Train Your Mind To Hit Your Sales Target

Image for post

To be a successful salesperson you’re going to need to get comfortable with the number of rejections you’re going to face during your journey. This requires a complete upgrade of your mental software.

Adopt A Growth Mindset

Because of our educational systems and cultural narratives, many of us grow up with a fixed mindset as defined by Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset[1], where we believe that we are born with a fixed set of gifts and abilities that cannot change with time.

People with a fixed mindset tend to perform poorly as they’re more likely to avoid challenges or give up easily if they take them on. They also bnike air max 1 ultra moire black white ราคา welche kaffeemaschine für 1 person nike calças de treino mascarilla pelo sebastian nike air max aliexpress ipad 2019 hülle mit tastatur und stifthalter babyphone mit alexa verbinden veste femme pied de poule marron ipad 2019 hülle mit tastatur und stifthalter hängemattengestell preisvergleich welche kaffeemaschine für 1 person astro a50 ps4 and pc jayden daniels jersey billige matratzen gepunktete strumpfhose elieve their abilities are predetermined, so have a hard time accepting feedback and criticism because they take them too personally. They’re the ones who believe, “I’m just not a good salesperson. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

However, once you adopt a growth mindset, you believe that every failure is an opportunity to grow, and that you can do anything that you set your mind to as long as you’re willing to work hard. Such people are more likely to rebound stronger after setbacks, because they believe in feedback being constructive.

Have a Balanced View of Yourself

One thing that can easily erode your self-confidence is a negative view of yourself. Rather than beat yourself up every time you make a mistake or get rejected, you must learn to have a balanced view of yourself. Accept your strengths as well as your weaknesses. This requires a self-discovery process whereby you reflect deeply on the following questions to identify the overarching themes[2]:


  • What compliments do you usually receive?
  • What challenges do you usually overcome?
  • What’s an important task you usually tackle?
  • What are the times you’ve helped others?


  • What are weaknesses you’re aware of?
  • What’s most likely to make you give up?
  • What roles do you actively avoid?
  • What feedback do you receive that may indicate a weakness?

Once you have a clear image of what your strengths and weaknesses are, work actively to leverage the former and reduce the latter.

Practice Self-compassion

Understand that it’s normal for you to make mistakes in your life and professional career. So instead of obsessing over them, focus instead on retrieving the lessons learned, and then moving on. Kristin Neff, one of the pioneers in the field of self-compassion research, has discovered that the three main elements of self-compassion are mindfulness, kindness and the realization that you’re not alone. When you’re mindful, you become aware of the mistake you’ve made and its emotional impact on you, such as the pain you feel. When you’re kind with yourself, you provide the same encouragement and support you would give a good friend. Finally, when you realize you’re not alone, it lessens your suffering.

Make Selling a Habit

To get any good at selling, you’ll need to do a lot of it, so it needs to turn into a habit — a behavior that you do often. This will mean multiple instances of cold calling and facing strangers to sell them something. All habit loops usually consist of three parts: the trigger, the behavior and the reward.

Because getting rejected after a sales call is not your usual definition of a reward, you might need to consciously attach a different reward regardless of the outcome of the sales pitch. This means, you might tell yourself, “If I do 5 cold calls today, I’ll get myself a treat regardless of how those calls go.”

Another mental hack to take action is what Mel Robbins calls the 5 second rule, which goes as follows: If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it [3].

The 5-second rule is about taking control of your life, so whenever the instinct to act on a goal comes up — like when a window of opportunity for making a sale presents itself — you count down from 5, and then take action. The problem is once that window passes, we’ll be less likely to act on it, because our minds are wired to stop us from doing things that are uncomfortable.

Co-written with Amina Islam


[1] Dweck, C. (2017). Mindset. New York: Robinson.

[2] Markway, B. and Ampel, C. (2018). The Self-Confidence Workbook. Emeryville, California: Althea Press.

[3] Robbins, M. (2018). The Five Elements of the The 5 Second Rule. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Nov. 2018].



Read more

5 Common Sales-Related Mistakes Startups Make

5 Common Sales-Related Mistakes Startups Make

Image for post

Even though we broke down the sales prockoaxialní kabel hornbach meia com pompom air nike sneakers nfl jersey sales brandon aiyuk jersey detske lyžiarske nohavice 134 140 kilpi predam dänisches bettenlager lounge set miroir terzo callaway reva femme estiti eleganti max mara nike technical cross body bag ciorapi compresivi pana la coapsa játék hajszárító árukeresö balmain carbone fragrantica Purchase college team jerseys at a discounted price and of high quality ss to the three main steps of prospecting, pitching and closing, as a person who has been selling within the African market for 20 years, I wish I can say the practicalities of day-to-day operations were as easy as they sound.

The rolex daytona replica is a stainless steel replica that will give you that luxury look that you’ve been waiting for.

Because selling is a difficult skill to master, there are a lot of nuances that can trip startups if missed, and in this post, I’ll cover some of the sales-related mistakes being made within the ecosystem.

Image for post

Image for post

  1. There is No Product to Sell

Sometimes what startups try to sell — mainly to investors — is the idea. Instead of taking time to build a prototype or a minimum viable product (MVP) using the resources they have, they jump from one investor meeting to another to sell them the idea.

The rolex datejust replica is a classic replica watch.

