We were honored by Stanford Graduate School of Business to host a lecture for the Starting a Social Venture class. The lecture was entitled: “Selling Life-changing Products to the Poor in the Developing World”. It was great to see so many students interested about building social enterprises, ,a mission that is very important for us.
We explained to the students how we work:
- Conduct infield discovery to understand how things work on the ground
- Design a transformational program custom fit for each client
- Deliver a change program
- Embed for sustainable change through a team of field consultants
…and the common sales problems social enterprises face:
- Fuzzy sales methods that fail to produce desired results
- Product-led vs. problem-led selling
- Sales team size is too large – too many people reporting to one manager
- Difficulty in finding “good people” to recruit
- No career development path
- Unsustainable compensation
- Believing poor people don’t have money
- Overreliance on micro-finance solutions
- Fear of imposing Western culture over local practice
And we talked about the three critical components that, as potential social entrepreneurs, the will need to address to create a sales force that knows how to get their products into the hands of the people that need them. They need to address:
- Attitude – the mindset of the salesperson while they are selling – how to maintain a sense of possibility, creativity, and service to the people they speak to.
- Competence – knowing the framework of their selling process, and how to speak to people with empathy and conviction.
- Execution – how to spend their time, take their customers through a compelling conversation about the problem they are trying to solve and the solution for that problem.
We would like to thank Stanford Graduate School of Business, in particular Laura Hattendorf and Russ Siegelman, for giving us the opportunity to share our on-the-ground experience.