Growing Your Business Online

Over the last three months, I have seen a change in my business.  After talking to other direct sellers, a lot are seeing the same thing.  Many in direct sales are seeing their business move to more online sales/ parties and less “home parties”.  I LOVE home parties.  I love connecting with women and getting to know them.  I love seeing them smile as they spend time with friends, reconnect and relax.  That is what makes me smile. So I need to learn how to do the same thing online.  Is it possible???

You can imagine how I struggled when I found my calendar empty with the exception of some Facebook/ online parties and a few vendors events.  Those inner gremlins began to jump for joy as they saw the perfect opportunity to play the “negative” mantras and the comparison game.  It was tough squashing them but I had to give it a try.

I went on the hunt to find new ways to connect with people on Facebook or to engage my customer base from the last 6 1/2 years.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  I knew I would try things which would flop while other things would be a success.  I was willing to commit to it because I wanted to continue working my business full-time and make a difference in the lives of others.  Even tougher because I am a little tech challenged.

I tried Facebook parties before.  Some were successful while others flopped.  I looked at the differences.  Hostess coaching played a huge factor in those which were successful. Hostesses who wanted to earn FREE product and were willing to at least do a little bit to help make the party a success.  Flops were usually associated with no participation from the hostess or I was using other people’s scripts and not making them mine.  Admit it, you have done the same thing!

I looked for people who were successful in running their direct sales business solely online.  I looked for tips and tricks from other direct sellers.  I was bound and determined to make it work.  Here is actually a blog post I wrote almost 4 years ago which talks about this exact subject:

As Jason Dorsey says – you need to communicate with different people differently.  In Inc. Magazine there was an article on “4 Tips for Using Social Media to Sell“.  I love that Matt Heinz talks about “social selling” instead of “social media”.  Here is a link to his book “Successful Social Selling”  Here are the 4 key principles shared in the article:

  1. Getting more “followers’ in not a goal.  “There is no connection between the number of followers or likes and your amount of sales.”  So true!  I have been doing this through my blog but now I have ventured into the social media realm to do the same thing.  Sharing products and information by offering people an opportunity to experience Thirty One products without the HARD sell.
  2. Connection is not engagement.  Selling comes from interaction and not just pushing my message or expertise.  I am learning to respond to each person who comments on a post, especially the engagement ones.  You need to INTERACT with people to build a relationship with them whether online or in person.   
  3. Buyers signal by declaring problems.  I am still working on this one. LISTENING for signals when you are face to face is one thing but I find it so much more difficult online.  I worry about giving a “sales pitch” or “being pushy” when I “think” I hear those signals.  
  4. You are not in control.  This is so tough for those like to be in control!  “If you tweet, blog, or post about a solution, idea, or product a person doesn’t need, they won’t necessarily connect with you. If you are listening to the social Web and hear someone declare a problem you can solve or a question you can answer, giving you an opportunity to send a relevant response, then you are truly engaging.”

It has only been three months of consistently trying things online and it is working.  I will admit, I stress at the first of the month when the calendar looks light BUT then I get busy.  Over the last 3 months, I have met my personal sales goals and my team has met theirs and almost ALL of us do just do things online.  Consistency is the key.

So, what are your thoughts on social selling ON social media?  If you use Social Meda, what platforms do you use and are they creating business opportunities for you?  Please share your thoughts…. Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

Did You Say Blinders or Binders

I was looking for systems – you know that endless search for just the right business system that will work for you when I came across an article by Jason Dorsey called “Got Blinders On?”  At a quick glance (remember, I am old!) I thought it said “Got BINDERS On?” so I was curious.

This short but to the point article talked about the “assumptions” that we have come to believe in our businesses.  As I am gearing up for earning Thirty One’s Leadership trip, I wanted to find out what I could do to STOP these assumptions.  You know what they say about the word “ASSUME” – you make an A$$ out of you and Me.

