Direct Sales Challenge: What’s The Point Of Your Business?

If you’ve been in direct sales for any length of time, you’ve probably been asked about your “why” by your upline leader.

“Why are you in direct sales?” is a common question, and many of the answers, while partially accurate, are also common in nature:

  • To put my kids through college
  • To pay cash for a vacation
  • To pay off some bills
  • Because I like to meet new people
  • I wanted an excuse to get out of the house
  • and so on…

While these “reasons” are all well and good, there’s actually a deeper reason for going through the rigmarole of getting a kit, getting trained, and “selling stuff” to your friends and family – which in truth is how the typical direct seller operates their “business”.

Let’s ┬ábe blunt for a moment, shall we? If you run your so-called business this way, it’s not really a business.

Get to the point

If you’re going to put yourself through the work (and it does take effort. Anyone who says different is selling something), get clear about your real motives. You don’t have to share those real reasons with anyone else, but you need to be clear on what they are. This week, I want to challenge you to get to the heart of why you’re in business in the first place. I call this your “Essential Why” and it’s the the guiding force behind everything you do (and everything you don’t do, too). To help you get some clarity on your Essential Why

Use “5 Whys” to get clarity

A technique I learned when I was in the automotive industry, 5 Whys is usually used as an iterative process to help you understand the cause and effect relationships in problem solving. In this case, we’re not talking about a problem, per se. Instead, we’re trying to get at the deeper reason (root cause) for being in direct sales in the first place. It’s a helpful tool for a variety of situations, but in this particular case, is extremely effective at helping people get clarity quickly around their true motivations.

Here’s an example:

Why did you start your direct sales business?

1. Because I wanted to put my kids through college

(First Why – the one we feel most comfortable sharing, that barely scratches the surface)


2. Because I had an armload of debt when I went through school, and I don’t want my kids to experience that same burden

(Second Why – the one that makes the first easier to explain, but doesn’t expose us to much vulnerability)


3. Because I had to work really hard to pay off that debt and missed out on a lot of my kids’ growing up because of it

(Third why begins to get at the root of the issue and exposes our vulnerabilities. Few people are courageous enough to speak this truth.)


4. Because I felt it was important to honor my commitments and pay my debts, even if it meant making time sacrifices for my family.

(Fourth Why allows us to see the emergence of possible core values and beliefs)


5. Because I was raised to believe that honor is sacred, and when you break someone’s trust you’ve done them a great disservice.

(Fifth Why is usually where we get to the meat of the issue. It can feel very uncomfortable to speak this truth)

Essentially, this person is in direct sales because they are trying to make up for lost time with family. They are also trying to help their kids not feel the financial burden that they did, in order to allow their kids the opportunity to focus on what matters most to them, instead of chasing the almighty dollar to pay bills.

In some cases, you may hit your Essential Why before you get to five, and sometimes it may take more than five whys to get to your essential why. When the answers start to feel uncomfortable, chances are good that you’ve hit on something close to your Essential Why.

This week’s challenge

Take a hard look at your motivations for being in direct sales. If you’ve been in the industry for a while, your First Why motivations have probably changed. You might even feel a little listless because of it. Do a 5 Whys analysis and see what comes up for you. If you feel comfortable (or even slightly uncomfortable), I’d challenge you to share your Essential Why in the comments below.

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