They’ll present facts like what the potential size of the market is, and how their research shows the problem they’re trying to solve is a huge one, and how they’re well-placed to build the solution. However, investors would rather see an MVP that has already been tested in the market with relevant preliminary metrics (number of sales made, etc…).

This is not to say that selling an idea to investors with no product doesn’t work at all. We live at a time when it does — sometimes — but it shouldn’t, because it’s really hard to prove product-market fit with no product.

2. There is No Sales Team

It’s strange to walk into the offices of startups and discover there’s a tech team and a product team, but no sales team. If the startup is at its inception and it really, really, really cannot afford a sales team, then the founding team should dedicate a percentage of their time selling.

Unfortunately, co-founders/CEO’s tend to value meeting investors rather than potential clients even though a strong sales record would help present evidence so the company could receive funding.

3. Selling to the non-decision makers

Just because a company is a prospective client doesn’t mean your point of contact within that company is a decision maker. Ideally, as a sales representative, you would want to bring in the decision-maker to the first meeting, and determine if your solution is within their budget. However, that’s not always possible because of hierarchical charts within organizations so you might need to meet and pitch to several other people before you reach the decision-maker.

4. Targeting non-consumers to pay for consumers

This is interesting and while it’s commonly seen within a diverse group of startups, we’ll use Edtech to illustrate. Products are built for potential students, but then instead of investing in a sales team to sell the product to schools and students, the sales team goes to the CSR department of corporates to sponsor hundreds of students at one go.

Similar to the “sell company to investor” path, this is seen as a path of least resistance. However, even if it appears lucrative in the short-term, it’s ineffective in the long-term because it’s not sustainable.

This action may lead to deals being made and cheques being signed, but the startup isn’t capturing the market directly. Instead of selling to the students and relieving their pain, they sell to the CSR department to create more gain for them in terms of a good press release, etc. This leads to a disconnect from the actual market, because you’re selling to someone who doesn’t really need to use your product.

Also, not many corporations have CSR programs to begin with, and just because a company paid for your program once doesn’t mean they’ll pay again. When it comes to CSR projects, companies like to vary them from year to year, or else they become monotonous.

5. Not following up with clients

Startups think the selling process ends with closing. However, following up with clients to understand their satisfaction with your product or service.

Selling to the market directly is hard.

It’s slow and time consuming but it is the best long-term strategy for any startup. It provides useful market research and as a startup you’ll be informed early on if there’s product-market fit for your product.

Co-written with Amina Islam

Read more

Stand Out By Selling Creatively

Stand Out By Selling Creatively

Stand Out By Selling Creatively

Creativity is a very important skill to hone during your sales career. Not only will you need to capture the attention of your prospective clients, but also their hearts as that would help them act on your proposal.

Simply said, creative thinking is the ability to think in new and original ways. For prospecting clients, you’ll have to be creative at getting their attention. Due to the hyper-connectivity of our modern life, most people are suffering from information overload. As a salesperson, you need to take this into consideration every time you prepare a sales pitch: attention is a rare commodity so be creative. This could mean applying your creativity in your marketing channels or in the way that you find leads. For example, for the latter, being creative might mean finding a way to bypass the gatekeepers to reach the decision-maker, which could mean researching where they play golf or which social clubs they’re part of and joining those just to get access to them.

Cheap Replica Watches We Sell The Best AAA Swiss replica watches for the Best Place for Rolex Clone 1:1 Watches Website. Shop Now!

Following that, while presenting your sales pitch, you should aim to connect with them at a visceral level rather than an intellectual one. Filling your presentation with metrics and data may sound compelling, but social science research has shown over and over again that people are not rational beings. Emotions drive a lot of decisions. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied people who had received brain injuries that specifically damaged the part of the brain where emotions are generated and found their decision-making ability was seriously impaired.

Every bell&ross replica Swiss replica watch is creative.

Data Tells, But Stories Sell

Stories work because they’re an effective means of communication that can capture the imagination and be internalized. Most importantly, stories have the power to evoke emotion. So whenever you’re interacting with a potential client, as yourself, “What am I trying to make them feel?”

Definitely, the goal is never, “Repelled by me.”

You want them to connect with you and trust you. You also want them to be engaged and entertained by you so they’ll like you. Persuasion research has shown that people are more likely to say yes to people they like. Nobody likes to get bored, and definitely, not during a process that might end up with them parting with their money.

Storytelling in selling doesn’t mean dabbling in fiction, though. Any stories told need to be true. Otherwise, engage the potential client’s imagination by saying, “Imagine a scenario where you…”

Also, everytime you go through a pitch with a client, pay attention to their reactions, validating the exact parts that work and the ones that don’t.

Storytelling is a skill that heavily relies on creativity as it requires a person to take different perspectives.

So how do you become more creative?

Creativity is a skill that can be developed through practice. It requires lateral thinking, which helps people generate new ideas and solve problems by looking at the world from different perspective.

Just like any skill, creativity can be learned through practice:

– Because creative people are good at noticing things around them, practice your observation skills. For e.g. Everytime you find yourself in a new environment, imagine it’s a setting in a novel and describe what you see. How do the windows look like? What is the kind of floor? What color were the tables? Another thing you can do is find faces in clouds.

– Borrow ideas from different fields. Creative people read across genres as it allows them to implant ideas from one field to another. Think of how James Dyson used cyclone systems to suck up sawdust in sawmills and applied them to the home vacuum.

– Hold regular brainstorming sessions with your colleagues or your potential clients. The main ground rule for brainstorming sessions is to not criticize any idea and to have ideas build on each other.

