Direct Sales – Chapter 5

How to project a professional image to your customers.
Your Appearance does matter !

Now that you have embarked upon your new career, you need to feel confident and in control. This may take quite a bit of time and practice, especially if your background has not necessitated your meeting new people on a regular basis. It can be rather daunting to wake up in the morning knowing that you are going to have to make a serious effort to generate some business in order to start making money.

One of the most important tips which I was given very early in my sales career was to make sure that you are dressed and ready for the day before you start getting in touch with anyone in connection with your job. You cannot focus on projecting a business-like manner on the phone if you are still dressed in last night’s pyjamas.

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Dress for Success is the motto you should try to keep in your mind at all times. Get up, get showered, have a bite to eat and then dress in a presentable manner, especially if you are going out to meet clients. Even if you are planning on spending the day at your desk doing phone calling, it is not a good idea to wear scruffy old gardening clothes. Obviously you don’t dress in the same way as when you go out, but you still need to feel business-like.

Whenever you leave the home, remember that you never know whom you are going to bump into whether at the shops, outside your children’s school or in the doctor’s waiting room etc. Try to get into the habit of always looking neat and presentable, and wear that identifying badge of yours at all times. You will be surprised at how often people will ask you about your line of business, purely because they have seen your name badge.

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Can you imagine how embarrassing it could be if you rushed out to buy a loaf of bread at lunchtime, wearing a scruffy, paint splattered tee shirt and shabby shorts, only to bump into a new customer of yours who has just spent a large amount of money purchasing some of your products? Not a good image to project at all! I am not saying that you have to wear business clothes when you are at the coast on a family vacation, but in the normal scheme of things, think before you leave home and ask yourself whether you are looking  neat enough for any eventuality.

Another tip which I found useful was to make a note of the clothes which you wear when you go to a customer’s home, either for a product demonstration for her friends, or a one on one advice session.   Even on a rather limited budget, you should be able to mix and match just a few attractive items of clothing, so you don’t appear to be wearing a monotonous uniform.  Of course, it could well be that the company you represent has a designated dress code in a specific style and colour which you are expected to wear.  Otherwise, it’s wise to try to look as though you have a varied selection of business clothes.

Personal hygiene is critical, and one should always be aware of the fact that last night’s garlic loaded dinner is not conducive to comfortable interactions with anyone the following day, let alone customers.  If you happen to be a smoker then this can also become a problem when dealing with the public. Nothing is worse for a non-smoker than to have the smell of tobacco wafting into your space from either a cigarette or a smoker’s clothing. Being vigilant regarding one’s total appearance as well as one’s breath are all part and parcel of being able to feel confident in one’s job. Having breath fresheners, deodorant as well as touch up make-up products with you at all times, especially when you are expecting to be away from home for several hours, all help you to feel more relaxed and confident in your dealings with the public.

Communication

You may not be very comfortable with using your telephone to conduct your business but, practice can make perfect!  There is nothing more irritating than phoning someone and that person answers with “hello”. The correct manner for answering a call should be to identify either yourself or the company for which you work.  “Jane Smith speaking. How can I help you” or “Brown’s Engineering, Jane speaking”, is so much more professional and the caller then knows they have contacted the right person or company. Working for yourself in direct sales, it will be your name which you use when phoning out or answering a call.

Never assume that the person you are calling will remember you. It is far better to identify yourself to the person on the other end of the phone, for example in this way: “hello Mary, this is Jane Smith, your representative for …….”. They will in time recognise your voice, but it is presumptuous to expect people to instantly know who you are especially if it is some time since you last spoke to them.

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Another good tip is to “put a smile in your voice” when either dialling out or answering an incoming call. Nothing is more off-putting than a gruff or decidedly unfriendly voice on the other end of the line. I personally have known a woman for many years and, if I didn’t know her as well as I do, I would immediately put down the phone without speaking to her. She answers with a very rude and unfriendly “hello!” and only mellows once she knows who she is speaking to. She is most definitely not a candidate for dealing with the public in general!

