zealous.
Growth targets must be achieved but the targets are as important as the strong building blocks required to achieve those targets.
Also, ones overly-ambitious career nextsteps/plans, are usually the key ingredients that topples down an otherwise beautiful career path.
Aggression is good but also note that some beautiful things take time to mature and patience is key in this regard.
You are as good as your last performance.
A salesman is like a Team manager of a football club, everything rises and falls with him.
According to Graham Hawkins who has written extensively on sales, ‘Sales is the most important role in every business’. And 2 of the reasons he gives are as follows;
a) All business planning begins and ends with the sales forecast.
b) Cash flow is the 'life-blood' of every business
In fact according to Henry Ford, the Father of Ford Motors; “there are actually only two roles across every business, in every industry, globally. If you are not a sales person then you are sales support’
So it’s actually a good feeling to be working in the Sales or sales related department but the principle I have learnt in the last 10 + years is, – like the Team manager nobody remembers or actually cares about your last ‘season’ performance.
Every week, month, quarter or years target is independent of the previous, the reason why someone can move from EE to PME in the next ‘football season’.
This principle was quite hard to appreciate but it’s the stark reality.
Integrity at all cost
The opportunity to compromise on your integrity as a Sales person is real and enormous.
One must be very wary of the many enticing pitfalls along the way and stay above board.
In my career, I have seen and known people who made very infinitesimal comprised decisions which turned out really bad for them and their dependents.
It is better to say it as it is or do it as expected and face the consequences than to look good in the interim.
These are my 5 principles in the last 10 + years career but they are however not conclusive as there are many other important principles one may wish to add.
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