Are you trying to figure out how you can sell anything to anyone, anywhere in Africa, online or in person?
What it comes down to is your foundation, mindset, presentation and approach. Money helps, but that is the last thing you should be worried about when planning to be in business for the long haul.
How to Sell in Africa – The foundation
To illustrate how this works, I would like to take you back to a time we all remember – the fuel crisis of Zimbabwe in 2002 – 2004.
It was a time when very few cars would be found on the roads. Those that were on the road were either full of people (most of which were hitchhikers) or were being driven to a service station to get in line for the precious liquid. These queues would stretch for kilometers and staying in line for 2 to 5 days had become the norm.
Now as you can imagine, under such conditions, cars with the least amount of fuel consumption were in demand. Anyone looking to earn a bit on the side was in the business of trading small vehicles, directly or indirectly. Again, this was the standard.
My buddy and I had always been fans of BMWs, so we knew that prices of large luxury vehicles were pretty much on the decline due to a rapidly diminishing market. We sat down and mapped out areas we could source such vehicles, these were mostly affluent areas of Zimbabwe. The owners had opted to either purchase or downgrade to smaller vehicles.
We bought a couple of BMW’s for what I can modestly call a steal. We had them polished and had the faults attended to by our mechanics. The cars were now good looking 2nd had BMWs. Selling them was our next feat.
How to Sell Anything – The Right Mindset
We knew that we could sell anything provided we found a market, if not, we would create one.
Our first step was to frequent popular hangouts where people would ask about the cars. We would casually educate people on the attributes of BMWs and the benefit of owning one. We made sure we attended popular events and always made sure we ‘made an entrance’. This was subliminal marketing, within two weeks enquiries started coming in and we sold our first BMW. A week after that, we sold another one.
Within six months we got to a point where we eventually formed a little unofficial BMW club while the country was in a fuel crisis. We would notify each other when a fuel station had a short queue, we would notify each other whenever we came across a place with good tires. The buyers, did not buy the BMWs because they were BMWs, they bought them for the experience – which is exactly what we were selling.
The Approach When Trying To Sell Anything In Africa
In reality what we were selling wasn’t a car, it was a much needed experience. A getaway from the difficult and stressful life that had become the order of the day in Zimbabwe ( thanks to Mugabe and his cronies – but I won’t go there. Just had to throw one more punch in there for the road 🙂 )
Our unofficial BMW soon attracted people from different sectors and in no time, we were trading other luxury brands.
The Presentation when Trying to Sell In Africa
The point here is that at times, you can create a market for your product or service by simply looking beyond the basic needs. People will often frequent a business that makes them happy and provided they can afford it, price will cease to be an issue.
My basic Blueprint on How To Sell Anything to Anyone In Africa
1. Identify your market
2. Believe in your product (it shows; people can see when you are just selling vs when you believe in your product/service)
3. Promote to your market in a way that is appealing and relatable.
4. Your price should reflect your character (too expensive = greedy, too cheap = no confidence in your product)
5. Your after sales service has to be perfect – this will get you referrals which are the best kind of prospects because they need little to no convincing.
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