If you are unsure of how you sound on the phone, then record yourself speaking and play it back. This way you can change your tone and, if it helps, look in a mirror while you smile and talk on the phone. The way in which you are able to communicate comfortably with your customers is also a reflection of your professionalism.  Once again, old adage applies: Practice makes perfect!

Remember to record a voice message on your telephones, the landline as well as your mobile and regularly check your messages. It is so bad mannered to ignore a message and people never cease to be surprised when you actually call them back! This world we are living in has forgotten what it is to be polite and if your break the mould by being courteous it will pay dividends in the long run. You will be known as being reliable and polite and, above all, professional.

We all need to feel special

I may have mentioned in a previous chapter the importance of keeping notes regarding your customers. Either by using the old style index filing system or utilising your smart phone, you can have many snippets of information about people who buy from you which is sure to impress them when you refer to them. Things such as birthdays, anniversaries, a child’s illness, a husband having some sort of crisis – all these facts can be mentioned in a caring way when next you speak to the customer. They will often be amazed that you have bothered to remember what they told you, and that you  are not only interested in them buying more products from you but that you value them as people and not just customers.

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A small gift at Christmas with a note thanking a customer for their loyalty during the year will not only be well received but will usually cement the relationship with them, and they are likely to recommend you to their friends and relatives in the future. Sometimes it helps to actually use an old style desk diary each year in order to jot down memory joggers such as the customer’s birthday and also to remind you at Christmastime of the small gift you gave them the previous year. You don’t want to be perceived as the kind of salesperson who gives a gift as an afterthought with no memory of having given the identical item the previous year! Suddenly your professionalism could take a nasty knock!

Punctuality is also critical in making people feel that they are valued. If you make an appointment with a customer make sure that you are organized and get to your destination on time. If you are delayed by a crisis, then it is critical that you let the other person know that you have a problem and how you plan to remedy it. Time is important to everyone and when someone makes a habit of arriving late, it is a sign of disrespect and shows that you are not professional in your field.  Curved balls are a part of everyday life, and no-one will be angry with you if you get your car out of the garage and realise that you have a flat tyre. As long as you contact the person you are scheduled to see, then you have done the right thing. If you just arrive an hour late without any indication that you have been delayed, and expect to be well received, the truth is that you will have burnt your bridges as far as building trust and being perceived as a reliable sales representative.

One last thing in this chapter which I would like to mention is the importance of keeping your word. Nothing is worse than insincerity and making false promises. Think before you commit and make sure that you have noted down (in your desk diary or on your phone) what it is you have promised to do – and do it! There is just way too much insincerity in the world today, and when people go back on their word it is very easy for the person who was promised something to feel rejected and unworthy.  After all, these tips are all about remembering that we all like to feel special.

“What I adore is supreme professionalism. I’m bored
by writers who can write only when it’s raining.

– Noel Coward

A Numbers Game

Every time we open a magazine or a newspaper or hear an announcement regarding a celebrity or even a criminal, we always seem to search to discover their age. What is it about one’s age that creates such fascination?  Does it mean that one can be too old or too young to do whatever it is that makes the deed or occasion noteworthy? The first question we ask one another is, “how old was she/he”? This is even more relevant when the person involved has either had an illness, or worse still, died.

This fixation with age must be something which is linked to a first world mentality perhaps? No-one seems to worry about the age of, for example, The Dalai Lama. His face emanates kindness and caring but it is also creased with signs of age. I have never heard anyone say that he may be past his prime, or a bit too old for the job! With medical advancement it is now a fact of life that, where people have access to good nutrition and health care, they are living much longer than in the past. This is posing huge problems due to the drain on a country’s medical system as well as impacting negatively on job opportunities for younger people. If you have to carry on working due to a shortage of money then you most certainly would not choose to retire at 60 or 65. Not all companies make it mandatory to stop working once these milestones are reached.  Therefore, it stands to reason that the pattern of having one person leave the company and a younger one being employed in their place no longer applies.

