The direct sales industry continues to struggle with the concept of virtual parties, but it’s important to go down this path. For one, consultants want them and are doing virtual parties themselves with a wide variety of results. It’s up to companies to lead the way here, creating duplicatable, brand-consistent models that everyone can use with more predictable results. We also need to be cognizant of the fact that society is changing. People don’t necessarily want to use their limited time to attend an in-person party without knowing exactly what’s coming, and that it’s worth their while. Virtual parties can serve to give that “taste” that leads to bookings and attendance at in-person events. And then of course there’s the big, wide world that social media has opened up for every consultant. No longer are consultants confined by geographical limitations. And yet the in-person party is, by its very nature, confined by geography. Virtual parties allow consultants to move beyond these limitations, and service a wider variety of people in a more personal way.
But we as an industry have been held back by the logistical considerations of virtual parties and events. How do we manage the presentation? The shopping? The technical challenges? It’s a fact that not every guest will be comfortable with technology, and not every consultant has the ability to play a tech-support role while keeping the party going. And how long should a party be? What products should be presented? What should a party consist of? And how do we create a party that EVERYONE can do, regardless of skill level or personality?
Here are some thoughts for companies that are seeking to create a duplicatable virtual party experience for the field:
- Choose a platform that guests can stay within the entire time. There are technology vendors who are working with the direct selling industry who are offering platforms for virtual parties. These platforms provide the ability for guests to log in, see the presentation, and shop all in one place, without having to go anywhere else. This reduces technical challenges and makes the party flow more easily.
- Create a branded presentation that corporate maintains, that teaches guests something in a short amount of time. Let’s face it, not everyone can do the super-peppy presentation that seems to be yielding the best results in current models being touted for virtual parties. When you create a party based on education instead of personality, you have a more duplicatable model that brings more consistent results.
- Corporate needs to manage the visuals. Nothing kills a duplicatable virtual experience more than varying levels of consultant technical expertise. Corporate can make the virtual party more accessible to everyone in the field by providing all of the visuals, product offerings, etc. and loading these into the virtual party tool, so all the consultant needs to focus on is hostess coaching, invitations and leading the party.
- Add a game or two. Games can help guests feel more involved in the overall virtual party experience, leading to higher sales. When the games are tied to the educational message, you create a consistent thread that ties the party together and leads into the shopping portion of the event.
- Bundle limited sets of products rather than offering the entire catalog. One of the biggest challenges that comes with virtual parties is low sales. When you create sets of products specifically for the virtual party that are offered in bundles, you increase your average customer order. Too many products offered can result in guest overwhelm and no purchasing decision. A limited number of sets that corresponds with your educational experience can be much more successful for average party sales.
- Provide opportunity for personal connection between the consultant and the guest, so that upsells and booking offers can occur. We all know that when a consultant can connect personally with a guest, she can offer things that lead to higher sales. Not to mention the fact that some people won’t volunteer to host a party but will say yes when asked. A good technology platform for virtual parties will allow for this interaction, either during the party or right after it, so that each party is as successful as possible, and yields the highest results.
The best virtual party will be one created by corporate, because it provides for consistent, branded customer experiences that can be created by every consultant in the field. By taking advantage of the platforms currently being offered to the industry, companies can provide their salesforces with the best tools possible, resulting in positive customer experience, higher sales, and increased bookings.
Do you do virtual parties? Does your company provide you with any materials to do these? What has served you well? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.