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Direct sales. Network marketing. MLM. They’re all different labels to describe the same business model. We all know someone (or many people) who are involved in direct sales, and you may even be a part of one yourself. It gets a bad reputation since we often see people using strategies that are pushy or misleading, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Direct sales has changed so much with social media, and you can be successful in direct sales without using the tactics most people dread.
Direct sales is a business like any other, and it utilizes many of the same marketing concepts you would use if selling a product or service of your own. It’s often referred to as word-of-mouth sales, because instead of paying for ads, companies choose to pay people for sharing about a product. It’s very similar to the concept of affiliate marketing except you get to continue making money beyond a one-time affiliate marketing commission.
Overcoming the stigma is one of the biggest barriers that people have to incorporating direct sales as a money-making strategy. We’ve all been contacted by the overzealous rep or an old friend who starts some brief small talk before pitching their product. You don’t have to do that to be successful.
How You Get Paid
Similar to affiliate marketing, someone purchases a product from you, generally through a referral link or your member number, and you receive a commission for that sale. It’s different depending on the company, but you’ll generally receive a commission of 20-50%. If that customer continues to purchase products, you continue to make a commission (lower than the initial usually) as long as they remain an active customer.
If someone wants to build their own business and gets started with you, you also earn a commission on the sales that they make. This process continues with everyone who enters into your network in what is referred to as your ‘downline.’ It’s called network marketing, because you are creating a network of people, both buying and selling products, ‘under’ you as a business owner.
So you’ve seen people posting about how easy it is. All you have to do is enroll someone, they enroll two people, those people enroll two people, and suddenly you’re making thousands of dollars in a matter of a couple weeks. Like any business, it’s hard work planning, marketing, teaching, encouraging, and providing customer service. If someone presents it as too good to be true, it probably is.
However, you have an earning potential that is unique in many ways to more other sales models and traditional 9-5 jobs.
Why Direct Sales
You might be wondering why so many moms are getting started with direct sales in recent years. The industry has really started to take off in the past 5-10 years, and there are some reasons why.
- You have the opportunity to work from home, which is particularly important to many moms.
- You control the hours that you work. If you only want to work while your kids are sleeping, you can do that.
- Many companies don’t require you to carry inventory, so your business does not take up much space in your home.
- You get to choose who you work with and often end up working alongside friends.
- You become a part of and build your own community of likeminded people pursuing similar goals.
- You can achieve PASSIVE INCOME, which is income without actively working or as a result of work you have done in the past.
Not everyone wants to build a full-time direct sales business, but it can be a great way to build additional income on top of what you are already making. So many bloggers and business owners are beginning to incorporate direct sales into their existing businesses as an additional revenue stream due to its flexibility.
How People Sell Products
I still remember my mom going to tupperware parties and flipping through the Avon catalogue given to she got from woman at church. Direct sales has probably been a part of your life for years, before you even know it existed. However, things are changing, and the ways we connect with people have changed in the past decade or so.
The main ways we see direct sales happening now includes:
- Content marketing through blogging
- Attraction marketing on social media
- Classes or parties in a home
- Local vendor events
- Facebook classes/parties
- Instagram stories used as education on a product or service
- Live or pre-recorded webinars
- One-on-one meet ups
Most distributors are shifting at least some portion of their strategy online, because people are becoming tired of home party and Facebook event invites. Direct sellers are now having to learn how to sell in a social media driven world. That being said, I wanted to give some of my top DOs and DO NOTs in direct sales.
Top Tips for Success in Direct Sales
- Find a product you actually like and want to use. It’s far easier to be authentic and to become an expert on your product when you are using it on a daily basis.
- Choose a consumable product, meaning a product that people use up and will have to replace. The passive income aspect of direct sales relies on customers buying regularly from you. There are only so many clothing items and accessories someone will buy. Food, body care products, supplements, etc are all consumed and need to be replaced.
- Understand the compensation plan. You need to understand HOW you actually make money with a company to target your attention appropriately.
- Develop your own tools (as your company allows) for building your business. This could include: email list, blog, printed business cards, labels, and so on.
- Be sure to differentiate yourself. Part of attraction marketing and building a business on social media (whether warm or cold market) depends on creating a brand. Who are you? What makes you different than others selling the same product? Find your tribe.
- Practice your sales skills
- Create a system for follow-up, because the fortune is in the follow-up. It takes approximately 7 exposures to a product to actually buy.
- Build genuine relationships–don’t just build relationships to sell something. You’ll increase your circle of influence. You can build relationships online, in mom groups, and at your kids’ extracurricular activities. Always be meeting new people.
I think most of us have seen someone do it the ‘wrong’ way, and that’s what keeps us from pursuing a direct sales opportunity. But let’s talk about what NOT to do in direct sales.
- Don’t start your business and immediately start messaging friends and family. Learn to share more naturally by integrating it into your social media posts or using the product as you normally would in your home when others are around.
- Don’t add your friends to groups or Facebook events without asking first.
- Don’t start cold messaging acquaintances from the past or social media influencers without a longer-term relationship.
- Don’t overuse graphics. It feels salesy, and it doesn’t allow you to show off your unique personality and brand
- Don’t immediately try to sell your product to someone online or in-person when they share they are struggling with something. It doesn’t matter if your product will help. It doesn’t seem like you genuinely care.
- Don’t start an Instagram specific product page where you only post about your product or service. You’ll just attract people from your own company, and they’ve already bought the product from someone else.
Doing these things is what gives direct sales a bad name and makes people feel that yuck feeling when they hear about it. There’s a different way to do it so that it’s a legitimate business rather than a spam factory.
If you’ve been interested in direct sales but aren’t sure if it’s for you or don’t know where to start, I’d love to give you some guidance.
Check out this post if you’re interested in joining my team. You will get direct training from me, weekly video coaching calls, an entire course on how to set up a business online and use social media, and more for free!
Every business can benefit from a blog, and a direct sales business is no different. You have the ability to grow your online presence through content marketing and earn affiliate income on related products. Read these posts to learn more:
- How to Start a Money Making Blog
- 7 Monetization Strategies to Earn an Income from Your Blog
- Why You Need an Email List to Grow Your Business and Make Money
- The Best Free and Inexpensive Tools and Resources to Grow Your Blog and Business