I have just heard a discussion on local radio where people were talking about having changed their career direction in mid- life and qualified in a field which until then had been something of a pipe dream. One man had graduated as a medical doctor at the age of 51 after having previously spent years in the corporate world. In this case one would assume that age might be to his advantage. If you have the need to see a doctor and he is middle-aged you would hardly even consider the fact that he may have very little practical experience. His age should work in his favour as I can’t imagine that there would be a banner on the practice wall announcing, “Our newly qualified Dr. so and so (age 51) has joined our practice. Welcome!”

“You have to embrace getting older. Life is precious
and when you’ve lost a lot of people, you realise
each day is a gift.
” – Meryl Streep. (American Actress)

People tend to panic about getting older and perhaps losing their youthful looks, but when one has had friends who died in their mid-thirties or early forties of cancer, then it really is a case of every day of good health being a gift which needs to be savoured. This epidemic of trying to stay as young at 50 as one was in one’s early twenties is crazy. One only has to look at current pictures of 1970’s Hollywood stars to see that sometimes it might be best to let nature take its course instead of searching for eternal youth. With botox, lip and cheek fillers some of these have-beens now look like cartoon characters. There are actors such as Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith, to name just a few, although showing signs of age still manage to remain dignified and believable. Life moves on, and whilst it’s great to make the best of ourselves, there are limits me thinks?

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We need to be careful that, by focusing too much on our age, we limit our potential. There are martial arts clubs as well as dance studios which cater for beginners of all ages. However, I would imagine that, for example, taking up either of these exercise regimes would have their limitations. Bruce Lee, Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn began early in life to pursue their chosen field of expertise. Somehow, it would seem to be far-fetched to imagine that a forty-something person would be able to reach particularly great heights in either of the above disciplines. I could be wrong and I hope that I am.

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There are many instances where top surgeons, artists and business people for example are still achieving amazing results well into their latter years. As long as one has good health and is not showing signs of slowing down, then the many years of experience are obviously an incredible advantage. Mentoring younger people can be an extremely valuable way in which one’s abundance of knowledge and experience will be passed on to the next generation. After all, what is the use of knowledge if it is not shared? Many valuable discoveries have probably died along with their discoverers due to selfishness and an ego-centred attitude and an aversion to sharing their findings.

The Rolling Stones, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, and not forgetting the Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan are just a few of many musicians who have not allowed getting older to hamper them in any way. In fact, like a good wine, they just appear to keep on getting better as the years go by. One only has to take note of the age of the people packing the stadiums when they perform at their live concerts to realise that age, when it comes to music and entertainment is totally irrelevant. Many of the concert goers are at least 30 or even 40 years younger than their idols.

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Another angle where age seems to rear its ugly head is in a situation when a woman marries or becomes involved with a much younger man. Somehow it seems to be far more acceptable for a woman to be in a relationship with a man much older than herself as opposed to her finding a young stud! The latter is seen as a case of cradle snatching and often looked down upon by friends and relatives. However, I have read findings over the years that women tend to reach their sexual maturity around the age of 40 whereas men peak at 20, so wouldn’t it make sense to marry someone who’s sexual age tallies with one’s own? However, it has also become a fact over the years that 18 is no longer viewed as the start of adulthood, as it was in the past. Now, it seems that one has to reach the ripe old age of 25 to qualify for adult status in many cases. There are clubs and restaurants who limit the clientele to those of a more adult age – obviously due to potential hooliganistic behaviour from the younger generation. Therefore, one’s social life could be seriously curtailed if the new husband is still viewed by society at large as a juvenile, despite the fun and games in the bedroom!

It used to be frowned upon to ask a woman how old she was, but this certainly no longer seems to be the case in many Western societies, by all accounts. Anyway, having to reveal your ID number in South Africa, there is no running away from the fact. As long as the person to whom you give the required information has a working knowledge of arithmetic, they will very quickly work out how old you are. What bigger complement can there be than the recipient of the information turning to you and saying that they would never have thought you were that age!  What is the point of lying anyway, after all life is for living, and each day counts. So, while age is relevant and we are all obsessed with finding out how old everyone we come in contact with is, it really is a privilege to, hopefully, make old bones!

