The Fortune at the Bottom of Pyramid

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Lessons from the Field:

Sales at the Bottom of the Pyramid
By Heidi Krauel and Joel Montgomery, 2009 Acumen Fund Fellows April 2010

Enterprises serving bottom of the pyramid (BoP) markets have tremendous opportunity to create commercial and social impact, but are often illequipped to do so. A particular question that needs to be studied is: how can we sell more effectively to BoP consumers? In this piece, Acumen Fund Fellows Heidi Krauel and Joel Montgomery draw on their field experiences and research to explain how we can build more effective sales organizations to serve the BoP.

Summary Introduction The Survey + Profile of Companies + Overview of Findings + Performance Rating Methodology Step One: Recruit
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Forty-two different organizations in Latin America, Africa, and Asia participated in the survey and contributed to the BoP Salesforce Lifecycle – a framework which identifies specific steps that social enterprises can take to accelerate their growth and development. Krauel and Montgomery suggest that this three-pronged model – Recruit, Realize, and Reinforce –may help BoP companies break through the barriers they face in building high-performing sales organizations to serve the poor.

BOP SALESFORCE LIFECYCLE A three-pronged framework that identifies steps social enterprises can take to build an effective sales force

"ambassadors" with strong soft skills by leveraging low-cost company assets

REALIzE potential using ongoing, experience-based training built upon "on-the-ground" realities

REInFORCE by linking smart data collection to performance-based pay and perks

The Survey
Profile of Companies An online survey was conducted in July 2009 with the CEOs or Heads of Sales at small- and medium-sized enterprises serving low-income customers in developing countries. The majority of respondents (31 of 42) have fewer than 100 employees and 69% percent have less than $1 million in annual revenues. The age distribution of survey responders is fairly even with 21% of companies in their first year of operations, 31% with two
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