Building a B2B Network in the UAE

An Executive Summary on How to build a Sales Strategy for MENA


In 20202 I was tasked with creating a Sales Strategy to acquire clients for a B2B SaaS e-commerce Solution at FODEL. With all that I had learned at my previous stints, this was finally an opportunity to build a strategy on my own terms. The MENA particularly the UAE with its fast and competitive Tech Start-up community creates an atmosphere where email boxes, LinkedIn chats, and WhatsApp groups are filled with sales persons all vying for an opportunity to sell their latest solution to the intended lead. This inevitably has led many decision-makers to be highly specific in how they finally agree to settle on one out of a basket of competing solutions. Thus a Sales Strategy has to be thoroughly thought through and also be creative. The case study below is a detailed account on how I formulate a Sales Strategy.

The Sales Strategy: A Step by Step Account

Step 1: Create a Sales Portal: A Landing page with all relevant Sales information

Step 2: Create Creative Content: "The Hook" that will spark an interest in your Leads.

Step 3: Identify Touchpoints: Identify the most relevant persons around your targeted lead

Step 4: Lay the Ground Work: Distribute the Hook among the touch points, Ensure the Lead is well aware of your solution.

Step 5: Get Referred: Find a stakeholder who can introduce you to your targeted lead.

Step 6: Make the Sale: Have a Sales pitch ready & gamed, and make the sale 

What is a Sales Portal?

A web landing page that quickly identifies 1) Credibility 2) The Solution 3) The Appeal 4) Users of your SaaS Solution at a quick glance.

The 10 Advantages of a Sales Portal vs. a Sales Deck?

  1. Exhibits Content: A Sales Portal allows you to exhibit multiple different mediums of content Videos, Articles, Photos, and Infographics all at a single glance.
  2. Easy Accessibility: A web portal is easily accessible to all with a single click versus a PPT which has to be scrolled through by using compatible software. Not everyone has PowerPoint & Acrobat Reader.
  3. Interactivity: A sales portal can be interactive, displaying surveys, infographics, pricing & market scenarios, and far more interesting than a sales deck.
  4. A Single platform: A sales Portal can host multiple sales decks and other sales material that doesn't get lost in an inbox.
  5. Makes you stand out:  A Creative sales portal immediately makes your solution stand out vis-a-vis any other competing sales decks.
  6. Brings Credibility: Your Solution is made far more credible when supported with video testimonials, News Coverage, and web blogs all of which get overlooked in a Sales Deck.
  7. Brand on Display: A sales portal also brings out the power of your brand design which is often lost in a sales deck.
  8. Showcase Use Cases: A portal gives you the ability to showcase multiple use cases of your product/service in far more detail.
  9. Host APIs & Documentation: When selling a SaaS product, API documentation is often the most important item that needs to be perused by a tech team. This can be easily hosted on a sales platform. 
  10. Easy distribution: A link to a web portal can be easily shared over a Call, Whatsapp and or email allowing faster distribution than a deck

Step 2: Create A Hook

Zomato's Below the Line Social media marketing campaign to create a community of "Zomans" and "Foodies"

"A Hook" in sales is often described as anything that can be offered to reel in a potential client during a Sales Pitch. This can be done in the form of a clever sales argument, a discounted offering, a countdown to a deadline, or most importantly by conveying a relatable sentiment. The latter however is by far the single most efficient USP that can distinguish you from a competitor.

Thus is it no doubt important to have a discounted offering or a limited-time incentive to close in a sale, Unfortunately, factors including pricing and incentives can often be undercut and/or matched by big-pocketed and desperate competitors. 

However, Creative Content that is made relatable or even inspires humor is often made viral by the receiver and thus also creates more word-of-mouth marketing. An approach like how Zomato created several viral marketing social media memes stands a testament to how low-budget smart marketing allows for rapid adoption of the brand.


The Decision Maker is the end goal, but often the decision maker also has to convince levels of bureaucracy within his/her company that the solution is an advantage to the organization. 

A Typical SaaS solution often requires approval from 1) The Decision Maker 2) Tech Department 3) Operations Department 4) Finance Department 5) Legal Department. 

And so identifying the most relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process often helps the decision-maker inclined to approve the sale. 