– Apply the SCAMPER method. SCAMPER is a mnemonic that instigates answers to the following generic questions:

● Substitute: What can you substitute in your solution to make it better?

● Combine: What two elements within your solution can you combine?

● Adapt: How could you readjust your solution so it would serve another purpose? Modify: How could you modify your solution to make it better?

● Put to another use.Who else could use your solution?

● Eliminate.How could you simplify your solution?

● Reverse.What if you try to do the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do now?

  • Hang around children. Creativity is usually associated with play, and hanging around children gives one more opportunities to play and experience the world from a different point of view.

Co-written with Amina Islam

Read more

Harness Your Energy This 2019 To Become a More Successful Salesperson

Image for post

With regard to selling, it’s very easy to instigate the nature vs. nurture debate. Are salespeople made or born?

While we do believe that anybody can build their sales skills through practice, some inherent personality traits can make you a better salesperson than others. Take for example, where you lie on the introversion-extraversion spectrum. Introversion is the tendency to gain energy from internal pursuits, while extraversion is the tendency to gain energy from interacting with other people.

The general idea is that extroverted peoplenike calças de treino billige matratzen meilleur lampe uv koaxialní kabel hornbach balmain carbone fragrantica brandon aiyuk jersey carhartt uk ipad 2019 hülle mit tastatur und stifthalter isolateur cloture electrique ruban checkerboard vans ochre callaway reva femme nike air max ivo black and white nike wiki archivador cajonera carpetas colgantes nike air max ivo black and white make the best salespeople. By nature, they’re more sociable, assertive, lively, and gregarious. It seems easier for them to approach and talk to people, and because they get energized by the presence of others, their enthusiasm can be conducive to influence and persuasion.

Or that’s what we tend to think.

Research shows that it is not the extroverts but the ambiverts who perform the best when it comes to selling [1]. Take for example, a study conducted by Adam Grant, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who tracked the sales representatives’ revenues of a software company over a period of three months after having them complete several personality assessments. He found that introverted sales reps earned an average of 120 $ per hour compared to the 125 $ per hour earned by extroverts. Ambiverts outperformed both groups by earning 155 $ per hour[2].

Ambiverts fall in the middle of the introvert/extrovert continuum and have the right blend of personality traits from both ends to make them comfortable in a range of social situations. Ambiverts can be excellent conversationalists as well as excellent listeners. This could explain their advantage over extroverts whose assertiveness and zeal may lead to a lot of talking but not enough listening.

Selling requires a delicate balance of inspecting and responding. If we are to liken it to the analogy of a dance, extroverts try to lead so fast that their partners trip over their feet, while introverts get so shy they don’t even approach the dance floor. Ambiverts, on the other hand, have the perfect balance of traits to dance just right.

But what if you were not a born ambivert? Is there a way to control your energy level and build your mental fortitude so you can be a superstar salesperson?

Since introversion and extraversion are personality traits that deal with energy management, there are other ways to harness your energy, including nutrition, exercise, meditation and sleep.

While nutrition and exercise are important, we’re going to focus in the next section on sleep and mediation, starting with the latter as it can help you find an ambivert’s balance.

Meditation is a set of techniques intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and concentration. There are many types of meditation but in the most popular one — focused-attention meditation — you focus on your breathing, and whenever thoughts spring up, observe them without judgement, continuously bringing your attention back to your breathing.

Meditation is known to improve your ability to introspect (which is good if you’re naturally an extrovert), and also increases your emotional and social intelligence (which is good if you’re naturally an introvert). It also increases positive emotions such as love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest and amusement [3]. All of these build towards the positive attitude required to face the multitude of rejections that come with a sales career.

However, you can’t expect to reap the benefits of meditation by doing it once. It needs to be a continuous practice, and you can start with the simplest form as delineated below:

  1. Set a timer for five minutes
  2. Sit or lie comfortably.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Breathe naturally.
  5. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly.
  6. If your mind wanders and thoughts start appearing, imagine they’re clouds that are passing by and return your focus back to your breath.

Sleep is another important key to mental health. Besides processing complex information, consolidating memories and clearing out toxins that can contribute to neurodegeneration, sleep carries a number of benefits for health and cognition. For example, a study reports that morning-type individuals report higher levels of positive affect and score higher on measures of energy-alertness and lower on tiredness compared with evening-type individuals [4].

Unfortunately, despite all the benefits of sleep, we don’t get enough of it thanks to the omnipresence of smartphones and tablets. Research has shown that the bright light emitted by smartphones disrupts sleep by interfering with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycles [5].

In conclusion, it’s important to know where you lie on the introvert-extrovert spectrum as a salesperson, and to take positive steps towards managing your energy and building your positivity and mental fortitude through different means including sleep and meditation.

This post was co-written with Amina Islam


[1] D. Pink, To Sell is Human. New York,: Penguin Group, 2012.

[2] A. Grant, “Rethinking the extraverted sales ideal: the ambivert advantage”, Psychological Science, vol. 24, no. 6, 2013. [Accessed 25 December 2018].

[3]B. Fredrickson, M. Cohn, K. Coffey, J. Pek and S. Finkel, “Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 95, no. 5, pp. 1045–1062, 2008. [Accessed 25 December 2018].

[4]R. Biss and L. Hasher, “Happy as a lark: Morning-type younger and older adults are higher in positive affect.”, Emotion, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 437–441, 2012. Available: 10.1037/a0027071.

