So you need a side hustle. Or maybe you are looking for income to allow you to work at home. You process part time jobs but don’t want to commit to a schedule. Internet side jobs really aren’t your thing either. But wait, your friend/neighbor/cousin sells (insert direct sales product here: Scentsy, ThirtyOne, Mary Kay, etc), maybe you can do that! It can’t be too hard right? Invest in a start-up kit and start selling to friends. Viola, instant income. Ummmm…not so fast. Before you jump on the direct sales bandwagon, lets take a look at what it takes to become successful at being a direct sales consultant.
I enjoy the part time work I do with my direct sales company. It provides additional income each month, it allows me to meet new people, and I have the opportunity to practice my public speaking. Direct sales however is NOT easy money. I went through four different direct sales company before I finally started to gain a predictable income. Yes, this is pretty normal. And yes, it can be done! I earn an average income of $400 a month from my direct sales business working only two weekends a month. So if you want to give direct sales a try, here are my best tips and tricks for doing it right.
Pick a Product You Have Passion For
You can’t sell something that you don’t like yourself. Not unless you want to come off completely sales-y and untrustworthy. The product you pick should be something you use yourself. It should be something that has made a difference in your life, that you can’t live without. For instance, I wouldn’t want to try selling Mary Kay if I never wear make-up. I wouldn’t be able to testify to how great the pigments are or how long the product lasts.
Consider Your Audience
Your audience in this case is your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Why do they matter? Because this is going to be the first people you offer your product to. You can’t introduce them to great products that don’t fit their lifestyle. For example, if your largest audience is your friends and they are all young and unmarried, they are not going to be interested if you are selling baby products. Think about your largest audience and pick a product that will go over well with the majority.
Do You Have a Direct Sales Mentor
Most direct sales companies require that you sign up under someone already selling for them. This person is part of your “up-line”, every consultant has someone above them that creates this line directly back to the original company. If you already know someone who sells for a company, great! You can likely become part of her team. If not, you will have to find someone you can sign up under by searching for consultants near you, contacting them, and asking them if you can join their team. Find someone who is a personality match to yourself and that you feel will be a good mentor.
What is the Initial Investment
The direct sales company you pick will almost always require you to purchase a starter kit or an initial inventory depending on their selling strategy. Find out what this investment is and weigh out whether this is something that really fits into your budget. If a starter kit is $100 then it might not be a big deal to invest this. But if it is $5,000 and you don’t have that kind of cash, then using credit cards for the investment could get you in big trouble down the line if you don’t stay with it. Invest wisely.
Look for Additional Costs
Sure, the starter kit might not be a big deal, but what else do you need to really start your business. Do you need business cards? Yes. Does the company require you to pay for a website or monthly mailings to your email list? Probably. Would table clothes and other display items help your set-up? Most likely. Although it can be difficult to figure in all the costs at first, try to look at what others have needed, or talk to the mentor you choose.
Treat It Like a Business
If you want to make money from your business then you need to treat it like one. You can’t think of your business like a hobby. Set times that you will be “working” for your business. Whether your office hours are daily, every other day, or even every weekend, make sure it is consistent, scheduled time to work. Keep track of all your expenses and supplies, you will need them at tax time. Include your business supplies, mileage for client travel, postage for catalogs, etc. Lastly, plan to save some of your income to pay taxes when the time comes. Generally, 10% is recommended.
Direct Sales is just that, Direct. You must make direct connections with people in order to make your sales. Be prepared to reach out to your friends and family to introduce them to your business. Social Media is not enough. You want to call directly, discuss your products over lunch, or even reach out with a personalized note. Don’t expect your audience to come to you or to do their own research. You will be waiting for an awful long time. Put yourself out there! It can be super scary at first, but it gets easier. Most importantly, don’t just tell them about your product, show them. Show them WHY they need it in their life, HOW it can make their life easier, or WHAT problems it can solve for them.
Social Media is Your Friend
In this day and age, social media is a MUST for direct sales consultants. It is your easiest method to reaching a large audience. Make sure to read your company’s social media policy first, and then make your accounts. Once you have yourself set-up, invite your friends. Yes, I said invite not add them. No one likes to be added to groups without permission, so make your connections and invite your friends to join. Once you have your account and audience, then you can create original content about what you sell. And remember, not every post should be about selling something. Mix it up with some fun stuff too. Check out these tips from the Party Plan Divas.
Learn from Other Consultants
Almost every direct sales company has a group of consultants running their own advice groups. Your mentor will likely add you to theirs or suggest some for you to join. Use these people as your resource to the fullest extent. Learn from them, share with them, and join some great discussions. This is where I learned the MOST about running my business. Check out these great groups.
Set Goals for Yourself
Setting goals is important for keeping your business on track. I am not just talking about “I am going to sell X amount of dollars this month”. Set goals for expanding your business and keeping up with former customers. For example, every month I find one new business to leave my cards and catalogs at. I will take a box of donuts and speak to at least one associate, leave my info with them, and ta-da. Not every office will be a sale, but I have about a 50% conversion rate. I also set an amount of emails I will send to current customers each month, it is a great way to keep in touch.
Have Fun as a Consultant
Who says all work and no play? The nice thing about direct sales is that you can put your own spin on it to make it what you need it to be. Have awesome theme parties. Create fun games and contests. Let your mind run wild and see what you can come up with. Don’t get trapped inside the traditional direct sales bubble. Create your own direct sales personality and watch your customers return time and time again.
Do you have advice for those considering direct sales? Let us know in the comments below.