I’m writing about rudeness not because I don’t have thick skin – that’s a necessity if you’re going to be in sales and leadership. But rather to let other consultants and leaders know if they experience rudeness, they’re not alone and there are ways to handle those situations.
Maybe because I’m from the older generation – okay not older by society standards but more so by direct sales standards – I don’t have much tolerance for rudeness and disrespect. I’m nearing half way to one hundred and this industry can tend to attract a large population of 20- and 30- something year old independent consultants. Not at all saying everyone in this age group is rude (no hate mail please) just that it’s a different generation than some of us old timers.
We could probably have a lengthy discussion on the merits of changing generations and “back in my day” type conversations. For example, back in my day there was no Time Out. There was Get-Your-Dupa-Over-Here-and-Bend-Over-So-I-Can-Give-You-Some-Discipline. Darn tootin’ I never did that again. By the way, don’t ever tell your dad “That didn’t hurt”. Just sayin’. (more…)
It’s not uncommon to hear direct sales consultants who are struggling with their business blame it on their area being saturated. That is generally an inaccurate assessment and not the genuine reason their business may be struggling. Let’s look closer.
Every business has different phases or cycles. There are various methodologies – “Forming, Storming, Norming… Early Market, Tornado, Main Street, etc.” There are a number of others and plenty of books and resources on this subject. I encourage you to educate yourself on these cycles as it’ll help you better understand your business. However, for today I just want to address the concept of saturation.
BusinessDictionary.com defines Market Saturation as:
1. Point at which a market is no longer generating new demand for a firm’s products, due to competition, decreased need, obsolescence, or some other factor.
2. Measure of the extent of a product’s sales volume relative to the number of total potential customers, expressed as a percentage. Formula: Sales volume of a product x 100 ÷ Number of total potential customers.
In the case of direct sales consultants, generally what happens is one of two inaccurate analyses.
- They’ll either find out how many consultants are in a particular state. Many companies provide raw numbers each month showing consultant enrollments by state. These numbers reflect number of enrollments, period. They do not tell anyone how many consultants are working their business as a business vs. how many enrolled mainly for personal use. They also do not differentiate the consultants who are not providing great customer service for their customers – which is absolutely mandatory if you are to survive in direct sales. (more…)
There are hundreds of thousands of direct sales consultants. Within your own company there are likely thousands of fellow consultants, also known as competitors. What makes you special so that customers and recruits should do business with you?
Consider this: Quick, take 10-15 seconds to list as many toothpaste brands as you can. Tick tock … no, really, do it, now. (Insert Jeopardy music here). Okay, how many did you list? I’m guessing maybe three – five different brands. Did you know there are over 100 brands of toothpaste?
Think about why you remembered those that you listed. Those companies are clearly doing a good job with branding. Generally a company will set themselves apart by highlighting a particular benefit – they’re the most efficient, or the tastiest, or the longest lasting or most convenient, or most versatile or any number of factors. What most will not want to be known for is being the cheapest. Competing on price isn’t generally a good idea.
Now think about your own direct sales business.
While there is a corporate office and there are the products, essentially you are the company. You are the face that represents those products and that business opportunity. If you’re a real gem, customers will be pleased with the company. If you’re a doozy of a consultant, there’s a chance you’ve ruined the whole company for many customers. (more…)
One of the reasons I have been successful with my direct sales business all these years is because I run my business like a business. I consider profit margins. I look at getting the best return on my investment and I consider all actions I do to determine if it is in the best interest of my business.
My degree is in business administration, so perhaps that’s why I look at my direct sales business with a different set of eyes than many independent consultants who aren’t able to see they’re losing money. If I started a business (joined a direct sales company, aka Business in a Box) I’m doing so to earn a profit. Otherwise it is just an expensive or fun hobby.
With that above preface let’s have a family roundtable meeting about Swap Groups. For those unfamiliar with what I’m referring – it’s typically on online group, generally on Facebook, where various direct sales independent consultants get together to help each other by being forced to buy from each other. The rules can vary but the concept is similar in each group. Unless it’s a cookie swap or Christmas ornament swap I am against direct sales swap groups and here’s why: (more…)
Have you heard the rumor that the J-months (January, June and July) are slow for many direct sales businesses? Don’t believe it! It’s false! Of course they will be slow if you stop working your business, but that’s a given.