“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease
to  stand like curious children before the Great 
Mystery into
which we were born.”
– Albert Einstein (German – born theoretical physicist)

The amazing benefits of a Reflexology treatment

For many people the sheer idea of someone handling their feet makes them shrink in horror. It may be something which sounds totally alien and a little too personal to contemplate with any degree of seriousness. However, for those who have discovered the wonders of having a qualified reflexologist giving them a treatment, it is a totally different story.

A foot rub does not constitute a reflexology treatment. This needs to be said, as a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Only when one has studied reflexology does the realisation kick in that our state of health as well as our personality is reflected in the soles of our feet and there is a specific way of giving a treatment. So yes, let your partner rub your feet if you are stressed, but if you really want a therapeutic treatment, then make sure this is done by a qualified practitioner and not a charlatan.

A reflexologist is not qualified to diagnose illness but they can advise a patient to seek medical advice if they suspect a potential problem. By looking at the condition of the feet, the colour as well as the texture, much information can be gleaned about the person to whom they belong. The toenails and the shape of the toes also hold their own information about the patient but the best measure of all, is for the practitioner to take a full medical history before doing a session for the first time.

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering
and a work of art,” – Leonardo da Vinci

Many years ago I was coerced into allowing a beauty therapist to give me several reflexology treatments at a special “stress package” price. In hindsight this really was a big mistake to make, but at that time I was ignorant as to what exactly reflexology was all about and how I would react to a treatment.  The first session just left me feeling rather tired later in the day and I found the woman giving the treatment did not make me feel relaxed at all. In fact she was rather rough and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience.  However, having paid in advance for the entire package I did go for the next treatment. This time it just happened to be in the afternoon prior to attending a business dinner at a restaurant that evening. The so-called therapist did not at any time say anything relating to the dos and don’ts of a post reflexology treatment.  It is important to know that afterwards you should drink plenty of water, limit alcohol intake and take it easy and not be over active.

That evening, on arriving at “Fat Franks”, an upmarket and very popular Johannesburg restaurant at the time, my husband and I were both given a tequila as our welcome drink.  Then it was time for the meal to be served and my choice was one of extremely rich food accompanied by wine. I remember having eaten and drunk very little when I had to go to the bathroom where I spent most of the rest of, what should have been a pleasant get together of colleagues, throwing up. It was highly embarrassing as it must have appeared that I had drunk way too much whereas that was very far from the truth. I just had no idea what it was that had caused me to be so ill.

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Years later, when I studied to become a reflexologist, I soon realised just what the problem had been. The body tries to expel toxins whilst, at the same time, attempting to achieve a state of homeostasis (balance)  when you have a reflexology treatment. Therefore, loading it with more toxins whilst the de-toxifying process is taking place is a recipe for disaster. That is why I have a total aversion to people with very limited knowledge giving others so-called foot treatments. Like anything related to the body, if you don’t know what you are doing and what damage you can possibly cause, then leave it to the experts.

The health benefits from reflexology are numerous and I have been witness to this over the years during which I have given treatments to people of all ages and levels of fitness. The amazing thing for me, after many years, is just how well one is able to pick up on personality traits as well as health issues by studying the feet of the person one is treating.  It is also beneficial for the therapist who is giving the reflexology treatment as the nerve endings which are linked to every part of the body, which one is working on in the feet, are also present in the hands. Therefore, I believe that by giving a treatment and using one’s hands, this has to have positive results for the reflexologist as well as the patient.

It has been found that where reflexologists give treatments to children, who have suffered horrific burns, there appears to be a big reduction in the pain and the trauma which accompanies having the dressings changed.  Several years ago I recall that a Cape Town hospital which has a paediatric burns ward had volunteer reflexologists who were on hand to assist when these painful procedures had to take place. This is probably still the case today and the caring attitude combined with the treatments appear to be of immense value.

