We sat down with Susan Asega to understand how she realized a gap in her skills and intentionally took action to close the skill gap she had. Susan joined the Yusudi Sales Academy in April 2021. After 8 weeks of training and 6 months of internship, she has been retained as a full-time Business Development Executive at Cadiff Systems.
With a background in Education, Susan’s career has experienced a series of growth and pivot. She started out as a Geography Teacher to an Office Assistant to a Sales Associate to a Regional Coordinator and now she is a B2B Business Development Representative
Her story is proof that with focus and consistency you can change your career trajectory. Your educational qualification is part of the story but not the whole story.
Who was Susan before the Yusudi Sales Academy?
I started out my career in the education sector where I taught Geography and Religious Studies to high school students. Eventually, I left the education sector and joined the sales field.
In my role as a Regional Coordinator and Project Head, one of the directors pointed out that I needed to actively practice selling so that I could understand the sales process better and understand the challenges salespeople faced when in the field.
What is interesting is I was also questioning my ability to sell and engage with customers like my team members could. Yes, I could actually lead my team, manage projects and consistently meet sales targets but could I actually sell myself? This was the question that led me to the Yusudi Sales Academy.
What was your job search journey like?
As many people can relate to, you sometimes end up in a work environment that is toxic and you have to leave it for your own peace.
After I resigned, I started applying for jobs. With my experience in the education sector and sales, I split my job application between private teaching positions and sales positions. The whole job search journey was hectic and frustrating.
Using BrighterMonday, I think I must have applied for at least 20 roles in my job search. For the private teaching positions, the requirements were too complex for me to handle. For the sale jobs, I applied for I experienced three hurdles:
I didn’t get any feedback.
I was overqualified for the roles I got feedback on. Companies wanted to hire an individual contributor. Based on my experience they felt that I should be a manager instead.
My CV wasn’t tailored to the job I applied for. One recruiter actually called me to express discontent in how I presented my CV. She could tell I had the necessary work experience but I didn’t present my CV professionally.
How did you end up applying for the Yusudi Sales Academy?
When applying for jobs, I noticed that the job required 1-2 years of sales experience. It hit me that I have experience as a sales team manager but not as an individual contributor in sales.
I realized that I need to understand sales at a deeper level not just as a sales manager but also as an individual contributor. When I went through the Yusudi Sales Academy website, I realized that this is the place where I can get practical knowledge to help me build a career in sales.
A manager first before being an individual contributor. That’s unique career progress. How did it come to be as such?
I got my start in management when I accepted a position as a management trainee in a marketing agency. After completion, I was given project management duties where I was to manage and lead sales teams. I started off by managing a team of 15 people, which was later increased to leading a team of 60 people across Kenya where I demonstrated the capacity to manage and hit sales targets consistently.
What are some of the myths you had about the sales career and how have they shifted now?
During my time as a teacher, I would observe insurance agents who would come to our offices and try to sell to us insurance. Most of the agents were pushy and focused on always closing deals and only a few focused on providing knowledge. In my career, I have learned that you can’t pressure a client to buy your product/service. Your aim as a salesperson is to pass knowledge to the client who will either buy from you at a later time after consideration or will refer you to other people who they think will benefit from the product or service.
What top mistakes did you make in the Yusudi Sales Academy and how can others avoid them?
I was very new to the sales process when I joined the Yusudi Sales Academy. One thing I really struggled with was making follow up calls with clients. I used to drop texts and call casually in my follow ups. But I was encouraged to be professional in my follow ups and make sure I take notes for later use.
Looking back I think I was afraid of getting rejected for a second time especially if the first call did not go well.
What skills did you learn or improve on through your experience with Yusudi Sales Academy?
When you observe people, you will notice that the first thing they will ask about your product/service will be the price. Therefore, you have to be very good at negotiating for mutual benefit.
I have also learned how to intentionally build relationships by networking and genuinely being interested in people.
What achievement are you proud of throughout your experience with Yusudi Sales Academy?
During the sales insourcing project, I closed 5 deals that generated Kshs. 282,000 in revenue. Since this was my first rodeo in selling practically instead of just managing a sales team, I gained confidence in my ability to sell.
During my 6 month internship, I have been able to close 3 deals generating a value of about Ksh 500,000 in revenue.
I have conquered my fear and self-doubt and proved that I can sell as an individual contributor.
What advice would you give to graduates and young professionals in regard to sales?
As a salesperson, be consistent in your sales process. Sometimes you will get clients who reject your product or service which is inevitable and out of your control. What you can control is your ability to follow the sales process to ensure you get to close the sale.
Everyone wishes to excel in what they do. If you wish to build a personal brand as an excellent salesperson, you first need to believe in yourself and have an understanding of what you want. I knew that I wanted to learn how to sell professionally and the best way I could achieve my goal was by joining the Yusudi Sales Academy.
Afterwards, you need to have the three D’s; Diligence, Discipline and Determination. I recommend reading the book Top Performance: How to Develop Excellence in Yourself and Others by Zig Ziglar.
A word from Susan:
Reinvent your career with the Yusudi Sales Academy.
Learn directly from experienced sales trainers to fast-track your sales career with Yusudi. Our career coaching, inbuilt sales projects and paid placement program will open up new career paths for you in the sales industry, no matter your background.