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Students Make an Impact in MN

Dec. 11, 2012

Sales for Social Impact

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From the Left:

Cindy Lopez, Alex Weaver, Madeline Giering, Brooke Borgias, Andrew Smith.

Students from Baylor's Sales for Social Impact (SSI) class recently returned from 3M's headquarters in Minnesota where they shared their recommended sales and marketing plan for the bottom-of-the-pyramid markets.

Brooke Borgias, Madeline Giering, Cindy Lopez, Andrew Smith and Alex Weaver were selected to share what they learned which could help 3M improve their business.

The SSI class was comprised of three main parts: in- and out-of-the classroom learning about poverty and human-centered design, an immersion learning experience in Cuba, and then a final planning process. In August-September, the 11 members of the SSI course and Baylor professor Andrea Dixon partnered with 8 students from the University of Houston and their professor Susana Rosas. Over the Labor Day weekend, the 19 Baylor and U. of Houston students and their faculty and spouses simulated living in poverty to fully understand the situation they were trying to improve. They participated in a two-day poverty simulation offered by Mission Waco|Mission World. For some, sleeping outside and living on the streets was an incredibly challenging experience.

After the Poverty Simulation, the Baylor students prepared to travel to Cuba, which served as their learning lab for their course deliverables. By participating in the simulation and engaging with people in Cuba, the Baylor students saw first-hand that poverty can be very different in a developed country like the United States vs. a developing country like Cuba.

"Sales for Social Impact and the relationships we built as a class will be a highlight of my entire Baylor career," remarked Marketing major Andrew Smith. "The learning experience of traveling to Cuba and the practice of creating a business plan to meet a real need will benefit me for the rest of my life."

Upon returning from Cuba, the team continued to work with their recommendations in preparation for a presentation to 3M.

"We came to these recommendations by examining the needs of individuals in Cuba. One thing that seems to be common to all developing countries is a need for increased income as well as supplies to acquire that income with," shared Alex Weaver. "Preparing for the presentation was difficult because we had to add several elements that were missing from the original project. We took the original project and adapted it to a more sustainable and easier-to-understand model."

There were a number of recommendations, including how 3M can better prepare themselves by doing in-depth studies in prospective markets. However the main recommendation focused on the need that was discovered about increasing income.

"We created an idea that began with a relief model and transforms into a sustainable, locally-run business model where locals can exchange tools to increase individual wealth," shared Marketing and Entrepreneurship major Brooke Borgias.

This idea was presented to an executive team at 3M along with 8 other schools from around the country. After the presentation, some of the students shared their thoughts.

"It was exhilarating. Presenting before 3M really gave me the reality-check that this was so much more than a project for a class or even an idea that friends throw around, if this went well, this was about trying to convince someone to invest in our idea, to make it a reality," remarked Cindy Lopez. "It brought a whole new level of passion to the project. It also helped fine-tune our conversation and language to the business world since we were not just presenting to donors or a charity but to a business."

The course helped students understand the principles of human-centered design, where immersion in a marketplace serves as a key foundation for business and product development. Conversations and interviews with Cubans living on less than $30/month prepared the Baylor SSI students as they returned to Waco to develop marketing and sales plans. Students presented their plans in a competitive context so a single team/plan could be identified to represent Baylor at 3M, the sponsor for this course.

About the Center for Professional Selling

Dedicated to excellence in sales education and based in the university's Hankamer School of Business, the Center for Professional Selling is recognized as one of the premier global information resources for the sales profession. For more information on the Center for Professional Selling, visit http://www.baylor.edu/business/selling.

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