A Vision for Professionalized Sales
LESSON LEARNED: External sales assessments can identify strategic shifts to increase impact
Although the pilot project exceeded the target of 10,000 latrine sales, sales capacity remained low. The project partnered with Whitten & Roy Partnership (WRP), a sales management consulting firm, to improve the sales model and practices. Five major challenges were found with the existing model and practices used during the pilot phase:
- Field staff lacked adequate methods and know-how to train and mentor businesses without creating dependency.
- The three-month limit for training businesses was too short to adequately train businesses to be successful and independent.
- Group and direct sales were not being coordinated and managed effectively to leverage benefits of both.
- The absence of granular sales data limited the ability to understand sales problems and respond adequately.
- Sales agents used high-pressure, aggressive sales tactics that can sour the business reputation and create additional consumer resistance.
The following five solutions were recommended by WRP to address the challenges:
- Develop a transformational training course for sales agents, latrine businesses, and the project management team to learn effective sales and sales management strategies and tactics.
- Design a clear exit strategy and a training course with a flexible deadline according to the needs and progress of each business. WRP envisioned a window of 4-6 months with support scaling back at the end of the second to third month.
- Devise a standard complementary strategy for selling that will make the most of group and direct sales approaches.
- Help businesses realize the value of data collection and devise a simple collection process.
- Design an experiential event to help sales staff realize the importance of treating customers with respect and honesty and have them invent more sustainable, positive sales tactics.
With WRP’s continued support, the project professionalized sales management and tools, and devised deliberate ways to increase market penetration. While the need for professionalization was expected, the scale of changes was unexpected and not included in the original project scope and budget.
The research had shown how ineffective current practices were and the impact that improved sales strategy and operations could make. The urgent need to revise the sales approach was unquestionable.
Therefore, it was decided that sales revisions would not only be applied immediately in the Going Deep target areas of Kandal and Svay Rieng, but in all seven provinces across SMSU overall. The project decided to revise sales across all seven provinces to create a strong sales network across the country and an enterprise engagement model that can sustainably achieve high sales. Project results have validated the decision to front-load the investment into the professionalization of sales.