How to Sell to Nigerians


In this post, I will be discussing 10 lessons from the book How to sell to Nigerians, by Akin Alabi.

I also have a review of Akin Alabi previous book called Small Business Big Money, (You can check it here). You also read listen to it. It is filled with lots of interesting lessons.  The author, Akin Alabi, focuses on small businesses, start-ups, and people that want to get started in business. Without further ado here are 10 lessons you can go away with.

Lesson one; Nigerians would rather pay more, when they feel they’re ripping you off, than pay less when they feel you’re ripping them off: Nigerians love ‘AWOOF’. Awoof means something free, or something you didn’t work to get. With Nigerians, it is not necessarily the about low prices, but they love offers were it looks like they are ripping you off. It is about crazy offers you can deliver. Nigerians love offers that sound too good to be true. In other words, when you advertise your product, don’t just include the standard things like everyone else is using, but make better offers. Deals that are considered ‘sweet deal’, which will leave the customers saying ‘I’ve got to be an idiot not to take this deal up’.

The author buttresses this idea with an example from the association he was a member of, the “Association of information marketers in Nigeria”. They wanted to raise money for its operations, and their first instinct was for members to levy themselves. The President declined this proposition  but suggested rather that they come up with an information product idea and sell, since they were all information marketers. They put together a product package and it was sold at a giveaway price. The offer made millions when it sold. Why did the offer sell? It was because it was too good an offer to refuse.


Lesson two: Nigerians like to buy from those that like, trust and respect: Nigerians believe only in proof. They love and respect those who provide proof. They want proof that your product works and that it will work for them. They want proof that the product has worked for other people. The author gave an example of when he went to the ATM to withdraw money. There were three ATMs there, but as he was about to withdraw his money, someone else came to queue behind him to redraw, leaving the two other ATMs that were functional. The lesson here is proof. In this context, Nigerians are used to ATMs not working, so when they see one working, they all want to use that one.

In other words, Nigerians want assurances, and these six techniques can be used to provide trust and assurance to Nigerians.

  1. Nigerians judge by looks. Nigerians want to see that the product you’re selling is evidence in your life. How you look can make a potential customer trust you or not. Nigerians already have an idea of what he or she wants to see when he or she patronizes your business. It is better to look like that way the customer is expecting to see you otherwise you will have to make up for this factors, like hiring people that look like what your product is selling.
  1. Nigerians love those who show knowledge and authority. Nigerian love experts; They look up to them as mini-gods, and love to learn from them. He advised that you should start by looking for ways to give out quality content on the product and service you want to sell. You can do this in many ways like writing a book, using social media to show your knowledge or by organizing free events for your product or service
  1. Nigerians love those who can provide testimonials. What you say about your product is not as important as what people say about it. You need to always get people to talk about your business, so use positive testimonials in your promotions. If you are new in the business and you don’t have testimonials yet, give selected people your product or services for free and collect their testimonials to use.
  1. Nigerians love those who welcome them with joy and offer world class customer service. If you own a business either online through a website or a physical product or service, be the sweetest business they have ever had to deal with. Kill them with wonderful services and do everything within your power to always make them smile, while ensuring you deliver good customer service. If there’s an issue, step in and genuinely help them. If we can do all this Nigerians will love you and buy from you forever, irrespective of other competitors.
  1. Nigerians trust and respect foreigners or someone with a foreign accent. Nigerians respect foreigners a lot, especially Europeans and Americans. If you go for a presentation and there is a foreigner in your team, there’s a good chance you would be favorably attended to. Interestingly, the foreigner does not have to be the brain in the team. Nigerians also respect people with foreign accents. The foreign touch opens doors for those who use it.
  1. Nigerians love foreigners with a Nigerian connection. For foreign individuals and companies looking to sell to Nigerians, this point should be considered. If you don’t have a Nigerian in your team, and you want to talk to Nigerians, he advises that you should establish a connection. Get informed on Nigerian politics, music, movies, and football. If we are chatting with a potential client, and he’s a Nigerian, ask about their stars in music or sports. One thing that gives Nigerians pride is foreigners talking about Nigerian export in entertainment, movies, and sports.

These techniques can help you gain trust, and once you have established trust Nigerians will always buy from you.

Lesson three: Selling with fear:  Nigerians are a fearful group of people and believe there is always someone trying to do something terrible to them, and because people buy when they’re afraid you can include the ‘fear factor’ in your selling strategy so people can buy more, buy without thinking about the price and buy very quickly. In an example he gave, he talked about selling phone chargers. A normal Ad will look this way:

  • Original charger from the USA we stock original charges shipped directly from the USA order while stock last.

However, when you use the fear factor to sell, according to the author, your Ad can look something like this:

  • 19-year-old student suffers second-degree burns after a phone charger explodes.
  • Warning! Do not buy another phone charger until you read this.
  • Our charges come with a 100% money-back guarantee. If it’s spoils within six months, we will return your money.

So if you want to sell to Nigerians, consider introducing a little bit of fear factor into your Ads and offerings. In the example used, the second offering stokes some fear and presents a more tangible reason to buy. 


