Difficult or Burdensome?

Letting Go…. not something most of us do easily.  This time of year is filled with so many things – work, holiday shopping, visiting family/ friends, cooking, baking, wrapping presents, decorating, cleaning… What if you could LET GO of just one or two of those things?

I start MS injections tomorrow (at least give them a try), I am finding there are things I need to let go of.  Some things may fe letting go for a season, while others are for good.  I have to embrace my journey and NOT get wrapped up in the picture of the “perfect XXX” (fill in the blank).

I was struggling this morning trying to decide about an upcoming leadership training – should/could I travel, what would people think if I don’t go or does it mean I don’t care about my business if I don’t go – the comparison game inner gremlins were hard at work – actually working overtime.  This scripture popped up.  I’ve seen it many times but for some reason, today the words took on new meaning:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Maybe you are working on a project (business, job, etc), and to be blunt, you dread it.  It isn’t hard and someone else might love it BUT you don’t.  Maybe it isn’t purposeful.  Maybe is won’t lead to a better opportunity.  Maybe it is sucking up a lot of time you could better spend elsewhere.  The worst is, it  doesn’t use your strengths well. Bottom line – it has become a burden.  I have heard this lately from consultants in direct sales.  Their passion has turned to only an occasional spark and it has become more work than anything else. They are sticking with the business because of fear, need for an income, a big following… the list goes on AND none of the reasons include a passion for the work they are doing.

I know direct sales (or any job) can be “difficult”.  There are peaks and valleys in everything but when something becomes “burdensome” it may be time to let it go.  Here are the key distinctions between activities which are difficult versus ones which are burdensome:

1. You’re working hard and you’re tired, but deep down, you’re energized by the work.

When something is difficult, but you are energized by it, it can be a sign you are right in the midst of your sweet spot. There is a certain gratification which comes with your purpose. You can give everything you have and yet still have the energy to keep going.

2. You feel stretched, but not broken.

Difficult tasks and situations stretch you. They empower you to learn and grow and become more of the person you are meant to be. Growth, by its very definition, expands you into a bigger version of yourself.

3. You are at peace even in the midst of the chaos.

There are seasons of life which are very difficult and even chaotic. You look forward to getting through them, even when you feel uniquely equipped to handle them. Chaos can swirl around you and yet you are calm. You are at peace.

4. There is purpose in the pain.

Difficult tasks and situations lead to purpose. Burdensome ones distract you from your purpose. Difficult, but purposeful situations can transform you, give clarity, strengthen relationships, and mature you so you are better prepared for the future. They lead you towards your purpose.

5. It is worth the effort.

Difficult tasks and situations are purposeful. Burdensome ones are not. If you can see by persevering, the reward will be worth it, stick with it. Difficulties are about making sacrifices for a greater purpose.

So, which situations in your life are burdensome and which ones are difficult?  Will you make a change, removing the burden or persevere through a difficult time?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Now is the Time to Grow Your Business

We are kicking off the busiest selling season of the year which is the perfect time to think about growing your business.  I mean people are shopping, ready to spend money on those they love and you have amazing products to offer them.  So, building your business now should be easy right?  Many of us will do 60% of our sales during the next 6 to 8 weeks, BUT we want the business to keep moving forward, right?  I don’t know about you BUT I like getting a regular paycheck.

This is the time of year when we get to connect with new and repeat customers.  We get to share all of the newness of the holiday gift guides and help them to find the perfect gift for those they love.  What happens when the holiday excitement fades?  Will your business fall flat or will it continue to grow or at least maintain an even pace?

This time of year gets me excited.  There are lots of vendor events connecting with other direct sellers and business owners.  I get energized thinking about new ways to build my business.  For those of us in direct sales, we know to build your business, you need to:

Sell, Book, & Recruit

Sales are easy during the busiest selling season of the year.  Vendor events open the door to new customers.  We get to introduce our product to people who have never heard of our companies.  Lots of customers result in an increase in sales, right?  Potential customers are all around us.  Sharing our passion about our products along with tips and tricks is something which comes easily for most of us.

Booking and recruiting can get a little harder.  Despite the fact I love the company I am with, the hostess benefits are awesome and I am blessed to have it pay all of my bills as I work from home; I still stumble over words when talking to someone about having a party or becoming a consultant.  Crazy, right?

