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Book review: Sales 101, what everyone should know about sales

That was the day Petra Aba Asamoah’s name entered my register for the first time. It was at Christ Temple of the International Central Gospel Church. She was a resource person in a career program hosted by Lady Joy Otabil.

Then, she was head of Sales and Operations at Delta Air Lines GSA. As she walked Mrs. Otabil and the audience through her career journey, all I said to myself was, “This is someone I would like to know.”

Well, being the introverted person that I am, our paths never crossed in that big church. About a year later, we got connected on Facebook, then our paths finally crossed at Christ Temple later.

By this time, she had become General Manager of Delta Air Lines GSA in Ghana with additional responsibility for the routes in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. Wow!

Hers has been an illustrious career in sales. Petra had moved from a front desk role as a national service person and risen through the ranks to become General Manager in less than a decade.

When she moved on to join Media General, she rose even faster from Head of Station to become General Manager, Commercial where she is in charge of the media conglomerate’s commercial strategy.

When I got to know that her first book was about sales, it did not surprise me at all. This is someone who drinks, eats and breathes sales.

Relevance of book
If I had written this book, I would have thought about Zig Ziglar and considered “Everyone is in sales” as the title. I like what J. C. Penney said better: “Salesmanship is limitless. Our very living is selling.

We are all salespeople.” Yes! “We are all salespeople.” That would have been my title; to emphasize the relevance of the subject matter of the book.

Albert Ocran starts his foreword by reinforcing that, “If there is one skill literally everyone needs in their career, it has to be the ability to sell. Whether we know it or not, we are always selling one thing or another.” He continues, “The pastor, the lawyer, the politician, the artist… are de facto salespeople.”

And I guess that is the very reason why the author titled the book “Sales 101: What everyone should know about sales” – to stress how rudimentary it is for each one of us. In the digital age, the need for us to muster the craft has become even more compelling.

Right at the beginning of the first chapter, she makes an admission and a confession; that she did not choose to be in sales, she found it hard and even hated it sometimes. That is something I could identify with immediately.

That opening line urged me to go on and not to put the book down until I was way deep into it. It was as if she was saying, “If I could do it, you can too.” What a relief! She continues with her story and how much progress she has made.

The openness with which she discusses her struggles and victories makes the book friendly to the novice, nervous and the nerd.

In Chapter Two, she clarifies the difference between sales and marketing and describes them as two sides of the same coin. She sums up aptly, “Sales without marketing is dangerous… marketers who are not sales oriented tend to be laid back, desk-work focused and need to be pushed to think about the commercial value of their activities.”

In Chapter Three, she hails the Queen – the customer. She walks us through four types of customer transactions and moves on to emphasize the absolute importance of the customer and why we must never under any circumstance take her for granted. No wonder she refers to the customer as a Queen!

Throughout the book, she cautions against the penchant to think that selling is a matter of course, instead viewing it as a matter of process; a process that requires diligence.

This is reflected in chapter headings such as “A marathon not a sprint,” “Butterflies & jitters,” as well as “Handling objections.” She actually has a chapter named, “Service recovery – what to do when something goes wrong.” Ouch! That means something will actually go wrong. No worries.

That is why there is Chapter Twelve, “The sell-attitudes: Qualities of winning sales people.” She makes a case for charisma, confidence, drive, discipline, critical thinking, leadership and adaptability as the attitudes that will help readers to overcome all their inhibitions and obstacles.

Petra is a balanced and pragmatic author. While she makes it clear that selling “is not a walk in the park,” she also has a soothing way of making you believe that anybody, including you and me can be great salespeople.

Although she is an adjunct lecturer at a prestigious university, she manages to keep the book far from being professorial and places it within everybody’s hands. Nonetheless, she is able to maintain an academic quality by sparingly citing respected authorities in the marketing and selling world. When you are reading a book about sales and you see citations of Parasuraman, Ogilvy and a couple of others, you know that you have arrived.

The only critique I have about the book is supplied by the three incidents of the printer’s devil that I noticed. However, I do not find them substantial enough to mar or dilute the substance of the book.

Conclusion and Recommendation
Petra Aba Asamoah has succeeded to compress in thirteen chapters and 112 pages what she learnt in over ten years. This is a book that can be devoured in one sitting. It is my pleasure to unreservedly recommend this book to you. Remember, you are a salesperson. We are all sales people.

Sales 101 can be ordered by calling+233274344000 or sending an email directly to the author [email protected]

By Terry Mante

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