You know what's a lot of fun? Waking up in the morning to read yet another blog post condemning direct sales opportunities as scams and pyramid schemes.
What's worse is when these blog posts come up and they try to set themselves up as experts when, in fact, they know little to nothing about the industry (much less the consultants within that industry). And every time they post one of these posts, they show off just how little they know.
That's not to say that their information is wrong – I won't go that far. In fact, some of the information that they talk about is true:
- A lot of direct sellers are spammy. Do you know why they're spammy? Because they are launching into a business without being given a solid strategy or training on how to market that business. What would you do if you decided you wanted to sell some jewelry, but not told how to do it? You'd probably start with your friends and family, the people you know and trust the most.
- A lot of direct sellers close up shop after 15-18 months in business. Yep, it's true. In fact, I'd venture to guess that it's a lot more than just “a lot.” And, I believe many of them would actually close up shop earlier if they weren't afraid of being judged for it. But it's not really a coincidence that if you don't have a strong marketing plan and don't know how to effectively market your business, you'll also burn out your friends and family within about 15-18 months. So, again, this is a symptom of a different problem, not really an issue with the industry.
- Most direct sellers don't make any money. This is one of those claims that gets thrown around all the time. And while statistically it's true, once you really know anything about the industry you'll also realize that most direct sellers don't try to make money. There are several different reasons to join direct sales – and the number of people who join direct sales looking to build empires and get rich is actually very small.
- Direct sales is basically a cult. Well, I've always said that direct sales was more like a sorority…but okay. Anyway, let's think about this: why do people call it a cult? Normally because once someone joins a direct sales company, they eventually become fully immersed into it. That's who they hang out with, who they talk to, who they relate to, and where they want to go. But do you know why they immerse themselves into it? Because everyone else starts telling them how it's a bad idea to join, a waste of money, or a pyramid scheme. Would you want to hang out with people who falsely accused you of being part of a pyramid scheme? Or would you rather hang out with people who understand direct sales and what it is?
- Direct sellers are being forced to try to sell ridiculously over-priced items. It is true that in the world of network marketing, items tend to be a bit more expensive than comparable products you could buy in a retail store or online. Most people will dismiss this as being marked up to pay commissions; but direct sales companies aren't paying the same as other companies in marketing and television ads – so chances are the extra commissions they're paying are comparable to other companies' marketing costs. Rather, the higher price tends to come from higher quality products sold in a more intimate fashion. Direct sellers choose to sell these items not because they're being forced to, but because they see the value, love the mission, and enjoy the more intimate experience of parties and personal recommendations over a trip to the local drug store.
Most of the articles condemning direct sales know very little about the industry
Most of the time, when a new article comes up that condemns direct sales companies and consultants, it's written by someone who:
- Is sick of hearing her friends ask her to buy something.
- Is sick of being added to groups without her permission.
- Has joined one or two direct sales companies and left on bad terms.
Now, I can't speak to their experience within the direct sales industry except to say there are some pretty spammy, rotten consultants out there ruining it for everyone else.
Remember that old saying…about the one bad apple?
So it doesn't surprise me that with so many bad consultants out there being spammy, that people would join direct sales, have a bad time, then leave on bad terms and develop a hatred for the company. Some may even try it at different companies, only to have the same bad experience and leave (again) on bad terms.
However, their bad experience is not necessarily indicative of direct sales as an industry. And their rants highlight just how little they actually understand the direct sales industry.
It all points back to the very first complaint by people: Many uplines are launching into a business without being given a solid strategy or training on how to market that business.
Then these uplines recruit people onto their teams and guess what happens? They teach all the same bad habits because they don't have a solid strategy to teach them.
How do we Change Direct Sales from the Inside Out?
We start by telling current direct sales consultants to stop being spammy.
- Stop posting about your direct sales opportunities on your wall.
- Stop adding people into your groups without their permission.
- Stop messaging old friends who haven't heard from you in years and asking them to host a party.
- Stop ranting about how your friends and family aren't supporting you if they aren't hosting parties or buying from you.
- Stop asking other direct sellers to turn your profile into a store by commenting with a link to something they sell.
- Stop going into groups and doing a like-for-like.
- Stop. Doing. The. Spammy. Things.
But it's not going to do anyone any good if I just tell you to stop doing the spammy things and forget to tell you what to do, instead. Right?
Because even though it's not the right way to do things, at least spammy is a strategy. So if I take it away from you, then what will you do?
1. Share your Direct Sales Opportunities wisely
Direct sales companies have amazing incentives, don't they? Recruit 3,900 people in a week and they will basically give you the world.
But is that really what you want? Do you want to have to train new consultants? Is that part of your strategy and why you wanted to start your own business?
