You are probably wondering how a business organization can help breed dishonest sales persons, right. Get glued with me and you will soon discover and hopefully recommit to being a standard bearer for doing things right in whatever organization you find yourself as a manager. I know a Nigerian conglomerate that lost a very productive Salesman they wanted so much to keep. Why? The said Salesman saw how another employee that had spent longer time with the company laid-off for no fault of his. The crux of the gist being that the laid-off staff was paid no entitlement except the usual one-month in lieu. The Salesman seeing this treatment decided he cannot stay and experience such.

Most businesses would want all of us to believe that they place very high premium on their employees. They reason that for employees to take care of their customers, they have to justly compensate the labour of these front-liners. But in stark contrast, they rarely live up to these. The HR or Finance persons in charge of payroll use this to score cheap point or worst still divert the right of this group. And if you doubt this, do a simple survey via online survey targeted at Salesmen.

The labour laws of Nigeria, just like most around the globe requires that business make provision for certain form of retirement benefits in form of gratuity, retirement savings plan, etc. The standard is that an outgoing salesman should receive a minimum of their last on-the-job level of earning multiplied by the number of years the exiting staff served the company. The retirement savings plan also entails that a firm contributes 50% of whatever the employee contributes. Supposing, Kunle had worked for 12 years at ABC company while Shehu was earning N200,000 per month at the point of exit. Shehu should receive at least N200,000 x 12 totalling N2.4m  – this is aside other additives. Also, it is expected that ABC company who have being deducting say 7% of N200,000 monthly as Kunle’s RSA contribution shoulds contribute exact equivalent. This will amount to N14000 from Kunle and N14000 from ABC Company, so Kunle RSA should have a minimum accruable net worth of N28,000 x 12 x 12 = N4,032,000. Many Nigerian professionals are ignorant of this simple computation and individuals within businesses or organizations themselves are taking full advantage. The few in the know are intimidated, out rightly refused their right or underpaid.

In view of the above, how exactly are business organization breeding and circulating dubious sales persons?

  1. Companies are not properly remunerating their sales force: A near perfect compensation plan should adequately weight-in straight salaries and performance -based commission. The generally obtainable practice in Nigeria is to make the condition for enjoying the commission almost unattainable due to unrealistic target. Agreed, most salesmen are not motivated to put in that extra effort. Our firms think of compensation in terms of financials (salary, paid vacation, paid insurance, commission, bonus etc) and non-financials (promotions, recognitions, self-respect etc). When a crop of persons are not properly remunerated, they may be tempted to resort to underhandedness.
  1. Companies are cheating salesmen on their entitlements as we have already illustrated above. Your truly had a chart recently with some group of salesmen drawn from middle level and multi-nationals and was shocked by the prevailing sense of apathy. Stories were told and confirmed of salesmen who have never received a dime into their RSA despite deductions from their salaries for seven year and more. A subsidiary of a major FMCG multinational recently laid-off some management staff. One Salesman had spend over 11 years and received a little over N200,000 as pay-off. I imagine this salesman would one day move into another firm and society would blame him for trying to ensure “he doesn’t fall a fool twice” by misappropriating fund belonging to his next employer or their customers.
  1. Some Salesman are into the “opportunity to Hammer” mindset: The fact that all salesmen are financially ambitious is good in that it adds to their productive drive – what is, however, bad is that some lacks the integrity and discipline to recognize the fact that loads of money passing through their hands from customer to their company does not mean such money is theirs to enrich themselves. You may have seen salesmen, behaving like “champions” with company’s money in their care. The fact that you may be paid nothing at your exit does not mean you will not recognize that the foundation upon which you will grow in your career is utmost integrity. A Regional Sales Head told me recently how integrity was the major reason he has risen through the ranks so fast. Of course, that’s coupled with productivity.
  1. The prevalence of socio-family cultures that does not project right moral examples is a strong contributor: A salesman who cheats his way through school with the aid of parents and teachers and most probably has seen a classmate who joined politics “Hammer” overnight will believe the ends always have to justify the means. I have seen salesmen who soil their hand in one firm, join another firm and repeat the same. I have seen sales manager who short-change their Sales Executive of their financial rights. And the Sales Executives in turn cheats the Sales Representatives that reports to him and the cycle goes on. A Territory Sales Manager that I am acquainted to recently received a punitive transfer after it emerged he has being denying his subordinates their performance bonus.
  1. There is an apathetic regulatory and punitive system. The recent corruption scandal at FIFA is a reminder that the monster is everywhere – Nigeria inclusive. The difference may just be that when persons or institutions that are supposed to aid in punishing and regulating dubious tendencies among both companies and salesmen are themselves aligning themselves in getting “what they can from the case”, then you most probably can imagine how messy things can turn. When salesmen feel there is no justice they are most likely to resort to “don’t fall mugu twice” paradigm.

There are many “ways” to punish a dubious salesman but how do you or who will punish an equally dubious business organization in a system where the correctional mechanism itself needs to be penalized? So, the circle go on as the salesman who gets cheated by company “A” goes to company “B” and “C” to exact his pound of flesh. The responsibility to make things right fall on each of us and we must each strive to patch up the leak from our end if the spread will be halted.


Kelechi Kalu



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