You’ve signed up as a direct sales agent for a company whose product or service you love. But believing in a product isn’t enough to generate sales. You need a marketing plan that gets interested eyes on your business. The good news is that even consultants without a sizable marketing budget can build an incredibly profitable business.
Here are tips and best practices for growing your direct sales business.
How to grow your direct sales business
The company you signed up with likely has training programs and resources to help you start your business. Your team leader will also likely share their tips, best practices and ideas.
To get a head start on your training and set yourself up for success, implement the following tips to help your direct sales business explode.
1. Establish credibility and expertise in your direct sales channel.
What makes you different? With thousands of consultants around the country selling the same products or services, differentiation is critical. Create a list of the things about you that make you unique compared to all the other consultants out there.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What extra value can I add that other consultants don’t offer? Perhaps you offer free local delivery or have an email newsletter that provides tips customers can use.
- What makes me more qualified to sell these products? Consider your unique qualifications. For example, are you a personal chef who sells kitchen products? Or are you a talented home cook willing to share recipes?
- What made me love this business as much as I do? Understand what appeals to you. Does the company offer all-natural products? Do the products have an excellent reputation?
Remember the answers to these questions as you craft your sales and marketing messages and build social engagement with your audience.
Tip: If you use email marketing to reach prospects, try A/B testing content and subject lines to find out what appeals most to your audience.
2. Start a blog to add value for direct sales customers.
If you haven’t already, start a blog that complements your direct sales business. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of your consultant agreement for rules about how to do this. Many companies don’t allow you to use their name in your domain. Choose a domain name that relates to the product but doesn’t violate your contract.
To be effective, the blog must stand on its own as a valuable supplementary marketing tool. Write high-quality blog posts that include tips and tricks to enhance the customer experience. Adding value for your customers is a way to generate even more sales.
For example, if you’re a direct sales consultant for an organic makeup company, blog topics could include “How to Create a Smokey Eye,” “The Benefits of All-Natural Makeup” or “How to Choose the Right Color Palettes for Your Face.”
Your blog should demonstrate that you understand what your customers want while establishing yourself as the solution.
3. Use social media marketing to promote your direct sales business.
One of the first lessons you’ll learn as a direct sales consultant is to use social media platforms to promote your business.
- Facebook: To build engagement, consider hosting live Facebook Q&A sessions to interact with viewers. Also, use Facebook’s business tools to gain audience insights and see how you’re doing. To generate more Facebook engagement for your business, post frequently and consistently, ask users questions, and share user-generated content.
- Instagram: Create an Instagram business profile to promote your direct sales business and interact with customers via posts and Instagram stories for business. You can even sell on Instagram if it’s OK with your company.
- Twitter: Twitter is another excellent way to promote your business and interact with customers who have questions about your products. If your budget and company rules allow them, promoted tweets can increase sales and boost engagement.
Tip: When possible, integrate video branding into your social media posts to attract attention and increase interest in your business.
4. Create eye-catching graphics.
Thanks to tools like Canva, you don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to look like one. Your direct sales company will likely supply approved marketing graphics for you to use. It may have rules about creating your own graphics, so pay close attention to your consultant agreement.
Eye-catching graphics complement your blog posts and website content, and Canva makes it easy. With a variety of free image elements and a simple web-based tool, you can make a professional-quality graphic in minutes.
5. Develop a content marketing strategy for your direct sales business.
Content marketing involves providing customers with information without asking them to spend money. You can post this content on your social media accounts, website or blog. It’s crucial to make your social media content easy for loyal customers to share to create a word-of-mouth marketing campaign.
Content marketing is crucial to direct sales businesses because many parent companies don’t allow paid search advertising.
When developing your content marketing strategy, don’t make everything you write or share about the sale. Though there’s no golden rule, experts recommend following the 5:3:2 rule for social media. For every 10 posts, consider this category distribution.
- Curation: Five posts should be curated – content relevant to your audience used with permission from other sources.
- Creation: Three posts should be your original content that appeals to your audience.
- Humanization: Two posts should be personal, fun content that makes you more relatable.
To assist your direct sales business’s content marketing strategy, consider using third-party tools to make things easier. Here are two examples:
- Scoop.it is a platform for curating content and building links. You can share your content here and find content to share with your readers. Create a free account, enter keywords related to your business and you’re ready to get started. Search for pages in your niche with a high following. Follow those “Scoops” and connect with the “Scoopers” on social media platforms. Suggest your content, and when the page owner posts it to their page, your content is in front of the eyes of thousands of readers.
- Sniply lets you take a piece of content written by an influencer in your niche and use it to build traffic to your website. Find a piece of popular content related to what you just posted about. Use Snip.ly to create a call to action directing people to your site, and share the URL on all your social media channels. Include the source with a relevant hashtag, and then reach out to the influencer to tell them you’ve shared their content for an extra boost.
What not to do with your direct sales business
Sometimes, consumers put up a wall if you mention direct sales, because of past experience with pushy consultants. It’s crucial to avoid the pitfalls of the industry.
- Not planning enough events: Start with at least six parties or events right out of the gate. Build momentum with each party, and offer incentives for those throwing a party.
- Being afraid to ask for a party or appointment: While you may be afraid of a no, many people are happy to help you build your business. Focus on service rather than sales, and you’ll turn some nos into yeses.
- Being too sales-oriented: Many direct salespeople seem to be in constant sales mode, which can turn off prospects. Be solutions-oriented and try to help people rather than sell to them.
- Failing to set goals: It’s hard to move toward success when you don’t know what success looks like. Set challenging but attainable goals to give you something to work toward.
- Prejudging prospects: Don’t make assumptions about who will be a customer or even a business affiliate. Take the time to explain what you do to all who express curiosity.
- Skipping training: While you might not feel like another meeting, training and development workshops help you refine your sales pitch and learn more about your products, the company and the opportunity. This knowledge can only help you sell more.
Tip: Make sure you aren’t always talking about sales. Get to know your prospects and take a genuine interest in their lives. You’ll naturally get more sales this way.
What is direct sales, and how does it compare to other business types?
A direct sales business sells products or services outside a retail environment. Direct sales representatives often work from home and online, making connections, hosting parties and building a client base.
Direct sales differs from a retail sales model, where consumers walk into a store to learn about and buy products. Generally, consumers seek out retail establishments when they need something. Direct sales representatives must build credibility and trust to have consumers see them as a go-to for specific products and services.
Lucinda Watrous contributed to the writing and research in this article.