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Acing A Career in Sales : In conversation with Regional Head Sales(North)-Mondelez International

In the light of the poll that we had on the group regarding professions you would like to know more about I was wracking my brain to find the right person on board. One who talks not from the books but from the invaluable experience of working in the corporate sector.

Humayun Shan, Regional Head Sales (North) at Mondelez, Pakistan has been in this field for over ten years now and today he shares with us some tips that will help kindle that salesman spirit in all of you here.  

What are the key 3 things that you look out for in a candidate when hiring new entrants?

There are two sets of candidates that come to us, one group is the experienced lot who have worked in the industry for quite some time and know it inside out so for them the metrics to gauge are totally different, what's more pertinent to this group are the fresh candidates. These are the ones aspiring to enter in their first profession. I look out for 
1) Persistence 
2) Positive (Attitude/Coachable)
I would add a 4th one here which in recent times has taken as much importance as the 3 above. 
4) Resourceful (someone who can shift gears if a sale isn't going the way they envisioned. They look for a different approach using creativity and imagination

On many instances, fresh graduates feel that companies negate the idea that they have to start from somewhere and ask for an experience of 2-3 years even for an entry level job. What is your take on it?

Work experience is important in cases where stakes are really high. I look after 35% of Pakistan and Islamabad/Rawalpindi are important parts of my performance. I would hesitate in taking someone on board who has zero work experience as a manager in Islamabad. Whereas I might be very happy taking can them on board as a manager in Jehlum or Abbottabad.

This also depends on an organization and the position. In Mondelez an Area Manager is as significant as Regional Managers of many other companies. So we might not take him/her on as ASM Islamabad but we can look at him/her as Territory Manager Islamabad where he/she will have colleagues and responsibilities will be shared. I also want to add that fresh graduates keep a track of management trainee programs and never hesitate from relocation.

In your view point should everyone at some point in their careers take up sales? Theory says this power to convince people to buy your product/service really plays a pivotal role in one's career success in later years.

A sales based job is always a challenge, making someone to buy products that they might not even sometimes want or consciously think about is even a much challenging feat. However, the growth that one experiences in this job role surpasses all others as the results are so quantifiable. It’s more like you achieve your targets and you can vouch for better future prospects.

 From a financial standpoint a job in an MNC like Mondelez, Nestle, Pepsi Co or RB is very lucrative. They normally pay above market range and the perks are good as well. FMCG sector is a fast paced sector. People mostly get addicted to it. Normally all MNC's share career path ways with individuals. Some call it check in's other call it development plan. I strongly believe that in order to prove yourself in category planning & activation, trade marketing or brand management roles you need to have a little or some experience of sales. You just can't sit in office or do a market visit or two and plan or finalize a trade plan. Most of the companies have now adopted the same approach. They either move people in to sales for a stint or hire people from sales in to positions of trade marketing or brands

Any tips that you might have to offer for our younger lot?

I would say bring enthusiasm to the office when you are aspiring to take a sales position. The start will always be tough, maybe at times tougher than other fields as you have got targets to meet, often seems like a rat race but the consistent players always make it big. Hone your muscles now for its a rocky road ahead with a lot of leg work but that feeling of satisfaction,personal growth and not to forget the perks will make it all worth it!

Humayun Shan

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