Interview with DSA Award winner Bontle Kgosana


Bontle Kgosana is a 20 year old student from UJ and recently scooped second place at the Direct Selling Association Awards sponsored by leading global beauty and cosmetics company, Avon Justine.  The DSA Awards are aimed at  discovering, recognising and celebrating the best of the direct selling industry in the country.  Bontle sold Avon products as part of her sales course and she plans to be one of the biggest marketing managers in the country. I thought I'd pick her brain to see what helped her to win.

The Disruptors: Congratulations on winning the DSA Awards! How did it feel when you found out you  had won one?
Bontle Kgosana: It was one of the best feelings ever, I mean, who wouldn’t be excited and happy for any achievement that they accomplish in life. So to me, this was a great achievement as it was not as easy as I thought it would be but in the end I realised that all my hard work was not in vain and I was finally paid off.

The Disruptors: When did you first hear about the DSA Student awards and how did you get involved in creating your entry?
Bontle Kgosana: I first heard about DSA when I started out at the University of Johannesburg where I was studying higher certificate in Marketing and Sales. The course required all students to sell for certain DSA companies and the students who sold the most, were at the end, awarded by DSA for their hard work. I choose to sell Avon products to be able to sell my exams. 

The Disruptors:  What did you hope to achieve when you decided to enter the awards?
Bontle Kgosana: All I wanted to do was sell as many products as possible in order to obtain my pass for the module and course that I was doing. Being one of the top students was not my initial goal but I guess all my hard work paid off at the end.



The Disruptors: What was your strategy in getting more customers to buy your Avon products?
Bontle Kgosana: Initially I didn’t have a strategy because it was my first time selling so I did it  blindly. But as I started doing it, I realised that I wasn't winning. Many potential customers didn't trust me with their money. So I had to use my own money to order the products and that put a lot of strain on me.  I knew I had to gain the customer's trust. So I developed a strategy that worked for both me and my customers.  I started explaining to them how the Avon process works and the fact that they can get refunded if they are not happy with the product. I also started ordering products only close to month end because it's easier for them to pay me.  The combination of those ideas helped my sales and for me to able to pass my exams.  

The Disruptors: Did you have any mentors during this opportunity? And how did they help you to win?
Bontle Kgosana: I didn’t really have any mentors but I had the help of a family friend who also sells Avon for a living. She is the one who gave me this strategy of selling that I used in order to have this win-win situation.

The Disruptors:  What challenges did you have to overcome to get here?
Bontle Kgosana: Because I am a student, some people wanted to take advantage of me. Some wanted discounts or free samples. Some didn’t even have money to pay for the products they themselves ordered which cost me money.

The Disruptors:  What you would you have changed about your strategy if you had more time?
Bontle Kgosana: I wouldn’t change anything with the strategy I chose because it worked perfectly for me at the end.

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The Disruptors: What advice would you give to students entering the competition next year?
Bontle Kgosana: The best advice I can give them is start selling from day one when you are given the assignment. A lot of students delay this, thinking it's a walk in the park. But it's not. If you've never sold anything in your life, doing this will feel stressful because you don't have customers. And getting customers is a mission. People buy from people they trust. So start selling as soon as you can because this will introduce you to people who will in turn learn to trust you. And try to make sales every month. Besides the money you will get, your marks are depended on it.

The Disruptors: Are you planning to continue to selling Avon to make some extra money?
Bontle Kgosana: Yes my plan is to go back and continue selling as I can earn myself some extra pocket money.

The Disruptors:  Do you think that direct selling can help students in making money? How can they get started?
Bontle Kgosana: Yes direct selling can help students make money. They can start with companies that are affiliated with DSA. There are so many companies to choose from.


The Disruptors: What is the greatest advantage you feel you gained through this and how does it help your professional career?
Bontle Kgosana:  Marketing is all about how to use the marketing process to take an idea from a client and bring it to the consumer to satisfy both their needs. Basically,  as marketers we are a link between the customer and the business. The best thing I learned from this task was how to work with people, to develop an efficient communication system and to solve any problem that arises.

The Disruptors:  What are you hoping to achieve next?
Bontle Kgosana: I am hoping to finish my qualification in marketing management and even go deeper in studying marketing to specialise more in it but would also love to specialise in digital marketing in the next few years.

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Don't forget you can also register for the www.ithembawalkathon.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored blog post, but all opinions are my own.  Follow me on Instagram to win hampers from Avon Justine.

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