Lately I’ve been hearing from direct sellers thinking their business model is different from any other small business. They look for customized programming from the organizations they belong to as if to say, direct sellers are different and should be treated differently. Direct sellers include companies like Pampered Chef, Cabi, Mary Kay, and more. They are called direct sellers because they sell directly to the consumer in their home, online, or through a party hosted by a current customer.
According to the Direct Selling Association website, “Direct selling is a business model that offers entrepreneurial opportunities to individuals as independent contractors to market and/or sell products and services, typically outside of a fixed retail establishment, through one-to-one selling, in-home product demonstrations or online.”
Notice they refer to entrepreneurial opportunities. In every sense of the word that spells business owner. It’s time direct sellers started to see themselves as business owners and realize the universal rules of selling adopted by the business world as a whole pertain to them as well. Yes, they sell to consumers. So do insurance companies, banks, fitness centers, and the like. Any company that sells to consumers should engage in sales and marketing practices that work.
Maybe the issue lies in the fact that direct sellers have been taught to sell to their family and friends. Truth be told, those aren’t target markets. Like any other business, the direct seller has a target market (or two) that needs and wants that product. Direct sellers are better off using effective sales tactics to grow their book of business. Those tactics include networking, prospecting, and educating. Persuading, convincing, and coercing friends and family are nowhere on the list of what works.
In my chapter on Direct Sellers in Succeed Without Selling, I outline in greater detail what actually does work. Interestingly, it’s the same thing that works for financial advisors, realtors, personal lines insurance agents . . . Get it?
Embrace the idea that you own a business and should create a sales strategy you can implement on a consistent basis. Think about your audience and how you can share information with them, without trying to sell. The truth is that you can’t sell anything to anyone. People will buy from you when they have a need for your product AND they trust you. Spend your time building relationships and trust, and let the sales happen as they should.
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