Virtual Parties: Hostess Coaching is (Still) Essential

Those of you who read last week’s post know that I am hosting a virtual (catalog) party for a direct selling company.  I set up the Event in Facebook, posted it to my Facebook Profile, and sent an invite to some personal friends through the Facebook Event.  Then I sat back for a week.  And guess what?  I got ONE order.  Yup.  Just one.  (BTW, just need to say that this was NOT the fault of my wonderful consultant.  I did this on purpose as part of my experiment.)

And that brings me to the topic of today’s post.  If you plan to do Virtual Parties, you still need to do hostess coaching.  Because chances are, your hostess believes that all she needs to do is post the link and her part is done.  So if you want to help her have a successful experience, you’ve still got some work to do.

Here are some tips:

  • Set her expectations from the beginning: Be sure your hostess knows what she needs to do to get the orders.  She should call her friends, hand out catalogs in person, and remind her friends (by voice if possible) when it’s getting close to the time the show will close.  You might even want to put together a sheet of tips for her to reference when getting people to order.
  • Make it easy to invite: You may want to create a standard “virtual party” invite that she can customize with her info. It includes important details like your website address, how guests should credit orders to the host, and shipping details.
  • Check in: If a hostess doesn’t see many orders coming in, she may get discouraged and give up.  Be sure you’re paying attention and checking in regularly, giving her tips on what she needs to do to encourage those orders.
  • Be present: Be sure your consultant has been added to the Facebook event.  You can help generate excitement by adding tips you would normally share at an in-person show.  Then your hostess can send a message to the invited guests, letting them know there’s information they can check out on the Event page.  The other advantage to this…guests have some interaction with you, which may provide an opportunity to get additional bookings.

Here are some things you may want to tell your hostess:

  • Invite by voice whenever possible, and talk it up throughout the length of the show with her friends.
  • Invite multiple ways.  Don’t just set up a Facebook Event and walk away.  Call, email, Facebook Event, in-person with a catalog.  We’re connected to different people in different ways, so be sure that all your bases are covered.
  • Send out reminders periodically: 1 week before close, 3 days before close, and day the show closes.
  • Make sure the Facebook Event Wall is active. She should add you to the Event, and you’ll post tips daily for guests.
  • If orders are slow, get on the phone! Sometimes people want to order but just don’t make the time.  She can call, find out if her friends are interested, and take the order right then and there.  You might even want to give your hostess a “top 10” list of popular items and their prices, in case she needs to give her friends suggestions.  (Make sure they’re in various price ranges, so everyone is covered.)
  • How shipping will work, and associated costs.  That’s been the number one question I’ve gotten from people.

What would you add?

Even more than with an in-person party, the success of a virtual party depends almost completely on what the hostess does or does not do.  In order for the party to be a successful experience, you must make sure your hostess has the information she needs to have a successful show.

What hostess coaching tips would you give for successful virtual parties?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

4 Responses to Virtual Parties: Hostess Coaching is (Still) Essential
  1. Karen
    November 11, 2010 | 11:05 am

    For a virtual party to work, the hostess and rep both have to do a lot more work than a “real life” party! Most don’t understand this and think it is an “easy” way to get a party in. I’m glad you are sharing the realities! 🙂
    Karen recently posted..Stop Annoying People on Facebook

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 11, 2010 | 12:34 pm

      You’re absolutely right Karen! The virtual party is certainly not the “easy option.” Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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