You may have had massages and various other forms of alternative treatments. If you have never tried having a reflexology treatment, believe me you will most likely find it a pleasurable experience. This is provided that the person giving the treatment does not use excessive force and cause undue pain. The ideal is that enough pressure is used on every part of the feet to be of benefit without being uncomfortable and hurting you unnecessarily. Enough said. When you are looking for the right therapist,  ask around and make sure that they are qualified to give the treatment.  You will soon find out whether their style and personality suits you and allows you to fully relax and enjoy the entire experience. If you are unable to relax and feel irritated during the session then you need to find somebody else! Putting your feet in another person’s hands is a personal experience and it should be pleasurable.

 

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Direct Sales – Chapter 4

Learn about your product!

You will only gain the confidence you need regarding the products you are hoping to sell, once you have as much knowledge as possible about them.

Using the items yourself is obviously very important as you are then talking from personal experience. Listening to comments received from your customers is also critical and a way in which to gain more information without actually having to have first hand experience of some of the other items on the range. Keep notes on the products and constantly refresh your memory, particularly in the early days of your new venture.

Most direct sales companies will offer on-going training and it is in your interest to attend these training sessions and take written notes of what is being said. It is a proven fact that once you write something down, you are far more likely to remember it than just recording what is said onto your cellphone, or a recording machine. You can pick up so many tips and hints from other people who are selling the same products as yourself. They have obviously been successful with their sales, and you can always learn from hearing them talk about their experiences as well as beginning to know more about the products.

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Your new customers, knowing that you have only recently joined the company, will appreciate your offering to find out facts of which you might not as yet be aware. Instead of bluffing your way through if you are asked to give advice about a specific item, it is far better to offer to ask your area manager or local distributor for their help.  You will lose respect from customers if you pretend to know something regarding an item when you actually have no idea at all. Far better to make that contact with someone else in the company who has a lot more experience and who will be able to give you the right information for you to give back to your customer.

If you are selling a product which needs to be demonstrated, a good idea in the beginning of your career is to use some cue cards to help you.  I continued using cue cards all through my many years of direct selling as a means of keeping continuity for my demonstration, in the even that I was side tracked by customers’ questions. If you have your range of products displayed on a table, you can discuss each item in turn and once you have given the benefits and uses of a particular product, you actually need to place the cue card next to that item on the table. This enables the customers to come up to the table once you have finished your talk, and they can identify the product by the picture and will see the price as well. Usually you would have catalogues which can be used for making your cue cards by cutting out the relevant pictures together with the descriptions and current prices.

An important factor is that you need to be organized regarding your new career and this means organizing your thoughts before you address a group of potential customers. It is no good just handing out brochures and expecting people to understand what it is that would benefit them most. This is particularly relevant when it relates to products such as Tupperware, as make-up and clothing items are far more personal and everyone usually has a good idea of what will suit them and their particular taste. However, when it comes to household items the input of an expert (and you are aiming to be that expert sooner rather than later) is indispensable to avoid making an expensive purchase which becomes something of a white elephant. This is likely to create a resistance in the customer to purchasing anything from you again in the future. Taking their type of lifestyle and living situation into account, you will soon be in a position to give good advice on what they should buy to make their life easier and to save money. This will gain you their trust as you are not pushing for sales to benefit yourself, but have their needs in mind. Once again, it is a case of getting to know as much about your product as quickly as possible as well as listening to your customers.

Whilst you are still very new to this venture, it is far better to feel really confident and have first hand knowledge of a few products and offer to get feedback regarding others with which you are not necessarily au fait. Over time it is advisable to invest some of your monthly income in purchasing a variety of items across the range to use yourself in order to boost your confidence as well as your sales.