Lesson four: Nigerians are impatient and do not like to pay attention to details. When you are selling to Nigerians, you must understand that Nigerians are generally impatient. Nigerians know what they want and the end results they desire, but are very impatient and tend to gloss over the details involved. If you want to sell to Nigerians, be prepared to deal with some of the laziest and most unreasonable requests. If you can ignore this obvious flaw, muster patience and be calm when dealing with Nigerians, you will sell a lot. Be ready to repeat yourself countless times. Do it with a smile on your face and you will win yourself some loyal customers.

Lesson five: Nigerians are rude and aggressive. While lots of Nigerians can be very caring and nice, Nigerians often appear rude and aggressive when doing business. According to the author of the book, be ready to receive emails like ‘I sent you an email but you have not replied, you people are very useless.’ meanwhile, the customer probably misspelled the email address, or things like ‘I paid with my card on your website, it failed but I was debited, you people are scams’. You are going to get a lot of rude and aggressive customers. Do not be rude or aggressive to them in return and don’t take it personally. Beyond this flaw are some of the nicest and loyal customers you will ever have. A lot of people will not take their nonsense: be the one to take it, even with a smile on your face, the customer will be thrilled and they will become loyal to you. In dealing with Nigerians be patient and calm, you will eventually win them over.


Lesson six: A lot of your potential Nigerian customers are lazy. If you want to sell to Nigerians, always have this at the back of your mind. Many people want or need your products, but they are too lazy or big procrastinators to order. The way to go is to take your product to them. Do not wait for them to come to your business location. Tell them you deliver to them. Home delivery should be an important part of your business as a lot of people love to have their product or service delivered to them at the comfort of their homes.

A side note here: Nigerian customers are entitled and will want to bully you: allow them. Your potential Nigerian customers will want to bully and ask for the impossible. Rather than get upset, look for a way to keep them happy and engage them. Indulge them as much as you can take, even if they do not buy from you. It will make great comments and engagement.


Lesson seven: Nigerian customers like to deal with individuals and not the company. The author pointed out that eight out of 10 times Nigerians will prefer to call a mobile number because it has a personal touch. Nigerians don’t want to have to deal with companies or businesses; they will rather deal with the individuals in these companies. They do not trust businesses but can trust individuals in the business. Always make your relationship with Nigerian customers seem personal. Very often Nigerians will bypass a customer service number for a mobile number of someone in the business they can always talk to if they need to.

Lesson eight: Nigerians love a good story. You will sell more to Nigerians if you can master the art of good storytelling. The author advised that you should find a way to use stories in your business. Always use stories; from newspaper adverts to your flyers, to your billboards, to your banner ads, to your salespeople. Stories will help penetrate the defense put up by Nigerian customers and be very deliberate about the stories you tell.

Lesson nine: Sell what is established that your potential market like to buy; One of the reasons businesses don’t do well in Nigeria is because they’re not selling what Nigerians want. As the author mentioned in his previous book, Small business, big money, people do not care what you know, or what you have or what you’re doing. People just want to know what they can get, and more importantly, people want what they want, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Just be the one to provide it for them. It is not your job to create a desire in them, your job is to identify their desires are fulfill them.

Lesson ten: 5 Bonuses;

  1. Using lotteries and raffles will bring you a lot of customers in the Nigerian markets. Running raffles is a great idea for Nigerians because they love winning ‘something’. Nigerians like ‘awwof’, winning something free.
  2. Understand and use ‘sachetization’ for you products in the Nigerian market. If you’re selling a product and you want people to buy, you may have to go through this route, Find a way to break down your product in such a way that average Nigerians can afford it. The exception here is in the case of luxury products that can’t be sold in sachets.
  3. There’s a huge market for luxurious products and services in Nigeria. The logic here is this, even though there’s a small percentage of Nigerians that have disposable income, the percentage is quite a number because of the very high population. Nigerians love luxuries so don’t be afraid to sell it to them. Nigerians are the fourth biggest spenders in the United Kingdom. A lot of them are out there looking for luxury, do not hesitate to sell high-ticket items to them. Side note: Back up your luxurious product with the best services, and you will be smiling to the bank.
  4. Always be ready to evolve. Nigeria is not a ‘data-driven’ country. There are a lot of informal sectors that have not been captured; even data of the formal sectors are not being properly captured, nor is the data is not verifiable to use. Be ready to make quick decisions, be able to identify new verticals within your industry, and be aware of how can explore them.
  5. Build hype and anticipation around your product. An easy way to do this is to try to trend your business with social media before an important launch, event, in your business, or product offering. Before you launch your business in Nigeria, come up with some hype story that you can feed the public with. Be sincere and creative about it and don’t exaggerate.

If you would like to gather some more information on how to how to sell to Nigerians, I would like to recommend the book, How To Sell to Nigerians by Akin Alabi, in which some of the core messages in the book are summarized here. He is an authority in the area of SME business development.

If you would like to buy this book please check the following links:

  1. Konga books
  2. Amazon books
  3. Authors website


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