Direct Selling in the Classroom by Dr. Victoria Crittenden:
To me, there is nothing quite so great as leaving class on a high because students really seemed to engage with the class topic. I had such a euphoric feeling after leaving my Marketing Management class in the Master of Science in Entrepreneurial Leadership program at Babson College in mid-September. The topic for the day was “Go-to-Market Strategies.”
The students were to read the Harvard Business School note. “A Note on Direct Selling in Developing Economies,” and prepare the Harvard Business School case, “Designs by Kate: The Power of Direct Sales,” prior to class. I then started class with two DSEF videos: “Micro-entrepreneurship and the Gig Economy” and “Cutting out the Middle Man.”
With approximately three-fourths of the students in this master’s program from outside of the USA, there was considerable interest in the direct selling business model as a go-to-market strategy. Several students remained after the class ended to discuss the pros and cons of direct selling as a go-to-market strategy and how the direct selling business model might be implemented in entrepreneurial endeavors in various parts of the world.
I left class wishing that I had planned in advance for a way to capture the amazing classroom interactions. Since I had not done that. however, I emailed students and asked them to contribute some thoughts that I could include in a blog post. Here are comments from two students (one from each section of the class):
Nomah Javed (MSEL ’18) said: “I feel direct selling is an amazing way to reach your end customer down to the grass roots level. Especially for burgeoning entrepreneurs who don’t have seed money to set up this network on their own or reach customers. Again, it would work best for smaller, fast-moving goods which would benefit from the interpersonal interaction and persuasion involved in the process of direct selling. I think it’s a tremendous resource for third world countries, where women are the more subjugated gender and don’t necessarily have access to the same education and job opportunities. I feel direct selling gives people a chance to create something of their own despite their limiting circumstances. It can be used as an amazing empowerment tool for women. I would definitely think of it as a very strong proponent business model for my future venture.”
Philip Cobbinah (MSEL ’18) offered these comments: (1) Partnering with consumers is the best way of becoming a household name (#cobbyquotes). (2) It is entrepreneurship at your doorstep (#cobbyquotes).
Given that I taught two sections of the course and both sections were equally great. I think it is fair to say that the topic was well-received by all. The discussions were clearly the best I had with my MSEL students during our seven-week module on marketing management. I found that direct selling as a go-to-market strategy incites interest and engagement among students who have an entrepreneurial orientation and that this is particularly true in a cross-cultural classroom environment.