Winston Churchill once said that Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.
But I doubt if he were an entrepreneur in Kenya he would coin such an inspiring and motivating quote.
My personal experience has taught me that success is the worst teacher anyone can have and that through success has many fathers, failure is an orphan and the best teacher on our path to growth, development, and success.
Our hands are tied in action, but are not tied in imagination — and everything springs forth from the imagination. Everything. This means that as life deals us whatever card, we must learn to adapt and engage and thrive, beyond surviving.
My biggest challenge through the years as I built Hidalgo Group of Companies wasn’t that there was no work, work was there.
Kenya is a rich country with opportunity.
The challenge was how to close a deal. How to approach a client and seal the deal. I recall pitching to over 1000 clients and getting no positive feedback from any, despite them showing interest to work with us.
I recall hiring over 20 sales and marketing ladies and gents to push our brand and none closed a deal in three months. I spent over KES 1,000,000 in salaries in those three months and yet we got nothing in return.
I faced closure. I was in debt and I was now surviving, running from those I owed and trying to push the business.
I have heard people say that a dangerous man is one who is horny. He will summon all the poetry of the universe, with words so smooth and lethal that no woman is safe if they are the target.
I believe a dangerous man is one who is broke with dreams the size of his entire world.
I was desperate and I was drowning and yet I believed in what Soko Directory was all about. I went back to drawing board and asked myself why 1000 clients didn’t say yes. In Hindsight, that period was very critical. I paused. They say rest is as good as change.
It’s very important to always pause, reflect, harness, learn and continue.
My pausing gave my business the needed wind in its sails. I found out where we were going wrong.
I found out that it’s never about how much you spend to get a deal but how you walk to the meeting place, how you plan, how you research, how you behave, how you speak, how you measure and analyze the moods of those you pitching to.
“I learned that closing a deal was a spiritual act. Like two souls merging into one in a sexual celestial moment. The same way a man woos a woman is how a deal needs to be chased and wooed and locked down. The concept is the same. The desire is the same. The denominator is the same,” Steve Biko Wafula, CEO Soko Directory.
I learned the hard way, through the years that the five key issues are relevant to closing a deal. That before a horny man can sleep with the woman of his fancy; there are certain things that he must fulfill.
Unfortunately, in deal chasing, as is with romance, the woman is the denominator. They choose you. They decide if they want you or not, even before you open your mouth.
Same for business. The client always has options. They know they can pick any supplier to deliver but if they choose you, then it means you have met their level of interest and they will give you a chance.
What I have learned along the way is that the five factors help in improving your options and chances to close a deal. These are:
Simplicity is the Holy Grail of getting what you want. Do research on the job that is needed to be done. Read on the competition. Understand their strong points, master their weak links. Understand the interest of the client and why they need this done. Find out if it’s been done before.
Colour your pitch with the truth. Beautify your character with honesty. Explain to the potential client why you need to do the job. Remove desperation from the essence of your voice. Show calmness in your words. Create the foundation of an experienced professional.
Markets are dictated by the forces of supply and demand. How much is your product or service in demand? How much is available in supply. These are the core denominators that MUST always define how you price your products or services.
What is the competition charging? How many are they? What additional value or feature do you have on your product or service. These are key to define and determine how you charge. Research is KEY.
Imagine telling a girl that you will rock her world. That you will make her squirt. That she will never look at another again if she gives you a chance. That you are the bull of your village and that twins run in your blood.
I can imagine the lady blushing from here to Timbuktu. Indeed a horny man is dangerous. What would you call this? This is over promising because you don’t know what the lady loves or what tickles her fancy or even if your size is too much for her or too small.
Now, what would happen if you got the chance and never delivered on any promise? As is in romance, so does it apply in business. It’s better to under promise. This way, the level of expectation is low and chances are that if you meet your bare minimum, the client will pay.
However, NEVER ever do the bare minimum. Always do your best. Under promise, over deliver. The client will never seek another supplier.
One of my biggest failures, that have held Hidalgo Group back is a failure to do follow-ups. We would pitch and never bother to follow up and find out what the client thought if they liked it if we failed, why we did so and how can we improve.
We were so desperate to close deals that we ignored those we pitched to and never got instant feedback. Follow up is key, it helps you and your team to understand the dynamics of engagement and help you improve your pitch for business.
Even after delivery is done. Always check up on your clients. Always ask them how the product is performing and doing. Find out how the service is, what their experience is, what their feedback is. This not only creates a positive aura about your brand, but it creates a relationship that is key to getting more business. Remember that word of mouth is the most powerful sale point.
Business as is life is about relationships. One thing the Kenyan market has taught me is that it’s about relationships. Nothing more, nothing less.
Deals aren’t closed because you have the best product or service in town, but because you have the ability to create, nurture and develop relationships. I can’t emphasize more on this.
I have learned the hard way that these five tenets are the guiding beacons to closing deals.
I’m still growing, I feel as though I’m just from baby class to nursery in the entrepreneurship journey and would love to learn and hear more from those who are more successful and better.