Q&A with P&G Sales Director Asher Lu on Sales Strategies

Asher Lu, Sales Director of Procter and Gamble Philippines, has been honored as part of the inaugural batch of winners of the Mansmith Sales Masters Awards, the industry’s first sales awards. In this interview, Asher shares insights into how he became a growth champion, turnaround specialist, people leader, future shaper, and new venture builder.

Q1: Can you tell us about your experience leading the Market Strategy & Planning (MS&P)/ Trade Marketing Director roles for various categories? How did you achieve record-breaking sales growth in these categories?

A1: Leading a large and complex scope has been a crucible, forging both triumphs and challenges. On one hand, I spearheaded record-breaking sales growth, expanding our distribution footprint and achieving massive in-store presence. On the other hand, I tackled declining sales fundamentals, turning the tide through strategic interventions. This duality proved invaluable. By navigating both growth and turnaround situations, I honed a comprehensive skillset, making me a well-rounded leader. Today, I’m equipped to tackle any challenge and drive success in future endeavors. However, none of this would be possible without my exceptional team. Transitioning to Director meant shifting my focus from individual brilliance to empowering others to achieve theirs. I did a lot of training sessions, fostered development opportunities, and instilled a culture of empowerment. As a result, we shattered sales records together. This experience solidified my belief in the power of teamwork. As a leader, it’s not just about what you can do, it’s about unlocking the potential of your entire team.

Q2: Could you share your journey of transforming a challenged brand into a success story? What were the key strategies you implemented during this turnaround?

A2: Safeguard, a trusted family germ-protection brand for generations, even becoming synonymous with soap, faced a challenge in the “new normal” post-pandemic. Consumer preferences for soap had shifted. At P&G, we prioritize the “5VOS” – Five Vectors of Superiority (Product, Packaging, Communication, Value, and Retail Execution). We identified “Product” as the key area for innovation. Our goal: superior antibacterial protection without compromising on skin softness, based on consumer insights. The reformulated Safeguard delivered on this promise. But a great product needed strong distribution and visibility. We implemented a strategic Retail Execution plan to ensure prominent presence in stores. This focus on all 5VOS led to a hugely successful launch quarter, exceeding expectations and reigniting months of consecutive growth for Safeguard.

Q3: You have received consistent recognition and rewards for yourself and your team members, both locally and regionally. Can you share about the culture of excellence you fostered within your team?

A3: I believe in fostering a team environment built on three core principles: Capability, Capacity, and Care. 

Capability: My door is always open for questions, brainstorming, or even clarification – and I tell my team to come to me even when their ideas are not yet perfected. I prioritize knowledge transfer. By equipping my team with the skills and knowledge they need, they can build their expertise and achieve results faster. This frees up time and allows them to focus on the next level. 

Capacity: Through regular check-ins, I help each team member prioritize their workload. We work together to identify the most impactful tasks and filter out anything that doesn’t directly contribute to our goals. This allows them to focus on what truly matters and deliver meaningful results. 

Care: I emphasize the importance of self-care, both physically and mentally. A burnt-out team cannot perform at their best. Beyond individual well-being, I lead by example, fostering a culture of care that extends to both internal colleagues and external partners. This means adopting a win-win mentality, prioritizing collaboration over personal agendas, and working towards mutual success. I have seen this approach to be the most effective for achieving our goals.

Q4: You have codified successful sales frameworks and processes. How are these frameworks being utilized as the gold standard for future go-to-market plans by the MS&P team?

A4: Our MS&P role thrives on a balance of “art and science”. The science part of it is that we leverage structured “drumbeat” meetings for refining and approving Go-To-Market plans with the leadership team. We also consistently have the same key customer/ retailer segments, and we already have an understanding of their consumer focus. By having these structures in place, our codified frameworks guide our planning for the constant stream of innovations that we have. P&G’s “build-from-within” culture, not hesitating with moving talents regularly to push for their development, fosters a revolving door of MS&P managers. These frameworks ensure a smooth onboarding process, empowering new managers in their MS&P roles to hit the ground running by leveraging past successes rather than reinventing the wheel, ultimately accelerating collective growth.

Q5: What advice would you give to aspiring leaders based on your experiences in driving growth, turning around underperforming businesses, fostering a culture of excellence, and shaping the future of organizations?

A5:  I would say “you are not alone”.  My success wouldn’t be possible without the incredible support system around me starting with my past and present managers that have believed in me and invested in me, having the patience to coach me in my weaknesses but also celebrate me in my strengths. So don’t be afraid to get a mentor, leverage your managers to gain the knowledge and skills that you need, and ask for help when you need it. I also owe it to my friends who offered a listening ear during tough times and helped me process the right action plans to address the challenges ahead. I owe it to my family and my wife, who continue to give me the motivation, the “why”, to do my best for them, and most of all, God, who shapes my work ethic and the values I bring to my team, partners, and the businesses I’m passionate about growing. It’s a constant reminder that success is a journey, not a destination, and we’re all better together.

Q6: You played a role in developing and launching new personal businesses like Corkcicle, Monbento, and Shiok Shack brands in the Philippines. What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them to ensure the success of these new ventures?

A6: The pandemic forced a rapid shift, mirroring the struggles of many brick-and-mortar stores. With mall closures eliminating foot traffic, we pivoted decisively to e-commerce. Like many others, we had a crash course – having the right product shots, adapting to platform key consumption periods, and leveraging peak shopper traffic events. Thankfully, our supportive partners at headquarters provided invaluable e-commerce insights, propelling us to be ahead in the local market. This experience underscored the crucial lesson: complacency is a recipe for stagnation. New competitors, unforeseen challenges, and evolving consumer habits are constants. Staying relevant requires constant vigilance, maintaining a close pulse on our customers, and embracing innovation to anticipate future trends. Only through this relentless pursuit can we maintain market leadership, relevance, and success.


Josiah Go is the chair and chief innovation strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc. The awarding ceremony of the 1st Mansmith Sales Masters Awards will be on August 2, 2024, from 6-8 pm at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati. It is open to sales professionals, subject to preregistration at https://bit.ly/MansmithSalesMastersAwardsreg

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