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The B2B Battlefield: How to Make Successful Corporate Sales

Jordan Stephanou

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So you’re running a start-up that targets corporate clients. All you need is a few corporate signatures on that paper, and all of a sudden you’ll have a sky-rocketing business with an exciting guaranteed revenue stream every month, right? Right… But it’s not quite that easy.

Maybe you decided against a B2C (Business to Consumer model) because the marketing spend to win over one consumer at a time was not worth it, or that the South African consumer market is not big enough in your industry, or that it’s better to get 10 paying corporates rather than a million paying individuals. You’re not alone, and you’re not wrong.

Both models have their major pros and their major cons. Trust me, I know. But here are some of the lessons I’ve had by pursuing the B2B model.

The pitch: Anything other than a resounding ‘yes’ is likely a ‘no’

First step is to get the pitch. There is a huge temptation to go about it as passively as possible, hoping that the deal will fall in your lap with a well written email. Reality is a little different however. To secure most pitches, a combination (or all) of in-person approach, phone call, linked-in message and email could be required. Once you’ve secured the pitch, book it in both parties’ calendars and hope that there’s no last minute cancellation. The exciting part awaits.

The sad fact of human nature is that people don’t always say what they mean, or mean what they say. Possibly it’s because we don’t like to hurt each other, or it’s because we avoid uncomfortable discussion as if it’s the plague.

Whatever the reason, it’s quite rare to receive “hard no’s”. The reality is that after a pitch, anything other than a resounding yes, or a “when can we start”, or “where can I sign?”, is likely to be a soft no; they have no interest in doing business with you. The entrepreneurial spirit is one that looks at the positive in everything, so it could be very dangerous for a glass half-full entrepreneur to receive a soft no, because this person will very much believe the deal is still alive.

Once again, trust me, I know. I recommend tempering the enthusiasm by looking out for any sign of an excuse during the pitch, and addressing it then and there. You know how hard you worked to get that meeting – so make sure you leave with no question unanswered, knowing that you did everything you could to win that business, or learnt everything you could to enhance your product, service or pitch to win future business. If you don’t get their business, it just means you didn’t get their business right now. Extract the positives and move forward.

1. Balance patience & momentum: They don’t operate like start-ups

It’s often said that a corporate is the most important thing to a startup, but a startup is far from the most important thing to a corporate.

As SMEs, we just have to accept that. Where we would respond to an email in a heartbeat, it may take our corporate contact 2 weeks to respond; especially if they are decision-maker. They don’t need our business, but we need theirs. As such, it’s important to remember when following up on a successful pitch that they are big, they are busy, and they have multiple balls being juggled at once. It’s likely that our proposition is the least important to them, and may be seen as a luxury.

Remember, they didn’t pursue you, you pursued them. So we have to be patient. But this is the difficult part; we have to balance patience with the desire to keep momentum. It’s an oft-said phrase that “time kills deals”. As start-ups, we need to be respectful that our prospective client is busy, but also very direct and honest with them in terms of our position and our goals and objectives.

If we are direct about when we want to conclude a deal and why, it could scare them away, or it could lead to them prioritizing the deal as a priority. Either way, it’s better to know where you stand rather than have something drag on in that mythical pipeline for months or years as false hope.

2. Their emails are not their priority

After the pitch, it’s easy to get in an unhealthy pattern. That pattern could look something like this: Send follow up documents directly after the pitch; hear nothing back from the prospective client; send a follow-up email the following week; hear nothing back; send another follow-up email the following week; hear nothing back; send another follow-up email the following week etc. into perpetuity until you go crazy and re-apply for your old job.

I have learnt that busy decision-makers in the corporate environment don’t just sit at their desk all day reading and responding to emails. They’re on the move, in important meeting after important meeting, flying to London followed by a quick trip to Doha and then 10 days in New York. They’re not setting the wheels in motion in response to your proposal in that spare 30 minutes in the airport.

