In recent days, I have seen a recurring theme on my Facebook feed. “Who wants to join my awesome team and make an extra $500 a month?!”
Of course, the post is then inundated and flooded with so many commenters who want to jump on board that the person becomes an INSTANT direct sales success.
Yeah, that never happened.
OR, “Who wants to try awesome products at MY cost?!” Now, I have seen this one work more often than the first. But still, in most cases….
I am not dogging direct sales, which many call Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or Network Marketing. I think it is an important part of our economy. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I once tried it and failed miserably!
I have no success to back up the words I am about to write. However, I have been in the game before, and since then, have much better business and marketing skills.
Take what I say with a grain of salt, but I believe that if you take a hard look at these 5 steps, you will be able to market yourself more confidently, grow your teams, and finally hit that 10k bonus you’ve been desperately announcing to everyone.
Step 1: Shift your focus.
Your mindset has a lot to do with your success as a direct marketing small business owner.
For many, this will be the very first experience in the business world at all. I believe this is for a couple of reasons:
- It’s typically a low cost to entry.
- You buy (for a small investment) what you need to get the business running up front.
- You are given a clear plan to follow.
Pretty attractive, right?
So it makes sense. The problem is that most fail.
In fact, this research study concluded that:
- In the first year, a MINIMUM of 50% fail.
- In the first 5 years, a MINIMUM of 90% fail.
- By year 10, only those who have not seen incredible success drop out. The safe assumption is that around 95% have failed.
Here’s the deal: in the business world, we call that LOW. TURNOVER.
So what do you do about it? Shift your focus!
You are now an actual business. A real one. That deserves credit! Carry yourself in such a way that people are impressed with you as a business owner; not a kid looking for their first entry into the business world.
It’s because of this connotation that many people do not take MLM representatives seriously. They expect you to be desperate, and have your own pockets front of mind.
People who buy from businesses (of ANY kind) are tuned into WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) Radio.
Start broadcasting on their station.
Step 2: Recognize what you actually do.
Most direct sales representatives see little success because they don’t really understand what it is that they do.
If you think your job is to sell great products, you’re wrong. If you think it is to transform lives with these products, you’re wrong.
Sure, people need to perceive that the two things above are what you do!
But actually, you are now in the hiring and training business. The good news is, drop-out rates are so high you will almost never have to fire anyone!
What you will have to do is learn how to sell the idea of a great future to A LOT of people, OVER, and OVER, and OVER again.
This is not necessarily a bad thing; it just depends on if that is what you want to do with your life. If you get great joy out of bringing people on, leading a team to success, and motivating individuals to push past their own self-imposed barriers, then direct sales would be great for you!
I am going to make a bold statement, but I am confident in it. In fact, go ahead and tweet it:
[bctt tweet=”The key to direct sales success is people; not products.” username=”northmacsvc”]
The consultants who realize what they actually do, which is to be KILLER at establishing and selling a vision, will succeed!
The individuals who are product focused are the ones who make up those incredibly high dropout rates mentioned above.
Now, I realize that VERY early on you will have to sell products too. And, yes, continuing those product sales is important. But bonuses come when you GROW your team.
The next three steps will be both product and people focused. You can use these strategies no matter who your current target is.
If you want to build a direct sales empire, follow this advice:
Step 3: Stop interrupting people; get their permission!
Seth Godin, a business and leadership expert, wrote a book in the late 90’s called Permission Marketing.
Excellent read, by the way.
In it, he proposes that the “future” (which of course, is now) of marketing will focus primarily on what people have given you permission to sell them. He was right.
Contrast this with interruptive advertising (such as TV ads), and you have two completely different ballgames.
The problem is, most direct sales representatives perform interruptive marketing in a permission marketing world! Your customers are minding their own business online, trying to look at that dog shaming video reel or cat video, and here you come on the scene announcing your products!
That’s not how it should be. The goal is for people to be so interested in what you have to sell them that they give you permission to offer to them.
So what does that look like?
A couple great examples of permission marketing:
- A blog.
- An email list.
- A Facebook group.
- A podcast.
- A Youtube channel.
These are all things that people must WILLINGLY read, join, or subscribe to. But once they do, you’re golden!
Once people take this first step, they have given you the explicit permission to offer them products, offer them your vision, and get on their level.
This is a much easier “first sale”, because well, it’s free! I have seen folks try to use this before, but in the wrong way. Look–naming your group “Rachel’s IT Works Group” is not a great way to get people to join. In fact, it will probably be just as ineffective as those Facebook posts you’ve been interrupting all of your friends with.
