From Jennifer: One of the things that I love about this industry is the innovation. Sometimes, as consultants, you don’t see the many things going on behind the scenes in this industry, bringing us forward. There are many vendors that serve this industry that dream up the latest and greatest technologies, based on what’s happening in other industries, and then present these solutions to direct selling companies. Their innovation is what helps us all as an industry get better, and I am privileged to know a lot of the fine folks working in this space.
One topic that fascinates me is mobile technologies. There is a huge part of the population that is foregoing the personal computer completely, and doing all their web activities exclusively through a mobile Smartphone. Is your company prepared to support them? What business practices does your company have in place right now that need to be adapted to meet this need, if you want to recruit this population?
One company that services our industry, ByDesign Technologies, is looking at exactly that topic. They showed me their mobile platform back in December, and I thought it really addressed some of the needs our industry needs to consider as we look to the future. So when I wanted a guest post on the topic of mobile technologies, and where we’re headed, I reached out to my friends over at ByDesign, and asked if they could share their thoughts around this evolving platform, as it related to our industry. Enjoy!
The Mobile Revolution
by Daryl Wurzbacher, Director of Solutions at ByDesign Technologies
Over the years, the Direct Sales Industry has seen a number of different methods of communicating to and training their sales force. These methods have stayed consistent with the technology changes throughout the years, keeping the sales material “cutting edge” and in a format that is most easily used by their field, for example:
- Printed Materials – Printed materials have been around since the early stages of Direct Sales and are still the most popular format for delivering of sales tools and marketing materials to consultants.
- Tapes and CDs – Audio has been around for decades in Direct Sales, starting with audio tapes and being replaced by audio CDs. This format is still extremely popular for training audios and sales tools.
- DVDs – DVD has risen to become a popular choice of video distribution, such as product, opportunity and training videos.
- Email – Once email was widely adopted, mass email blasts quickly became an efficient way for Direct Sales companies and leaders to communicate with the entire field or downline in one fell swoop.
- Internet – With the rise of sites like YouTube and Twitter, along with the high adoption of broadband connectivity, Internet distribution of content has become extremely common.
When looking at sales tools, one of the keys to high adoption and usage throughout the sales force is the ease of accessing the content. This has kept printed sales tools extremely popular, as it’s something consultants can give out to friends and associates that are interested in their product or opportunity.
A drawback to print media, CDs, and DVDs is the cost associated with updating content. Given the fast-paced nature of our industry, consultants are likely to continue to distribute outdated content after its shelf life has passed, and corporate warehouses may house palettes of marketing materials that are no longer current.
Email is a great way to deliver time-sensitive and important messages, but can you be sure your message reaches the consultants? With the rising challenges of bloated inboxes, spam filters, and ISP blacklisting, clicking the send button may not be as effective as it once was.
As internet video has become more accessible, companies have been able to quickly publish new content and tools without having to physically produce the content, allowing a much faster pace of communication and training to their consultants. This content has, until recently, been limited to delivery on internet-connected computers only.
Looking towards the future of communication and content delivery, one technology stands out as the next potential “game changer”: Mobile. The mobile platform combines real time access to information with simple ease of use, making it an appealing tool for direct sellers.
At the end of 2009, almost one in three US adult mobile phone subscribers used a Smartphone, up from one in five less than a year earlier. These numbers represent the entire US population and considering the demographic of direct sellers (entrepreneurial business owners); these statistics are likely much higher in our industry. Throughout this year, it’s expected that these numbers are going to increase significantly with the introduction of even more Smartphone handsets across various carriers.
- Training and Presentations – A consultant can have all of the company’s training and presentations available and with them at all times! If a consultant runs into an acquaintance and they start talking about business, they are able to show the company videos directly from their phone, with no computer or television in sight.
- Access to Back Office – When consultants have access to their back office from any location, they are naturally more engaged in their business.
- Keeping Consultants “Plugged In” – With text messaging and push notification becoming common, consultants can be notified instantly when certain events happen, or when action needs to be taken in their business.
- Order Entry – Consultants can take orders anywhere! Without being restricted to sitting in front of a “PC” to place new orders, a great number of new sales opportunities are generated.
The possibilities for mobile are endless. As mobile handsets replace functionality that was traditionally reserved for PCs, our industry should grow and prosper. Only time will tell the impact of mobile on our industry, but if prior platforms are any indication to the future, mobile is poised to be a game changer.
Has your company adopted any mobile platforms? How would they change the way you do business? Looking forward to reading your thoughts in the comments!
Daryl Wurzbacher, Director of Solutions at ByDesign Technologies, has lead the expansion of ByDesign into mobile, social networking and consultant tools using his 13 years of industry experience, which is comprised of both corporate and vendor experience. Daryl started his career working on the corporate side of direct selling with CyberWize and led all application development as their Director of Information Technology before joining ByDesign Technologies in 2007. ByDesign has made its mark in the direct selling industry by offering best-of-breed enterprise back office software which facilitates all sales and commission calculations for direct sales, party plan and MLM companies.