As an industry, direct sales is poised to enter a new era. Technology has finally caught up to the way we do business, and smart direct selling companies are embracing these technologies in order to empower the sales force to do what they do best…connect with people. Social media technology is the great leveler when it comes to the distinction between large and small direct selling companies: one of the biggest handicaps smaller companies used to face was the ability, or lack thereof, to reach the number of people that a larger company could reach due to a larger sales force. But social media provides the opportunity to reach a huge amount of people, regardless of geography. All that is required is the ability to connect with people.
I love the fact that social media helps us do what we as an industry already do well. We teach the sales force how to connect with friends and family, and beyond, person to person, relationship by relationship. And that’s EXACTLY how to use social media well. Yes, we are able to target more specifically the people who may be most interested in our products and opportunity. But at the end of the day, it’s the relationships we build with these people that determines success.
Here are three things that companies should be doing RIGHT NOW to take advantage of social media:
- Make a Strategic Plan – Decide what you want social media to do for your company, and your sales force. Do you want to increase sales? Make your opportunity more visible? Increase brand recognition? Generate reorders and rebookings? Whatever it is, make the plan FIRST, and then you can select the social media tools that will best help you meet your goals.
- Put Someone in Charge – The easiest way to lose focus on social media, and waste all the time you’ve invested in it, is to make it a collective responsibility. You can have various people contributing to the social media plan, but you need one person who is leading the charge. They can make sure everyone is meeting their deadlines, determine how the plan is working and where adjustments need to be made, and stay on top of what the field is asking for, integrating those pieces that make sense.
- Train Your Sales Force – Many direct selling companies are finding that the field is way ahead of them when it comes to social media. In order to protect the way the brand is represented, ensuring consistency, companies MUST have comprehensive polices for social media in place, and then train the sales force on how to operate effectively within those guidelines. Don’t expect your sales force to figure it all out themselves. But also listen to what’s working for them, and integrate it. After all, they are the closest to your prospects. But make sure they know what’s acceptable and what’s not, in order to protect the reputation of your company, and the industry as a whole.
If you don’t have anyone in your company that knows how to use social media for business, you MUST get educated in order to make effective decisions. The Direct Selling Association is beginning to provide training (I’m presenting a piece on social media at the Direct Selling 101 Boot Camp in a couple of weeks, and I’ll also be one of the presenters at the Marketing & Communications Seminar focused on social media in December). You can also bring in someone who can educate your corporate team, so you can begin to make effective decisions. I have helped several direct selling companies with this.
Social media marketing is the real deal. Companies in many industries that are actively engaging are showing an increase in profits, while companies that are not engaging are showing a decrease in profits. You can’t ignore this any longer. It’s not going away. Now is the time to embrace a technology that helps us do even better what we already do well.
What do you think? Would love to read your thoughts about how direct selling companies can integrate social media in the comments below. How well is your company doing it? What could they do better? Let’s have a conversation.
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