She was exasperated. We could all hear it in her voice.
I was on the phone with the members of my mastermind group and as she spoke, you could feel the overwhelming sense of discontent at what she perceived to be her target market.
“They want it all for free… I don’t think they’ll get it. I mean, I get it, but I don’t think they do. They don’t understand the business side of things, and there’s no point trying to teach them.They aren’t that smart to begin with.”
She was basically calling her “target market” stupid and incapable of understanding (or paying for) her value. I’ve written about this before, but the simple fact of the matter is that if this is how you perceive your audience, why on earth would they want to do business with you?
You have to prove yourself to your potential clients before you make the sale
“Proving yourself” may have different connotations in different industries. Some people call it “paying your dues” or an “internship”. Ultimately, you have to provide something that gives people a clear indication of what it is that you do (and who, specifically you’re best suited to work with) before people are going to plunk down their hard-earned cash with you.
As a direct seller, you have several opportunities to prove yourself, both at and away from the show. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Five Ways to Prove Yourself To Earn More Direct Sales Business
1. Demonstrating “wow” products – every time you show your clients and potential buyers the awesomeness that is your product line, you’re giving them an opportunity to try before they buy. Whenever possible, I recommend demonstrating the products that have a history of making people actually say “WOW!” – and, as my colleague Ruth Fuersten once told me, “show the most expensive items first.” Typically, that’s your wow product anyway.
2. Being a person of integrity – people have to know you, like you, and trust you before they’re willing to part company with their hard-earned cash. Talking negatively about your target market, doing “special deals” for a subset of your audience, and other behaviors that call your integrity into question will leave your potential clients wondering. They’ll wonder how you’ll behave when they’re working with you. They’ll wonder if you’ll treat them (or their friends) differently once they’ve agreed to do business with you.
3. Setting (and enforcing) clear boundaries – whether it’s with your family, your clients or your team, its important (as I say in my book) to “work when it’s time to work and play when it’s time to play.” It’s also important to say no and mean it. Don’t lower your prices because you “really need the sale” or you’ll look desperate. Your perfect-fit customer won’t balk at working with you on terms that are mutually agreeable. Likewise, set expectations with your hosts, and feed those expectations to them in drips. Don’t overwhelm them with a list of “must do’s” that is seven miles long. Give them their first expectation (guest list, 40 names within the next 3-6 days), and tell them when you’re going to follow up. Then do what you said you’re going to do (that’s part of that integrity thing!).
4. Give them something for nothing, but don’t train them to expect it – this one is tricky. I hear you say, “but Lisa, I have a blog, a newsletter, I do expos, and give away freebies all the time! Why aren’t they buying from me?” Frankly, it’s because you give away everything all the time. And it’s not entirely your fault. The industry provides consultants with a lot of free training, which conditions you to expect your training to be free all the time (which is what my mastermind group member was complaining about). You do shows, where you’re expected to offer free samples. That trains your guests to expect free stuff when they come to your events. But there’s a fine line between strategic giving and giving away the farm. For example, last year, I closed my newsletter “PartyOn!” and instead of giving it away for free, sold subscriptions for $10.
Eventually, I closed the list entirely and made it available only to paying clients. Why? Because I didn’t want people to expect everything to be free – and because I give away resources, training, and tools in that newsletter as a means of building trust with people I know are already eager to invest in their business and themselves.
There’s nothing wrong with giving things away. Just make sure you’re doing it in a way that adds value to your business. There needs to be a viable business reason for giving away products/services, etc. If you can’t point to a viable profitable end result, no matter how good it makes you feel to give stuff away,you need to curb your spending. And that’s the truth: you’re spending money (not investing it) every time you give something of value away that doesn’t make business sense.
Essentially, this is about making it slightly more difficult for people to buy from you. Not exceedingly difficult, mind you. The harder you make it for clients to work with you, the fewer clients you’ll have to work with. However, if you make it TOO easy, you’ll have a lot of trick-or-treaters banging on your door… and that’s no way to build a business.
5. Be clear on your target market – direct sellers are often taught to “talk to everyone” and “don’t pre-judge.” That’s valuable information when you’re at a party and you have a captive audience. You most certainly should talk to everyone in that room. And you should realize something that I tell all my clients: direct sales is a business that anyone can do, but not everyone will and not everyone should. Not everyone will buy from you. Not everyone will join your team. And yes, they may buy from or recruit with someone else in your company. Big deal. If they don’t want to work with you (and assuming there’s nothing wrong with you as a human being), then they are not your perfect-fit customer. Period. Bemoaning that fact, and crying over lost customers just wastes time and leaves you wanting while other people in your company are working your territory.
In the simplest terms, the whole world is not your captive audience. Outside a party, you can’t afford to chase down every possible person that enters your sphere of influence. You need to get crystal clear on who the best kinds of people are for you to work with. That usually begins by getting clear on who you don’t like to work with and why. The rest fleshes out from there.
Once you have clarity, maximize it. Tell everyone you know that you’re a skincare rep that specializes in tough-to-treat combination skin of women who want to defy the aging process. Shout from the rafters that you’re a woman hell-bent on helping other women accessorize their outfits with affordable jewelry to keep them from making a fashion faux-pas on the day of their big business meeting. When you have clarity like that, it becomes easier to find those customers in a sea of nameless faces – and your friends and family will have an easier time of referring business to you.
Does that mean you might not get some leads? Sure. But you’ll also get people coming to you saying “I know you normally work with moms looking for an affordable way to inspire their family through home decor, but I’m working on this project for a hospital renovation. Do you think you could offer us a quote on your room decals?” Then you get to choose whether or not to expand your scope, or stay focused on your perfect-fit customer. Both come at a price.
If you spend your time worrying about “the one that got away”, you’ll miss all the folks right in front of you.
By the way… once my colleague got clear on who her target market actually was (not the group she was berating!), her business ballooned to a hefty mid-six-figure annual income.
In the next few months, I’ll be opening up a new kind of training program for direct sellers, featuring short, easy-to-implement strategies that deliver fast results. I’ll be proving myself to you in some new ways. You’ll have a great opportunity to see this lesson in action. In the meantime, I’d love your input. What ways have you tried to prove yourself to your clients? What worked? What didn’t? Share your stories here and let’s help everyone move to new heights in their business!