[5] Mayo Clinic. “Are smartphones disrupting your sleep?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2013.



Read more

As CEO, Are You Investor-driven or Sales-driven?

Image for post

If you’re running a startup, then you must know if you’re a sales-driven CEO or an investor-driven CEO, and if you’re in-between, how in-between are you…

For real?

Unfortunately, starting a startup has become a fad nowadays. Driven by all the #BYOB hashtags on social media, everyone with a half-baked idea wants to run a startup, so they register a company, edit their Instagram account to CEO and get started.

Maybe they talk to potential clients about their idea, or develop a product and send it out to the market, receiving a paycheck or two in the process.

All of that is well and good.

Until they take a detour and start spending a majority of their time chasing any event where there’s the tiniest glimmer of hope that they could get funding. They start working on activities to serve their dream of bagging huge funding that will help bring in the beanbags and billiards table through the door.

If the startup is built around a tech product, thanike calças de treino billige matratzen meilleur lampe uv koaxialní kabel hornbach balmain carbone fragrantica brandon aiyuk jersey carhartt uk ipad 2019 hülle mit tastatur und stifthalter isolateur cloture electrique ruban checkerboard vans ochre callaway reva femme nike air max ivo black and white nike wiki archivador cajonera carpetas colgantes nike air max ivo black and white t means doing anything to increase the number of downloads and registered users to sell the story of exponential growth. It also means putting together a cool catchy website and high definition videos and posts on Facebook and Twitter to tell the story of how they’re changing the narrative in Africa and making the world a better place.

It’s supposed to work on a positive-feedback mechanism: The more the startup gets enough people to talk about how big they are, the bigger they become by attracting more business.

The problem is, the process of building a business does not work this way.

But that’s like putting the carriage in front of the horse.

Then unharnessing the horse and letting them run away.

At the end of the day what matters more than the number of subscribed or registered users on your product are the number of engaged users and churned users (the former tells you what you’re doing right, while the latter gives you an opportunity to discover what you’re doing wrong). Also, what matters more than cool websites is the actual work that is being done behind the website and how all of those metrics [user engagement/field work] translate to an increase in revenue.

We’ve mentioned in several posts (Link 1, Link 2Link 3) that it has become the norm for founders to focus on investor-chasing activities. But that’s a bad strategy not only because it diffuses the founder’s focus but because it wastes a lot of the company’s money since a lot of investor in-person meetings happen on different countries/continents thus requiring flight tickets and accommodation.

Money the startup already doesn’t have enough of.

The alternate for you as a founder is to spend 80 % of your time with paying clients. Not just talking to them about how awesome your idea is, but actually proving that awesomeness by closing sales, signing contracts, delivering work and getting paid.

Given, it’s a slower process than trying to sell the idea of the company directly to investors, which is why many young founders drag their feet there. They erroneously think, “Let’s focus on getting the funding first, and then we’ll start to close deals later.”

First of all, it is true that actually being in the market trying to sell to clients one by one is no fun. It requires training your mind to face rejection with a positive attitude. It also means you wouldn’t be backing your Instagram’s CEO title with the right image — the fancy suit and offices. Instead, you would need to keep your burn low, and maybe live with your entire extended family for a while, listening to their barrage about how you need to get a real job like your cousin, Tim.

But being in the market selling is very important because it validates your idea by bringing in revenues. And the lack of revenues would signal that maybe you would need to rethink your product or service, which most founders are reluctant to do because it tends to tie up to their ego.

Also, the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of innovation,” exists for a reason. Having less resources sometimes pushes you to innovate in order to keep your burn rate low.

Setting up your entire survival strategy on fundraising can be likened to playing slots at a casino. It’s a short-term strategy that could work or not. The slower more certain strategy is to acquire clients, and deliver to them directly, then having them pay you for the product or service.

There is no denying that having enough financial capital is important for a business to survive — and it has been the nail on the coffins of far-too-many startups, especially in Africa, so I’m not saying to never seek funding. What I’m advising against is seeking it as a first option rather than a last option after self (or family)-funding or bootstrapping.

As much as there are millions of books on how to be an entrepreneur and run your own business, you can’t really learn the how until you do something, because there are millions of tiny nuances to selling and entrepreneurship that require continuous human interaction.

In the next post we will delve deeper into the topic of seeking investments if you’ve grown your business to the point where you absolutely need external funding following conversations with Tania Ngima, CEO of Demo Ventures, and Jason Musyoka from ViKtoria Ventures.



Read more

How To Build a High Performance Sales Team

Image for post


It’s a crucial necessity in today’s workplace. Many leaders subscribe to the idea that hiring only A-players will take their companies to the next level. However, there is an inherent assumption being made: that A players will result in A-playing teams.

In a talk given by Margaret Hefferman[1], she tells the story of a man who studied chickens and wanted to know what could make them more productive;

“Chickens live in groups, so first of all, he selected just an average flock, and he let it alone for six generations. But then he created a second group of the indinike daybreak uomo checkerboard vans ochre hängemattengestell preisvergleich costume leopardato triangolo Italy nike air max aliexpress scarpe eleganti senza lacci años 20 hombre disfraz corsair ddr3 1600 balmain carbone fragrantica jayden daniels lsu jersey custom baseball uniforms meia com pompom aiyuk jersey jayden daniels jersey converse blanche et doré vidually most productive chickens — you could call them superchickens — and he put them together in a superflock, and each generation, he selected only the most productive for breeding. After six generations had passed, what did he find?

