Why You Can’t Just Buy a Sales Team in Kenya

  Arielle Sandor wrote this on
October 2, 2017 | No Comments

How to Recruit, Interview, & Hire a Sales Team in Kenya

We’ve seen this attempt before for hiring a sales team…and most of the time, it doesn’t work.

How to Recruit, Interview, & Hire a Sales Team

As Duma Works, we have worked with over 500 clients across a variety of sectors in East Africa. As part of our work, we try to act not just as service providers to our clients, but also consultants on best recruiting practices, salary ranges, and pitfalls to avoid.

Hopefully our blog has also been evidence to this value-driven approach, and our insights to our readers have been valuable.

The biggest challenge we’ve seen clients face is in building sales teams. What we’ve found is that it’s often not the quality of candidates, but rather the assumption that if you just hire someone with a few years of experience in sales, they will be able to hit the targets that you’ve dreamed up for them in your financial model.

And, by the way, I’m not just writing about this experience that our clients have gone through – we also made this mistake at Duma Works, and also paid the price.

Here are a few insights we’ve seen when it comes to hiring and growing sales teams in Kenya based on our experience.

Figure out your sales strategy, then start hiring

  • Are you making long-cycle B2B sales or are you selling the consumers?
  • What is the size of your market and based on the outputs of your initial sales person/people, how many units do you expect one person to sell?
  • Is it smarter to recruit and scale up a sales team in-house, or would it be better to rely on an agency to push your sales? (mostly recommended for FMCG/B2C clients)
  • Has this model been tried before? Can you connect with someone in a parallel industry to find out?
  • Are you going to first hire an experienced Sales Manager and then recruit a team under them, or would you prefer to hire a sales person with a great deal of potential, and then promote them when you really need someone to manage your larger sales force?
  • Is your sales model consultative sales or transactional sales?
  • Do you require actual sales people, or would it be better to hire technical people who you can train to sell? (Often this is an easier training than teaching sales people about your technical product)
  • If you’re planning on scaling up your sales team super fast, who on your team do you trust to oversee them and their on-boarding/training?
  • Do you need to hire a person with experience selling products or services? What companies do you admire about their sales and what do you think they are doing right?

Think about these things BEFORE you start recruiting, not after.

Test your assumptions about your model, with an eye on your unit economics

There are tons of different ways to build sales, and these questions are things you need to start asking yourself before you go to hire an enormous sales force.

As a startup ourselves, we always suggest trying a few different models with a few hires to start, and then once you’ve worked out all the kinks, begin hiring more people one by one.

This way, you get to learn along the way, and you don’t waste a ton of time recruiting a large group of people, only to have wasted time and money, and then need to pay a full month’s salary to people when you let them go.

As you play around with the model that works, you should keep your eyes on your sales funnel, the cost of acquisition, Lifetime Value of clients, and if your assumptions are proving to be true even as your team begins to grow.

Get your remuneration model down, and make it competitive if you’re serious (!!)

The worst thing is when a client has ambitious plans about the sales team they are going to hire, and then we discover that they are looking for sales people with 3+ years experience, and they are paying below $300 a month without commissions.

Let’s be realistic about what is and is not possible, please.

If you are going to pay a below market price for your employees, you will not be able to hire candidates who are good, and who will stay. If you are paying below market, you need to understand that you will therefore need to invest in heavier training in fresh grads and that your churn rate will be higher.

With a higher churn rate, you need to make sure your recruiting and on-boarding process is airtight, to save as much time as you can.

Hiring fresh grads is not a bad thing though! If you can create a successful training model for these new recruits, you will find they learn much more quickly, and are more eager to succeed that Degree holders with a few years under their belts, who are now expecting $1,000 a month take-home, and will be quick to jump ship.

Invest in fresh grads and you will have a more loyal sales team. Invest in their continued development and your will truly be a force to be reckoned with.

With lower salaries and higher churn, understand that you are choosing to invest sunk time rather than sunk money in your sales force – but either way, you are parting with value.

Establish a rigorous training & on-boarding structure for new hires

Just because someone has experience selling does not mean that they have experience selling your product or service.

When you’re looking for sales people, you are going largely on their proven track record, the lead list they come with, and also their personality and potential.

The thing about sales people is that they are best when they really believe in what they are selling and the team they are working with. If a sales person (or anyone on the team, for that matter), believes in what you are doing as a company, they will be a much more compelling sales person.

This is why it is absolutely essential that you invest in a thorough on-boarding process for all your sales people.

At Duma Works, we even have our new sales hires sit down with every department and go through their functions for a week. In this way, they know who they are responsible to, and they also know the ins and outs of the product/service.

We also take time to walk our new sales hires through our office culture, aspirational values, communications etiquette & tone, and what we call our Sales Bible.

It seems like a lot of things to set up, but I guarantee that if you invest in this process, you will save time and earn more money in the long-run, because you will have a more loyal, more motivated sales force.

Happy Hiring!

We hope this article was helpful to you as you build your team! If you feel we’ve left anything out or made some gross errors in our evaluation, we’d love to hear from you đŸ™‚ You can reach out in the comments or by emailing us on [email protected]


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