December 9, 2023


Serving the university community

Fostering sales as a student entrepreneur

By: Morayo Koku

Being a student and an entrepreneur at the same time is not child’s play.

On one hand, there are tight project deadlines, a mountain of materials to read, and classes to attend. On the other hand, there are clients who expect their product at a specific time, inventory management and making a profit. These two are a handful.

There’s a tight budget and little to no full staff but this can’t be an excuse for being at the top of the game. This article is aimed at suggesting ways student entrepreneurs increase the sales of their products or services according to research.

Emphasize consumer experience: Apple Computer Inc. cofounder, Steve Jobs said that “you’ve got to start with the consumer experience and work back towards to the technology, not the other way around”. In the student entrepreneur context, Steve Jobs’s advice can be achieved through getting feedback, properly understanding the consumers’ needs through the feedback and improving on it. The tools to do these are Consumer Relationship Management (CRM) software and a survey tool. A survey tool is a means to ask the consumer reviews and feedback about the services and products. An example of this is Google Forms.

A CRM is a software that organizes and centralizes consumer data. This solves the following problems:

Difficulty in tracking the purchase history of each member

Inefficient inventory management

No following up on consumers because you forgot

Segmenting your consumers

Not being able to visually see how sales are doing generally or with specific consumers.

These are a few problems a CRM can solve. To practicalize this, let us take a student who is also a makeup artist. He or she can use this in the following ways:

Manage client Information: They can store and organize clients’ details, past services and contact information on this software. Since it is cloud-based based losing the device that has this data doesn’t denote losing the data itself because it can be accessed online.

Appointment scheduling: A CRM can be used to schedule and track appointments, send customized automated messages to clients at any time and avoid double bookings.

Inventory management: He or she can track the makeup inventory, product quantity left, and expiration dates.

Sales tracking: This software enables the artist to get insights on popular services, track the revenue and grow his or her business.

A CRM is a tool that can be used by different individuals in different industries to achieve various goals. There are various free CRMs students can use to improve consumer experience and boost sales. It’s important to search for CRMs and tutorials on how to use them for proper understanding as well as reviews of the software. A popular CRM is Salesforce or Bitrix24.

Word of Mouth/referrals: CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk advises that “the key is to have a product that people love…” He believes that when people “are at a party or talking to friends or whatever, you’ll talk about the thing that you love…” He shared information on how Tesla sales have grown saying that when people “really love it, you’re going to talk and that’ll drive word of mouth and that’s basically how our sales have grown”.

Andy Sernovitz who has collaborated with Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and so on to implement effective word-of-mouth strategies shared tips on how to go about marketing. Handle bad reviews promptly because bad news spreads fast.

Make great products that give the consumers something interesting to say: He used the example saying when someone sees a herd of cows, that’s normal but if they see a herd of purple cows, they are more likely to tell their friends. He also used Google Maps as an example saying people were excited when it came out as it introduced something in a different way but they moved on when there was nothing exciting to say anymore. Then Google Maps introduced satellite view and people were excited to see the top of their house. He emphasized making a good product and finding the answer to the question “Why will they talk about the product?”

The 5 T’s (Talkers, Topic, Tools, Take part and Track) He advises identifying the people who will talk about the product or service to clients or prospects because sometimes the best clients aren’t the best talkers. For instance, a taxi driver in Las Vegas who recommends places for the passengers to go to. Also, giving them something interesting to say. For instance, a taxi driver who has free access to some services that aren’t so common can tell the passengers about it. The tools involve measures to make it easier for people to spread the word such as a link. Taking part involves engaging with the consumers such as responding to positive and proffering solutions to the negative messages. Tracking involves keeping tabs on its success.

Utilizing the school environment: The campus is a great way to network and find opportunities because there’s always something going on. This aspect deals with building awareness that could be converted to sales. This involves participating as a vendor or sponsor of a campus event. It could also involve the little things like encouraging your friends to use the product when going out. Brand collaborations can also be done.Certain events are held during a certain period such as Hall Week, Department Week, Final Year Week and so on. A student entrepreneur can work out with the organizers how both parties can have a mutually beneficial transaction also keeping the consumer in mind and how that product will be needed in that environment.

Keeping the product or service fresh: This involves incorporating the products into trends on campus and adding features that heighten the consumers’ experience also meeting their need. For example, a person who sells clothes can recommend back-to-school clothes months before resumption and could give recommendations based on their department and level through research. If most consumers are at a level that research has revealed there will be several presentations then recommending clothes for that need and how to style it could be helpful.

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