Eight Signs It’s Time To Quit Your Direct Sales Business

At the beginning of my coaching career I was also an “in the trenches” direct sales consultant. When I looked at other trainers in the industry, I couldn’t understand why someone would quit their lucrative direct sales career that they endorsed so highly, to focus on coaching and training.

Now that I’m older and a bit wiser (I hope), I can speak from experience as both a direct sales leader and a coach. One of the things I like to tell potential recruits is that “anyone can do this business, but not everyone will, nor should they.”

Being in business for yourself requires fortitude, stamina, and a willingness to take a few risks – among other things. In any entrepreneurial endeavor, there comes a point when you need to decide if you’re going to press on or move on to other things.  I’ve worked with many clients who’ve faced this dilemma. Some chose to press on successfully, while others knew it was time to bow out and pursue other options for their life and/or business. If you’re feeling the itch and can’t make up your mind, here are eight signs it may be time for you to get out of direct sales:

1. It’s all about the money (and/or there’s not enough of it). If you’re waking up every morning and logging in to your account to see how much money you have (or don’t have), you are in it for the wrong reasons. Direct sales requires a commitment to the products and people you’re serving in your business. If it’s all about the Benjamins for you, chances are good you’ll start feeling burned out sooner rather than later. If you’re feeling this way, look at your business plan and discover what, if anything, you’re still passionate about. If you’re having difficulty finding the passion in your business, it may be time to cut the apron strings.

2. The return on investment isn’t there for you. This isn’t just about money. In recent years, I’ve seen many more leaders complain about how much more difficult it is for them to keep their teams engaged, and that their bonus checks are dwindling. Any industry is cyclical in nature, and direct sales is no different. There are incredibly easy times and challenging times for any entrepreneur. If you find yourself in one of these slumping cycles, ask yourself if you’re willing to be a little more creative and persevere through this until the upcycle returns. If the answer is no to either item, it may be time to consider something else.

3. You never really wanted a career in direct sales. First, a caveat: I don’t know anyone that ever said “When I grow up, I want to be a direct seller!” Many consultants come in to the industry wanting just a part-time gig to provide for some “extras” in their life, and the next thing they know, they’ve got a team as big as Kansas. Others come into the industry as a testing ground with no plans to stay in the first place. Direct sales is an awesome place to test your entrepreneurial wings, learn about marketing and sales, and have a net of people to fall back on. This is how I first came to the industry. I was looking for a place to practice being an entrepreneur and learn the “how to’s” of business without crippling myself financially. Over time, when you learn the skills, it can be time to finally spread your wings and fly on your own. If that’s you, there’s no shame in that. Follow you dream, for crying out loud!

4. Your company closed (again). In the span of three years, I personally experienced the shut down of three companies. The first time was heartbreaking enough, but then you rebuild a team, only to watch that company close. Got me once, shame on you. Got me twice? Oy. It came to a point where I was tired of the building process and didn’t want to have to re-build again  regardless of the incentive. I didn’t want to have to reassure anyone that this time would be different. And yes, I know now that I should never have made that reassurance to anyone, because I can’t guarantee anything – another reason I finally had to call it quits in the industry. Which brings me to…

5. You want more say in how your pay is computed. It’s true that you can pretty much write your own paycheck in direct sales  – meaning that your efforts will be reflected in your pay. At the same time, 20-25% of someone else’s revenues vs. 100% of my own revenues started to seem like a no-brainer to me – especially when it seemed like companies were closing left and right around me at the time. If you’re a person who likes more certainty about where and when you’re money’s coming in, it might be time to look at creating your own business. On the other hand…

6. You want more consistency in your pay. Maybe you just need to get a job. Being an entrepreneur comes with risks, and lacks many of the fringe benefits that people look for in an employer/employee relationship. Stepping back into a traditional work role comes with different expectations. You have a set number of hours to give for a set amount of pay and things like health insurance. Consistency in direct sales comes from working your business like a job for a couple of years and growing your leader income to the point where you don’t need to do as many parties or one-on-ones yourself anymore. Consistency isn’t immediate, and if you want immediacy, it may be time to quit your direct sales business.

7. Every fiber of your being says “quit”. You have to be careful on this one. Sometimes things just get hard and we’re feeling ambivalent about doing the hard work to get the rewards. If that’s what you’re feeling, buck up and do the work. On the other hand, if you find yourself with a company/product/service/team/client base that makes your skin crawl and you just can’t bring yourself to do this kind of work anymore, then quit! Honor your emotional responses. They are very real signals coming from within you that tell you it’s time to move on.

8. You’re staying because you’re afraid of what someone else will think/say if you quit (again). I disagree with Albert Einstein. Living your life based on what someone else thinks you “should” be doing is my defnition of insanity. Yep, they might have their wise cracks about you quitting your thirteenth direct sales company in as many years, but you can always tell “them” that you were doing research. At least that’s what I did. The older I get, the more I realize that life is too short to live according to someone else’s design. If God wants me to be a direct seller, or a coach, or a musician, or a speaker, then so be it. I’ll take God’s advice on the matter. Sure, my spouse and family gets some input, but the ultimate decision about my life belongs to me. Even God doesn’t take that away from me, why should I let anyone else?