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If you are selling make-up items you will be able to help your customers by letting them try out samples to make sure that they make the right choice of colour or texture. If the company has samples available for you to buy, then that makes it easy for you. Otherwise you could buy some very small plastic jars and use them for dispensing a portion of a product (such as moisturiser, or hand cream, or shampoo) to give to your customer for them to try out. If they decide to buy the full sized product you will make back the amount you have spent in a short space of time. They also feel that you actually care about their decisions instead of expecting them to order only from pictures in brochures.  Again, as far as selling makeup is concerned, there are usually shade charts which you can purchase as sales tools which assist customers in matching products with their specific skin tone.

The bottom line is that you will grow your business much faster if your knowledge of the products you are able to offer is comprehensive and your customers come to trust you with the choices they make.  By going the extra mile to help prevent incorrect purchases, you will soon gain the respect of those people whom you are serving. Happy customers tell their friends and family. It is a fact that word of mouth advertising is the very best kind there is.

“Today Knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity
and advancement.” – Peter Drucker (1909-2005)

Sincerity in a hectic world

“Time is the most valuable thing that a man can spend.” – Diogenes

Most of us spend a good deal of each day using verbal skills to communicate with friends, family and business associates as well as casual acquaintances. This can result in a huge amount of conversation and the choice of many thousands of different forms of syntax, regardless of the language being spoken. However, how much of what is being relayed qualifies as truth and how much is pure dreaming or just saying what you think the other person wants to hear?

How often do we hear the phrases, “we must have coffee soon” or “let’s make sure to get together before too long”? So easy to let these words float out of our mouths, but what is the point if they are purely being used flippantly? I had an occasion recently where someone whom I had known for many years accused me of being of no use to her in my business endeavours as I was obviously too busy to do a good job, as I had never bothered to have tea with her! Being told, “Oh, you must pop in and have tea one day” does not constitute an invitation and being self-employed, there is very little time to socialise, and certainly no time to just “pop in” on the off chance that I may be welcome. In trying to explain to this very obnoxious woman that my time is constantly being taken up with my business and trying to earn a living, I was very abrasively shouted down. However, if she really had wanted to speak to me over a cup of tea or coffee, she should have made the invitation genuine and I would have certainly made the time to see her.

Since the advent of social media, things seem to have become far worse as far as meaning what one says and being genuine instead of trying to just make an impression. We see all these flowery “Love you my angel” with the response “Love you more”, etc. etc. and one wonders why anyone would need to put comments like these out there for the world to read instead of just telling the person in question the very same words?

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What is it about the human race that there is this need to be seen to be other than who one really is. Not to say that we need to show our bad side to others, but let’s try to be genuine instead of fake. How much better to only use certain words of endearment when the person you have strong feelings for is hearing them coming out of your mouth and not splashed on a screen for all to read. So often these comments are totally cringeworthy – especially in cases where you know just what the people concerned are really like.  The results of a recent survey showed that the happiest relationships are those where the people involved do not post personal comments on social media.

Nothing boosts our mood more than having a friend or acquaintance phoning us or sending a personal message to say that they are thinking of you and when can you meet? Now there is a genuine desire to get together and it wasn’t put out there as public news.  I get the feeling that the reason there is so much loneliness in the world today is due to us not taking the time to say and do the meaningful things which, as human beings, we all need in order to make us feel cherished and worthwhile. It’s just become far too easy to get so involved with one’s own life and day to day existence that to clear one’s conscience with those flippant words, “we must get together for coffee soon!” have become way too common.  Putting messages out there in the social field could also be a quick fix which eliminates the need for giving up on personal time.

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So many wonderful words are spoken at memorial services after a friend or family member has died, but when they were living did they ever hear the same words being said to them? In many instances they have been more or less abandoned by these self-same people due to their busy lives and them preferring to spend leisure hours doing more exciting things than paying a visit or making a phone call. Sincerity often means making sacrifices of one’s time in order to do it right when it actually can make a difference in the other person’s life. Young or old, the need to feel special is part and parcel of the human condition and it is often those who appear to be totally self- sufficient who drastically crave the human touch.