#1 Assumption – Customers are loyal!  WRONG!!!!  I see it at every vendor event and party – customers will switch loyalties to whoever offers the best deal.  Many of my potential customers are surprised when my first question, especially when they are already using our products, is “do you have a regular consultant?”.  That usually leads to a story about how they got the bag that they are carrying (gift, party, etc).  If they do not have a regular customer, I am happy to help them.  If they do, I recommend that they contact their consultant directly about the current special, etc.  Many people are surprised that I would take this approach but as a Thirty One consultant (and Director) I do NOT want to steal customers and I would hope that other consultants would do the same.  My goal is to build relationships with my customers and hostess so that they will want to continually buy from me.

#2 Assumption – Employees should think like their owners.  Actually, in direct sales ALL consultants should think like OWNERS, not necessarily their sponsor or up-line but as owners of their own business.  I am happy to share all the information that I have tucked away in my brain but it is up to each member on my team to build their OWN business based on their own talents and skills.

#3 Assumption – Competitors think the same way you do.  In direct sales, there are many companies with similar products so what is going to make Thirty One stand out from the crowd?  The quality of our products, we have fun, fashionable and affordable products, the ability to personalize products, the one-on-one attention that each consultant gives to their customers. I am sure you are thinking that ALL direct sales companies do this right?  How many companies have “jumped” on the bag bandwagon or created another “line” just to increase their sales or take customers from another company?

Stand out from the crowd and offer YOUR customers an AMAZING buying experience that will keep them coming back.  Don’t “assume” that they will stay loyal, give them a reason to be loyal to you and your company’s products.  Off to look for some SYSTEMS since this article was NOT about binders.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

#hope

Social Media vs Social Selling?

Are you looking for a new way to reach your target populations?  Are you tired of feeling like you are technically challenged?  It seems that EVERYONE is turning to social media – twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram and just when I think I know what is happening (or what I am missing) another social media format pops up.

As Jason Dorsey says – you need to communicate with different people differently.  In Inc. Magazine there was an article on “4 Tips for Using Social Media to Sell“.  I love that Matt Heinz talks about “social selling” instead of “social media”.  Here is a link to his book “Successful Social Selling”  Although I still have my doubts on whether or not you can actually SELL on Social Media, I am game to try anything ONCE.  I believe that it is an AMAZING way to start to build relationships with potential customers but I am not convinced that it is a way to make sales.  Here are the 4 key principles that were shared in the article:

  1. Getting more “followers’ in not a goal.  There is no connection between the number of followers or likes and your amount of sales.”  THIS makes sense to me.  I have learned this through my blog.  Sharing products and information is offering readers an opportunity to experience my Thirty One products without the HARD sell.
  2. Connection is not engagement.  Selling comes from interaction and not just pushing my messages or expertise.  I don’t have as much interaction on my blog as I would like but it is definitely true with Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.  I have to learn to INTERACT with people by posting/ responding when potential customers post on my page.
  3. Buyers signal by declaring problems.  I think this is tough!  LISTENING for buying signals when you are face to face with a customer is one thing since there are key words that we can LISTEN for.  I find that written messages are often edited so that we don’t get the “sales pitch” – or at least mine usually are.
  4. You are not in control.  Getting followers, and then provoking them to buy your products as a result of your posts rarely happens.   “If you tweet, blog, or post about a solution, idea, or product that a person does not have, they won’t necessarily connect with you. If you are listening to the social Web and hear someone declare a problem that you can solve or a question that you can answer, giving you an opportunity to send a relevant response, then you are truly engaging.”  I am not sure that I agree with this.  I have found that by sharing a variety of ideas, products or solutions – I get more interaction from my customers.

So, what are your thoughts on social selling ON social media?  If you use Social Meda, what platforms do you use and are they creating business opportunities for you?  Please share your thoughts…. Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

Baby Boomer vs GenY Communication.