Well, the first group, the average group, was doing just fine. They were all plump and fully feathered and egg production had increased dramatically. What about the second group? Well, all but three were dead. They’d pecked the rest to death. The individually productive chickens had only achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of the rest.

Unlike common wisdom, the whole is not always greater than the sum of its parts.

Sometimes it’s less.

So what does it take to build a superteam?

During the last quarter of 2018, I lost one of my best sales teams due to an administrative error. That left me with only 2 weeks to recruit and induct a new team into a project whose aim was to acquire customers for one of my clients during the festive period. That presented a huge challenge as the minimum time I usually take to recruit and train is one month.

Undaunted by the task, I immediately got on my database and pulled out a list of 6 top sales resources that have previously worked on my projects and exited positively. After requesting every one of them to refer at least 5 people, I ended up with 38 resumes to sift through. Basing my selection on the following criteria, I built a new team:

  • Proximity of where they live to the site we work from: Due to the high transport costs in Nairobi, it was important that salespeople lived close to their work stations.
  • Attitude: I looked out for positive attitude, hunger for the job, language proficiency (both English and Swahili) and other basic communication skills.

Despite being a new team that didn’t know each other and neither had prior sales experience nor university degrees, they surpassed the monthly sales target by 36 %.

What was the secret sauce?

I don’t know exactly, but I suspect it was their chemistry; how they worked together.

They coordinated, supported each other, and covered for each other. In other words, they defined their own constitution and played — or rather, worked — well together.

This idea has been shown in literature by an initiative code-named Project Aristotle that Google embarked on to study teams and figure out what made the best teams. In his article titled, “What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team”, Charles Duhigg wrote [2], “As they struggled to figure out what made a team successful, Rozovsky and her colleagues kept coming across research by psychologists and sociologists that focused on what are known as ‘group norms.’ Norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather.”

Other lessons I’ve learnt in my history building high-performance sales teams for clients across the years are as follows:

1)Hire for positive attitude

It’s very important to filter for attitude. Bad attitude will ruin your team. Even if it’s just one person who is toxic, they can spread it to the rest of the team. The upside of this is that positive attitude is also contagious so hiring for positivity works wonders. Since selling is a road paved with many thorns in the forms of rejections, positive teammates have a tendency to encourage one another, keeping their collective spirits buoyed.

2) Share the sales vision from the beginning

Zig Ziglar said, “You can’t hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.” It’s important that the sales vision and targets are communicated to the team from the very beginning so they’re clear on what they’re trying to achieve. This also gives them a clear way to benchmark their performance and measure their progress.

3) Lead from the front

While leading your sales team, it’s important that you dedicate time to sell alongside your teammates regularly. This gives them a chance to learn from you and improve their selling skill through imitation, making the best use of mirror neurons; neurons that fire not only when someone performs an action, but also when they observe someone else take the same action [3].

While leading, it’s important not to forget other leadership qualities, such as owning up to your mistakes whenever you make them, rather than throwing your salespeople under the bus. Also, whenever a problem arises, it’s important to focus on fixing it rather than wasting time pointing blame.

4) Convey the terms of service clearly especially incentives

The terms of service need to be clearly communicated to the team, especially when it comes to defining incentives. I can’t emphasize this enough, as nothing breaks a good sales team like vague terms or service, especially when they realize after making sales that the terms were different from what they had initially thought. Such a scene leads to mistrust and an immediate drop in motivation. Also, monetary incentives need to be paid on time.

5) Conduct continuous performance reviews and peer-driven training programs

The last habit of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is, “Sharpen the saw,” which involves taking deliberate steps for continuous improvement[4].

It is hard to build a high-performance team without a system in place for regularly evaluating the performance of your team to define how they can grow and be better. This usually involves continuously reviewing their performance and training them. Rather than overloading the, with a lot of content from the start, I personally prefer to focus on multiple refresher sessions bi-weekly. This can be made sustainable by having team members trained by their fellow colleagues who are at the same rank. That way, they can modify content I’ve developed by giving practical examples from their own personal experience selling.

In summary, these are the main ingredients for hiring a sales team that performs superbly:

  1. Hire for positive attitude

2. Share the sales vision from the beginning

3. Lead from the front

4. Convey the terms of service clearly especially incentives

5. Conduct continuous performance reviews and peer-driven training programs


[1]M. Heffernan, “Forget the pecking order at work”,, 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 07- Feb- 2019].

[2]C. Duhigg, “What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team”,, 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 12- Feb- 2019].

[3]”Mirror Neurons”,, 2008. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 12- Feb- 2019].

[4] Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. New York: Free Press, 2004.


Read more

Mistakes to Avoid as a Startup While Fundraising

Image for post

One of the main growing pains of business is reaching a point where you’re hurtling along so fast that self-funding or bootstrapping is no longer sufficient to keep you going. When you grow at that fast a pace, the wheels may start to come off, which could put your business at risk of failure. This necessitates fundraising as a strategy to keep the lights on and the doors open. In the previous post, we looked at the main challenges African startups face when it comes to raising funds from investors. In this post, we look at different types of funding and the factors that may attract — or repel — investors.