Keeping Working Your Business in the Summer
Direct sales takes a unique balance of working for the future and working for the now. If you look too far in advance you’ll sacrifice your current month. Take advantage of current customer and host promotions and events that may be ideal for gift giving. However if you don’t fill your calendar in advance then your future months will be unproductive. It’s a bit like having to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. It can be done if you focus. (more…)
Does your direct sales business offer any products that could be enjoyed by children? If so, host an art contest. Advertising the contest and the final submissions will increase exposure to your business.
How to Organize an Art Contest
There are a couple different ways you can do organize it. You could host a local art contest at your home or local property, with permission of the property owner of course. You could also open it up online to accept electronic submissions. Host a Sidewalk Chalk competition and/or other mediums such as print ads, murals or posters.
Then determine what age group for whom you want to open the contest. If your company offers scented stuffed animals you could select a younger starting age than you could if you sell jewelry that may be more enjoyed by tweens or tweens.
Next determine the criteria. Make sure the contestants include your company name, website address and perhaps a slogan or product image of their choosing that must be included in their artwork.
If doing a Sidewalk Chalk local contest, set a date, make sure there is plenty of sidewalk space, supply the chalk and pray for good weather. Provide simple snacks, such as lemonade and popsicles for all artists and have something available for the taxi drivers, i.e. adults who may likely accompany the minor and possibly shop at your open house or catalog party while their little Picasso is working on the winning entry.
Take lots of photos of the event and post the results online.
You can make it as simple or as complex as you want. You can have random, non-partial judges pick a winner or you can have the contestants help spread the word online with a voting (most likes wins) option. Grand Prize would be a prize package of your company products or a gift basket. Runners up could also win something and all other participants receive either a sample or coupon or some token award for participating.
Let your imagination guide you on how elaborate and widespread you want to organize your Direct Sales Art Contest. I would encourage you to use the artists to help you spread the word about your business. Be sure to come back and comment or send links if you hold an art contest for your business so we can help spread the word.
‘Tis the season to set up shop at vendor events, craft shows, expos and fairs. Rather than give you a long list of things you can do to ensure a successful show, it’s easier to highlight what not to do at vendor events.
The Perfect Bad Example.
- I approached a vendor to find her in one booth representing two different direct sales companies. This is generally prohibited by most companies, as a conflict of interest. Even if it’s not a policy violation, it sends a horrible message that she’s not doing well enough with either to sustain her. (more…)
Spend the next two minutes with me and I’ll show you how to be memorable and effective the next time someone asks “What do you do?” or “Tell us about your business.”
Business networking the old fashioned way, in person, can be uncomfortable or awkward if it’s not an activity you’re used to doing. It takes a little bit more than tweeting or updating your status electronically. As you’re mingling or going round-robin around the table talking about your business you’ll want to make a lasting impression.
You can find a host of resources on crafting your 30-second elevator speech. I prefer the K.I.S.S. method - Keep it Short and Simple (or Keep it Simple, Stupid). Rather than making it a thesis project, I like something that’s easy to remember and easy to employ. Here it is: (more…)
If you can complete a jigsaw puzzle, you can have a successful direct sales business.
Puzzles and direct sales – you’re not seeing the correlation? Read on.
My name is Laurie, and I am a jigsaw puzzle addict. Time seems to stand still when I am buried in 1,000 puzzle pieces. “Just one more piece… then I have other things I need to get done. Okay, just one more.” Suddenly hours have passed. Such dedication. Such a sense of accomplishment.
I just picked up a new puzzle this weekend when I was at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. It was 1,000 pieces and the theme was my beautiful state of Michigan. I started it Sunday night and by Monday evening it was completed.
As I was working on the puzzle I was thinking about all the similarities between putting the pieces together and owning your own direct sales business.
Problem solving – I know that I need a black flat piece with an innie on the left and an outtie on the right. Now all I have to do it find that piece. I have to actively look for it. Also whether I’m working on my Scentsy website or overcoming objections from team members or potential recruits, I have to actively seek out exactly what I need. (more…)
Direct sales consultants often get frustrated when their business starts off great then quickly fizzles out. This frequently happens because their family and friends initially support their new business venture by buying product and hosting parties. In some aspects this gives the consultant a false sense of success and how easy this business is.
After the family and friends have all the product they need (and probably some they don’t need) then the consultant finds herself in the NFL (No Friends/Family Left). Family and friends are considered a warm market – the people she knows. Once a consultant hits the NFL then it’s time to branch out into a cold market.
A cold market doesn’t necessarily need to be complete strangers.
It could include a hair stylist, a mom from a child’s school, the mailman or the cashier at the local grocery store. To succeed in direct sales, and to build and maintain a business requires relentless positive action. It requires getting out of the warm market and sharing the product with people who aren’t considered family and friends.