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Strategic marketing and sales training to help agri-businesses grow and thrive!

By Renew Capital Marketing and Communications Team | Fri Dec 09 2022
Women are a large part of the agricultural workforce yet there is a gap in access to finance and training that makes women-led agribusinesses more vulnerable to shocks like COVID-19 and the impact of climate change on farming. In 2021, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Renew Capital partnered up to support women in agribusiness through the African Resilience & Investment Series for Women Executives (ARISE) Program, which boosts resilience through capacity building in areas such as business financials; sales and marketing; and investment preparedness. 
The following is part of a series of blogs detailing ARISE’s most recent training sessions. 
The next set of those same sessions kicked off on November 16. ARISE encourages women in agribusiness to sign up and join AGRA’s business management on the Value4HerConnect portal. 
Join the Enhanced Pitch Coaching Session: December 15 Register Here
Increasing sales and profit are important measures of success for small businesses but beyond that, female-owned agribusinesses have a role in boosting food production and reducing food insecurity. ARISE is interested in helping these businesses move from merely surviving; to thriving, and with that goal in mind, in October it presented women in agribusiness with a basic marketing and sales training workshop titled Thrive. 
Defining and Executing a Marketing Strategy
Since entrepreneurs often do not have expertise in marketing and sales, ARISE’s training starts by defining the main function and principles of this topic. According to Renew Capital’s Head of Shared Growth Services, JC Oelofse, “marketing is any activity that enables the business to meet its revenue targets” which are laid out in the business’s yearly or quarterly plan. Marketing is customer-centric and therefore, marketing activities should be able to deliver and communicate value to the customer. 
“The world right now is–- grow or die. If you are just sustaining your business, eventually you will die because you are not moving forward, you are not growing revenue,” Oelofse added. 
Just like any other strategic plan, the marketing plan must be written down and it should help focus and align a company's efforts toward achieving growth. That written plan should include the following: 
Define a Target Market 
In defining a company’s target market, its leaders need to be as specific as possible by learning about their customers and creating detailed personas, using demographics and psychographics of people who need the product or service and their attributes and behaviors. 
As an example, he told the group, “Your persona should be something like this: a 22-25-year-old Ugandan woman with an income of 500,000 Ugandan shillings, who has a four-year degree, single, and just started her first job.” 
Identify the Core Benefit 
There are three possible core benefits of a product which are quality, price, and service, and understanding them will help business leaders know the selling point on which they can engage in marketing. Some customers are focused on the quality of your product while others are looking for the cheapest option. This can be easily applied to agri-products even when product prices are determined by directives from the government, explained Oelofse. 
“When you are in a price-controlled market, you are kind of stuck between two parameters but that drives you to the principle of product market fit. Is there another way to present your product? Is there another channel to present your product? Is there something else you can do to add value before it hits the market?”
Consistency 
Whatever the plans to implement, a business leader wants to make sure they are being consistent in driving it forward and making sure that they are always top of mind for their customers. This means reaching out to your customers as much as possible and using different channels to remind customers of the products the company can offer. 
Bad Marketing vs Good Marketing 
The session also taught the participants how to understand the difference between good and bad marketing. Here are some examples:
Bad Marketing 
  • Not focused or consistent, thus consuming a lot of energy and money, but with few results.
  • Not backed up by market research.
  • The company is not delivering on its marketing commitment.
  • The competition can easily copy the plan.
  • The plans, goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) aren’t tracked.
  • The marketing plan has no rhythm.
Good Marketing 
  • Focuses on a core value proposition or benefit to the customer.
  • The entire company is designed to deliver that benefit.
  • The marketing function is clearly different from the sales function.
  • Information on the target market and competitors is regularly gathered and analyzed.
  • There is a regular standing meeting each week and month to review marketing goals, activities and KPIs.
  • The CEO works closely with the marketing manager to build strategies to take the business forward
Gender Smart-Marketing 
The session also looked at marketing through the often-overlooked gender-smart lens.  This strategy is built around the understanding that according to the United Nations World Population Prospects Report, women make up almost 50% of the population, and more than half of the purchasing power is held by women. As such, more effort should be put into marketing that speaks to women, without reinforcing gender stereotypes in advertising.
Marketing vs Sales
Although marketing and sales usually feed into each other, they are two vastly different functions. As such, ARISE’s program emphasized the importance of understanding a given business to decide whether it’s marketing or sales that should lead. If the products are small, relatively less costly, and do not require much explanation, marketing leads. However, with products that are more complex and considered expensive, sales leads. 
Setting Up a Sales Team
Setting up a successful sales team comes down to getting the right people and creating processes to review progress. Oelofse told participants that teams must consist of determined individuals because evidence shows on average it takes up to 12 touchpoints with a customer to make a sale. 
To ensure a good sales process, he said it was important to consider the following: 
  • A detailed description of the ideal customer experience one’s company hopes to deliver.
  • A disciplined and persistent person or team running sales.
  • A written sales system followed by those assigned to use it.
  • A religiously updated and reviewed sales pipeline.
  • Sales metrics that are reported to management on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • A well-run, focused weekly sales meeting to update the pipeline and KPIs.
  • Alignment between the sales teams' compensation and the company’s sales targets.
  • A system for gathering and measuring customer feedback and satisfaction.
  • Customer feedback is gathered, documented, and reviewed by management, and new initiatives are implemented to improve scores. 
Following the training, Samrawit Geremew, a Renew Capital senior project manager in Ethiopia, expressed her contentment with the way the training in this partnership with AGRA is growing a more gender-balanced agricultural workforce. 

“We want women in agribusiness to come away from this training knowing they have what it takes and learn how to make the best of their acquired skills to grow sustainable businesses that will become pillars of the African economy.” 
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