Giving Compass’ Take:
• The authors aim to debunk the myths about selling goods and services to demonstrate that selling socially-oriented products can be done from a morally, ethical place.
• When selling social enterprise products, it requires more patience because sellers are operating in a people-focused system. How can donors support sales functions for a mission-driven business?
• Here are six lessons in building a social enterprise.
More and more purpose-driven social enterprises are trying their hand at distributing life-changing products by having the poor pay for them. To attract customers, they usually start with mild marketing campaigns such as promotional events and passive distribution.
When these attempts fail to get the job done—as they often do—they revert to active selling. Many do so with great reluctance and disdain.
Why? We think it’s largely because of selling’s “dark” reputation. Many people see selling as a dark art that requires false promises, arm-twisting, and aggressive tactics. Therefore, to succeed at selling, one must be slick, insincere, and manipulative—characteristics completely misaligned with mission-driven work.
But selling per se isn’t the culprit here. It’s what happens when people believe that selling is a disreputable practice that must be tolerated only as a last resort. If you believe selling is a dark art, full of shady practices, then that’s what you will create. If you think it’s about convincing people to buy stuff against their will, then that’s what you’ll build.
As sales consultants helping social enterprises in the developing world, we think differently. We think selling can be done with ethical pride and high morals. But we often find that our work must begin by turning what people believe about selling on its head.
Read the full article about social enterprises by Scott Roy & Roy Whitten at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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