Bunmi increased her salary 1,060% in 3 months.

Below is the The ‘A Team’ at IROKOtv Nigeria outbound. Together they generated N3,045,000 in IROKOtv subscriptions sales in May 2018. They all started between January and March this year. Yes, 2018. Their share (gross salary + bonus) of that revenue generated just in May was N1,366,200. The top seller, Bunmi (first on the left), started in March 2018 on a base salary of N25,000. One of ~300 hopefuls we hired that month. She focused, tuned out the doubts and noise and converted. Complete beast mode. In May 2018 (her 3rd month) Bunmi took home gross salary of N290,700. That’s 11.6 times her starting salary. 1,060% increase in 3 months. I was so happy to pay. So happy.

There are 2 people missing in the picture below. Tosin and Ope (both joined in January). They are currently leading the 23-person outbound team in Ghana. The first month there (April) they increased IROKOtv Ghana sales by 100%. They are still currently in our Ghana office, June’s target is another 150%. I have no doubt they can deliver.

In the picture below

Susan + Temisan, they are leaving Nigeria for Kenya this Sunday 10th June.

Nora+Bunmi — have started their visa application to establish in IROKOtv in South Africa (sometime in July)

Loretta+Dami — have started their visa applications to establish IROKOtv in Zambia (sometime in August)

We have highlighted several more countries we plan to expand IROKOtv Outbound, into. We 100% need missionaries to go there and convert folks

My name is Jason Chukwuma Njoku and believe in meritocracy. The above story sounds fantastic. Amazing. Ridiculous in fact. But this isn’t about all that jazz. It’s about the tortuous journey for demonstrating meritocracy at IROKO and why performance will always be baked into my, and by extension, IROKO’s DNA.

Nigeria has a massive problem with Meritocracy. Running an at-peak 300-person outbound call centre has really illustrated that in brutal terms to me. Firstly, there seems to be an entitlement from our universities that firstly, they are pre-ordained to greatness because they finished in UniLag. Perhaps. But from the very origins of IROKO, I have found one universal truth. The University you attended, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t really matter. This isn’t limited to sales functions. In anything. The intensity of your work and your openness and willingness to learn can usually take you really really far. Further than those with ‘dem fancy degrees. I read Chemistry. Because I enjoyed it. Pretty much everything I have achieved had zero to do with my Chemistry degree. Unless you are specialising, no-one cares what you read or your grades. I stopped looking at that many many years ago.

Employing people at Scale. In Nigeria. Has all the seeds of a nightmare.

WTH. N25,000 base salary?

IROKO currently has space for ~400 outbound sales agents. Last month we averaged only 169. Why? You would think with all these kids talking about a lack of jobs etc I would be flooded with job applicants. I wasn’t. As you can see from the graph above, people just left, on the 27th of March, like 100-people left in one day. That day happened to be payday. I wanted to build a culture of performance-or-out (usually we know whether someone is good within a week), but then decided I didn’t want a chop shop at IROKO, where people felt they were less valued and treated inhumanely. Let’s be clear, it’s tough, a super tough work environment, but that’s because it’s sales driven. It’s clear and fair. So we opted (unless there was gross misconduct) to apply sales org pressure alone and for those who couldn’t (or didn’t want to) take it, would ultimately leave at their own free will. Oh, and did they leave.

So we kept the base salary low. Uncomfortably low. I’m not saying that Nigerian employees don’t want to work, it could be that many just didn’t want to work for IROKOtv (possible), but many had zero to little interest in working hard. Zero. It was like they were doing us a favour by being there. N25,000 isn’t a lot of money at all. You definitely can’t chill out on that kind of salary. Not with your daily performance on the whiteboard for all to see. With that said, it’s not like the signs you see around Lagos for shop assistants at N8,000. In fact this troubled me so much that I spent a little time getting a sense of how our salary compared to various service industries. Most customer support, restaurants (I surveyed a few) paid their staff less than N30,000. So it wasn’t plantation level. But it was still small. In order to balance that in a relatively expensive area (our outbound office is in Opebi) IROKO decided to provide free food. Everyday we feed all the staff in the office. Whether that was ~300 or 150 or so we have today. That currently costs me ~N1.5–2m/month. Every little helps.

Nigerians don’t Believe

In March we heard all the excuses in the world from the new starts as to why you couldn’t convert subscribers from the phone leads we provided. ‘You don’t have Yoruba Movies’, ‘You have to use your own data’, ‘You don’t have The Wedding Party 2', ‘You don’t have Sports’, ‘You don’t have Black Panthers’. The list was literally endless. Then an interesting thing happened. We had an exodus of the excuse makers in late March. The non-believers, if you will. Some said Conversions are of the Lord. Those who remained just got on with the job at hand. They focused on performing. What also helped immensely was the revenue calculation formulae (below). It’s only when the A Teams started performing that everyone else started performing. They showed the others it was possible to sell. So everyone started selling.

We shared this simple commission calc so they could see their Naira

We reshuffled the teams, creating the A-Team (started off with our Top 8 sellers) and then built upon their feedback and sales leadership. Everyone comes in as contract staff, if you hit our revenue targets then you can shift to one of the A Teams. We now have have A1 — A10 teams. All have been offered and signed full-time contracts, healthcare and pension is now provided and we doubled the base salary to N50k. We currently have ~80 people in the A Team. That shift has driven a performance nature into the very soul of IROKOtv Outbound, that permeates across the new starters. As you can see, we track daily and have realms and realms of data to see the productivity currently occurring.

What also helped immensely was the revenue calculation formulae.

Top 10 Sales gals (and 1 guy)

Show me the Money

I told many of the outbound folks there is no cap to your earning potential. Even in the advert, we talked about earning up to N100k On-Target-Earnings (OTE). Not sure of how many places where you get 100–1,000% your incoming salary within a few months. At IROKO, it’s pretty linear. In fact, I was telling the teams yesterday. If you are tired of Nigeria, if you want the chance to leave and see the world outside, to grow as we grow our offices in new countries, it’s really simple. Make conversions. They solve ALL problems. No need to follow those trekking through the Sahara desert. No need to evade slave markets of Libya. No need to risk the perils of the high seas of the Med. If you want to wander to the airport. Have them stamp your passport. Then fly out. Visa in hand. Conversions and IROKO give you that chance. Well, as long as you plan on coming back, innit.

I’m tired now. Before I go and actually work, let me share a few more graphs below. It’s the same data as captured above but for the entire outbound sales organisation. Part 2 coming early next week.

We are still hiring. Come to Valley View Plaza, 99 Opebi Road, Opebi, Lagos. from Monday-Saturday from 9am — 1pm

Special thanks to Marie who created all these beautiful graphs and helped visualise the outbound efforts, and Afolabi who keeps all the reconciliation and administration humming along. More blessings