Read time: 3 minutes

African startup advice series: how to achieve sales success

By , ITWeb
Africa , 06 Oct 2014

African startup advice series: how to achieve sales success

As business owners, we depend on sales to provide us with the cashflow and profit we want and need. Whether you do the selling, have others sell for you or any such combination, your revenue, profit and income will always reflect how well you turn prospects into paying customers.

So why do some owners and salespeople struggle to close the deal, while others find easy success? Sales success depends on four factors – Attitude, Activity, Ability and Administration (AAAA).

Attitude is more than just self-confidence. It is about you and your personal beliefs. You have to view sales as "professionally helping your customers to buy from you". But it is also about your attitude towards the products or services you offer. Do you and your team firmly believe you fill a need in the market? Can you deliver what you promise every time without fail? Do your customers get real value by working with your company or purchasing your products? If you or your team cannot confidently say 'yes' to these questions, selling will typically be a challenge. So how do you fix it? Focus on improving the delivery of your service and get clarity on the benefits so you (and your team) always have a 'can-do' attitude.

Activity is all about 'doing' and involves marketing to generate leads and sales to convert those leads to paying customers. If you do not generate enough activity, you will not generate enough sales and revenue. So how much activity is the right amount? It depends on the sales and revenue goals you have set. To start, ask yourself two questions. What strategies, such as cold calling, advertising, direct mail, networking, referral programs, are you using to generate leads and how consistently and frequently are you using them? All too often, small businesses rely on one or two strategies and do them when revenues drop or they get around to it.

Next, look at the sales management system – or process you use to convert leads to sales and ask yourself what activities, such as follow-up calls, setting up meetings, doing estimates or proposals, making presentations, must be done to turn a lead into a sale?

Finally, set activity goals to support your revenue goals. The best way to do this is to start with the end in mind – revenue goals or number of new customers. Then, using your conversion rate, develop the number of appointments, proposals and/or leads you need to achieve this. Successful sales people know their conversion rates from lead to sale.

Ability is about how well the salesperson can uncover customer needs so they can provide the best possible solution to make the sale. To do so effectively, we must firstly recognise that buying decisions are primarily emotional, a desire for gain or fear of loss. Secondly, people buy benefits, not features, so you need to know the benefits your products or services provide and understand the true emotional motivators for your target customers. Once you understand these two important facts, selling is much easier because you do not sell; you simply provide solutions that meet their needs.

Administration is not everyone's strength, but all too often great sales people lose new customers because they lose information. They don't follow a disciplined sales process, follow up when agreed, and the prospects fall through the cracks. When you demonstrate an organised, 'on-the-ball' approach, it gives prospective customers more reason to do business with you. In addition, without effective administration, you can't measure the effectiveness of your lead generation strategies, your conversion points and your sales success. And remember, you can't manage what you can't measure.

The good news is that all of these skills can be learned and developed if you have the desire to be successful. Which of the AAAA factors do you need to work on? Take action.

Greg is CEO and Business & Executive Coach at bizHQ. He writes columns for ITWeb Africa that provide advice for up-and-coming African technology businesses and startups. To find out more about Greg Mason, be sure to visit his website:

Read more
Daily newsletter