BUILDING A SALES TEAM FROM THE GROUND UP IN AFRICA

A sales team can either make or break your company.

Yes, they are that important

As a founder, you should only look to build a sales team once you’ve played the role of a salesperson yourself. As a founder, no one knows your business  better than you do. Armed with intimate knowledge of your product, customers, their challenges and your value proposition, you’re in a better position to know the skills, knowledge and expertise needed to take your company to the next level.

Be practical when hiring. A good  way to identify great sales talent during the recruitment process is to assign mini-projects to individuals over a period, this allows you to evaluate their capabilities, attitude and potential  to be a great sales hire.

Your sales model will determine what you look for in a potential hire. Inbound models rely mostly on content marketing as well as online ads therefore good content writing skills becomes a must have.

On the contrary, in an outbound model, teams hunt for their customers through in person networking, social media, emailing and cold calling. Strong verbal communication and empathy are important skills. The account based model focuses on  customer retention.

The team-based model enables both sales reps and team members to work together to get  deals done faster. In a situation where team members are assigned specific tasks that contribute to the grand scheme of things in the sales department, work would be completed more efficiently. This gives room for specialization within the organization and also room to track individual performance.

A few qualities /things to look out for when hiring for sales roles include: a willingness to learn, ability to connect and build good relationships with both teammates and prospects, average tenure in their previous roles, the shorter the tenure, the less likely they are to stick around especially during tough times. Are they passionate about your company, product and or mission? If they aren’t, they’re not a good fit. 

When it comes to retaining talent, here are a few things to do to retain your best:

  1. Ensure internal processes do not stifle productivity
  2. Create opportunities for growth and development
  3. Celebrate and reward great wins as  
  4. Drive a culture of “we” and not “I”

Vezeeta is a good example of a company with a strong sales team. Vezeeta is an online medical service provider that helps people locate and Schedule a doctor’s appointment for free. The Egyptian healthcare startup provides in-clinic or teleconsultation services to patients who can easily search and book online to schedule the meeting. It has since expanded to Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Nigeria, Lebanon and Jordan. Vezeeta leverages inbound marketing which involves the going online & printing media, local networks and digital marketing to generate sales.

Conclusion:

Building a great sales team is no easy task.  Identifying the right talent, nurturing them and creating the right environment to retain them are key. Remember to consistently monitor and evaluate performance.  Data is one effective way to assess and improve the performance of your sales team. Keeping your sales staff highly motivated is extremely important too. A few things worth considering include investing in the right sales tools, providing staff with ongoing training and support, rewarding excellence, fostering a culture collaboration and the mindset of “we” and not “I” are things you can do to create an environment that inspires sales teams to do their best work.  Building a sales team from the ground up is no easy feat especially in Africa, however a clear and practical approach will maximise your chances of success. 

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