Very often just making the time to do the right thing turns out to be an extremely rewarding experience. When you realise just how much your selfless act of sharing some of your valuable “free time” with that other person has cheered them up as they face life’s challenges, then you are usually rewarded with a feeling of self- worth and satisfaction. So being sincere in caring has two-fold benefits which are not achieved by sending meaningless messages via social media just to show all those “friends” (many of whom you have never met and probably have no desire to meet either!) what a great person you are.

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A friend of mine who sells intricate beaded ornamental items at a flea market stall told me of someone who also used to have a stall at the same flea market who suggested that they become friends on Facebook. My friend was actually angry at the request because the person in question had never ever bothered to pass the time of day with him having been in the same place, weekend after weekend over the past 10 years. Again, is this sincerity or just idle words and why bother? If you cannot make friends with another person face to face then what on earth would you have to say to them via social media? Having hundreds of these so-called “friends” may be great for one’s ego, but what is the point unless it is purely to try to sell your product or advertise your business. That may well be the case, but if you really do want a friend, you have to be prepared to be a friend, in the true sense of the word. The Oxford dictionary defines “friend” as “one joined to another in intimacy and affection”. By the same token, the word “sincere” means “not simulated or assumed” i.e. genuine.

This is not intended to create feelings of guilt at all, but many of us are like the proverbial hamster spinning around and around on his wheel and we need to sometimes jump off the wheel and do the right thing by that other person. Just a thought!

“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years” – Abraham Lincoln

Direct Sales – Chapter 3

Where do you find your customers?

You will no doubt be worried as to how on earth you are going to find people who will purchase the goods you plan on selling. The phrase which you will hear over and over again, regardless of which direct selling company you decide to join, is “your circle of influence”. This really means all the people you know who you could contact to tell them about your new venture. To start you off here is a list of potential contacts:

       *Family members                  *Friends

       *Neighbours                            *Parents of your children’s friends

       *Work colleagues                   *Church acquaintances

       *Gym acquaintances             *Local businesses

*Receptionists at your dentist, doctor, vet, hairdresser etc.

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No doubt you can extend this list, but this just gives you some idea of where you can start. The best thing when you approach a possible customer is to find out if there is anyone from whom they are currently purchasing the product you will be selling. If they do not have a regular representative then you can offer to drop off the current catalogue at the beginning of each new month.  They may not be happy with the kind of service they are currently receiving from their representative, and be very pleased to use you instead.

If you are attempting to get sales from the staff within an organisation, you should try to find a person who would be prepared to collect the orders for you and send them in to you once a month. They in turn would be responsible for collecting the money from those people who placed orders, so that you only have to work with this one person. It just makes the process much simpler than having lots of loose orders which have to be delivered individually. Each individual order will be packed by you with the name of the customer and amount owing easily visible on the package but you have one drop off point for all the orders for a specific company. The person nominated to collect the money from the individuals and to distribute their orders can be rewarded by you with small “thank you” gifts from time to time just to show your appreciation for their time and effort.

Don’t be shy about telling everyone whom you meet in the course of your day, what you are doing and how convenient it would be for them to be able to buy from you rather than spending valuable time searching for the product which suits them best at large retail outlets. You will sometimes be pleasantly surprised by the reaction you get from certain people. Many may have lost contact with someone who used to supply them with the products and have not yet found anyone else from whom to order.

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By utilising all the facilities which are so readily available these days, such as computers and smart phones, much of the time consuming drudgery which was part of direct selling in the past, is now history. How much easier it is to send bulk e-mails or WhatsApp messages to inform your customers of product specials, shortages, price changes as well as to remind them that the current order cut off day is fast approaching,  instead of having to phone each one individually. Personal contact is still very critical to building good business relationships, but there are definitely many benefits to being able to just send a message instead of always having to make loads of time-consuming phone calls.

