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The following blog post is about a new app we’ve been working on called CommSell, which is focused on supporting local sales agents in small and medium enterprises. Click here for a  full video demo of the CommSelll prototype, including details about the business model and workflow.

Three billion people live at the base of the economic pyramid (BoP). BoP markets often offer only expensive and dangerous options for heating, lighting, sanitation, and healthcare. Many Social Sales Organizations (SSOs) have recently emerged to market through Local Sales Agents (LSAs) poverty-alleviating products at the BoP, including cook stoves, pay toilets, tampons, and solar lanterns. These products often pay for themselves through reduced fuel and healthcare expenditure, while reducing disease and increasing access to education.

However, to achieve profitability at scale and to expand access to products at BoP, SSOs need tools to increase sales penetration, expand their market size, and sustain product innovation. We at Dimagi think that our tools can be leveraged to design a new product, called CommSell, which can address these challenges. CommSell will increase sales penetration by providing simple customer relationship management (CRM) and inventory management functionality. CommSell will increase market size by helping SSOs manage LSAs, track inventory, and communicate with customers through SMS campaigns and promotions. CommSell will support product innovation by providing detailed and real-time information about customer demographics, while running SMS client satisfaction surveys. By addressing these challenges and enabling SSOs to achieve profitability at scale, CommSell has the potential to provide people at the BoP with the products they need to escape poverty.

On the basis of our discussion with various SSOs we have built a prototype which demos some of these features. The prototype is built for a SSO operating a Business-2-Business model whereby the SSO sells the product to a retailer which becomes a franchisee. In this case the product sold to the franchisee is a toilet which is operated like a business by the franchisee. The franchisee normally takes a loan to purchase the toilet and he/she can also sell other products on the side such as bar of soaps (these products are also provided by the social business). These franchisees are regularly visited by sales associates (LSAs) who are the users of the mobile app, which supports their customer relationship management and inventory tracking. In the case of CRM, a LSA can use the app to

  • initiate marketing
  • generate leads
  • track opportunities and convert leads
  • track payment
  • provide service support

In the case of inventory management, the LSA can use the app to

  • track the stocks sold to clients
  • calculate the amount to be reimbursed by the client
  • calculate quantities to be resupplied
  • avoid stock outs