As such, when they are available, you need their full attention and you need to get them to commit to the next step. Either a phone call or in-person visit is effective with this. Getting through to them and asking them the difficult questions about the next step is the only way to be top of mind, and to find out if they are serious about this deal or not.

From my lessons, I recommend emails as secondary to the phone call as a way of confirming what was discussed over the phone in terms of next steps.

3. Improve the product / service – become irresistible

With all else said, there is only one way to consistently increase chances of getting a deal over the line. That is, simply, have an incredible product or service that solves a real problem. If you have pitch after pitch where the response is luke-warm, you should ask them before leaving “what would this product have to do / look like for you to sign up right now?”.

Once you’ve had a few meetings like this, you will understand exactly what your market needs. If you build that product or service that the market craves, you’ll be turning away clients because the demand for your business will be so high. Become indispensable. Build something so good that your clients would be crazy to say no to.

4. Build a pipeline

Your business should never rely on one client saying yes. Putting too much emphasis on one deal will make you desperate, and desperation is the easiest way to scare someone away – relationship, business or anything else. Your market should be big enough that a rejection here and there is water under the bridge and simply a learning.

Closing one deal will provide a proof of concept and credibility that can be leveraged to close the next deal. Each subsequent client should, in theory, be easier to win than the previous one.

Finally, if the product or service is constantly being enhanced according to the market’s needs, if there are enough clients in the pipeline, and if the follow-ups after a great pitch are being done effectively, deals should go through systematically. At the end of the day, closing a deal shouldn’t feel like hard work. The best way to win business is by building a great business that solves real problems.

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Founder of tastePal / Startup Shack / Job Creation Project with African Union & European Union / One Young World

Agribusiness

Step By Step Guide On How To Rear Broilers And Kienyeji Chicken

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In the modern day Kenyan, most young people are involved in technology related careers such that it would not be a wonder to see that in the five or ten years to come, we might have less people producing agricultural products for the country’s population.

It is for this reason that despite my background in a technology related Bachelor’s course, I developed interest in chicken rearing especially the ‘kienyeji’ chicken.

Most important requirement is the passion and the motivation. Poultry farming is not for the faint hearted. It has several requirements and requires devotion.

To start a poultry farming business, these are the must haves;

  1. Formulate a business plan with the intended goals and how to achieve them
  2. Have enough capital. This includes some space of land, electricity/lighting and equipment –feeders, drinkers, water storage
  3. Decide which type of poultry you wish to invest in say the broilers, layers or kienyeji chicken.
  4. Find a niche market
  5. Keep all accounting records accurately

Having achieved that, let us take a step by step guide on how to rear broilers and kienyeji chicken.

First and foremost have a good housing structure facing away from the winds direction. The house should always be dry to avoid infection (wood shavings are used to keep the house dry. It should have good lighting and proper ventilation. Before the chicken arrive, disinfect the house to avoid infection. Prepare brooding area (it should be well spaced, should be without corners and with proper lighting), spread newspapers on the floor of the brooding area and light up the heat jiko 30 minutes prior chicks arrival.

Feeding

Day 1 to day 11. Chicks are in the brooder are fed on starters mash and crumb. (They eat all the time; their rooms should be properly light). At night the heat jiko is lit to keep them warm.

After 11 days, the chicken are brought out of brooder and are still fed on starters mash and crumbs up to day 21. From day 21 to day 42 the chicken are fed on finisher’s marsh and pellets and are ready for sale.

An average broiler weighs 1.5kgs. Broilers should be kept where there is no noise to avoid stressing them. Broilers takes 6 six weeks to mature.

Kienyeji chicks assuming you have the right housing and equipment.

It is necessary to select the right breed. These include improved kari chicks, kuroiler chicks, rainbow rooster and kenbro. Kienyeji farming is cheap though it requires lots of patience. Kienyeji chick takes 5-6 months to lay eggs or have right weight for meat.

Feeding

Kienyeji chicks are fed on chick mash from day one for 8weeks. By the end of 8weeks a chick should have consumed 2kgs of feed that is 35g per day.

