“SLIM NASCO will Revolutionize the Structure of Sales Management in Sri Lanka” – Neil Samarasinghe, Head of Judging Panel, NASCO 2016

August, 24, 2016

With the SLIM NASCO campaign currently on going, we thought it appropriate to meet with the esteemed head of this year’s Judging Panel, Mr. Neil Samarasinghe and gather some valuable insight on certain aspects of the National Sales Congress (NASCO), which is a prominent annual event in the calendar of the country’s Sales & Marketing industry.

As the Vice President of John Keells Holdings and Head of Sales & Marketing of Keells Food Products, Mr. Samarasinghe is a popular and well-respected member of the national Sales & Marketing fraternity, with a wide range of experience and a wealth of knowledge to share with the next generation of professionals. Mr. Samarasinghe was more than delighted to share his views on SLIM NASCO 2016.

As Head of the Panel of Judges, what qualities do you feel most valuable in a professional in the field of Sales?
My belief is that the most important of all the qualities of a sales professional is the ability to understand the consumer psyche. This will enable the professional to anticipate, plan accordingly and deliver to the end consumer a result that is even beyond his expectations, which will leave a memorable mark in the customer’s mind about the brand, company and the individual.

What kind of developments do you expect to see in the country’s sales and economic sphere due to the efforts of SLIM and NASCO?
Many people largely believe and depend on practical experience rather than on the academic aspect, especially in the area of sales management. Hence, through NASCO this trend shall be changed and a basic structure for a strategic approach for sales management island-wide will be formulated where the best of best in the industries will be selected and rewarded.

SLIM holds a strong position throughout the country by providing everybody who is interested with an equal chance, a level playing field, and has already developed some great talent nobody ever even thought existed in the island nation. Further, by conducting all its academic functions in English, SLIM has helped to increase the standards and final quality of the education; where the individuals will set higher standards even in small-scale businesses.

What key characteristics do you think a sales organization must reflect in order to receive due recognition?
Sales is the heart of any business organization.

Any organization should not fear the competition if it has a strong sales team. The companies should be of an innovative and challenging nature where creative selling approaches are being tested and used in order to reach and satisfy the consumers, by challenging the competitive nature of the market.

Becoming a winner at NASCO will be the best or the only recognition in Sri Lanka of this magnitude for an individual in the sales arena, where all the companies could be proud of their nominees as they are already being exposed to a challenge of the highest level through facing a panel of judges of ultimate competency.

What strategies will be most successful in the process of selecting the best of the best?
NASCO basically focuses on personal development and also evaluates the potential of the applicant’s capability to move up the ladder to the next level in their career.

The front liners will be evaluated through an oral interview of their performance throughout the financial year. Hence I believe the strength is in personal selling.

To support transparency and encourage a fair judging process, the evaluation will go through two panels of judges. Initially in the 1st round the selections will be done via a panel consisting of 3 to 5 judges and the selected applicants will be judged by a panel of 5 to 8 members of the Panel of Judges in the 2nd round.

A similar approach will be carried out for the categories of Territorial Managers & Sales Executives/Supervisors as well, before selecting the best of the best in the industries, which will be done in the presence of the entire panel of judges.

Do you have any further comments on the Panel of Judges?
The judging panel of NASCO consists of the best of the best sales personalities in Sri Lanka and many of them have started their careers as Sales Representatives. Hence, we all have a very clear understanding of the job role of a sale professional and their behavior and I am personally very proud to be the Head of a Panel of Judges of such caliber at NASCO.

The participants will have the opportunity to not only compete and win but also participate and learn from the best in the industry, which will groom them to be winners at all levels in their respective organizations.