Let’s face it, the world is full and the business world is getting more robust as everyone sees entrepreneurship as the way to go. Last year in Kenya alone the businesses registered grew by 58%. This was a result of job cuts, salary cuts, and overall business depression. All these guys have stepped into a space that is already saturated with other businesses. As the report showed, the majority of them were looking to enter into the tender business. The get the rich quick scheme of African businesses. We build businesses to work with governments and corprates because that is one of the sure ways we know we will make money if we have the connections. And everyone is connected, at a price, sometimes.
If you’ve built the business to solve a particular problem, then you need to reach the market. You need to be able to sell your products or services in order to make your return on investment. With new business’ coming into the party, the cake just became smaller. That makes it harder to sell especially with so many options in the market. Even if you have foot soldiers, how do they access the decision-makers mind to work out a sale without coming off as too pushy or aggressive? If your product is being bought off a shelf, are you encouraging people to choose you, or is your product an obscure choice in a sea of options? In my experience so far in the industry, very few focus on marketing and brand building thus making it difficult to sell.
As I sat in an interview while trying to hire a salesperson, he recalled how he was able to bring in $250 million to a banking entity. I was like this guy is good! I need to hire him on the spot. I’m betting you would sit back, squint your eyes and ask what’s your magic bullet? However, on dissecting the conversation later, the Bank had something going for it. Big Brand of course, which it had spent millions on over the years. Everyone knew the bank. They knew what it stood for based on the current campaigns they were running. They had done several philanthropic events that had all Kenyans participating and we were all assured of the quality, security, and care that they offered. They have been shouting about this for a while. So when someone from this bank calls for a sales meeting, I am bound to at least accept the initial pitch meeting. Even though the sales process, a lot of things are made easier because it is assumed. It is assumed because the brand has already told its story and built a reputation.
For the businesses that registered last year and want to work with some of the big companies in the country, here’s a tip. Most big companies don’t want to stress about making decisions about who to work with. Everyone in there is focused on their KPI’s and are busy working to make an impact in the organization. So to make it convenient for them, they will probably go to a well-known company with a great reputation. As SME’s, we need to market at every opportunity by telling our story, communicating our brand message, and enhancing our reputation by delivering on the promise so that when you walk in a room, people know you and the sales process starts being easier. When people walk down the supermarket shelf, they easier choice amongst all the others. The larger and more visible you are, the easier it is to access and make that sale.