Lately I’ve heard new consultants lament about how their area is so saturated with existing consultants. As direct sales becomes more popular and companies continue to grow, we will continue to see more and more consultants.
I chose to interview Melody Thacker because she is a successful independent consultant with Watkins. If anyone knows about saturation, or perceived saturation, it’s Melody – and she’s found a way to overcome that particular obstacle.
Watkins has been around for a long time. Do you find that the market is saturated?
Watkins has been in business for over 140 years but the market is by no means saturated. Hundreds of people are searching the Internet for our products or a dealer every day, which adds up to tens of thousands per month. One of the most popular pages on my personal site is http://www.associatemelody.com/reps.html Looking For an Independent Watkins Dealer or Associate Near You? New associates often contact me after their listing goes live because they are so excited and surprised that a customer or often several people have called them!
The most frequently asked questions I get are: How can I find a local dealer? or How can I get Watkins products? And I also get a lot of, I’m so glad I found you! So that’s another indication to me that more associates are needed.
What are you doing in your direct sales business to set yourself apart from other Independent Watkins Associates?
I focus on what my customers want and offer a variety of ways to make it easy for them. For example I have a toll free number, but I don’t like voice mail and answering machines so if someone calls me they get to talk to me. This surprises people and I don’t know how many people have expressed their happiness because a real live person answered the phone. Sometimes people want more information, a mail order form or a catalog so I make sure they get those things. With out giving away all my secrets, I try to give the customer extra value or benefits for doing business with me. E-books or tip sheets in pdf format are a great way to offer extra value.
It’s the same with my team members, for example anyone who joins our team (sponsored directly by myself or any level of my downline) can take advantage of the extra benefits I provide. This includes support, training and free business promotion.
I think everyone is special and my motto is, “How can I help you?”
Has your own business changed from when your first started, and if so, how?
Wow, has it ever! When I first started my business I focused on local customers, did party plan and traveled several hundred miles a week doing various public events. As my business grew I earned a free Watkins web site, which was a special promotion Watkins was having at the time. Thus began my adventure into Internet marketing.
I had several email lists with contacts I’d made at the public events I did, so I included the link to my new site in my newsletters. But then I noticed that these people who were interested in Watkins at my events weren’t visiting my site! And they certainly weren’t ordering from it either. Hmmm, that made me think.
After some research, I decided Pay Per Click advertising would be a good way to get visitors and buyers to my web site. I was on a mission to learn everything I could about PPC advertising effectively. And it worked well, however a good portion of my profits went back into PPC. Then Google changed their rules and advertisers weren’t allowed to link their ads to corporate web sites as they are considered to be mirror sites.
On to the next chapter, I became a web master and built my own website Watkins Products – Independent Watkins Associate Melody Thacker. I’m really glad I build this site as it gives people a great way to find answers to their questions or more information about our products and the business opportunity. I’ve added more web sites such as Cooking With Just The Right Spice to my virtual real estate but my first site remains my favorite. Now, I do 95% or more of my business online and I just love everything about it.
How important is Brand Recognition to your business?
Brand recognition is important, as it’s far easier to make a sale to someone who is familiar with and likes your product. However, more and more people are discovering Watkins natural product lines in their quest for natural, organic, green or earth friendly household and personal care items.
Do you have downline members from all over the Canada and the U.S.? What methods do you use to communicate/train them?
Yes, I have downline in almost every state and a number of provinces. Fortunately, the majority of them have a computer and e-mail access. E-mail plays a very important part in our communications and for delivering training. I use a mailing list program on my own computer as well as an autoresponder service to deliver training materials.
I must say – nothing beats the telephone for building relationships and communicating with my downline, especially for new associates who are just getting started. I’ve noticed that those who participate in the one on one phone support or coaching calls do much better in their business. Again my toll free number makes it easy for my team members to call me.
Watkins corp site has a wealth of fantastic training materials but I also have a private training site which my team members can access 24/7 for step by step articles, videos, audios, pdfs, a forum and a chat room. I recently started creating videos, which are a great way to demonstrate how to do something.
For the few people who don’t have computer access I mail them a print newsletter once a month. We also have monthly conference calls so we have a wide variety of ways people can access the training and support they want or need.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start in direct sales, yet doesn’t have much internet experience?
Before you join a company look for a sponsor who is doing internet marketing with some degree of success and who is willing to show you the ropes. Ask your potential sponsor questions, lots of them! Ask to see some examples of what they are doing to market their business online. Look at their web site(s) that should give you an idea of how professional they are and their experience. If the only thing they can show you is something like a myspace profile, keep looking for a sponsor!