A Strategy for Selling Latrines in Villages
LESSON LEARNED: Direct sales: integrating group and door-to-door presentations yields more sales
In the pilot project, sales agents exclusively sold to groups. Sales agents saw this as more efficient—getting more customers for less effort. However, an exclusive practice of group sales leads to “burning turf”—sales agents would hold one to two group meetings per village, and then never go back because it became much harder to sell to villagers after already holding two meetings. Burning turf meant that it was much harder to ensure that the maximum number of villagers were reached.
In order to penetrate more deeply into each village, sales agents were trained to closely coordinate their group and door-to-door sales presentations.
- Before presentations, Sanitation Teachers (sales agents/STs) are encouraged to map the village with the help of the village chief to identify all households without a toilet. The ST divides the village into sections of about 30 households to ensure that there is a good-sized but manageable attendance. The ST may ask the village chief to encourage people to attend the meeting. Sometimes the sales agents pay a commission to the village chief for help mobilizing participants.
- Then the ST will go door-to-door to hand out invitations to households inviting them to join the group presentation, using this first impression to pique their interest about sanitation and latrines.
- The next day, the ST hosts the first group meeting and continues to host group presentations until he or she has exhausted all the sections. All the while, the ST is keeping track on the map of households who have attended and bought. These names are recorded to use later as referrals and testimonials.
- The ST is encouraged to make door-to-door visits to households who did not attend or buy, giving a one-on-one presentation to the family. During these visits, the ST refers to all the neighbors who have already bought to trigger villagers’ desire to emulate their neighbors.
Initially, the sales agents who were used to only doing group sales were reluctant to do door-to-door selling as they saw this as inefficient. However, many soon learned that door-to-door visits could yield more sales as it is easier to speak one-on-one with households than in a large group, which can be hijacked by one vocal skeptic. Despite the fact that sales agents tend to outsource the mapping and door-to-door invitation process to the village chief, coordinating group and door-to-door sales has led to greater impact.