From 8th week to 18th week they are fed on growers mash. A chick should consume around 7kgs (100g per day).

From 18th week you can introduce layers mash if you want them for eggs or kienyeji mash.

Kienyeji chicks do not depend entirely on commercial feeds unlike broilers you can feed them with food leftovers greens spinach and worms this lowers cost on feeds.

Water: Clean water should be provided always

Vaccination

  • Day 10-Gumboro first dose
  • Day 15- Gumboro second dose
  • 3rd week- Newcastle
  • 6th week – fowl pox
  • 8th week- Newcastle 2nd dose and fowl typhoid
  • 18th week -Newcastle
  • 19th week –Deworm

Prevention is better than cure always vaccinate

Housing: Should be well ventilated and spaced. Have good lighting

There are various housing methods. eg free range, battery cage system.

It is that easy to raise a chick. Though it requires passion, patience and persistence it is indeed a worthy course. Do not just be a chicken lover be a chicken raiser increase chicks weight.

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You Can make Ksh 48,000 By Selling Smokies and Eggs: This Is How

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Self-employment is good. It is the only thing you can do day and night and feel contented, that you have done something meaningful. You cannot compare employment and business. This is because with business you are your own boss, but with employment, your boss is always on your neck regardless of the effort you put in. Business is however not for everyone, especially not for the faint hearted.

Small-scale businesses have been on the rise in our country, especially due to the high cases of unemployment. If you are thinking of starting something, then the smokies and eggs business is a choice you might want to consider.

First and foremost, you need capital, less than Ksh. 10,000. For starters, you need a smokie grilling equipment which goes for around Ksh. 5,000, a supply of smokies and eggs and of course a source of fire. For smokies you can get them at the nearest Farmer’s choice Shop, where a packet of smokies, containing 22 pieces goes for Ksh. 330. As for the eggs, you can get supply from your nearest shop or source from friends, where normally a tray goes for Ksh. 300 or Ksh. 280, depending on your supplier.

A strategic location to locate your business is also necessary. You need to place your business where people can easily access it. For instance; near bus stops and stages, around learning institutions, around bars and clubs, around places hosting social events, or generally any other place you think people can easily access.

The profit margins in this type of business are huge. Allow me to take you through.

When you buy a packet of smokies at Ksh. 330, with 22 pieces, that means each piece goes for Ksh. 15. So how about you sell a piece at Ksh. 25? You automatically get a profit of Ksh. 10. And if you are in a highly populated area where you can sell like five or more packets, you get very high returns.

If you manage to sell five packets a day, with each packet containing 22pieces, you will have sold 110 pieces. If you sell each at Ksh.25, you make Ksh. 2750. The expenses you will have used that day are averagely 330*5= 1650 Ksh. Plus kachumbari cost which is averagely Ksh. 100 for tomatoes, onions and dhania.  That adds up to Ksh. 1750. Total profits from that sale will add up to Ksh. 2750-1750=1000. Simply put, you will make a profit of Ksh. 1000 in a day.

If you decide to sell eggs as well, your profit will be elevated. Take for instance you sell averagely 2 trays of eggs per day. That is Ksh.60, with every egg costing Ksh.20, thus making Ksh. 1200 a day. The expenses involved for eggs per day are Ksh. 600 for two trays of eggs.  That means, the profit you will make in a day for eggs is Ksh. 600

The best part is here… If you decide to do both eggs and smokies, your monthly income estimates will be Ksh. 48000 in a month. How awesome.

And just in case you do not have time to run the business due to other engagements, you can hire someone for the day at Ksh. 200 per day. Now that, is convenience, don’t you think?

Most people do not want to venture into this kind of business because they feel it is of those who are not educated. How about you give that a second thought now? You can actually do this as a side hustle. For instance, if you are a regular student in college, you might need an extra penny at the end of the day and this might be a good idea for you. After classes, you can do this in the evening till late in the night. Even if you are already employed you can do this alongside your full time job.

