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In Direct Sales – 7 tips to shorten the learning curve

If you’re a brand new consultant and trying to figure out just how to wrap your brain around everything that came in your starter kit – you’re not alone, thousands of people are starting their own direct sales organizations every month. Most companies have a starter period during the first three months of business that focus on selling, booking and recruiting, but there are three other activities you need to focus on first to see success over the long-haul: organization, time management, and product knowledge.

It is true, that these things can be learned over time, but personal research has shown that these 7 tips can help you shorten your learning curve and realize success more easily during your first three months in business:

1. Schedule time to work. Mark off specific days and times in each of those first 3 months that you will focus on working your business. Your first task is to fill those dates with parties. When parties cancel, or if you don’t have parties scheduled for those days, study product literature, practice your demo (even if the room is empty), and rehearse your closing techniques. Treat your business like a job for the first 3 months and you’ll learn your company background and products more quickly. This, in turn, boosts your confidence, making selling easier.

2. Save 10%. Carve out 10% of your profits and time to reinvest in your business. If you make $100, set $10 aside to buy business tools, product samples, etc. In your calendar give yourself 10% flex time to keep stress levels lower. If you’re spending 10 hours per week doing shows, give yourself 1-2 hours of office time for follow up calls, paperwork, etc. Plan for these things now, to help you stay organized as you build your business. Remember, most new “brick and mortar” businesses don’t make a profit for the first 3 years – because every penny is reinvested into business growth. You’re only reinvesting a minimal amount, and if you plan for it now, you won’t even miss it later.

3. Use your catalog as a business card. You already have to invest in catalogs, save the expense of business cards for later. Your catalog will speak more knowledgeably about your product and services than you can right now, and it’s a great way to get your name “out there”.

4. Make sure your contact information is prominently displayed on every piece of material that leaves your hands, from samples to brochures, recruiting information to hostess packets. Rubber stamps can be messy, and can’t usually be modified once they’re made. Address labels are inexpensive, and a quick and easy way to make sure everything looks professional.

5. Get a coach. Whether it’s online forums, your upline leader, local training meetings, or friends in other companies, it pays to mastermind with coaches to help you grow your business more efficiently. Find someone quickly, partner up with them to bounce ideas, get feedback, and practice your demo with. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you learn with a coach to guide you.

6. Maximize downtime. Standing in line? Waiting to pick up a child from an activity? Use that time efficiently by reading up on product knowledge, putting labels on catalogs, reading skill building books and articles. Carry something with you that you can “work on” in short bursts during these waiting times. Not only will you be more productive, you’ll also be able to talk with people about your new business if they ask what you’re doing!

7. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Friends and family will know you’re new at this, so be reasonable and honest with them. This is not permission to be lax and unprofessional, however. Like a new server at a restaurant, everyone has a learning curve, and the expectation is that you won’t be perfect, but you’ll do your best, work hard, and be personable in the process. Gaining the emotional support of family and friends – even if they never buy a single product – goes a long way toward building confidence.

Like any new job, it pays to focus on learning the business in the first few months. Like any new company, you’ve got a lot of hats to wear early on. Direct Sales is a hybrid of the two, which requires many hats and much learning all at the same time. keeping a perspective, and understanding your limitations is just as important as spreading the word and learning as much as you can. The key is to strike a balance and prepare for success in the process.

© 2008 Lisa Robbin Young

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Lisa Robbin Young offers direct selling training and coaching to direct sales professionals looking to grow their business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Sign up for her free weekly ezine at http://www.homepartysolution.com.

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