Direct selling has changed fundamentally in the last 10 years. A large reason for this is the rapid development of technology. No longer is the living room the social hub for most people. Today social networks are the new town square, online shopping is easier than going out, we can do just about anything on our phones, and our time is at a premium.
What does this mean for new direct selling companies? It means that you can’t build on old successful models and hope to be successful yourself. Those days are gone. Instead, today’s direct selling company has to understand and build around how today’s consumer and potential consultant wants to do business.
What does this mean in practical terms?
- Corporate supported virtual shopping experiences have to be part of the package. They have to be easy to duplicate and generally successful. And you have to have the technology to make it easy and seamless from logon to checkout.
- Your website can’t suck. If your backend software provider is giving you a default website built 20 years ago, don’t settle! Today’s consumer (and consultant) is very savvy and will not be patient with your antiquated shopping experience and wordy web pages. If you want to attract talent and be considered a legitimate company, invest in a decent website and shopping experience. And by the way, a video is worth a thousand words.
- Online marketing assets are essential. Your consultants will be talking about your company on their social networks. Are they going to look professional with consistent corporate branding, or are they going to look like amateur hour? Take a look at what consultants are posting from companies that are growing quickly. Consultants need these professional tools to be successful, and if you don’t provide them, they’ll go somewhere else.
- Your backoffice has to be prepared for the new consultant and contemporary learning styles. If a consultant logs in and instantly sees an unmanageable mess, they’re going to waste income-producing time trying to get the information they need. And new consultants may never get started. You need a decent, designed, organized learning management system with videos, navigation and a search function. New consultants need to know EXACTLY what to do and where to go without having to search. If you haven’t already done so, map out the use case scenarios of your backoffice for various levels of consultants, and then design easy paths to achieve those tasks. Then get a designer to build it. No one has time for crappy design.
The advantage, of course, that new direct sales companies have, is that they don’t have to try to convert legacy systems to this new reality. The challenge is the money that this level of technology support requires. However the organization that seeks to grow needs to have a solid understanding of the technology needed to be successful today. Take a look at growing organizations: a common thread with all of them is seamless, professional technology that supports today’s consultant and customer.
The rules have changed, and the market is rewarding those companies that are willing to adapt. Is your company on track to provide the technology support needed today? It matters.
Jennifer Fong is a direct sales business consultant who helps startup and established direct sales companies adapt to today’s changing business environment. If your business needs a checkup, contact Jennifer today.