Roasting and selling smokies is also stress free. It only requires basic culinary skills, and of course marketing and communication skills to keep your customers and get new ones. You can do it on a part time basis or even consider full time.

If you are there and wondering what to do with the little capital you have, here’s an option for you.  You can try this out and see how it turns out. All the best I as you endeavor to get in this new exciting your venture.

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Here’s How You Can Your Talent Into a Viable Business

Inversk Review

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What’s your talent? How are you going to build it into a successful business?

When you talk about talent, I am 100% sure the first thing that pops in your mind is singing, dancing, drawing etc.

It’s very hard to find people thinking that talent is everywhere, from the tech world, people who are very active on social media, computer buffs, someone who has amazing people skills; you will find talent everywhere you look.

Most individuals have a talents that can be leveraged into pioneering a new business.

Perhaps, you are known for making the best cupcakes in town, or maybe all your neighbors knock on your door when they need help fixing their appliances and sound systems. You may also have a hobby at which you excel.

By turning your talent into a business, not only do you get to be your own boss, but you invite others to benefit from your passion and eventually will hopefully be able to provide new jobs in your community as your venture grows.

For example, did you know that the founder of Instagram has no formal engineering training, but rather was a marketer who taught himself to program and code at night?

Kevin Systrom was passionate about photography and wanted to create a new, social-media-oriented way for people to exchange photos with friends and family. He taught himself programming so that he could share his passion for photography with others.

Another example of an entrepreneur who has learnt a new skill in order to create a successful business is Shawn O’Connor founder of Stratus Prep. He explains in Forbes magazine that his own experience offered another example of honing one’s skills and putting them to use in launching a business.

After obtaining his JD/MBA from Harvard, Shawn had opportunities to work at leading financial institutions and global law firms, but his true passion lay not in the corporate world, but in education and mentoring.

“I relished my time at Harvard and founded Stratus Prep as a means of helping other students win acceptance into the schools of their dreams. The psychological payoff was unparalleled. I utilized my teaching, test-taking, and admissions counseling skills and experience and eventually attracted countless qualified experts to my team to establish Stratus Prep as leading boutique test prep and admissions counseling firm,” Shawn explains.

He has leveraged his love for counseling to serve on the boards of and advise numerous successful startups. And these are just among many people who have succeeded in using their talents.

Unlike ‘traditional’ businesses whose real assets might be the factories they own and the goods they produce, a startup’s real wealth is the talent it attracts and produces ss seen with so many one-time startups that have become household names over the years.

Having a great vision, belief, and skills makes it possible for a small business with not much cash reserves to take on giants with billion-dollar valuations. That makes it virtually essential in fact, perhaps the most important focus point of any startup.

As you can see, businesses are most successful when they stem from a talent, even if you have to adjust it slightly to meet consumer desires, and then do it.

Even if your passion does not seem profitable at first glance, such as enjoying browsing through your friends’ photographs.

First, take time and know your talent, see how you can make it grow either by attending conferences, exhibitions, expositions, workshops, soft skills training, just take time to learn how to grow your talent.

Look around in your community and try to see where there is a gap that you can fill using your talent (people buy or pay for goods or services for things that they value), do your research well.

You can start small and learn to grow, have a vision and mission. Also yearn to grow through exploring and learning new things don’t be tied down to one idea, the world is evolving so evolve with it. Settle for understanding and commitment to the vision.

You now have the few steps to start your own business and begin revolutionizing not only your economic future but also that of your community and the nation!

While many Kenyans would love to own a business, they are often dissuaded because they do not believe that their passion will reap sufficient profit to sustain them financially.

While it is critically important to plan your finances carefully before launching a new business, do not be discouraged, many entrepreneurs have been in the very same position, and they have found a solution in developing a new talent to complement their passion for the freedom and opportunity that comes with entrepreneurship.

Go on, be encouraged to use your imagination and make your talent as attractive as can be!

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