Our team faced drops in sales last month. Morale in rural areas is quite low: communities do not have a lot of money due to an unfruitful harvest. And without cash, unfortunately, they don’t buy healthcare products, priority being given to getting food first for their families. In order to recover from a bad performance last month, we decided to launch a Sales challenge game for the whole team, for several reasons:
- First of all, we would like everyone from finance, procurement, warehouse and sales to take part of this challenge in order to go and see what really happens on the fields! What a best way to discover a Sales role by doing a Gemba? They will test their negotiation skills and feel how tiring it can be to pitch our social enterprise several dozens of times a day.
- Secondly, we would like to test a new business model: supplying shops in peripheral areas of the capital. It might not work at all, we may have no interest at all from the shop keepers as they may be supplied from retailers. But, we also run the risk that it might work!
- We could then conclude all together if this new “shop” model is or not an additional model to implement in our social enterprise. This could be an alternative stream of revenue to the current “selling agents” model. Everyone from the team could share directly its feelings about this new approach. It will avoid criticism without knowledge on this model as everyone will have experienced it and could share the lessons learned.
- It is also an opportunity to perform some market survey on current practices and prices within the shops.
- Finally, we need to recover from our bad sales performance last month.I opened the game on Monday morning, briefing the team with our sales rules, pre-defined with Kirsty, my colleague. We selected 4 products from our basket, some with more social impact, some around hygiene and healthcare (Medical soap, toothpaste, condoms and nutritional porridge). The rules must be simple as well as the product basket. Do not bring too many products to display in unknown areas. We may create confusion. Keep it simple. The purpose is to create awareness of our social enterprise, show them some entry products on different categories (Dental, Hygiene, Nutrition and Reproduction). We agreed on retailed prices and built 2 teams. We opened officially timer at 10 am. The objective is simple: sell as many products as possible by the end of the day to shops! Each team could build its strategy and selling techniques and also choose the peripheral areas, as long as they do not compete with selling territories covered by our agent. I was not expecting a strong energy from the team. On the contrary, I have been totally bluffed by such enthusiasm! Everyone was super excited and packed very quickly products into the cars. We jumped in and directed towards Lusaka peri-urbans. We did not know what to expect at all in terms of conversation with shoppers! We stopped in a first street to a tiny shop run by a lady. We introduced our social enterprise and our products. We asked many questions regarding their suppliers, the prices applied, the preferred products. Some conversations were nice but unfruitful due to cash unavailable, or because orders were already done, or because the husband, the decision-maker, was absent.
This sales challenge was a real success. Teams shared WhatsApp pictures and messages to put pressure to each other all day. We did not even take time for lunch as our heads were focused on selling as much as we could. We all wanted to win and prove that we can make it! We were enrolled in this negotiation circle. We could not stop. Every street corner, every potential front door, we were tempted to stop and try one more shop. We tried all kinds of shops: small, large groceries, retailers, wholesalers… We set ourselves personal challenge. On my side, I wanted personally to sell a box of products. I stayed in one shop insisting, demonstrating the benefits of products, saying it was a unique promotion of the day, people in the street ask for this product…etc. We used all possible arguments to convince them! And I sold it! One lesson learned on my side: I should have negotiated some promo materials from our suppliers in order to supply the shops. They are very demanding for merchandising tools. Another lesson learned for the team was to arrive earlier on Mondays as most of the orders are already taken by competitors, and afterwards, deliveries start.
We all came back to the office, quite satisfied: we did not manage to get rid of 100% of our stock but we sold a lot! We were impatient to compare our performance to the other team.
We debriefed all together in the meeting room, counting revenues, units sold and teams’points!
Conclusion, we rocked and teams can be proud : we did 29% of monthly sales volume in just 1 day! Everyone had fun and we improved the business, demonstrating that supplying shops can work. We created awareness of healthcare products. And icing on the cake, we got a long list of new contacts interested in getting products from us! What a rewarding day for all us…. We all left full of energy, despite the day was exhausting, and with a huge smile on our face! 🙂