So what is the trick to turning customers into hosts and recruits which will help to grow your business?  The truth is not everyone is going to be interested in having a party or becoming a consultant and it is OK.

Here are 3 simple ways to increase the number of customers who turn into hosts and new team members.

Strategy 1: Keep it all about them.

When we share our hostess program or business opportunity, how often is the focus on us as the consultant?  I can hear all of the denials but sometimes it is tough to turn “our needs for sales/bookings” into being all about them, right?   We need to practice talking about how it could benefit THEM.  As a business, people need to see how it can fit into their life and add value to it.  The key is building a relationship with our customers and then sharing the VALUE of what you have to offer with confidence!

Asking questions and offering solutions to fill their needs, helps our success rate go up. Whether tit is for the discount on the products,  time with friends/family, or a chance to earn extra money, YOU offer solutions.

Strategy 2: Uncover their concerns.

The key to finding new hosts and customers is knowing how to listen. If you ask someone if they would like to have a party and they say, “no”, don’t be too quick to move on from the conversation. Asking more questions doesn’t have to be pushy or salesy.  You can simply ask “is there anything holding you back?”  Then LISTEN to their response, it allows you to overcome their objections

Validate their concern and offer a solution along with some encouragement.  Who knows you could turn a no into a yes. Take time to find out more about their hesitation.

Strategy 3: Consistently Follow-Up

When someone says “no”, do you ask them if it is okay to check back with them at another time?  Then do you actually follow-up?

Think about when you were invited to attend something. Maybe you initially said, “Thanks for the invitation, but I’ve got so much going on I won’t be able to attend.”  A few days go by and the same person asks you if you are attending.  Now you respond with, “I don’t know. Maybe. I’ll have to see how my schedule pans out.”  Another week or so goes by and you get a messaging from the person saying they are hoping to see you at the event. This time you say, “You know what. It sounds like fun. Yeah, I’ll see you there!”

It happens all of the time. Initially, someone may decline to join your team or host a party, simply because they are busy and don’t want to think about it.  Then some time passes, if you reach out again they may be more open to the idea. A “no” doesn’t mean never contact me again, just not at this time.  You will miss opportunities if you don’t follow-up.  Remember, follow-up is important because needs and situations change.

When we focus on the needs of our customers, uncovering their concerns, and following up consistently, you will turn more customers into hosts and recruits.

A little long but hopefully it will help you to extend this busy selling season into the new year.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Lost Customers and How to Find Them?

Over the last six plus years of selling Thirty One, I have customers who are MIA.  They have stopped buying from me or have moved or just unsubscribed to my emails. I am sure I am not alone, right?  As I was going through my list of “holiday shoppers” for the last few years, there were several names or customers I haven’t seen in awhile. It gets my curiosity up…. why?

My follow-up process has changed some what over the last few years.  Now I try to stay engaged with customers. Yes, there are random phone calls unanswered.  Emails ignored.  And even Facebook posts or private messages which have been deleted, ignored and in a rare occurrence even blocked!  Has this happened to you – customers just quit buying from you without any particular reason?

The real reason for this, are you ready?  You may not want to hear it….. is indifference!  Okay, I know you are saying – I call, I text, blah, blah, blah.  Our company sends the monthly newsletters to alert our customers about the specials.  If we are honest with ourselves, have we really kept in touch with our customers?  I don’t mean those calls to BOOK, SELL, RECRUIT.  I mean just a call to check in – do you like the product, thank you, happy birthday, whatever the reason to call, text or email.

I can’t tell you the number of times a customer answers the phone, hear it is me calling and there is dead silence on the other end of the phone.  They have already decided I am calling to sell them something or to book a party.  Knowing this is their mindset, I usually start with “I’m not calling to sell you something or book a party, I just wanted to check in”.  I can almost hear the sigh of relief on the other end of the phone.  Do I ultimately want a sale or a booking? YES!  But I want to build a relationship with them.  Did you know it can take up to 5 non-sales contacts before someone feels comfortable buying from you?

How often are we focused on getting new customers?  Think about the leads you call from a vendor event or a potential recruit or a potential party hostess.  We are persistent in building a relationship with them to get to the “prize”.  Yet, those people who are already in our customer base may only hear from us when we are selling or booking.  

