By Najib Mulema
Charles Opolot,41 is one of the most known salespersons in Kampala town. He has made a great impact in improving the profession that today he is invited to head fundraising drives for different organisations and events, without effort from his side.
Opolot is the Head of Sales and Marketing at Hai Agency. The business administration graduate has made it eight years in marketing as a private consultant
However his journey began way back in 2001 as a Sales Executive at Monitor Publications, one of the leading media houses in the country.
His first assignment was to sell classified adverts and with time he was elevated to Senior Sales Executive for two years.
Due to his commitment, Mr. Opolot was promoted as a Client Relationship Manager, a position he held for another two years. In 2005, he resigned from Monitor publications after coming up with an idea with a friend to form a company known as Hai Agency which kicked off its operations in 2006 and they pushed for two years.
With his help, Hai Agency managed to launch EU Uganda Cooperation Magazine-that documents European Union funded projects in Uganda.
It also managed to launch Reminiscence Magazine- that covers National Resistance Movement (NRM) documents and manifestos.
On top of that, Hai Agency has supported different events both for government and development partners.
In 2008, Mr. Opolot was recalled back to Monitor Publications for a senior managerial position. To him, he accepted the offer because he wanted to improve his managerial skills as well as get more connections since Monitor is a well established and reputable company in the country.
“When Monitor called me back, I thought I could take back the job. I really needed to improve my managerial skills,” Mr. Opolot recounts.
This time round Opolot bounced back as an Upcountry Sales Manager responsible for business outside Kampala.
During his reign, he managed to outperform his predecessors after almost tripling the company’s annual revenue outside the city by the end of 2008.
“By the time I joined Monitor under that section, the publication was making shs350 million per year but by the end of 2008, I almost made shs900 million.
In 2009, Opolot was recognized by the company’s board for his excellent work.
He managed to run the role until 2012 when he was brought back to Kampala as a Business Manager-overseeing corporate business in Kampala.
In 2013, Mr. Opolot left Monitor to join Independent Magazine as Head of Supplements and projects.
After serving the company for only six months, he however decided to resign after realizing that the company he co-founded was on the edge of collapse so he needed to offer a hand to his partner to reinstate the firm’s lost niche.
“After realizing that our agency was going down and then, I opted to resign from the Independent Magazine so that I could support my partner,” he recalls.
From 2014 up to date, Hai Agency with the support of Mr. Opolot has managed to work on a number of successful projects.
Together with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation and development partners, Hai launched the WASH journal which highlights the views of development partners in regards to the water, sanitation and hygiene sector.
They have also supported the Global Run Hand Washing Day that creates awareness of washing hands with soap with an aim of overcoming diseases caused by germs.
Opolot is also the brain behind the annual WASH Media Awards that recognizes journalists who excellently cover Water, Sanitation and Hygiene related issues.
On the other hand, he is also fully involved in the tourism sector.
“I developed the idea to market Uganda through my Magazine known as Travel Uganda and it supports government projects in Tourism.”
Mr. Opolot is inspired by the fact that in their profession there’s what they call an ‘open cheque’ which means a salesperson can earn more than any other person including his bosses, if they work hard, with connections and smartness.
“A salespersons can determine what they want to earn in two months since they benefit directly from their budgets.”
He says Hai agency as a company has got organizations inviting them to manage their projects and they have successfully worked with several government ministries like Ministry of Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Tourism as well as several development partners.
Opolot further reveals that all their products they launched four years ago are growing despite some challenges.
According to Opolot, people don’t believe that the private sector can deliver and this has led to mistrust.
He says, they also lack adequate capital to execute their goals.
“While we have all the good ideas, we lack adequate capital to smoothly run our projects,” he weighs in.
He reveals that he wants to own a radio station in the near future which shall be supporting the community especially people living in refugee camps.
Advice to fellow salespersons;
“Sales is not about lying, it’s about working hard on a daily basis and if you want to prosper, you need to be innovative; that will keep you on top of the game.”