If the answer is no, then don't get sucked in by the incentives. First of all, this almost always leads to people asking just anyone to join their team…”Go for no!!” Without actually sitting down and putting together a strategy for running or growing that team.
There's nothing worse than trying to convince someone else to join your team when you don't actually want to lead a team.
Speaking of “go for no” – stop it.
Go for no encourages you to just ask anybody and everybody to join your direct sales opportunities without caring about whether or not it would be good for them. Instead, put together a real leadership strategy along with a service-based sponsoring strategy.
It's better (and more efficient) to ask 10 people to join your team and get 8 yeses than to ask 100 people to join your team and get the same 8 yeses. Where would you rather spend your time?
2. Make your Groups the Place to be.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why so many restaurant workers hang out at the restaurant after work? Or why so many people end up “talking shop” with coworkers even outside of work?
It's not because they have nothing better to do – it's because people like hanging out with their friends. Even if those friends are discovered in a business setting.
So, if you want people to join your group, make it a friendly place to be. Make it easy for your members to meet and be friends with each other. Make it easy for them to share your link and invite their friends to join you.
And while you're in there, don't make it all about the sales. Yes, you're in sales, so you don't want to forget about selling – but no one wants to be in a group that is all sales all the time. So play some games, have some fun.
If you want people to be in your group – make it the best group for them to be in.
3. Respect the Relationship First and Foremost.
How are you going to know whether or not someone might be interested in your direct sales opportunities if you don't even know what they're up to?
People lose sight of each other after a while, it's just what happens. After high school, you go your separate ways. After college, you separate again. Sure, there are some really close friends that you'll stay in touch with through that entire time, but for the most part, your friendship circle changes drastically as the years go by.
Now, a place like Facebook is wonderful because it allows us to reconnect with some of these friends we left behind. And that truly is a great thing. However, if you haven't talked to someone since school? They don't want to hear about your direct sales opportunity.
I'm not saying you shouldn't message people. By all means!! Message them! But do so to be their friend, to reconnect, to rekindle the friendship.
Don't just message them because you want them to join your team.
4. Make your Friends and Family Feel Good about Their Buying Decisions
And if you continue posting those ranty, shaming memes about how people should be supporting small business over big business, you're going to turn your friends against you.
No one likes to be told that by going to Walmart they are hurting their friends. No one wants to be made to feel guilty for wanting to get out of the house and shop at the mall, or the grocery store, or the drug store on the corner.
And all those posts that get shared around all the time that talk about how by shopping from you your little girl can go to dance class but by shopping at the big store they just help a rich man get richer? That's what they do – make your friends and family feel guilty for wanting to shop at the big store.
And, it's true, sometimes people will feel guilty enough and they will turn around and try to shop from a friend next time – but those guilt purchases don't last long. Eventually they will resent feeling guilty for it and they will miss shopping at the store.
Instead of making people feel guilty about buying from someone else, make them feel good about their buying decisions. If they feel good about what they're buying in general, then when it comes down to buying from you, they won't question that decision.
5. Identify your Ideal Client and Connect with them on Facebook.
Posts inviting direct sellers to post onto your wall get a lot of engagement because other direct sellers are hoping people will buy from them. But they go largely ignored by would-be customers.
- They're spammy
- They don't establish a connection with the customer
- They don't offer anyone a reason to buy
Your followers are friends are more likely to hide the post or report it as spam than they are to sift through the comments and look for something to purchase.
Instead, take some time to identify your ideal client and how you can help them. Then use your social media accounts to start connecting with them. This will help ensure that when your ideal client is ready to buy, they will find you.
Plus, you're far less likely to get hidden or unfollowed by someone who isn't ready yet.
6. Put Together a Strong Content Strategy that Serves your Ideal Client
Like-for-likes draw more direct sellers to your page – not necessarily customers.
A lot of direct sellers will buy from other direct sellers – this is all part of that whole sorority thing I talked about earlier. We tend to feel a sense of loyalty to each other because we know how hard this industry can be.
However, that doesn't make us your ideal client. And most direct sellers have their own thing to sell. So trading likes on your Facebook Page to get other sellers over there isn't necessarily a great way to grow your page. All you're doing is getting people who want you to like their page. They won't engage with you, they won't connect with you, and they won't care what you're selling.
Just as with your group, if you want clients to come to your page, give them a reason to go there. A strong content strategy will help you far more than trading likes-for-likes.
Most Direct Sales Opportunities are just that: Opportunities
They aren't schemes, they aren't scams, they aren't duping people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Direct sales has a long, illustrious history. If it were all a scam, it wouldn't still be around.
But it is plagued by consultants who don't know how to leverage their experience or social media presence into a business, who are given no real direction, and many times are literally told the wrong things to do.