Statistics show 55% of our customers take their business elsewhere because WE, as direct sellers, show no interest in keeping them around. YIKES!  That is a lot of lost business.  I have talked about the importance of follow-up in the past but if this statistic doesn’t convince you, nothing will.  Picking up the phone for some is the hardest thing to do but it is one of the MOST important things we can do as direct sellers.  For me, it is about making sure my customers are happy with their product and for them to feel comfortable coming back to me – even if it is only once a every year or two.

Let’s be honest, how often have you been at an event, offered to put someone on your mailing list, then never followed through?  I don’t mean the occasional slips through the cracks kind of mistake, I mean the norm.  I have a graphic I send via email to everyone who stops at my table and leaves their information at a vendor event.  Just a little reminder from me.  Then I add them to my email list so they get the company emails and any other special emails I send out.  That is about it, unless there has been a specific request for something.

What about the person who wants you to contact them about a special or a product they were interested in?  Thirty One has specials which are repeated every year (large utility tote, medium utility tote, lunch totes and inserts) and I have a list of people who are interested.  It is a running list so when the special is approaching, I can reach out to them and secure their business.

I know some direct sellers who are AMAZING at follow-up.  They have awesome systems to ensure they are engaging customers on a regular basis.  These consultants I am sure are not loosing customers or at least not at the rate others may be.

I struggled for awhile to find a system which works for me.  This one has been working for me so far and only takes a few minutes to complete.

  1. Email thank you when an order in placed (online or at a party)
  2. Email with shipping information when I receive shipping notice
  3. Mail a handwritten thank you card with a business card
  4. 10 days after shipping notice, call to be sure order received & they are happy with their purchase
  5. Tag for 75 days, send a postcard reminding them of the 90 day warranty on their order.  This is another chance for them to return a product they may not happy with.

Then I am stuck!  I leave those people in my data base never to be reached out to again UNLESS they mentioned something in the conversations I can tag them for – vacation check-in, looking for a specific product/print/special or health struggle.  A tickler file helps me to keep things in order on a monthly and daily basis.

I am sure I am loosing a few customers along the way but I don’t think it is as many as before since I have a system.  Finding a system which works for you can be an issue or it can be an excuse to avoid doing those things we don’t like to do?

So, what about you – are you loosing customers?  Or, are you one of those AWESOME direct sellers with a system to keep you connected to your customers?  Share your struggles and your successes!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#hope

Why Empathy is Good for Business

Today we are going to talk about “empathy”.  By definition, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  

I know you are thinking you work hard, isn’t it enough for a successful business?  The truth is there are a lot of great traits which go into being successful but in my own life, I have found empathy to be the most important quality.

As a social worker in recovery, I was able to relate to the struggles of my clients.  I was able to share my strength, hopes and experience.  I was able to let them see I had been where they were and had come out of it.  I was able to help some kick drugs, leave abusive relationships, overcome homelessness and get employment.  Was everyone successful? NO!  Some didn’t really want to move forward and weren’t ready to work hard.  I find the same thing when working with other direct sellers.

So why is empathy good for business, especially in direct sales?  

1. Empathy increases the know/like/trust factor

Regardless of the products you sell, people are more likely to connect with, relate to, and ultimately hire/buy from you.  Which of these people would you connect with?

* the person who shares the good, the bad and the ugly of where they were, of their product and offers to help you.
* the person who’s somehow a “natural”.
* the person who doesn’t tell you anything about themselves or their background.  The pushy sales type.

I bet you connected with the person who knows your struggle, didn’t you? It’s human nature! We’re more likely to know, like, and trust people who are similar to us. And – as I’m sure you know – we’re more likely to buy from people we know, like, and trust.

2. Empathy shows you have walked the walk

When you can show your clients you’ve been where they are, found a solution, and emerged triumphant, you’re modeling success.  You are demonstrating you’re empathetic to their struggles.  You are living proof they don’t have to stay stuck where they are! Living proof makes for pretty convincing marketing.

3. Empathy helps your clients/customers/team be more vulnerable with you

When you show them you understand them, you’re helping them feel safe. You’re showing them they can be honest and vulnerable with you. When you say “I get it. I used to be (fill in the blank),” you’re making it easier for them to open up to you.  And the more they open up to you, the more you can help them, and the better their results will be.

