Developing effective sanitation sales techniques
iDE Global WASH
Professional sales techniques and tools that respond to market changes result in accelerated sales.
As part of the effort to professionalize latrine sales, iDE engaged 17Triggers, a social marketing agency, and Whitten & Roy Partnership (WRP) to work collaboratively with iDE to develop effective sales tools for Cambodia [Footnote 1]. The messaging used in the sales materials of the program’s first phase was informed by the insights of the market segmentation research and follows the “CLEAR” sales framework:
- Connect with the customer,
- Learn from the customer about their problems,
- Educate the customer about the solution,
- Ask the customer for the sale, and
- Resolve any buying problems.
The sales tools included:
- Sales training video and manual that covers the sales process from beginning (setting up territory) to end (moving on to a new village) for individual and group sales presentations
- Goal setting and review of results
- Training completion certificate
- Sales record book to help latrine business owners and sales agents keep track of orders and deliveries
- Sales support tools that include (1) Village maps that sales agents can use to keep track of whom they’ve spoken to; (2) Group meeting invitations; (3) Sales order forms that also include referrals and testimonials to leverage the power of peer influence; and (4) a “Sight seller, ” a flip-book style sales presentation tool that highlights the common drivers of latrine uptake.
Sell to the problem
In particular, the sight seller is designed to “sell to the problem”—to get the listener to recognize their problems associated with not having a latrine (e.g., embarrassment, inconvenience, fear) and realize that purchasing a latrine would help solve those problems. This differs from the way sales agents often sell—speaking about the product specifications without relating to the experience of the customer.
Make it tangible
As the program has developed, so too has its sales strategy. In the program’s second phase, the sales approach was modified to make the problems that a household faces tangible through a cost-benefit analysis. Essentially, the sales agent would support the potential client to calculate the real monetary cost, derived from productive time lost and medical expenditures due to sanitation-related illness, that the household is paying due to not having a toilet. This approach, combined with the logical yet emotional appeal of the sales conversation, proved to be effective in motivating households to purchase a latrine.
iDE has also recognized that many of the households that sales agents were visiting had already been exposed to a presentation by iDE or other groups promoting sanitation. iDE canvases the vast majority of its operating areas with its sales efforts, often revisiting villages two to three times per year. Over time, we have increasingly found that rural Cambodians understand that sanitation is important for health and recognize that non-latrine use is a problem. To adapt to increased public awareness around sanitation and saturation of iDE’s sales messaging, the program revised its sales technique to make a case that could be more compelling.
Understand their barriers
In 2016, with the support of WRP, iDE trained its sales staff on the “Direct to Close” strategy. This approach involved beginning a conversation with the household and probing about whether or not the household had seen this presentation before. The sales agent would ask the potential customer, "Can you tell me the benefits of owning a toilet?" After hearing a few reasons from the household, the sales agent would agree and provide additional reasons that weren’t mentioned. This would be followed by asking, "So you seem to be aware of the many benefits of owning a toilet, so why don't you own one?"
Household responses to this question gave the sales agent an understanding of the client’s barriers to purchasing and an opportunity to present the product alongside solutions (like financing), clarify misconceptions (regarding price, quality, etc.), and explain why benefits of purchasing could outweigh these barriers (emphasize cost-benefit analysis). The “Direct to Close” approach has increased sales effectiveness in situations in which households had been visited previously.
These sales tools and sales agent training materials incorporated many elements from the national Cambodia Stop the Diarrhea campaign, an open-source social marketing campaign developed under the guidance of the Cambodian Ministry of Rural Development by the WaterSHED and Lien Aid WASH Marketing Program with 17 Triggers.