Generally, there are two main categoriesgolf męski zara billige matratzen babyphone mit alexa verbinden dlm382 aiyuk jersey sport jumpsuit nike köröm díszítő szalagok carhartt uk gepunktete strumpfhose vans chima ferguson pro 2 port royale black forty two skateboard shop meilleur lampe uv suport tableta bord nike air max ivo black and white amazon massaggiatore anticellulite amazon nfl jersey sales of funding a startup founder can seek: equity capital or debt capital.

Equity capital is in the form of funds paid into a business by investors in exchange for stock. Such funds come with a risk for the investors, as they will not be repaid in case of corporate liquidation until the settlement of all other creditors[1]. However, investors might be willing to take the risk as the value of their stocks might appreciate over time, allowing them to sell at a profit. Also, owning sufficient number of shares may give them some degree of control over the business.

The alternative is debt capital, which is given to a business with the understanding that it must be paid back at a predetermined date and with an agreement to pay interest in exchange for using the money [2]. Debt capital can be difficult to acquire for startups that are at the beginning of their journey because it would require proven track record of success. However, the upside of getting debt capital rather than equity capital is that it doesn’t force the business to forfeit ownership.

Regardless of what type of funding a startup seeks, as founder, you need to get the fundamentals of your pitch right before attending investor meetings. In conversations with both Tania Ngima — CEO of Demo Ventures — and Jason Musyoka — Angel Investors Manager from Viktoria Ventures, presented below are common mistakes that make investors shudder:

1.Presenting a back-of-a-napkin idea

Ideas drawn at the back of a napkin look cool. But without market implementation, they make better napkins than business pitches. An idea must be validated on the ground before any attempt is made to grab an investor’s attention. While startups don’t need to have broken even yet, they need to show proof-of-concept by being revenue positive and having a base of paying customers. However, if market validation is what you’re looking for, the avenues for these are ‘award-type’ competitions and grant funding. Crowdfunding could also possibly help you to go from idea to product/service validation.

2. Helter-skelter Financial Records

It is common for startup founders to get so caught up in the trenches of their day-to-day operations, that they don’t keep their accounts in order. Showing up for investor meetings without supporting documents such as a business plan and financial records is such a rookie mistake, it makes you look like you were lost and had stumbled into the wrong room.

Investors need to see a clear path on how they’re going to make their money back. A business plan answers questions on how the business is planning to stay on track while scaling while financial records show a summary of the startup’s financial health, covering details on assets, liabilities, cash flow, and more.

Investors also know that, in many cases, projections and business plans are likely to change over time. These documents are useful in gauging your thought process as an entrepreneur (including how you think through assumptions, contingency plans, changes in the external regulatory or market environment) as well as how ambitious you are.

3. Competition? What Competition?

Sadly enough, startup founders are divided into two camps — those who obsess over their competitors that they don’t get much work done, and those who go through life pretending they don’t exist.

While stalker tendencies like putting google alerts on your competitors is not recommended, knowing they exist is important. More important is identifying what your positioning is compared to them, and what makes you unique and sets you apart.

4. Crazy valuation — a unicorn, anyone?

The valuation that you show up with need to be backed up by the numbers in your financial records. Unfortunately, what has become common is for African founders to base their valuation on the target market or the latest valuation of a similar startup they saw on Shark Tank.

Others value their startups by multiplying their annual revenue by numbers that are not very reasonable — like 15x. While valuations based on revenue multiples are more of a subjective science rather than an exact one, factors to be considered are risk, growth and profitability [3,4]. Risk has a negative correlation with revenue multiple whereas growth and profitability have positive correlations. From his experience, Mr. Musyoka puts a 5x revenue multiple as being average in this market.

Co-written with Amina Islam








Read more

Deconstructing the Local Angel Investment Cycle in Kenya (Part 1)

Deconstructing the Local Angel Investment Cycle in Kenya (Part 1)

Image for post

Imagine you’re meeting your relatives for the annual holiday dinner and you notice your nephew is missing. His mother explains that he’s busy building his own startup so he no longer has time for anything.

Not even family dinners.

Noting his apparent tenacity and how he’s trying to do something with his life rather than idle away on the sidewalks complaining about the lack of economic opportunities, you offer to back him up financially if he splits ownership with you.

Six months later, you ask him how business is going, and he tells you he’s nearly nailed his product but he needs more money.

Three months later, you re-inquire about his progress, and he tells you he has perfected his product but client acquisition has been a bit difficult in this market and he needs more money to keep the lights on.

In the next annual family dinner, he plavky chlapec 128nove mikrobølgeovn med grill og varmluft nike wiki dlm382 nike technical cross body bag jayden daniels lsu jersey air nike sneakers meilleur lampe uv mikrobølgeovn med grill og varmluft brandon aiyuk jersey logitech c270 microphone not working köröm díszítő szalagok welche kaffeemaschine für 1 person nike air max aliexpress logitech c270 microphone not working attends.

Only he drives up to the house in a Mercedes Benz.

You wonder how that is possible considering all the money troubles he’s been complaining about.

Unfortunately, that’s how angel investing appears in emerging economies like Kenya.


In investment terms, an angel investor is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business startup, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. In African markets, arrangements with angel investors tend to exist informally, are usually undocumented, and are catalyzed by pre-existing connections (familial or otherwise).

The only problem is sour outcomes of such investments tend to translate to family feuds and cautionary tales that reinforce the old-school thinking that the only secure investments are those going into real estate or government securities.

