Direct Sales – Shame or Share?

Do those words make you cringe?  Do you dread when a friend or family member joins a direct sales company?  Or have you joined one and now hesitate to share the fact with others?

When I retired from social services about six years ago to do my direct sales business full-time, I was excited and a little scared.  I wasn’t worried about making money because I was but I was worried about telling people I was in direct sales.  I worried about what they would think.  I mean there are lots preconceived notions about direct-sales companies and whether or not they are a scam.  The truth is the ones with solid product lines offer a legitimate opportunity for someone looking to earn an income.

Yes, there are some illegitimate pyramid scams (most mainstream companies are not) or over-enthusiastic, pushy reps who get consumed with their new world and shun those who haven’t “seen the light”.  Isn’t your Facebook feed full of people like this?

Growing up, I don’t remember ever hearing much about direct sales/network marketing companies.  The occasional Tupperware party, maybe.  As I entered the work force, I heard more and more about these kinds of companies.  There were insurance companies and financial companies, then Avon entered the picture.  I looked at many and dabbled for personal use in some.  There was Fuller Brush, Watkins, Tupperware, and Avon in the beginning.  None of them seemed like the right fit.  I loved their products but I was not ready to share my love with the world.  Enter Thirty One many years later.  A fit but not the right time the first time around.  Yes, I was admittedly one of those who joined and then went inactive only to join again about a year or so later.Yes, I squirreled… with a low cost to start, many of these companies provide a great opportunity for professionals who feel stuck in nine-to-five jobs, or who want to make some extra income and in some cases, replace their income.  You don’t need to be a salesperson because believe it or not, it is not a sales job!Maybe you have considered joining a direct sales company, but when you shared it with someone they tried to discourage you.  Why?  Did they tell you “your dreaming”, “you can’t make any money”?  Why do people react negatively to someone joining a direct-sales or network- marketing company?  Would those same people tell you not to go to school to be a lawyer or go to work as a sales rep for a name brand company? Of course not!

On the flip side, direct sales business owners need to temper their approach so they don’t come across as an over-enthusiastic, pushy, flavour-of-the-month network marketer.  This makes people feel icky and turns them off.  Or maybe you know one of those direct sales junkies, the ones who belong to and try to sell multiple companies.  They can make you feel icky too.

Here are some things to think about as you build your direct sales business:

#1 It is hard work. Don’t kid yourself. Just like any business, you need to do enough of the right activity consistently for a long period of time to get results.  If you love your product, the company and their (your) mission, it will not seem like work but it will take time on your part to be successful.

#2 It’s not the ONLY option. I always stress “go for the no”.  Why? Because what you are offering may not be for everyone.  Just keeping talking, asking and sharing.  When someone says “No”, they are not dissing you or the company, it just means they aren’t interested at this moment.  Think of it like a waitress offering dessert.  Today you may say no but tomorrow you may say yes!  Direct Sales is one option for a fulfilling career and your goal is to find the people who believe it is the right choice for them.

#3 Be clear about what you do. Yup, this is where I stumble.  When someone asks you “What do you do?”, be able to clearly and succinctly tell them. Don’t be coy, don’t use wishy-washy, vague, mystery-building phrases to answer the question. This can send the message you’re embarrassed about what you do. Successful business owners communicate confidently, not from a position of sounding embarrassed or secretive.

#4 Separate “networking” and “selling”. The point of introduction at social settings and professional events is not the point of sale.  Networking allows people to build the know, trust and like factors so you can “sell”.

#5 Earn the right to ask deep questions. Build a relationship with people before you jump into those deep, what some would consider personal questions.  Those kinds of conversations can either cause people to shut down or others will pour out their heart.  Read their body language so you accurately judge when you’re pushing too hard.

What is your best tip for someone starting out in direct sales?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

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