ENTREPRENEURS MUST LEARN THE ART OF SALES —AWONOIKI

The Founder/ CEO, Sesan Awonoiki Sales Academy, Mr. Sesan Awonoiki, speaks about the use of sale to drive business growth.

What is the relationship between sales and leadership?

To be a very successful entrepreneur, you must learn the art of sales. Sales itself drives all aspects of business. It drives the economy. So if you are an entrepreneur and you intend to be successful, then you must really know how to sell. If you say you are an entrepreneur and you can’t sell, you are at the mercy of someone who can sell, then they will hold you to ransom when they leave. You as an individual must know how to sell by hook or by crook.

How can the young people utilise their digital skills to drive sales?
We are already in the digital information age and young people globally are very digitally inclined and computer savvy. If you want to get them to learn, you must feed the information to them via digital platforms to be able to grasp sales skills and learn faster. They are no longer stuck in the classroom and they can learn while they do other things because multitasking is the way forward.
If you can’t operate a tablet or use the Internet or smartphones, then you are doing yourself a disservice because you won’t be able to reach them. People learn on the go now. Building your capacity on the go, that is what it is all about.

Is the traditional way of marketing still relevant?
As of now, it has a tiny space but it is being eroded very fast and therefore the warning bells are out there that one-to-one conversation in order to sell will soon end. I think its days are numbered. It is similar to watching a video using DVD when everyone is watching movies online. Trying to learn and teach people to sell in a particular location to a certain extent will be expunged in the next 10 years. Things are changing so fast and it is even scary. Where we are now was predicted 15 years ago by Jack Weilsh. Life has changed, business has changed and learning has changed.

What are the traits of a good sales person?
I have been selling for the past 26 years of my life. One of the most important traits is that you must have tenacity. You must be able to absorb all sorts of obstacles, objections and problems, so tenacity is a key driver. Another good thing is that you must be very courageous because sometimes if your courage fails you, you won’t go to new areas where other people have not gone to sell. You must be very humble because you will be speaking with people who sometimes will be younger than you. Or people who are better than you in all aspects. You need humility to connect to people; if you can’t connect you can’t sell. Humility, tenacity, courage are important and most of all, you must be honest. When you have got all these in place, you will sell snow to an Eskimo, sand to an Arab, oil to a Niger Delta man and hell fire to the devil.

Considering the present state of the economy, how can companies overcome the selling challenge they are currently facing?
To drive sales, you have to be an innovative and creative person, who will find new ways to sell the products. As a sales person, you have to be inventive, creative and find new ways of selling. If you find a way to sell today and you sell successfully for another 20 years, that way will change and it is ongoing as you know change is constant. It doesn’t matter whether you sell today; the strategies you use will change tomorrow. How do you find your way around it? Think of what your customers need now and think ahead into the future and take action; that is what they call research and development.

Do you agree that the ability to sell is the major problem entrepreneurs face? Really if you can’t sell as an entrepreneur, you may have to close shop. A lot of people confuse marketing with sales. They think products sell themselves but it doesn’t happen that way. A medical doctor has to sell surgery; and a hairdresser has to sell a salon. The quicker you know how to sell, the better.

What do you teach at SASA?
We offer free seminars as part of our corporate social responsibility to interested people on basic entrepreneurship skills. Many people jump into business without knowing anything. We train people on basic sales skills. Leadership skills are very important because it is important for successful sales. Entrepreneurs must set goals. Entrepreneurs should be trained on how to set short-term goals, medium-term goals and long-term goals. I have engaged an accountant. Entrepreneurs who don’t know how to handle figures can’t win.

What other brands operate under SASA?
We are creating sales superstars. SASA itself has other brands under its umbrella, one of them being SASA entrepreneurs and Leaders which is meant to build and create entrepreneurs who will drive the economy and Africa in the future.
The third aspect of the SASA brand is the SASA lifestyle and brands. This is a platform which will make people enjoy goods and services from members around the world. People who belong to the SASA family will enjoy good discount from vendors who we engage on our platform. The idea ultimately is to become a very powerful group, giving our members goods and services, training and building human capacity making them become well rounded not just in education but in other areas.

Tell us more about the lifestyle and partner brand
If you really want to make a way around a person, then you must have other opportunities to also enjoy other aspects of life. SASA Lifestyle is a platform we will be implementing in the future. It will enable our members to purchase and engage services on very good discounted rates; that is our goal. We are already partnering powerful brands and we want to bring the benefit of those partnerships to our vendors. We have a lighter aspect in which members will be able to travel abroad. Shopping opportunities also abound; we want to engage vendors and give them value.

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