Are you a manager or a trader and you want to sell your products in Africa? Or are you planning on settling on the continent and creating a company?
The key to your success will be: selling well. “It’s like everywhere!” I hear you reply! Yes, but not quite. In other markets recruiting the right people and some market analysis will be enough, Africa has other particularities you need to know.
Know Your Product & Your Target
Assuming you know your product well, or you are already very familiar with the service you are going to offer. It is essential to identify your targets accurately:
* Region (West Africa, East Africa, etc.)
* Cities (ports, capitals, etc)
* Socio-professional categories
Unfortunately, with the exception of some major sectors of activity (oil & gas, mining, and other resources), Africa lacks studies and compiled bodies of company information. For example in Benin you should talk to the Chamber of Commerce, in Cotonou as soon as you can. But remember where there is difficulty there is often opportunity!
Therefore you should start with the help of locally based consultants and accounting firms like Mazars, who have a local presence. And once you are there you’ll need to understand: buying behaviors, consumption patterns, prices, competitive pressures, and just generally get an idea of what people are looking for. Your market research will inform your positioning of your products or your activities in Africa.
Surround Yourself With The Right People
Just like in any other country culture is a critical element of all relationships you foster. It influences the way a project is carried out, it can weaken or even paralyze it.
In Africa, we do not communicate in the same way as we communicate in Europe or in North America. The emotional side in Africa will take up more of the relationship building than you are used to elsewhere. More than anywhere else, the African buyer wants to be allowed to present himself and his needs. Not to forget that the African culture is rich and diverse and varies from one country to another; so try not to arrive with any pre-judgements and expectations.
Consequently, you will necessarily have to surround you with the right people: the partner in charge of your interests locally, your employees who run your business on a daily basis, your suppliers. The best place to start your search is Linkedin as it’s a very valued service among business people on the Continent.
Choose Your Business Intermediary, 4 Choices:
The success and growth of your business will depend on the organization you decide to use.
It’s true that you can sell independently. However, to amplify your activity, cover large territories and expand quickly, take one or more intermediaries. Below we’ve broken down 4 options you should consider:
1. A Broker
It might be the best opportunity when you are in unfamiliar markets and you have no local contact: the broker can be a real boost to start and meet the right people quickly. They will bring you closer to your potential clients in order to facilitate or conclude transactions. The broker’s compensation is a percentage of the amount of the transaction.
2. The Commissioned Sales Team
It might be the best solution when you want to sell and buy in complete confidentiality. The commission agent is the one to whom you mandate to buy or sell on your behalf and in his own name the goods for a commission. He must respect the prices you set. Necessarily loyal, he watches over your interests. He can not, therefore, in any way purchase for himself the goods which he is charged to sell.
3. The Commercial Agent
This is the compromise between the broker and the commissioner. Advantages: flexibility and versatility. The commercial agent negotiates and concludes contracts of sale, purchase or renting. The commercial agent has to be meticulously chosen because he represents you and convey your image. Trust must be total.
4. B to B Marketplace
A business to business (B2B) marketplace is a 2-sided platform connecting sellers to professional buyers. It enables communities of buyers and sellers to meet on the Internet and to conduct trade. B2B marketplaces eliminate the inherent inefficiencies in traditional markets by improving the relationship between buyers and suppliers, reducing supply chain costs, and promoting price discovery.
In Africa, WaystoCap.com is an African focused B2B marketplace where African buyers can connect with suppliers all over the world. By facilitating the whole trading process, you, as a supplier, can access new markets and trade in a secure environment.
We certainly have not gone around the whole issue of selling in Africa, but If you were asking yourself: how to find buyers in Mali or Ivory Cost? Or how to find buyers in Africa in general? You only need to make the right choice and you’re ready to dig into a new market and expand your business in Africa. We hope this article helps. Don’t hesitate to communicate your thoughts with us in the comment section.