When you are chatting to your customers, listen to what they are telling you and make a habit of keeping notes that you can use in future in order to make them feel that you actually care about them and that you remember what they tell you.  They will also assume that you have an amazing memory, whereas you have just saved relevant info regarding them, their families, and important facts which they have disclosed to you during conversations as well as their product choices. This makes for a far more personal relationship with customers and they will value your interest in them, apart from just the buying aspect. Index cards, or keeping the information on your computer – whichever method suits you, will serve the purpose just as well.

Once you have managed to get a reasonable number of customers ordering from you on a regular basis, just remember that it is far easier to keep your existing ones than having to find new ones. Also, happy customers will recommend you to their friends. Word of mouth advertising is the best form of advertising that there is, but people who have a bad experience will also spread the word and unfortunately often far wider than those who have had good service. Sad, but true.  Therefore, it is very important that, if you make a mistake somewhere along the line, apologise and correct it as soon as possible. A small token given to a customer who has been inconvenienced goes a long way to mending the relationship. Remember – the customer is always right!

“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success
of any kind as the quality of perseverance.
It overcomes almost everything, even nature.
” – John D. Rockefeller

 

Direct Sales – Chapter 2

Choosing the company which suits you best!

The first step when considering becoming involved in direct selling, is to find a product which you can believe in and enjoy selling. In years gone by, items such as expensive vacuum cleaners and encyclopaedias were sold by salespeople who had to carry heavy demonstration items with them when going door to door to try to sell their product. With the incredible advances in technology things have changed dramatically when it comes to direct selling. It no longer has the stigma with which the “door to door” salesman of the past had to contend.  By the same token there are many people today who wouldn’t know what a set of encyclopaedias looked like!

The most popular direct sales companies nowadays would appear to be those selling household products such as Tupperware, and companies such as Avon, which has salespeople in many corners of the world making a comfortable living from selling their range of goods of which cosmetics form a large percentage. When one is putting out feelers to find a company which you would be happy to represent there are several factors to consider. First of all, is the warehouse which houses the company’s products easily accessible or will there be a considerable time lag between the placing of an order and receiving it?  Buyers tend to be very keen to receive their orders once they have placed them with a representative and If you live in a rather remote area, then it stands to reason that you may not have deliveries as frequently as if you were living in a larger town. The solution here is to collect your customers’ orders early in the month in order to place and receive them in time for month-end deliveries. This applies mainly to countries where people receive monthly pay cheques and budget for their purchases accordingly.

Once you have given some serious thought to joining a particular company as a sales representative, you need to find out whether there is a cost involved. You don’t want to have to take a bank loan in order to begin selling! In most cases the initial outlay is minimal and usually your payment will provide you with a starter pack of catalogues showing the current range of available items, and in some cases a few products for you to show to your prospective buyers. Once you start making some money, you can build up a reasonable supply of items which you can demonstrate to help increase your sales.

Another question to ask is whether or not you will be granted credit when you sign up with the company. In other words, will you have a certain amount of time to collect the money from your customers before having to pay your account or is it purely a cash business. If the latter is the case, then you will always need to collect the necessary amount from your customer as you take their order. You give them a written receipt for the amount paid to you and be very strict on how you handle this money. When you pay your account, the difference between the amount you have received from your customers and the amount you pay your company is your commission.  If you are granted credit then you deliver the products to the customer and only hand them over when you are given the amount due.

It is normal practice when you sign up with a direct sales company to be allocated to an area manager whose job it is to assist you when you have problems. This person may or may not give you regular training sessions themselves, or it may be company policy to encourage you to attend regular sales meetings run at the branch of the company closest to you. It is very important for you to learn as much as you can about the products you will be selling as buyers expect you to be knowledgeable regardless of the length of time that you have been with the company.

Depending upon how well you sell once you have started with your chosen company, there may be seminars which you are invited to attend where you will receive on-going training as well as motivation. Things change according to economic factors as well as management policy but you will find that the more successful you are at selling, the more your company should recognise your efforts.

“Success is never final. Failure is never fatal.
It is courage that counts” – Winston Churchill