Direct Sales – Chapter 8

Believing in your product as well as believing in yourself

The manner in which you handle the products that you wish to sell to your customers is very important, especially when you are actually demonstrating their usage. In this day and age where money is often in short supply and items are expensive, it is critical to show people that they are paying for quality items. This also relates to the way in which you package each individual order. I mentioned this in an earlier chapter, but cannot emphasise enough just how important this part of the business is. Imagine spending several hundred bucks of hard earned cash on some exciting new products and then, when they are delivered to you, it is very apparent that they were roughly shoved into a plastic bag and just tied at the top with a knot. In the case of cosmetics, this kind of handling could result in broken lids and spilt contents. Care and consideration are the operative words at every turn if you wish to be seen as a reputable sales representative.

So, you really do believe in the products you sell, and you have many satisfied customers to attest to their vast benefits. However, do you believe in yourself? If you have a difficult time where interaction with others is concerned, then it’s a good idea to make a list of all your good points and feed yourself positive reinforcement by reading and re-reading each one of the qualities you have listed. You might feel that you are a good listener, or have a great sense of humour, or have a passion for young children or animals. Every one of these is a very positive trait and something which makes you, and you alone, unique. We all have days when we doubt our capabilities but once you start making money through direct selling, you will be amazed at just how much more confident you feel about yourself.

It is a sad fact of life that many human beings take great delight in offering sympathy when those around them are having a tough time. They may wallow in hearing about your struggles when you first start your new endeavour.  It makes these people feel superior in many cases and doesn’t do much for your upliftment. What you really need is to be motivated to dust yourself off, ands to get out there and do something which makes you feel positive once again. To be told by others that they know how you feel (which is usually a lot of garbage) when you are struggling with  actually trying to get your sales going, or even having to cope with a difficult customer, isn’t going to solve anything. These so-called well- meaning individuals need to be avoided at all costs when you are going through a bit of a rough patch. Far better to read a motivational book of one kind or another or watch a movie which makes you laugh a lot or better still, go for a jog or a nice brisk walk! A nice glass of wine is often just what is needed when all else fails!

“If you have a voice within you say “you cannot paint”, then by
all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
– Vincent van Gogh

Something else to avoid in order to feel confident and in control, is not to compare yourself and your sales with anyone else. This is not always easy when you attend sales meetings and recognition is given to those top achievers. Try to use times like this as a motivating factor which allows you to aim higher, knowing that if others are capable of doing so well in the business, then there is no reason  why you can’t do the same. It isn’t a case of comparison, it’s simply understanding that everyone has a different home life and for some, sales and making mega bucks is what makes the world go round. You may have a demanding family, and your selling business has to slot in with the needs of a spouse and children, and possibly even members of your extended family as well.

The best advice I was ever given was to only compare yourself with yourself. In other words, by keeping records of your previous months’ sales figures you, and only you, can decide to better those figures if you so wish. Your company will always be dangling that proverbial carrot in front of you and once they see your capabilities, that carrot becomes bigger and bigger! However, your success is in your own hands and it is up to you to either take up a sales challenge or just to ignore it and work at a pace which fits in with your personal life. The best part about working for yourself (and direct selling is working for yourself) is that, as your circumstances change over time, you can decide to spend more time and effort in increasing your business. You may even wish to become a sales leader and have a team of representatives in your group whom you train and motivate, and ultimately enjoy the benefits of their sales as well as your own.  Being involved in direct selling is an exciting world to be part of and you will probably be encouraged to attend training seminars over the years. The more you achieve and the more you receive recognition for your hard work and good results, the more you will find that believing in yourself, as well as the products which you promote, becomes second nature and your confidence will know no bounds.

I sincerely hope that the information which is contained in these chapters assists you in having a happy and productive time during your direct selling career. Good Luck!

“With realisation of one’s own potential and self-confidence
in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”
– Dalai Lama

Direct Sales – Chapter 7

Giving Quality Service

One of the first things that needs to be borne in mind as you enter the exciting world of direct selling, is that most of us have become used to receiving poor service far too often. If your aim is to strive to always give your customers the best possible service, then you will gain their trust and loyalty. It takes just as much time to do things properly as it does to be slapdash in your approach to anything you may be undertaking. Therefore, regardless of how small or large a customer’s order is, treat each one with the respect and gratitude which they deserve. Even a small order should be packaged with as much care as your biggest order of the month. To use a piece of curled ribbon to close the package and then to add a small handwritten thank you tag adds a very professional, personal touch.

