How to Direct Sell (Without losing friends)
So you’re in the business of direct selling: selling a product directly to your customers without the brick-and-mortar store model that has been the main way to do business for most retailers in the past. It’s entrepreneurship of a different kind that has drawn in so many people who are capitalizing on the most effective way to do business: Direct Sales.
These days, direct selling is a whole lot different than knocking on doors and cold-calling over the phone. Today’s direct sellers make money from home, using online marketing tools to reach their customers and having a lot of success doing it.
Why? Because it’s a simple, straightforward way to do business… that works! It’s a transition from an older format into a collaborative mindset. From one of sellers thinking, “I need to sell in order to feed my family,” to one of “I’m providing products to the people who need them, exactly when they need them.” And with that mindset, anything is possible. Because with this independent distributor business model, you’re building relationships, curating to specific tastes, and establishing trust because there is a person (not a faceless corporation) backing up each and every sale.
As a seller, you want to come across as being genuine and flexible because today’s consumers are socially responsible and familiar with product marketing. They’re wary of aggressive sales techniques and more than happy to go somewhere else to get what they want.
With that in mind, you’re probably well aware of how hard it can be to approach people to buy the products you’re selling. There are ethics involved and boundaries not to cross. So how do you approach people? How do you get hot leads? How do you make your customers feel like you have a product worth buying?
First, let’s talk about the ethics of direct selling. These are standards that will keep you above board.
Ethics of Direct Selling
Never be misleading. You need to be truthful about your products. Never exaggerate claims, and don’t say anything you can’t back up with actual evidence. Testimonials aren’t evidence.
Always be accountable. Your customers need to be able to reach and research you and your company.
Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. If you say you’re available 24/7, be available 24/7. If you have specific hours or are going on vacation, make sure these are known to your customers.
Respect privacy; no one welcomes unwanted calls, and no one should have their information shared with others without their consent.
These are just a few basics of the standards you should abide by. For a document of the full guidelines from the Direct Sellers’ Association of Canada click here [link: https://www.dsa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/DSA-DSA-Codes-of-Ethics_ENG_2018.pdf]. It includes information on refunds, taxes, privacy, and more.
Guidelines for ethics are helpful in keeping your business honest and law-abiding, but what about your selling approach, as in, how can you become a top tier seller? For one, the more you put into your business, the more you will get out of it. That’s the general rule. But for specifics, read on. Here are some helpful tips:
In order to reach and be reached by as many people as possible, you need to be flexible with your selling approach. This will benefit both you and your customers. Each individual has a preferred way of doing business and the more channels you have, the easier it is for people to get in touch with you.
Examples of this are Facebook Live, where you have a set time to engage with people that allows you to demonstrate products, answer questions, provide expertise, etc. Facebook Groups give you a place to showcase your products, add videos, spread the word about promotions, and give people a place to interact with you and your brand.
Most Direct Sales Companies provide their sellers with a website, and that’s because it is a HUGE marketing tool! Use it to its full potential by installing a chat feature so people can chat when they’re visiting it. It could also be used to showcase products, or even be used as a place where customers can buy products from you without any interaction. Just make sure your website, Facebook Group, etc, all let customers know about all the ways they can contact you directly to make purchases.
The website is probably going to be the first thing people see when they look you up after getting your business card, so why not make it a place they can explore and learn as much (or as little) about you as they want? Flesh it out with an About Me section, write blogs about your products, put up testimonials, fill it with videos and information. They might go through and read everything, or they might see that you’ve got a lot of content--and even just the fact that you’re obviously putting a lot of effort into your business could be the thing that cinches the sale.
Take advantage of the company’s sales aids. These are things you can use to make your website and Facebook Page more vibrant and robust: Videos, testimonials, product descriptions, promotions, programs (“30 Days to a Healthier You”), product demos (video or live).
Parties and one-on-one selling are always good ideas, but don’t get stuck on just one or two ways to do business. Be flexible! This way, you increase your chance of being there for someone when they’re ready to buy.
Where To Find Customers?
Websites, chat features, Facebook Groups and the like are all great avenues to use when you’ve got people who know about you and your products. But how do you get them to know you exist? Google Ads or Facebook ads can work great for people who are already looking for your product, but here are some ways to network without being obnoxious:
Craft fairs, indoor/outdoor markets, bridal showers (Makeup products like Avon or Younique or aromatherapy like Scentsy or Simply Aroma) potlucks (for food related products), mall events, networking events.
Market yourself like crazy!
Talk to people! When you meet someone at work or someone new comes into your social sphere, don't try a hard sell. Casually mention that you sell Mary Kay, Shaklee, or Arbonne products (for example) and they might reach out to you when they want to buy something.
Wear your company’s brand and logo when you’re out and about (t-shirts, hats, pins, etc.) and give some to your friends and family to wear too.
Wear the product! With makeup and skin care products, you can always show them off on yourself.
Keep your business card handy and give it to anyone you think would want to buy your products.
Get stickers (made or from the company) and put them on your car.
Take advantage of community bulletin boards at churches, general stores, swimming pools, community centres and tack up your business cards.
Network with other direct sellers. Go to their parties or even offer dual purpose parties. For example a Pampered Chef party would work well with someone selling Epicure products.
Send a catalogue to people who you have sold to before, but have been out of touch.
Leave a catalogue, brochure, or business card in the lunchroom or waiting rooms (dentist, doctor, physio, chiropractor, vet)
Advertise on your voicemail
Offer your products as prize donations at charity events
This is not by any means a complete list! There are endless ways to meet people, market yourself, and snag those juicy leads. What do you find to be the best way to find leads?
Let us know in the comments so other readers can benefit from your success!
There are endless ways to meet people, market yourself, and snag those juicy leads. Check out this article for some guidelines and tips.[link to blog]
Does your company have promotional materials? Take advantage of them! Stickers, shirts, samples: Use them and share them. Same with online marketing tools like videos, testimonials, and blogs about your products. They’re there to help you!
#sidehustle #productmarketing #smallbusiness
ProTip: Be Flexible in your approach. There are so many ways for people to get in contact with you and each person has a preferred method or two. Direct messages on social, emails, phone, chat features on websites…
For more info on how to be flexible with your selling, read this article. [link]
#smallbusiness #marketingtip #onlinesales #localbusiness
Give a little, get a little? Have you ever donated your products for charity events? This has huge payback potential: people see your products as exciting and desirable, many people will see them, and the winner gets to sample them and could come back to you for more!
#marketing #smallbusiness #independentrep
As an #independentrep, you’ve got a website from your company… so use it! Fill out the sections, share it on your social, and keep it updated! #smallbusiness #marketingtip
As an #independent rep, how do you meet people, market yourself, and snag those juicy leads? Check out this article for some guidelines and #tips.[link to blog] #workfromhome
Team up with other direct sellers and have dual-purpose parties! Reach out to reps whose products complement yours! #independentrep #smallbusiness #marketing