Over the years, I heard the term “Baby Boomer”, “Gen XY”, “Gen X” and various other terms to describe groups of people.  I never really gave it much thought.  I didn’t even think of myself as a Baby Boomer.  I always referred to my age group (women in their 50’s).  As a consultant and a leader in direct sales, I am learning that I need to really understand the differences between our generations.  It isn’t just about our age, it is about a way of thinking and interacting that is very different.  Thirty One considered this important information and at National Conference invited Jason Dorsey to present.  I have to admit, I was doubtful that this had any impact on my business.  Then it started to make sense.  I started thinking about Belinda (my soon to be 25 year old daughter) and how she interacts in her personal life and at work.  I also thought about those Gen Y on my team, and the pieces began to fall into place.

According to Jason, there are some distinct characteristics of Gen Y.  They are between 18 -35 years of age, think they are special and unique, are completely a visual generation, are tech dependent not necessarily tech savvy and they outspend baby boomers.  They are 3 – 5 years behind in life and work experience due to delayed growing up.  They were older when they graduated college, entered the work force, get married and have their first child.  So, now you are wondering what does this all mean when it comes to direct sales, my parties and recruiting for my team – right?

It is simple – the one size approach doesn’t fit everyone.  As a baby boomer, I think the best way to talk to people is via phone.  Most in this group don’t answer their CELL phone let alone have a landline.  Their preferred method of communication is TEXT MESSAGING!  UGH!  Really, it takes too long to type the message, right?  Supposedly, that is how you can tell a person’s age is by how they text.  It is so true.  Text messages from Belinda & some Gen Y on my team are short and sweet.  Using abbreviations and pictures.  When I get messages from my mom or I text – they are almost complete sentences with punctuation.  Note to self – learn text shorthand.

Emails are the #2 for communication.  They don’t read the whole thing – ONLY the subject line and then make a decision on what to do.  Really??  Now, I have to be creative instead of direct in my subject line to ensure that people read my email.  This is like taking a course in communication.  Emails for me were always clear and concise, almost like handwriting a letter.  Does anyone remember what that was like?

I was surprised that in this age of technology, the #3 form of communication was social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the list goes on.  Believe it or not, as a complete visual generation they believe that this form of communication is authentic, transparent and real.  WOW!  I have entered into some of these worlds but I feel like I have so much more to learn.

So, for the baby boomers reading this, what are your thoughts?  Are you ready to embrace a NEW way of communicating to grow your team or build your business?  This is going to be a work in progress for me.  You can bet there will be some blogs on this subject.  I would love to hear your thoughts whether you are a baby boomer, a Gen Y or some other group.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

BOUND FOR HOTLANTA!

 national conference

WOOHOO!  By the time this blog is posted, I will be on my way to the Atlantic City International Airport and HOTLANTA!  If you hear lots of WoOHoO – ing that is just LOTS of Thirty One consultants converging on the airport excited to be heading to National Conference.  Excited is an understatement.  I have been packing for weeks, selecting my outfits, planning my training schedule and contacting my Thirty One sisters so that we can meet up again this year.  Year 2 as a DIRECTOR!!!  Nervous, excited, overwhelmed – the emotions (and the tears are flowing).  The best part of all – I get to share it with Belinda who is traveling in from North Carolina to party Thirty One style with mom!

Okay, so I won’t have time to blog while I am in HOTLANTA but I am not going to let you down.  I actually think I need a support group for blogging – I am obsessed.  LOL.  What I am going to do over the next few days is share information and ideas from the amazing speakers that I will get a chance to meet first hand at conference.  Their ideas and training will be invaluable to you especially those in direct sales.  They include: Mary Christensen, Tammy Stanley, Jason Dorsey and Pam Herbert.  When I get back, I will share pictures of all of the excitement that was the 10th Anniversary of Thirty One.

For those who are wondering – I didn’t make it to my goal weight.  I am still about 6 pounds shy but that is okay.  I am going to enjoy my trip and if necessary “build a bridge and get over it” when I get home.  I am hoping that all of the walking and pre-packed healthy snacks will offset my desire for junk food or fattening southern food meals.  I will splurge but it will be worth it so that there are NO regrets.

Stay cool and enjoy my blogs over the next few days.  The next time you hear from me (probably on Tuesday) I will be a recuperating WoOHoO girl.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

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