However, as the stakeholders vary from one organization to another it is best as the rule of thumb to approach the stakeholders as follows:

Send the Sales Portal and the Hook in the following manner:

  1. By Direct Salesperson via WhatsApp to the Decision Maker.
  2. By Company News Letter to various persons across departments within the targeted organization.
  3. Directly to an internal reference: Identify a senior management reference via a mutual connection within the Sales Network
  4. By generating interest via an External Vendor: Many Organizations deal with external vendors like Stock Suppliers, 3rd party Logistics, HR PROs, and SaaS Solution Providers all whom have direct access to the same decision maker you are approaching.

Laying the Groundwork is the best way to ensure that the sale converts when the final approach is made. This step however requires the team to work well in advance and ensure that the following are well accomplished prior to deploying the Sales team to make contact:

  1. NO COLD CALLING: Cold calling is often the worst way to begin a sales process. Every decision maker is called half a dozen times a day by numerous salespersons, from real estate agents to stock brokers everyone in the MENA is often inundated by sales calls and so the tolerance to make a decision via a cold call is often fraught with disappointment. And so groundwork must be laid prior which involves the following:
  2. Awareness of your Product: Ensuring that your targeted lead is aware that your brand and product exist in the market well before a decision is made is key. Deploy an awareness campaign during which the narrative is controlled and an interest is generated.
  3. Credibility of Brand: Making absolutely sure that your brand is well established and has strong backing is very important to ensure decision-makers are fully confident in your product or service. Credibility can often be achieved by making your Brand/product ubiquitous. This can be done by the creation of engagement platforms like social media, marketing pamphlets, and consumable content. PR via news and feature outlets is also a fantastic way to ensure that your product has a base level of credibility. Testimonials from customers or even your B2B users are the best way to engender confidence about your offering to the market.
  4. Research your Client's Product: It is highly required that time and effort be spent in understanding that the client being approached is indeed the right customer for your offering. Too often clients are stereotyped into the same category baskets without understanding is there is indeed a match. Researching the client will also display a sense of care and effort taken on your part to understand the client's needs. 

Step 5: Get Referred

The best way to secure a meeting with a decision maker is to ideally get an introduction via an internal reference, the senior the better. A perfect example of working smarter, not harder, will be to approach your internal senior management to identify a mutual connection to the targeted lead. An internal reference has many advantages like:

  1. Direct Facetime: An internal reference will often have direct Facetime with the targeted decision maker.
  2. Understands the management: One of the biggest issues many sales personnel face is targeting the wrong decision-maker. An Internal reference will often always know who the best person is to approach and when to approach them.
  3. Understand the company: When going after a targeted lead, it's often very important to understand the pain points of your lead and how your products fill the gap for your lead. The nuances are often well-understood by an internal reference. 
  4. Personal Profile: One of the most relevant information always sought after by sales personnel is to find out the personal/professional profile of the decision maker they try to sell to. Does the executive start his day early, or does she prefer meetings only in the second half, do they like to be texted rather than directly called and so & so. The best way to know anything about the person you are trying to sell to will be to understand this from someone who works with them.

Altogether the best way to convert a lead is to be referred to them via someone known and better yet someone trusted. The mark of a true sales person is to build a large network of professional references.


Step 6: Fix the Meeting & Make the Sale

It's a very common response by most sales executives to always jump and try to close the sale over a phone call, this only makes them prolong the duration of an introductory call and makes them eventually lose the sale.

The first target must always be to hook in the decision maker just enough to secure direct Facetime via an in-person meeting or a dedicated/focused call. 

Once secured, it is highly important that the sale pitch is thoroughly revised. Answers must be thought through to ensure the overall pitch remains within the narrative and direction set for the sales pitch. An deviation must be the result of only a query that is not within the scope of the pitch. 

Conducting mock interviews with someone similar who will test the readiness of your responses often helps and makes you more refined in your Sales Pitch.

Always Ensure: The most important point when concluding your sales pitch is to clearly agree and identify the Next Steps for the following:

                                  1) Time required for decision-maker to make a decision.

                                  2) Time after which a follow-up is warranted, in incase a response isn't received within a set timeframe.

                                  3) Identify all the stakeholders relevant to the approval process.

                                  4) Clarity on the reasons why the customer is inclined to go ahead or not go ahead with your product/service.

                                  5) Minutes of the Meeting be sent via email right after the meeting, with the next steps clearly established.

Following this process will increase your chances multiplefold to close the sale. Which at the end of the process is the most important aspect of any Sales Operation.