4. Data without empathy is meaningless

I look at data to see which blog posts people read, which tweets they liked, and what they purchased. But I want to know more.  I want to understand why they read the blog post or what problem I helped them solve.  It is with this information, we can move forward in our business.

So how can you show more empathy in your business?

  • What have you struggled with?
  • What hurdles have you overcome in your business?
  • And how does this make you uniquely well-qualified to help us overcome something similar?

Whatever your backstory is: share it. Help people to know, like, and trust you. Show them how you can help them overcome what they’re struggling with.

If you don’t know what they are struggling with or how you can help, ASK!  They will tell you.  It’s hard to empathize when you don’t know what they are struggling with, right?

I would love to hear from you.  Share your story with us.  Let us know how we can help you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Vendor Events – Yes or No?

When I joined Thirty One almost 7 years ago, I told my sponsor “I don’t do home parties BUT I will do vendor events”.  For the first year, I built my business on vendor events.  I did as many as I could and when I wasn’t a vendor, I attended them and networked with other vendors.

Over the years, vendor events have changed and many direct sellers would say they don’t get a return on their investment (ROI).  Have the events changed or has our perception of what these events can do for our business changed?  Do we rely on them for sales not looking at the other opportunities available to us?

Yes, I originally built my business as a result of events BUT I didn’t just attend an event. I worked the event.  I didn’t sit behind the table, scrolling through my phone.  I was usually found standing next to my table (I always want an end spot) or milling around talking to other vendors.  Vendor events are a great way to expand your network, or getting to know people if moving to a new area.

I have written about Vendor events before and each time from a different perspective.  I had two events last weekend – one a flop and one was really good for me.  Notice how I clarified “for me”?  There wasn’t a lot of foot traffic, many of the vendors (there were 56 of us in one room) did not have sales and were discouraged.  They talked about how bad things were.  They brought negative “mojo” into their Universe.  I know it sounds crazy, right?  I honestly walked into both events not very optimistic.  I formed an opinion about them based on what I saw.  At the first one, those negative thoughts and comments consumed the day.  At the second one, I was determined to have a better day. It was the end of the month and I needed to hit my sales for the month.

Here are a few things you need to know BEFORE you can have a successful vendor event:

#1 – Set a Goal.  In talking with a first time vendor, I shared my view on vendor events.  Yes, we all want sales but it is more about planting seeds and making a connection.  I set my goal for the second event – ultimately I wanted sales but a few solid contacts for orders or for parties would be great.  Yes, I squirreled.  Set a goal and focus on it.  When you are trying to the whole book/sell/recruit it is overwhelming. My focus is to always share Thirty One and our amazing products.  Then I let the conversation go from there.

#2 – Be selective.  By this I mean, don’t travel to an event if you aren’t willing to travel to do parties in the area.  If you are trying to expand your area, and you book parties, will you be able to travel the same distance to do the parties?  If you travel an hour to do a vendor event, booking a home party or two usually means booking more at the party, right?  It means a lot of traveling.  Will travel fit into your every day life?  If I am traveling to an area, I will reach out to existing customers in the area to let them know I will be there.  Sometimes offering an incentive for them to collect orders and bring them to me ( a party on the go).  This is when using social media becomes an important component of your business.

#3 – Have fun at your table.  Some will have games you can play.  Others will decorate their display.  Some will have a drawing for a prize.  The truth is, mine is probably rather boring for some.  Thirty One has 3 catalog sections – for you, your home and your family.  I try to set my display up based on those sections.  Why?  It allows customers to focus on what is important to them. No games to lure them in, just the amazing products displayed in an attractive manner.

#4 – YOU NEED TO BE FUN!  Don’t hide behind the table, sitting in a chair and wait for someone to talk to you.  I talk to everyone who even glances at my table.  It can be as simple as “hi, how are you today?”.  This simple gesture may actually engage someone in conversation.  I share my excitement and love of Thirty One with everyone and anyone.

I gained 6 new customers who placed orders at the second event.  When other vendors wanted to talk negatively, I tried to change it to a positive perspective.  I was determined to be successful and I was.  Does this always happen, no.  Each event is different.  What is bad for one could be good for another.  Be open minded.  Have questions about vendor events – let’s hear them.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!