In the world of direct sales, your customer base makes or breaks your business. Keeping track of these current and potential contacts is essential to the success of your business. But if you’re not an organized person to begin with, this can be one of the most challenging aspects of your business.
Many things can happen when you don’t keep track of your contacts. The most obvious is you’ll lose potential sales if you’re customer info isn’t readily available. Not only that, you’ll risk the opportunity to build relationships with your customers, which helps garner repeat sales, affecting potential ongoing cash flow.
But say you’re able to find that contact info you need to make that sale. You’ve most likely wasted minutes to hours looking for that info rather than using that time growing your business, either by selling, working on your marketing strategy or networking. Remember, in the direct sales business, time is money.
Maybe this hasn’t happened to you. Perhaps you have your own system of doing things. You thrive in the chaos of disorganization because it’s how you’ve always worked. But what happens when your business starts to thrive? It’s easier to work in an unorganized way when you don’t have a lot of customers. But once you begin to build your contact list, managing it becomes more difficult when you’re unorganized. You’ll not only start to lose contacts and time, but you’ll also start to lose orders, or confuse orders between customers. And that’s when your lack of organization affects your customer service.
As a member of the direct sales community, you have to play many roles. You’re a salesperson and a marketer, too. First you must persuade your audience to learn more about the products you’re selling. Then you have to convince them why they need to buy them and close the deal.
We call this conversion marketing. It’s the solution to “How am I going to convince people to buy my products?”
It sounds simple. All you have to do is tell people why they should buy what you’re selling and they’ll buy it, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, in the direct sales world or in conventional retail.
Here are some sobering stats from growth agency Ironpaper, a firm specializing in sales and marketing:
- Seventy-nine percent of leads (these are people you’ve identified who have shown interest in buying your product) are never converted to sales.
- Only 5 percent of salespeople said leads they receive from marketing was very high quality.
- Sixty-five percent of customers are lost because of indifference, not because of mistakes.
When it comes to direct sales, how can you better convert your shoppers into paying customers? Here are a few tips:
Be a Good Storyteller
When it comes to selling any product, you must rely on the art of the story to help create empathy with your customers. A story can help drive home why a customer needs to buy your product. But storytelling is not easy to do. In fact, it takes a lot of practice to master. In a way, it’s a performance, much like how stand-up comedians need to practice their deliveries to make an impact on their audience. A good story is entertaining, educational, universal, organized, and memorable. For more on mastering the art of storytelling, read Hubspot’s Ultimate Guide to Storytelling.
When starting a direct sales business, you’ll most likely have people warn you against the dangers of doing so. They’ll recount their own stories, or perhaps a friend of a friend’s tale of losing thousands of dollars in a direct sales business. And yes, they may even use the term “pyramid scheme.”
While there are a number of companies out there with the sole purpose of taking advantage of you financially, there are plenty of them that are legitimate companies out to help you make a profit from selling great products, such as Amway, Avon and Mary Kay.
Most direct sales companies are multi-level marketing companies, which means you receive revenue from your own sales and that of the people you recruit under you. And many times, these companies are legitimate, like the ones we mentioned above. But there are plenty of others out there that give direct sales a bad name.
So, how do you know if the company you want to work for is a pyramid scheme?
First, let’s define a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal. They involve companies set up strictly to defraud you and others. They rely on recruiting new direct sellers and making money off them by charging exorbitant fees up front and convincing them to purchase large amounts of products with very little value.
Do Your Research
When looking for a direct sales company to represent, do your research. Search for company reviews online. Ask around to see what people who’ve worked for the company before have to say. Google the company to see if it’s appeared in the news and for what. Use your detective skills to see if the company is legitimate. And if it’s not, stay far away from it.
Welcome to the world of direct sales! Working as an independent contractor is exciting, but it can also be intimidating. As you begin your new career, you most likely have more questions than you do answers. You’re certainly not alone. Millions of people who make the transition to direct sales have felt the same way and have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs.
Before setting up your new business, let’s answer some of the most pressing questions you and others like you have asked before making the leap into direct sales.
What is direct sales?
Direct sales simply means selling products directly to customers rather than through traditional stores and online shops. The products a direct sales consultant sells to customers come directly from the manufacturer to the direct sales company you’re associated with, then to you, so you can then deliver to the customer.
There are three types of ways you can take advantage of direct selling to consumers:
Single-level direct sales – Typically the easiest way to make money is by selling your products one-on-one, meaning just selling to one person at a time. You can do this by trying to sell to coworkers with your catalog. You can also set up in-person presentations or sell online through a website.
Host a party – Done in a group setting, this method is done through hosting a party at your own home, a friend’s home, or at a public space. There, you’ll do a presentation on the products you’re selling, sometimes with a demonstration. Then you network with attendees and sell, sell, sell, directing potential customers to your website and catalog.
Multi-level Marketing (MLM) – This method is similar to the method above except your income is earned through sales you and other business partners you’ve recruited make. So, your job is two-fold: sell products, and recruit others to sell with you.