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If possible, find out whether or not the customer is able to purchase the product which they wish to order this month, at a reduced price next month. By doing some homework (often by asking your area manager) you are sometimes able to tell your customer that, if they wait until the start of the next promotion then they stand to save a fair amount on their purchase. If you ignore this, and just happily place orders which you know may be reduced in the following month, your customer is going to feel cheated when they realise that they have paid more than they needed to had they waited a few weeks. Obviously, this doesn’t always work out to their benefit if they need the product in a hurry. However, they will probably appreciate the fact that you bothered to try to help them save some money.

Another tip is to keep a record of the kind of products which each regular customer seems to be interested in buying. Then, if you see a good deal coming up which includes these products, call them and inform them that they will soon be able to buy items in that range which may be of use to them. Once again, a small thing to do, but it can certainly gain you those much needed brownie points which put you ahead of many of your competitors out there in the sales world. There are always going to be many other people selling the same products as you, but by being one step ahead when it comes to service, this will pay dividends in the long run.

When a mistake is made on an order (and it can happen easily when you are tired, and keying in your product codes at night) then you have to do your level best to rectify the error without inconveniencing your customer. This often can be done with the assistance of your area manager if he/she is giving you the support which you need in this business. Sometimes the customer never even realises that you have made a mistake provided you correct the error as timeously as you are able. Should the worst case scenario be that the product which you mis-ordered or omitted is no longer available, then you need to placate the customer as best you can. Sometimes a small gift in apology may be enough as most people are relatively tolerant where genuine mistakes are concerned, especially if one is honest about the situation.

When someone asks you about a product which no longer seems to appear in the current catalogue, then do your best to find out for them whether it is off range, coming back soon, or totally discontinued. Then you may be able to offer them a suitable replacement item at a similar price. Once again, you are showing that you care about their needs and concerns and, by getting back to them speedily, you will be held in high regard as far as customer service is concerned.  Never be slow at getting information back to your customers, as it takes very little time to pick up your phone and explain to them what you have found out.

“I never dreamed about success – I worked for it.
– Estee Lauder

Most importantly, and I am sure that I have mentioned this in a previous chapter, always do what you promise to do. If you tell a customer that you will deliver her order on a certain day at a specific time, then make sure that you fulfil your promise. If you are running late, then make sure that you inform the customer so that they are not hanging around waiting for you and getting agitated by the delay. Everyone’s time is valuable, and you need to bear this in mind at all times. When you phone someone, it is courteous to ask them whether or not this is a convenient time to talk to them before you start trying to engage in conversation. If you are unable to speak to them on the phone, then an sms or WhatsApp  message or voice note can be used as an acceptable substitute on certain occasions. Bear in mind though that nothing is better than actually speaking to another person rather than relying on the sending of messages. Too often it happens that the meaning of a message is misconstrued due to the lack of tone. Something might appear to be rude or abrasive when it is only read, whereas when one speaks there is feeling in the words being used.

When you treat your customers well they will tend to have a good feeling towards spending their hard earned cash when buying your products. We have all had experiences with bad salespeople when we have been forced out of necessity to purchase something from them and then feel cheated by the way in which we have been treated by them. The more money that we paid makes the experience the more sickening. What a difference it makes when the salesperson goes one step further than necessary just to make the entire interaction a “wow” one! This tends to be far too rare in this day and age, but you can re-invent the wheel and show your customers just what good service is all about.

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One final point and that is to try to put yourself in the shoes of your customer, so to speak, and to imagine how you would like to be treated, and what would make you, as a customer, become loyal to this particular salesperson. Loyalty is as rare a commodity as good service these days, so it is no mean feat to gain customers who are unlikely to start buying your range of products from another sales agent. With a little bit of caring and doing the job as best you can, there is no reason for you not being respected for what you are doing out there in the world of direct selling.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act,
but a habit” – Aristotle (Greek Philosopher)DS 7-3 350x345

Direct Sales – Chapter 6

Money Management

One of the most important aspects pertaining to your new career in direct sales, is how you are going to handle the money side of your new business. Right from the very start you need to be very strict with yourself and understand that the money which your customers hand over to you does not belong to you. You only receive your portion once you have paid your account with your company. The difference between the amount of money which you collect from each customer as you deliver their orders to them and the total which you need to hand over to the company equals your commission.  This is your salary.