That’s why a need exists for institutions like Viktoria Ventures (VV) that formalize angel investing. Viktoria Ventures is a Kenyan company that helps early-stage companies obtain seed funding from local angel investors. It does that by managing a network of local angel investors and guiding them through the investment life cycle so they could screen deals, do due diligence and overall, structure a deal formally where both parties win.

That’s definitely much better than waking up one day to discover that your nephew has been siphoning your hard-earned money to upgrade his car.

Investment Life Cycle

The investment life cycle as explained by Jason Musyoka from Viktoria Ventures are detailed in the following sections.


The initial stage of the investment life cycle is screening. As an investor, you need to be really picky about the deals you select. As mentioned in the previous post, as an investor you need to see more than a back-of-a-napkin idea. You need the startup to have a validated idea with paying customers. This is not to say that a back-of-a-napkin idea will not work if funded, the realities of the market are such that there are way too many ideas compared to available investment money.

It also means that you’ll need to be more analytical while attending pitches, rather than being blown away by catch phrases such as,

“This will help us make the world a better place!”

“This is absolutely going to 100x very fast and we want you to be part of it!”

“We are the Facebook plus Uber multiplied by Reddit of our industry!”

“We have no competition!”

“We’re closing next week and want you to be part of this revolution!”

As an investor, you have to be equipped with the realistic expectation that the failure rate among the startup ecosystem is very high. While data from the African market is not readily available, the closest one given by a Nigerian bank Stanbic IBTC claimed that over 80 % of Nigerian startups fail within their first five years.

Due Diligence

After filtering out opportunities in multiple stages that look closely at the founding team, business idea, traction, and business model, due diligence needs to be made. Due diligence is an audit made to confirm all facts given by the startup are correct.

The main categories you need to look at as an investor during this stage are:

  • Market diligence, which covers your independent review of the claims that the entrepreneur made regarding the industry they’re operating in. It’s necessary to verify the market size, competitive players in the market, and industry trends.
  • Business diligence, which looks into specific claims that the startup makes about its own operations. These include looking at their books to review revenues and expenses, seeing what their customers think of their product/services, and doing background checks on the founders.
  • Legal diligence, which focuses on the company’s structure, documentation, and history, to ensure everything is as claimed. This involves wading through a humongous pile of paperwork with a fine-toothed comb, including but not limited to, corporate records, employee benefit plans, properties and assets owned, financing documents, etc.

Deal Structuring

Deal structuring necessitates a negotiation process where both parties win and the investment arrangement is formalized. Ultimately, the goal is to be in what is known in game economics as a positive sum game, where both sides gain more by cooperating than by acting on their own.

While the entrepreneur gets an influx of money, as an angel investor you can also bring in a set of much-needed expertise into the startup. You can also make demands for better governance within the organization rather than watch it being run like a kindergarten playground.

Major red flags when it comes to investor-entrepreneur conversations are as follows:

  • Feeling like integrity is lacking and there isn’t 100 % honesty.
  • Receiving push back on the subject of reporting, board meetings, or access to company information.

In the next post, we’ll shed light on post-investment activities such as value addition and exiting.

Last but not least, even if you do every step of the investment life cycle correctly, that does not mean your investment will pan out as it’s important to note that angel investing is still risky business.

Co-written with Amina Islam


Read more

Deconstructing the Local Angel Investment Cycle in Kenya (Part 2)

Deconstructing the Local Angel Investment Cycle in Kenya (Part 2)

Image for post

In the last post, we went through the initial stages of the Investment Life Cycle that includes Screening, Due Diligence and Deal Structure. However, not unlike a marriage, the real work in an investor-entrepreneur relationship begins after signing the contract and popping the champagne. This blog post explores post-investment activities such as monitoringvalue addition as well as exiting.


When it comes to monitoring, investors tend to exist on a spectrum that ranges from the ghost investor who is clueless about what’s happening — or not — at the startup they’ve invested in to the hovering investor who keeps a close eye on everything.ipad 2019 hülle mit tastatur und stifthalter jayden daniels jersey nike technical cross body bag handcitruspers nike air max 90 nike calças de treino tp link remote control nike daybreak uomo callaway reva femme táskafül bőr Purchase Florida state seminars jerseys, football, and various accessories for Florida state seminars kallax korkekiilto hylly blogspot scarpe eleganti senza lacci ciorapi compresivi pana la coapsa Purchase Iowa rugby uniforms, Iowa olive jerseys, Iowa rugby shoes, and other accessories

As an investor, it’s good practice to be informed about what’s happening within the startup, partly due to its high-risk nature, and partly because you might be required to make additional investments in the future. On top of that, you may also have tax reporting obligations related to your investment.

You also get a chance to formalize the monitoring process by serving on the startup’s board. Since the board is legally mandated to make strategic decisions, hire (or fire) the CEO, and put the stockholders’ interests ahead of an individual’s personal ones, that ensures that you’re always aware of what’s going on within the organization.

Value Addition

In additional to potential financial rewards, as an investor you get the chance to give back to society by mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs. There’s also the joy of business creation without the headaches that come with daily operations. Through skill-sharing and the provision of networking opportunities, investors don’t just get a chance to grow their portfolio companies but also contribute to the entire startup ecosystem, as well as building their countries’ economies, thus causing what Steve Jobs would call, “a dent in the universe.”


