"You need never stop learning and improving. That’s the only way to grow."
Said to be the guy who sold Superman his cape, Sandiso Nongogo is the Head of Sales at Akili Content Worx, a local software-solution and content company based in Centurion. In his own words, Sandiso shares his lifelong obsession with the art of sales and how being on the Accenture ESD programme has helped him hone his natural instincts and professionalise his approach.
Growing up in a family ruled by a matriarch with extensive business interests from farming, liquor stores and taverns, to transport and packaging, the entrepreneurial spirit was in us all. From the age of six, I had my own juice and ice machines and was selling cool drinks on the corner in my home town in the Eastern Cape.
After completing a BCom in Business Management at Nelson Mandela University, full of big ideas and high hopes, I got together with four mates and we tried our hand at farming. My Grandmother had made it look so easy but I soon realised how much hard work it can be turning a profit from the land, and that loads of enthusiasm pales in comparison to years of experience. After a year or two, the four buddies decided to call it a day and go our separate ways.
After a 3-year stint in the big city, chasing aggressive sales targets for various financial services companies, I suspected I should be using my skills to grow my own business, or at least try to salvage the family business: the former logistics empire which, after the death of both my grandmother and mother, had taken a bit of a toll.
I went back home and threw myself into rebooting my mother’s packaging company, taking it from faltering to flourishing in a matter of months, and gaining valuable experience in the process. That’s when Chris Mabele, the MD of Akili Content Worx invited me to come back to Johannesburg and do the same for his business.
Established in 2004 Akili Content Worx develops web, intranet and BI dashboard content for enterprise and public sector. Stemming from the word “Intelligence” in Swahili, Akili applies software solutions and innovative thinking to develop and implement custom solutions for large entities such as the Development Bank of SA, where an Akili solution has had a huge impact in speeding up the processing of Government funding.
We were fortunate to be accepted into the Enterprise and Supplier Development programme, which has given us a useful platform for marketing and sales. Working with our mentor, Maanda Ramutumbu has helped us define the market and our place in it, while the web dev team helped us to package our offering online at akilicw.co.za.
In terms of growth, this next chapter is all about professionalising our operations. We may be small but that doesn’t mean we can get away without processes. We’re hiring at the moment, and taking on a new batch of interns, specially recruited from NMU, my old Alma Mater, and other lesser known universities, to give the youngsters from rural areas a fair chance.
The ESD programme has given us a useful platform for marketing and sales. Working with our mentor, Maanda Ramutumbu has helped us define the market and our place in it, while the web dev team helped us to package our offering online at akilicw.co.za
For me, success is something you need to keep chasing. There is no benchmark, or ceiling, or limit. That’s another thing I’ve taken away from this experience. You need never stop learning and improving. That’s the only way to grow.