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USAID MuniWASH: Sanitation MSMEs innovate business techniques to increase sales

Thursday, 12 January 2023
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The private sector in Côte d’Ivoire is playing a pioneering role in offering high-quality and affordable sanitation products and services to meet the needs of customers in the local sanitation market. However, scaling sales of sanitation products and creating a sustainable market still remains a significant challenge. To support the market and improve the operational reliability of providers and suppliers of sanitation services and products, the USAID MuniWASH Activity (MuniWASH) trained a dozen sanitation Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Abidjan on an innovative business approach called RACE (Result = Attitude + Competence + Effort). This approach is based on the concept that positive outcomes result from a combination of the right attitude, competence, and effort. MuniWASH organized this training from September 30 to October 1, 2022, for MSMEs and MuniWASH’ s field monitoring assistants. Field monitoring assistants will play the crucial role of providing coaching, field supervision to MSMEs and data collection.

Through this training, MuniWASH is building the capacity of business managers by providing them with a unique selling technique they can utilize to more easily persuade customers to buy their products and services. The entrepreneurs who participated in the training learned that the purpose of sales conversations is not merely to convince customers to buy, but rather to increase customers’ knowledge about the decision to buy.

According to RACE, there are three essential steps for increased sales results — attitude, competence, and effort. First, the MSME should identify the household's sanitation problems and estimate the medium to long term cost/deterioration of the household sanitation situation should the problems remain unresolved. Second, the MSME should present a detailed solution to the household. Finally, the MSME should emphasize the value of the solution, including the price and cost benefit.

"This commercial approach touches the sensitivity of the client household" testified Mr. Ossoro, head of a sanitation company in Gagnoa. "Today, my vision of things has changed in terms of prospecting. By following this method, I will be better at convincing my customers," he said.

Through role-playing and practical sales conversation exercises, all training-participants successfully performed sales methods by following the three essential steps. MuniWASH will continue coaching the MSMEs through its s field monitoring assistants to help the business owners recruit, train, and employ their own sales agents to create customer demand. The president of the on-site sanitation professional association, Réseau des Entrepreneurs en Assainissement Autonome de la Côte d'Ivoire (REAACI), aims to disseminate this practice to all its members. "We need to be able to pass on these very rewarding techniques to other members who have not participated," said Alpha Baldé.

At the end of the training, the participants felt they had a good understanding of sales skills and methods. This innovative approach should allow them to increase their sales substantially – by about50 percent or more.