In all my years as a consultant, coach and trainer, the one thing I’ve NEVER heard anyone say is this:
“When I was a kid, I always dreamed of becoming a direct sales consultant.”
I’m still waiting for that day.
The reality is that nearly every single direct sales professional comes into this industry because it is a means to achieve something else.
- Paying for a child’s college education
- Getting out of debt
- Having some extra spending money, or to just make ends meet
- Earning a few vacations (all expenses paid, of course)
And yet few direct sellers understand that when they sign on the dotted line, they are actually going into business for themselves. You have just started your very own business! Now you have a whole new set of challenges:
- Customer acquisition
- Product knowledge
- Customer retention
Few consultants come into the industry prepared to build a business. According to the DSA, more direct sellers have post-graduate degrees than ever before, but despite the strength of a $28 Billion industry in the U.S., only about 8% of direct sales consultants earn more than $50,00 per year. The median gross income is only about $200 per month.
Why? Because so many consultants don’t treat direct sales like a real business.
If you want to rise above the median and build a thriving direct sales business, there are four pillars of success that require your focus:
1. Understanding the basics. Knowing your product, being able to share the features and benefits to potential customers, and asking for the order are important. So is staying organized to be able to follow up with hosts and clients. Most of these rudiments are handled in your consultant training manual or through training with your up line leader. Still, so many consultants are either orphaned, or don’t invest their time in getting knowledgeable about their company and the products they have to offer. This is a sure-fire formula for direct sales disaster. You owe it to yourself and your clients to know your ten best-selling products intimately. And understand why they’re so popular. When in doubt, call your home office and ask.
2. Practicing your sales process. There are only two ways to earn money in direct sales: By selling your product or by training your team to sell your product. Other bonuses and incentives may apply from time to time, but the core of your business comes from building relationships with clients that want to buy from you in some way. “Buy” can also mean saying yes to hosting a show or joining your team. Set up systems to help you navigate host coaching and follow-up effectively and efficiently with recruit leads. Saving time here will help you spend more time meeting customers and making sales.
3. Pay yourself first! Mike Michalowicz, author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur reminds us that a 401k takes your payment right off the top – before taxes and other expenses have a chance to eat away at your nest egg. In direct sales, the quickest way to go broke is to constantly plow all your profits back into your business – or into debt reduction. Set aside money throughout the year in an account that you can’t touch (Christmas club accounts are nice), so that there actually IS a profit to be had at the end of the year. Learn to run your business on less than all your revenue.
4. Train a qualified team. Instead of signing up anyone with a pulse, be more choosy about who you enlist as a member of your team. Remember that anyone can start a direct sales business, but not everyone will, and not everyone should. Don’t chase after tire kickers and “kitnappers”. They’ll find you all on their own. As you begin to shape the vision for your team, you’ll be poised to earn bigger sales bonuses as your team improves, too.
It sounds like a lot to think about, and for a hobbyist, it is. If, however, you’re serious about becoming one of the top 5% of the direct sales industry, they are necessary pillars of success. And yes, it’s very possible to be in that top 5%. You just have to start acting like a business owner, instead of an employee.
© 2011 Lisa Robbin Young
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Lisa Robbin Young offers direct sales 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.
Action Step: Looking for additional help in navigating these four pillars? Be one of only 100 people to get special access to ALL FOUR COURSES in the 100-level of Direct Sales Classroom This offer expires February 15, 2011, or when all 100 spots are filled!