DHN note: This post was lifted from a medium post published by ‘@docneto” on January 23, 2015.
I came across a medium post that went through aspects of a sales stack and gave some options for tools to consider. It made me reflect on the sales stack we’ve been trying to fine tune selling SaaS to SME’s (SMB’s) in Nigeria. I’ll outline ours:
This has proven fairly tricky as the majority of businesses in Nigeria are not yet online. Most of our online work has been from searching on google, vconnect, government agency websites, state government business directories and other independent directories. The process is often manual, painstaking and of variable quality. Contact details online are often outdated if available in the first place. We also do a lot of offline work, going round to dense business areas to target the business we’re after. This is often of variable quality as getting to the decision maker can take several visits.
We’ve tried prospecting on linked in (using sales navigator). It hasn’t been successful as we hardly ever get a response when we send cold messages. Perhaps our messaging may need more refining, but I’m more of the opinion that linked in isn’t accessed much by its Nigerian users. It’s a ‘put up your account and check it once in a while’ type of arrangement. Facebook, on the other hand, has given us a number of leads we’ve gone on to close as customers. It isn’t yet clear if this is scalable.
Of all the channel’s we’ve tried, the most leads we’ve ever gained was from attending an industry exhibition. It provided us a lot of exposure and opportunity to build trust meeting face to face with business owners. It’s been by far the best channel so far, confirming a lot of the thought in the ecosystem that most of the hustle for Nigerian tech startups is actually offline.
Generally speaking, we’re still on a learning curve, yet to discover the most rewarding and efficient lead gen channel. If I were to pick one it would be offline industry exhibitions.
Once a lead is gotten, managing the relationship appropriately is key and can make or mar the selling process. We tried a few different CRM tools for this purpose. Being on a tight budget we only used free options and never really were satisfied, that was until I came across Hubspot CRM. It’s by far the best free CRM out there. Coupled with ‘Sidekick’ for email tracking, it does a great job managing all our leads and tracking our communication with them. With sidekick, I know when an email has been opened and a link within it clicked. It also gives analytics on the PDF brochures we send out to help us see what our prospects are most interested in. Did I say it was free yet, well it is! Well worth a try especially when on a budget and can’t afford the industry leaders like salesforce.
Demonstrating the product
Attempting to do this remotely has been virtually impossible as the business environment in Nigeria hasn’t matured to the stage of doing online meetings or conferencing. As simple as attempting to firm up a time with a calendaring app is a long shot. To solve this we attempted youtube videos and PDF’s that demonstrate the product. Both of these didn’t go down so well as people just weren’t clicking or viewing them.
What we now do is in-person demos with either our mobile, tablet our Chromebook for prospects in our city. For prospects in a different location, we describe our product over the phone as part of the sales pitch and handle any objections. Our product is relatively simple to explain so we’ve been able to close deals over the phone. Going forward, however, I’d like to be able to do in person demos all the time as they convert way more in our Nigerian environment. Scaling this will be a different beast of its own.
Closing the deal
Once we get a verbal commitment for the sale, we issue an electronic invoice using our free accounting software — waveapps. Deal sizes are so small that we don’t bother with a contract. Once payment is received (‘I don get alert’), the client is set up and we onboard them via SMS and phone calls.
A particular friction that cannot be ignored in the Nigerian online space is that of payments. We collect payments in a multiple of ways from cash, cheque to bank transfers for a variety of reasons. We’re in the process of implementing paystack’s solution to enable us to charge cards automatically for subscriptions without recourse to the customer each time. Should this work it will be perfect and remove a lot of friction in our sales process. The question is whether customers will trust us with their cards, watch this space.
So that’s it, our sales stack. It is ever evolving and still in its infancy. I’d like to hear what others think and do in their own businesses and startups.