Luck is Where Opportunity Meets Preparation
As a Sales Manager with Air Canada, I’m certain that I have the best job ever! Working with our customers while traveling the world, it really doesn’t get any better!
Growing up in the city of Philadelphia, I often saw Black bus and Black cab drivers, but never a Black pilot. Looking back, I recall flying for the first time as a child and deciding I wanted to be a pilot – I went so far as to build my own little cockpit and perform the pilot's checklist for takeoff.
Despite daring to dream, fate would not have me accomplish the goal of becoming a pilot, nevertheless, I somehow found myself working in the airline industry as a Sales Manager and I love it.
Often, I’m asked what it is that I do, and how did I come upon the position?
My response, “I’m a Sales Manager for Air Canada” at which point most picture me at the airport ticket counter assisting customers, when in fact my duties rarely take me to the airport, unless of course I’m traveling. As the face of the company within my assigned territory, one of many responsibilities includes being called upon to represent Air Canada at industry trade shows, Association meetings and some social events.
However, most of my time is spent managing a portfolio of accounts, where my primary focus is revenue generation (It’s what keeps the lights on”). Tasked with identifying new and original ways to grow revenue within the assigned portfolio, my target audience are the corporations who purchase air travel on behalf of their employees and the travel management companies that assist them in buying said travel. I also seek the attention of the travel and tour agencies who focus more of their efforts on the leisure travel market. This market would prove to be of vital importance to us during the COVID pandemic.
Regarding what fuels my passion, the quote, “luck is where opportunity meets preparation” resonates with me because that’s how I found my way into this industry; not once but twice. While employed as a sales manager for an occupational healthcare organization, the opportunity arose in the form of my contact at US Airways suggesting that I apply to a sales position, while also recommending me to the hiring manager – that was the “opportunity”. “Preparation” came in the form of being confident and ready, despite having no prior airline experience, to undergo an extensive interview process. I excelled throughout the interview, was prepared, did well, and ultimately, got the job. Luck, perhaps; equally likely, divine intervention.
Regarding the job itself, good salesmanship starts with good customer service; but for optimal success, one must also possess strong critical thinking and analytical skills. In my specific case an educational background in business (BS and MBA) as well as sales experience in other industries (to include aviation) has provided me with useful foundational knowledge and continues to enhance my value as a salesperson throughout my career.
But the greatest attribute required of a salesperson is the ability to build and maintain meaningful business relationships – those grounded in mutual respect and trust, leading to increased customer exposure which ultimately result in increased sales.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
Samuel R Cosby