The world of direct sales has come a long way since Peg first tried to apply astringent to the scars on Edward Scissorhands's face, “Avon calling!” Back in the 70s and 80s, direct sales companies were limited to just about a half a dozen or so. But now, there are more direct sales companies than ever before. In fact, if you can think of a product to sell, you can probably join a direct sales company to sell it.
In this article, you are going to learn everything there is to know about joining a direct sales company:
- What it means to be in direct sales.
- How to choose a company.
- How to succeed in direct sales.
- A mega-list of direct sales companies.
What is Direct Sales?
In a nutshell, direct selling means selling your products directly to the customers without the use of conventional retail locations. Instead of a store, consultants sell face-to-face.
Most direct sales businesses work through the party plan model, in which you would gather a group of friends to demonstrate or display the products for the express purpose that those friends will fall in love with the product and buy some.
The direct sales company usually handles the bulk of the business startup:
- Product design and development
- High-level marketing
- Commission and payment structure
- Graphic design
- Website design
- Training resources and materials
Which leaves it to the consultant to learn how to market and sell the products. It's really a win-win situation: the direct sales company doesn't have to talk to customers, and the consultants don't have to build a business from scratch (which can cost a lot of time and money).
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How much money can you make as a direct sales consultant?
On average, a direct sales consultant can expect to earn anywhere from 15% to 50% commission on the products they sell. The exact commission is going to depend on the company's compensation plan and payment structure.
Most direct sales companies offer a tiered commission plan, meaning that the more you sell, the higher your commission rate will be.
As a consultant, you may also be invited to sponsor new consultants to join your team, and earn a commission based on your team's performance. Again, the specifics of this will depend on the company and their policies.
Is Direct Sales a Pyramid Scheme?
Pyramid schemes come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one characteristic in common: They all promise you huge profits on the basis of recruiting others under you.
Most direct sales companies, on the other hand, make no such promises. In fact, if you read through the website of just about any direct sales company, chances are you will see an earnings disclaimer specifying that only you can determine how much money you make.
According the the FTC, a pyramid scheme can sometimes be disguised behind the sale of products, however the defining characteristic would still hold true: promises of huge profits brought in primarily through recruiting new people to join under you.
This is one reason why so many people tend to lump direct sales companies in with pyramid schemes, because direct sales companies often do offer commissions and bonuses for sponsoring new consultants and growing your team. The primary difference is:
- In a pyramid scheme, you only get money if people join under you and recruit others to join under them. The money you earn is a piece of their join-fee, so you get paid when they join. It's a never-ending ladder in which the only people who truly make any profits are those who joined up early and are near the top of the pyramid. Additionally, because the only way to make money is to recruit people, the cost to join is pretty high.
- In direct sales, your primary commission is paid from the products you sell to the public (legit companies have rules against selling to other consultants). And while you can earn commissions and bonuses from people who join your team, you can only earn those when your team sells — you get nothing when they join.
How do you make money in direct sales?
Contrary to popular belief (and, more than likely, everything you were told before you joined your direct sales company), making money in direct sales is not overly easy. It a good marketing strategy, hard work, and establishing a customer base. None of these things are going to come automatically.
To be successful in direct sales, you will need to develop a social marketing plan:
- Set your goals.
- Choose your platforms.
- Define your voice.
- Develop your content plan.
- Track and analyze your results.
How do you find customers in direct sales?
A lot of people join a direct sales company and then make the mistake of relying on their friends and family to purchase or host parties. It's based on a really old principle that governs how we all do business:
We purchase from people we know, like, and trust. And we purchase from people our friends and family know, like, and trust.
And that's okay – direct sales was founded on the principle that people would be happier buying from their friends than from a store. And that's true – most of us love supporting our friends' and family's businesses over a retail store.
But, one of the major mistakes that a lot of direct sellers make is in relying solely on their friends and family without building a strategy to get out of their warm market. No matter how hard you try, or how many friends you have or how outgoing you are, there is going to be a limit to the number of people you have a relationship with.
Once you reach that wall, you need to find a way to reach the people on the other side.
And that means building a strong online funnel that will attract new clients over to you.
Which would you rather have? A complete stranger coming at you asking you to buy their stuff? Or a way to find that complete stranger when you're searching for stuff to buy?
How do you find the right direct sales company for you?
Most of the time, people find a product first, usually through a friend, and then fall in love with the product – choosing to join the direct sales company that sells that product. Choosing a company based on a prior connection is usually the safest way to go:
- you already have a relationship with the product,
- you already know everything there is to know about the product,
- you already know at least one consultant (likely the person who ran your party for you) within the company.
But, if you do plan on venturing into direct sales without a previous relationship, or if you just have an idea of what you would like to sell but not a specific company, then you will want to take some time and do some research on as many companies as you can before making that choice.
And, yes, that can be as overwhelming as it sounds.
The good news is we've gathered up this list of direct sales companies and organized them by industry to help you out.
Once you have a list of the companies you're interested in looking into more, be sure to take some time to ask some questions and really get a feel as to whether or not it's a good fit for you.
How much does it cost to start in direct sales?
Most startup kits are affordable, costing you anywhere from nothing to several hundred dollars, with the average kit costing right around $100.
The reason direct sales companies are able to offer their new consultants a startup kit for so little money is because they've already handled the bulk of the startup responsibilities (product design and development, market research, etc). So, when you join a direct sales company, while you are starting your own business, you're doing so with their expertise and knowledge backing you up.
They've already done the heavy work — they just need you to connect with your audience and do the selling.