When it comes to exiting a startup, Jason Musyoka from Viktoria Venture advises the investor to plan for it from the beginning and not treat it like an afterthought. Basil Peters, an experienced Canadian angel investor, provides the common rationale behind that advice in the book “Angel Investing,” by saying that a well-defined exit strategy would affect how the business runs.

Peters notes, “Businesses designed for sale at a […] sharp valuation increase will be purchased with an eye to their future growth and profitability, rather than their current earnings, or even revenues. They should thus be willing to take bigger risks, accept outside equity and debt capital, and swing for the fences, focusing on growth above all. In contrast, a business that the founder intends to own and manage for the long haul as a cash-generating sinecure should focus primarily on generating near-term profitability and avoiding debt, while retaining most or all of the equity in the founder’s hands.”

So what exit options do investors have in emerging economies?

As mentioned previously, unlike Silicon Valley, exiting into an IPO is a rare occurrence. Options that do exist for an investor however are as follows:

  • Strategic trade sale/corporate sale
  • Management buyout/sale back to the founder
  • Sale to financial/secondary buyer e.g. bigger Venture Capitalist or Private Equity
  • Self-liquidating instruments

There is also the unfortunate exit outcome of the startup going belly up and closing its doors for business, which — naturally — translates to a failed investment.

What Does African Exiting Landscape Look Like?

The Weetracker African Startups & VC Ecosystem Report that published the activities of the first half of 2018 showed 14 merger and acquisition (M & A) deals, with only 2 being mergers. This positively shows a nearly 3 fold increase compared with only 5 M & A deals during the first half of 2017.

While not entirely bleak, the current exit landscape still shows room for growth, which is what would happen if we encourage more venture builders rather than venture capitalist to enter our startup scene — which happens to be a topic for another day.

Co-written with Amina Islam


Read more

From Leads to Clients

From Leads to Clients

Image for post

Have you ever followed up on a lead for 8 months without closing a deal then realized not only will your lead not give you business but also that they cannot? As a salesperson, you want to maximize the number of leads you convert to clients using minimum resources. Many salespeople approach this by increasing the number of leads they have. However, they can waste fewer resources by focusing on quality leads rather than just more leads. This makes it really important to qualify your leads.

Superficially, someone can say qualifying a lead is about who you reach in the organization, what their role is and where they stand in the hierarchy of the organization. But qualifying leads is more of an art than a science, and it requires high levels of both emotional and social intelligence as well as a deeper understanding of human relationships and dynamics.

First of all, let’s discuss why it’s important to qualify a lead:

  • According to entrepreneur Steven Tulman, 67% of your lost sales come from sales reps not qualifying leads properly before going ahead with the rest of the sales process.
  • Qualifying a lead helps evaluate sales projections by estimating the size of expected business from the prospect, thus aids in the allocation of appropriate time and resources to the lead.

Even though qualifying leads would vary from one type of lead to another, having a general process helps streamline operations and leads to a bigger impact on your sales growth. So what are the ingredients of a good process?

  1. Build an Ideal Buyer Persona Profile. This can be as detailed as possible with imaginary — or not — names, ages, occupation. In the profile, answer the following questions:
  2. How does he find you?
  3. What are his pain points?
  4. What is his budget?
  5. What role does he play within his organization?
  6. What does he need to know prior to purchase?
  7. Why would he buy from you and not someone else?

Building a profile shouldn’t be an imaginary exercise especially if you’re already in business. All you have to do is call your best customers and find out the similarities between them. If you’re not in business yet, that information would come out of your product-market fit research.

  1. Understand how long the sales cycle is for the type of deal you’re trying to make in that particular industry- If you’re a salesperson who works across industries, you’ll need to understand that sales cycles vary depending on many factors such as the size of the company, whether it’s a startup or a traditional organization, whether there are many technical aspects in the deal that might require customizations, etc. In other words, just because following up might take 12 months, that doesn’t necessarily mean the deal won’t close eventually, as it could just mean there are many fine details that need to be agreed on.
  2. Know the difference between interest and intent. People who are only interested in buying will ask general questions about the company, but those with intent will ask specific questions related to your demo and pricing, information about maintenance, etc.
  3. Know how much your lead usually spends on solutions similar to yours. Understanding that not only helps you price your solution better but also helps you drop those for whom your product or service is too expensive.
  4. Most importantly, understand the true decision makers in the companies. Just because a person has a role or a job title doesn’t necessarily translate to them being able to influence the project. This is where social intelligence comes in as you’ll need to connect with many people within the organizations to understand where the true power really lies, and who makes all the decisions concerning budgets.

Ride the wave before it forms

Another thing to consider in the pre-qualification process is whether the demand for your product or service is established or emerging. This helps pre-empt qualified leads and get to them before your competition.

Most salespeople are familiar with Established Demand. It’s when customers have figured out what they need and how much they’ll pay for it. General attributes for Established Demand are as follows (Link Here):

  • Senior decision-maker involvement
  • Buying authority
  • Customer consensus
  • Approved budget
  • A clearly articulated need

Emerging Demand is one that is driven by some form of internal or external change. Internal drivers of organizational change could be ongoing poor commercial performance, senior leadership turnover etc. External drivers of change such as changes in legislation, technology or macro-economic trends usually impact multiple organizations at once thus widening your leads. For instance, Kenya’s ban on plastics brought about a demand for alternatives.

Once you’ve qualified your leads, the number of leads you have might be less but their quality would definitely go up so you could focus your resources on each one, naturally increasing your conversion rate.

Co-written with Amina Islam


Read more