Can You Run Your Direct Sales Business Exclusively Online?

by cdsessums

by cdsessums

This is a question I get asked a lot.  Now that social media has arrived on the scene, do direct sellers really need to continue doing parties, and running the business the “old fashioned way?”  Can’t we just point everybody to our website, and call it a day?  And wouldn’t it make recruiting easier, if those people who don’t want to do parties could now be told they don’t have to?

My answer is NO.  Social media is a fantastic tool for finding new prospects for your business, for providing superior customer service, and for positioning yourself as an expert that people turn to for advice and products.  However it is my very strong opinion that it is NOT a substitute for booking, selling, and recruiting.

First of all, parties are where the immediate income for your business comes from.  Your company most likely has party averages, and when you do a party, you can pretty much count on making a certain amount of money.  You also give people a chance to interact with you live, see and touch the products, and enjoy the experience of being with friends while making informed purchasing decisions.  In short, nothing replaces the party.

Social media marketing also has a longer cycle.  It takes time to build relationships online, develop content for your blog, and build up enough know, like, and trust to get someone to make a purchase from you.  You have to connect with someone 7-15 times online, typically, before they’ll make a purchase from you.  There are online tools that help you do this, but you do need to invest time into building those relationships.

Social media marketing is an addition to a party plan direct sales business.  It can enable you to connect with people you couldn’t have met otherwise, find people that are business minded and specifically looking for an opportunity, and provide superior customer service and customer contact through community-building online groups and events.  Once those initial contacts are made at live parties, customers can get better service which can result in a thriving reorder business when they are plugged into you through social media.

In short, social media complements a traditional party plan model in many ways, and can enhance what you already do.  But nothing replaces the core business activities of booking parties, selling products, and recruiting new consultants.

What are your thoughts on this?  Have you had experiences that prove or disprove this?  Would love to hear your comments!

10 Responses to Can You Run Your Direct Sales Business Exclusively Online?
  1. Laurie R
    January 9, 2011 | 1:52 pm

    I totally agree. Our business is about relationships. It’s not about just the sale. We take care of our customers more than any retail store. So we shouldn’t behave as though we are one! Social media is a fantastic add on…but should never be our primary source!

  2. Missy Weddle
    January 9, 2011 | 1:50 pm

    I love this post!!! It is so true and as a direct seller we are always looking for ways to make our business better. Social media can help with that, but that is all…HELP!! It is a great tool like you said, to provide a deeper relationship with customers after you have done business face to face.
    I have to say that I got caught up in putting my specials on FB and my fan page and dropped off on the phone calls. My thoughts at the time were…well they already know the specials so if they are interested they will contact me. WRONG!!! I learned quickly that I had to get back on the phone and make that personal contact in order to get those bookings and the business that I needed to have a successful business.
    Thank you for sharing this, your insight is always so great and I really enjoy your blog!!

  3. Cynthia Gratzer
    January 9, 2011 | 1:35 pm

    Totally agree! They have Nordstroms online and I shop from there but sometimes I like to go in the “old fashioned” way also : )

  4. Cheap Postcard Print
    May 12, 2009 | 6:37 pm

    Fantastic post! There’s just no substitute for face-to-face communication. Parties are a wonderful way to build networks, engage in face-to-face communication with your clients, as well as potential ones. A great opportunity to get together, enjoy, relax, and market at the same time! Thanks!

  5. Heather Price
    May 9, 2009 | 11:46 pm

    BESIDES! Some of our best customers and best team members have no idea what social media even IS! Twitter—- isn’t that where everyone is talking about what they’re having for dinner? 🙂

    I love my social media savvy customers and team members, and I love my not internet savvy customers and team members. I meet face to face in my home studio with the latter all the time one on one and in small groups EVEN WHEN I’m not doing traditional “home parties” in the evenings in other’s homes.

    Great post and thank you!
    Heather

  6. Lisa Robbin Young
    May 8, 2009 | 2:41 pm

    Shazam! Another ball hit clean out of the park!

    I was just saying this today on twitter. And yes, there are people that have transitioned to an online business model that rarely includes parties – but nothing replaces the one-on-one interaction and rapport building of an in-person experience.

    I’ve scaled back my home parties, and a lot of my business now comes from the online arena – but it’s NOT my only source. As much as I believe a consultant shouldn’t rely entirely on their home parties to secure their income, I equally assert that you shouldn’t rely solely on the online world for your income.

    Diversification is what keeps things stable – particularly in times of economic tumult.

    If you wouldn’t count on one hostess to be the lifeblood of your party business, why would you put all your eggs in the online marketing basket? If something happens that renders the Internet unreachable, you’ve severely impaired, if not destroyed, your entire book of business.

    Kudos, Jen, on another great post.
    -Lisa

  7. Julie Anne Jones
    May 8, 2009 | 1:51 pm

    Great post, Jen! This is an important question and, as usual, you answered it beautifully! I couldn’t agree with you more. The party is where the experience happens – they experience fun, each other, you, and your products. That will never happen in the same way on line.

  8. Carol Kaufman
    May 8, 2009 | 1:17 pm

    This is so true, Jennifer! You need to be the life of the party and the party is the life of your business. As you meet people at parties, you can add them to your social media list.

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