List of Direct Sales Companies
Note: Although I have experience with direct sales, I do not have experience with each company listed and cannot speak to their practices or program success. I recommend that you do your homework: talk to consultants and check out their listing in the Direct Selling Association before signing up.
Everyone knows Mary Kay. For more than 50 years, Mary Kay Inc. has empowered women while changing the world of business..
Avon got its start in 1886, and has been empowering women ever since.
BeneYOU provides a comprehensive line of nutritional and beauty products that support a total approach to health, from the inside out.
GelMoment offers unique, high-quality gel polishes that are durable, safe, and cruelty-free.
Color Street is 100% nail polish strips available in a variety of designs and colors.
Perfectly Posh focuses on pampering products and the idea that you deserve to be pampered.
Sweet Minerals was founded by three ladies looking to create mineral makeup that lasts.
NYR Organic is a natural health and beauty company that offers cosmetics, bath and body, hair treatment, aromatherapy, supplements and more.
Arbonne International offers botanically-based cosmetics, anti-aging, skincare, and health and wellness products.
Seacret Direct is a facial and skincare line made with minerals, salts and mud taken directly from the Dead Sea.
Aloette is a skincare and make up company that uses their proprietary aloe vera to make skin care products that are good for your skin.
Fashion, Jewelry, and Accessories
Faith Jewelry is a direct sales company that sells beautiful jewelry that is handmade by international refugees who fled to the United States.
Origami Owl is a customizable jewelry company.
Paparazzi Jewelry offers trendy jewelry at $5 apiece.
Thirty-one is a direct sales company that offers totes, purses, thermals and a host of other items meant to simplify and organize your life.
Stella and Dot offers a variety of accessories and fashionable clothing.
Touchstone Crystal is a member of the Swarvoski group.
J. Hilburn is a luxury men’s brand competing with brands such as Nordstrom’s, Men's Wearhouse, and Brooks Brothers.
Lularoe is simply comfortable clothing for women.
Amway has been around for over 50 years and is one of the top direct sales companies in volume, success, and reputation. They offer products from a wide spectrum, including nutrition, beauty, bath and body products and more.
Hungry? Pampered Chef offers a wide variety of kitchen-related products including bakeware, cookbooks, food, stoneware, cookware and more.
Tupperware has such a long, illustrious history that it is as ingrained in American culture as apple pie.
Toys and Books
Discovery Toys is a learning toy company dedicated to helping children learn and grow through Pure Play.
Usborne and Kane Miller books are the most exciting, engaging, and educational books on the market today. They are high quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated and best of all they are the books kids love to read.
Health and Wellness
Youngevity's pioneering work proves that nutrition and environmental changes have a profound effect on our overall well-being.
Herbalife Nutrition is a global nutrition company whose purpose is to make the world healthier and happier.
It Works! is committed to always bringing their consumers the best products to live their healthiest and best life.
Food & Drink
Tastefully Simple provides exceptional tasting experiences and lifestyle solutions, through simple, delicious food.
WineShop At Home is a whole new way to learn about, experience and shop for great wines.
Armed with an arsenal of organic and fair trade options of coffee as well as tea and cocoa, we are fueling the opportunity to percolate your own dreams. Java Momma is brewing a strong community one sip at a time.
Organo Gold is a company that sells beverages, neutraceuticals and personal care products that contain Ganoderma, a mushroom that’s consumed for its health and longevity effects in traditional Chinese medicine.
Arts & Crafts
Scrapbooking is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends. Creative Memories, first founded in 1987, is widely known as a leader in the scrapbooking industry with world-class products.
Chalk Couture is revolutionizing DIY and home décor with category-creating products like Chalkology Paste, Chalk Transfers, Chalkology Ink and their exclusive Boards.
Founded in 1988, Stampin’ Up! is a direct-sales company that designs and manufactures an exclusive line of decorative rubber stamp sets and offers accessories for home décor, greeting cards, craft projects, and scrapbooking.
Scentsy, which began as a distributor of a safe, wickless alternative to candles, is now an entire product line geared towards filling up your space with yummy fragrances. They are completely in love with fragrance – and how it makes life better.
Intimate Expressions is distributor of romance products geared to make every man and woman fall in love all over again.
Pure Romance inspires women to enhance their intimate lives, take charge of their sexual health, and just maybe, take a leap and start a life-changing career.
Damsel in Defense works to equip, empower and educate women to protect themselves and their families.
Should you join a direct sales company?
Most people join a direct sales company to get a discount on a product they love, and therefore carry no lofty ambitions of building an empire or growing rich through sales. However, a few will join and work to see where their ambitions lead them — and ask any of those consultants and they will tell you – joining a direct sales company can change your life in ways you may not even realize:
- Find your true calling.
- Meet friends from all over the world.
- Earn amazing rewards and incentives.
- Learn about business and marketing (without spending thousands of dollars on school!).
Direct Sales FAQ
What is a Direct Sales Company?
In a nutshell, a direct sales company enlists the help of independent consultants to sell their products directly to customers without conventional retail locations. Instead of a store, consultants sell face-to-face.
What is the #1 Direct Sales Company?
Each direct sales company offers a different opportunity and is involved in a different industry, so direct comparisons are hard; instead of looking for the “best” company, we try to recommend that you look for the company that is best suited for you and aligns with your goals.
Is Direct Selling Hard?
In many ways, direct selling is just as hard as launching any other new business venture. While you don't have to worry about validating the product-market fit or developing the products themselves, you do have to learn quite a few skills in business and in marketing to succeed in direct sales.