Finding an Agent for Portable Sawmills in Africa
One of the most challenging jobs in any business, is the marketing and sales. Presenting your product in the best possible light and either selling it direct, or setting up Agents. And every customer in every country has different needs and challenges.
Today my topic is Finding an Agent for Portable Sawmills in Africa.
Finding Agents is HAAAAAAARD work. Firstly, I have to find an organization that sells a range of complementary products, rather than competing products. I’ve got to find someone who speaks English, or at least knows how to use Google Translate well. They must have enough capital to invest in an outlay of sawmills, before they’ve even sold any – people usually buy once they have seen and touched. Our ideal Agent must be skilled in forestry as well as engineering – they must be dedicated to training, backup, and servicing the buyer, no matter where they are. And most of all, they must be able to communicate clearly, fully, and frequently. It’s the lack of information that causes most issues – from loss of sales right down to a disgruntled customer.
Generally, the African Agents I have had contact with haven’t been the best communicators. It’s probably the language barrier, or the unreliable Internet networks, or maybe just the lack of technology to communicate period. We can often go several months if not years before hearing again from someone who needed a spare parts quote ‘urgently’. Even previous Agents would only really email when they had an urgent issue, and as a last resort. No updates on progress, or how the local show went, or what the economy is doing…
And we get ‘requests to be our Agent’ from the African continent all too frequently. Everyone is in it to make a buck, money is hard to make, and every man and his dog is trying to get in on the ‘deals’ for a free ride. But when they find out they can’t just pass on a quote and keep 25% for their pockets, we never hear back. Or that we won’t fall for the whole “I want a discounted sawmill then I can be your Agent” offer…
So imagine my surprise, when a long-standing company in South Africa contacts us and offers to ‘do some advertising to test the waters’. Outlay money of their own? With no guarantees? Yeah, right…
Well we are now three months down the track, and I have pages of emails and updates and communications on their progress (wow). They have spent thousands on advertising, they’ve put together a spare parts stock order just this week, and have already quoted over 20 units to enquiries from their recent ads in several different magazines. Wow! I still can’t believe it, really. Fingers crossed I can announce a new South African agent in the coming months. Watch this space.
Oh here’s another request from Nigeria today… “Please can you send a saw urgently and charge to my three credit cards…” Yeah, right!
If you are based in Africa and would like to contact us regarding an order, please click here to email us.