When people pay you in cash it is very advisable to immediately put this money into a separate box or wallet, away from your day to day cash flow until you have to pay your account. There are some direct selling companies who ask you to pay them as you place your order. In this situation you have to tell your customers that they need to give you the relevant amount of money as they place their order with you. Issue them with a receipt for the amount they give you so there is no conflict at a later stage.  Depending on the sophistication of your customer, you may find that some of them prefer to do a bank transfer into your account instead of dealing with cash. By the same token, you may be able to do a transfer into the account of the company for whom you are selling, thereby ruling out the need to carry large amounts of cash around. It all boils down to understanding and facilitating your own as well as your customers’ specific needs.

It is critical to always be very strict with your money handling as nothing could be worse than thinking you have more to spend than you actually do, and then finding out to your horror that you have been using cash which was given to you by a customer when they placed their order with you.

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Try not to become despondent in the early days when you see that you have made a very small amount of profit after having to purchase catalogues, and maybe some sample products as well. Rome was not built in a day, and it takes patience, dedication and a certain amount of hard work to build up your new direct selling business. Eventually you will come to realise that there will be good months and then much leaner ones as well, and sometimes this may be linked to the time of year. However, my advice is to try to ignore the idea that January will be a tough month for sales, as often you may find it to be one of the very best months for you. People will tell you that in South Africa where April is full of public holidays, your sales will suffer. This is certainly not a fact to worry about as it all depends on how you approach your business. By keeping your customers updated and telling them about any special offers and promotions the time of year may prove to be unimportant.  For example, after spending a lot of hard- earned cash on gifts for other people at Christmastime customers often feel the need to spoil themselves at the start of a new year.

I cannot emphasise enough just how important it is to conduct your monetary affairs efficiently in order to prevent problems popping up which could be very detrimental to the success of your new career. If you become known as a late account payer you may find that any credit facilities which your company gave you in the beginning get taken away, and you now have to pay before taking delivery of your orders. This, of course, is the situation if you were previously allowed credit which enabled you to take delivery and then pay later.

I have heard over and over again the story of how someone joined a direct selling company only to land up with non-payments by customers. The only way to prevent this from happening is either to ask for payment up front before ordering the items or not to hand over the product until you have been paid. In the latter situation, should the customer give you a story as to why they no longer have the money to pay you, you at least have the option to either re-sell the item or to send it back to your company for a credit on your account, explaining why you are sending it back.

Another piece of advice which you may find useful is to set yourself a goal and even to put a picture of what it is that you are striving to achieve, up on the wall in your office, or on the front of your fridge. This will serve to reinforce your determination to make a success of your sales business. If the money you make from direct selling is going to be extra income then it is obviously going to be much easier for you to set a goal which may be viewed as a luxury e.g. a trip away, an item for the home or something for yourself which you have always wanted but couldn’t afford on your regular income. Obviously, if you are starting out in direct selling and are feeling pretty cash strapped, then maybe your goal should be more in the line of finding more customers in order to boost your sales. After all, the more you put into the job, the more you are likely to get out of it in the long run. Be that as it may, a goal is always a good idea as it gives you the motivation to carry on carrying on even when you are feeling a bit down and despondent due to perhaps having lost a customer or finding that this particular month is harder than the previous ones have been .

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The only way to increase your income is by selling more products and having more customers. It is an ongoing situation whereby you constantly have to let everyone with whom you come in contact know what it is you do for a living. Carry catalogues and business cards (if you decide that you need to have some to assist with your sales) in your bag, in your car, and in your pocket. Nothing indicates more clearly to a prospective customer that you are disorganized and unprofessional than if you are unable to give them something which identifies you as their point of contact should they decide to do business with you. Although catalogues tend to be quite a costly sales tool, they are critical to the ongoing success of your business.

It is important to keep a strict record of your expenses, in order to monitor your profit margin once you are earning money from your sales. By keeping a tight grip on the financial side of your business, you will always be in control. A casual attitude to money is one of the greatest mistakes one can make as it is just too easy to spend indiscriminately, especially when the excitement of having some extra cash in one’s wallet tempts you to splash out recklessly. Oh well, we all need some fun in our lives, and without the finances to afford them, there is little prospect of too much fun. So, get out there and sell, and enjoy the fruits of your labours. Good luck!

“Never spend your money before you have earned it.
– Thomas Jefferson (American President)

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

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)

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