Obviously, this is a very condensed list, but it’s one I have never heard spoken in public before. It’s as if everyone in direct sales is supposed to be Pollyanna and happy about everything that goes on in the industry, and no one is ever supposed to leave. The industry commentary that’s quoted all the time is “a third are coming, a third are going, and a third are staying.” Doesn’t it make sense to know where you stand in that mix? I’d much rather have a team of three people committed to growing the business, than a team of three hundred that are hemming and hawing about whether or not they should even be in the industry.

9. BONUS: Something better came along. Seriously. This isn’t about company hopping. For me, I recognized the greater value in serving entrepreneurs from all walks, not just the direct sellers on my team, or even direct sellers in general. When it came time to face the truth about my work, I recognized that I loved direct sales, I loved coaching, and I really wanted to reach more entrepreneurs. That’s when I had to get honest about what I was doing and why. Quitting wasn’t about cutting my losses. It was about expanding my world.

When we give ourselves permission to get clarity, we end up with a stronger business overall.

What about you? What are the signs that you see that tell you when it’s time to move on? It’s not always about cutting your losses, but sometimes it is. Share your thoughts below!

[box type=”info”] If you’re reading this on the blog, or your Kindle, you’re only getting half the story!  “Party On!” is designed for direct sales professionals serious about building a real business, not an expensive hobby. Each week we share additional resources and stories beyond what you see here on the blog, including complimentary training courses, downloadables, and more. Learn more and register for your copy of “PartyOn!” today. [/box]


  1. Donna De Vries

    Lisa, thanks for addressing these! Sometimes it seems difficult just to get these concerns out in the open and discuss them in non-judgemental fashion. While I am definitely intriqued by the bonus sign #9, it was #8 that really caught my attention. For the people that wondered why I got into this biz (because anyone could just take their 40% off coupon and go buy it) and then those people that wonder why I quit (must be I didn’t believe in my company’s great products). . . Oh wait!!! Those 2 groups are the same people!! Honestly, why do I pay attention to what they say, and thus give them my energy?? Time to focus on a new tribe, as well as reflect on and trust my own voice. Thank you, Lisa. Great post z

  2. Lisa Robbin Young

    Donna, I’m glad this helped you recognize that the only voice that matters is yours. What ultimately comes out of the “should” people is that they were never really your customers in the first place. 🙂 Good for you for encouraging YOURSELF on this journey!

  3. Janice Cherlet

    Thanks Lisa! I’m passing this on to my team. Might seem ballzy to do that but they need to read it. If anything it can encourage you to get going again if you’re thinking of quitting for the wrong reasons (ie you just don’t want to put in the hard work.) Loved how you said “buck up and do the hard work!” Sometimes I think in this industry, especially with recruiting, we say “it’s easy, you have nothing to lose, etc” and while that can be true, that part is usually true when you do the groundwork first.
    I love your honesty and that there’s no mask with you. It’s the only way to be!

  4. Lisa Robbin Young

    Thanks Janice, and I agree… sometimes they’re quitting for the WRONG reasons. Other times, they’re hanging around for the wrong reasons. The only wrong answer is the one that’s wrong for the individual. I’d much rather have people on my team that actually WANT to be there, then to have to hand hold a bunch of people that are only there because they don’t know what else to do, and aren’t really doing the work they need to do to be successful.

    So many direct sales consultants have been sold the “this is so easy!” bill of goods. While it’s true you can be profitable quickly, there’s still effort involved, and ongoing effort at that. I have clients that are Senior Executive Directors in their companies and NONE of them is sitting on their duff doing nothing. Especially in this market right now, we’ve got to keep working on our businesses consistently. It’s not digging ditches, but there is SOME effort involved. 🙂

  5. DH Harvey

    I thoroughly enjoyed this! Thanks a mil for sharing these points! I don’t see myself doing any of these things-I’m happy with my company whether I sell or recruit or not. They have ME as their #1 client and fan. Anything else is just perks!

  6. Vikki

    Thank you for this post! I especially like…”Quitting wasn’t about cutting my losses.  It was about expanding my world.” Well said!

  7. Lisa Robbin Young

    Glad you liked it. We sometimes feel guilty about getting “something better” in our lives, and feel like we should be grateful for what we have and hold on to it. In the process, however, we miss out on what God’s truly calling us to do (well, it’s postponed at least). Choosing toward growth and expansion has never been a bad decision in my life. I hope it proves to be the same for you. 🙂

  8. Amy Dearie

    I find myself at a crossroad. I’ve been with my DS company for 13 years. I love the hobby itself & use their product to make goodies to sell at craft shows & online (so I’m my best customer at times). But I lost my mom this year, have 3 little kids, homeschool, & have her very full house (ie hoarder) to go through. I find no tine to enjoy the activity, let alone sell it or plan classes. But I cone back to my mind the amount of time & supplies I’ve invested…struggling for a clear answer from God. Seeking what’s best for my current life stage & fighting the guilt & feeling of failure. Thanks for your honest thoughts.

Comments are closed.