Pick a catchy name that focuses on a very specific niche (or, market segment). You don’t have to sell to everyone! In fact, if you try to, you will fail.
Just like every other legitimate business, you need to define who your customer is, and learn how to talk to her. Give her a name, a job, kids, and everything! Speak to her pain points. Here is a great example:
“My customer is Kara. She is a thirty-something mom of three who is not happy with the person she sees in the mirror. She is getting older, and concerned that her image is fading as the years go by. She wants to be revived, and feel rejuvenated! She could benefit from “X” product, and could stand to make “X” amount of dollars to supplement her income. She has a supportive husband, but he is skeptical of direct sales.”
Now, start right away focusing ALL of your marketing efforts onto that customer. And ONLY that customer! Once you have defined the customer, it will be SO much easier to learn how to talk to them.
BTW–pay attention to that last line in the fake buyer description–“She has a supportive husband, but he is skeptical of direct sales.” You will see this a lot. Figure out, for your business, how to overcome it.
Step 4: Get blogging.
I’m a bit passionate about blogging. Here’s the thing: it works! It really does!
- Builds authority.
- Attracts customers.
- Connects you with your customer.
- Builds trust ahead of the sale.
- Provides VALUE ahead of the sale.
Your business NEEDS to have all 5 of the above listed elements, and blogging nails them all beautifully.
In fact, if your blog is properly optimized, people may stumble across you without ever even seeing you on a social feed, or without you having ever contacted them. It’s awesome!
Blogging can be great for direct sales representatives, but there is one key that will greatly help your chances of success as a direct sales small business blogger.
Here it is: Don’t tell people your secret.
Look, I’m sorry, but it is a true fact that if people know that you are in direct sales BEFORE you convince them that they need your product, your chances of success will be much lower.
MLM has a very negative connotation in our society (mostly because of the interruption marketing tactics most reps use), but this can be FOUGHT by focusing your blog on the change you are making in people’s lives (more on that in the last step).
Blogging is paramount to the success of a business based on permission marketing in 2017. There is no reason to expect that this would not be true of direct sales businesses as well.
When people are interested in what your offer does for them, it does not matter what company you are with. For the most part, people don’t care if you work for Essential Oils or Walmart. As long as what you sell matches up with what they need, you’re on the proper track.
If the thought of blogging is intimidating or scary to you, it shouldn’t be! Start small. It is easy to get a blog going these days, and there are plenty of tutorials online that will help with this.
Here are a few practical tips:
- Buy your own domain name (e.g., www.kellyslifestyleproducts.com)
- Use WordPress. Simple set up, and will expand with your business.
- Set things up with a company called Bluehost.
- Find a simple, FREE theme.
- Get writing!
If you need help with any of this, I will offer a shameless plug. We do great web design here, and I believe we could put together an awesome product for you. We also offer blogging services, and at the very least, could help you get a head start.
Step 5: Results. Results. Results.
I will keep this part somewhat short and sweet, but here’s the thing: people don’t care what you can do, they care what you have already done.
[bctt tweet=”People don’t care what you can do, they care what you have already done.” username=”northmacsvc”]
Once you get even a few customers under your belt, use their success to catapult yours! Ask for permission of course, but you need to begin showing others their results, and writing about their results on your blog.
Case studies are paramount in any business, and direct sales reps have one of the greatest opportunities for case studies ever!
If you really do sell great products, and they really do transform lives, people will be HAPPY to share their transformation with others.
(Most people are a bit self-absorbed, in case you didn’t know.)
Maybe your first couple of customers can be in your circle of friends. Make your first few customers become your champion. You want them to become your free marketing team!
Do something radical. For your first few customers, offer your product for free. Yes, pay for it out of your OWN pocket. Are you willing to do what it takes to succeed? You may have to do this in order to get some traction and overcome initial objections.
[bctt tweet=”If your products really do transform lives, people will be HAPPY to share their transformation.” username=”northmacsvc”]
I hope this guide will provide you some value in the long run. Most of you will not do what I said, I’m pretty confident of that.
But if you will apply these steps to your direct sales business, and stay with it for the long-haul, I believe you can make it work.
Bonus tip: Believe in yourself. Fight to make it out of the 95% percent.
Confidence is still sexy, no matter what the context. It attracts people to you, and more importantly, makes them want to stay.
Become a hero to your team members, and they will work their tales off for you. I’ve seen it.