Technical Sales Manager, West Africa, Carbohydrates

(Food Ingredients)

The project

The Client had a newly built office and production facility to serve the West African market for Food Ingredients and needed a Technical Sales Manager. As this was a new region for the company, the internal employee network wasn’t yielding results.

Their search began by collaborating with local generalist recruitment agencies in Nigeria and West Africa. After six months of searching, the role remained unfulfilled. The submitted candidates didn’t have the right technical acumen. Most importantly, they lacked knowledge of the Carbohydrates market in Nigeria, which was strategically very important.

The Client was ready to compromise and hire a good salesperson (without industry background). Meanwhile, BASSWOOD was established and became available to serve the market.

The founder had a previous working relationship with our Head of Talent Acquisition, who supported and advocated our services to the Regional Leadership team.

This was our very first assignment as a business. Therefore, understandably, there was slight scepticism as to whether a non-local headhunter could deliver.

The initial brief for the Technical Sales Manager was:

  • Carbohydrate specialist, ideally with a technical background/education in the industry
  • Successful Business ​Development experience in the major markets of West Africa
  • Client connections in the Carbohydrates sector
  • Based in Nigeria or willing to move
  • Fluent in French.

Our solution & method

Basswood began intensive data mining in the Nigerian and West African market, focusing on the Food Ingredients sector.

  • Total leads identified: 110
  • Total candidates interested: 29

Important finding: The majority of candidates in the Carbohydrates/Food Ingredients industry didn’t speak French. Further, those fluent in French did not have the required experience in Nigeria or didn’t want to move.

Client decision: The French language requirement was removed because other colleagues in the team could help with this aspect. The search remained focused on candidates who knew the Nigerian market in Food Ingredients.

Candidates shortlisted: After updating the brief, we were able to qualify nine professionals, from which seven were submitted to the shortlist.

Hired profile: BSc in Biotechnology; MBA. Seven years’ experience in Business Development positions, of which the last four years were spent in the Food Ingredients market, including Carbohydrates. The candidate also possesses a strong network in Nigeria and West Africa.

Success timeline for the Technical Sales Manager

  • Assignment sign-off: 13th of January 2020
  • Planned Shortlist submission: 7th of February 2020
  • Actual Shortlist submission: 23rd of January 2020 (9 profiles discussed, 7 profiles shortlisted)
  • 1st stage interviews: all 7 candidates selected, with interviews arranged throughout February 2020
  • 2nd stage interviews: 4 candidates selected, with interviews arranged throughout March 2020
  • Final stage: 2 candidates selected, concluding interviews arranged beginning of April 2020

Successful conclusion

The contract with the chosen candidate was signed in April 2020, with the position starting in June 2020. The chosen professional is performing exceptionally, exceeding the targeted expectations and promoting further growth in the region. They are still employed with The Client.

Lessons learned from the Technical Sales Manager project:

  1. A generalist local recruiter does not equal success in a specialised industry.
  2. Success is achieved by working with a headhunter who knows your industry. 

Why choose Basswood?

In our highly connected global world, we all have the same set of data at our fingertips. The magic is in how the available information is managed and processed. To clarify, someone with no knowledge of the industry, might not understand how FMCG experience differs from Food Ingredients.

In addition, there are very few countries in the world where finding a specific local talent is impossible. After all, the most successful global searches, begin by mapping local markets.

Do you know what you are looking for? Then all you need is a partner, who knows how to find them. Contact us! 

Interested to see the Testimonials for the project?

Read Candidate Testimonial | Read Client Testimonial

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