Sales and Social Enterprise Aren’t Mutually Exclusive
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.