Monthly Archives: March 2012

Advertising your Direct Sales Business – Part 1

Chances are, you are looking to increase your business with advertising.  But are you doing yourself a favour by writing effective ads or are you just tossing your money out the window by not knowing what you are doing?  If you aren’t sure, here are some tips to assist you with writing an effective recruit ad.  You can use these tips to help you write a good sales lead ad too.

Name your Company – How often do you see an ad where they discuss the benefits of the company but do not state who they are?  I know I have.  I don’t want to contact them for more information as maybe I have had a bad experience somewhere or because I want to research before I make contact.  There goes a lead down the drain.

Start Up Costs – This one is a bit trickier.  One of the most common questions I get in response to an ad is how much it costs to start.  With my company, there are two different price points as well as a way to earn your kit free.  For this reason, I do not state that it costs X amount to join.  But I do state that there are two different kits to start with or that they can earn their kit for free.  Usually that gets enough interest for them to ask me more.

Quotas – Many companies have a quota of some sort.  Whether it is placing one order every three months for Y retail value or it is Z value every six months.  It helps to be up front about it by staying that there is a monthly/yearly quota involved.  If they are interested, they will ask about.  If it is something simple like submitting one order of any value every 6 months, you likely will want to say that right in the ad as people will like to know that and may put your company in the running when it wasn’t previously.

Slang – Like any industry, there is slang that those in direct sales uses.  Keep that out of your ad.  There is a good chance that the people who are reading your ad are not familiar with the industry jargon and it is just going to confuse them.  Use plain English.  If you aren’t sure if you are, ask a friend to read the ad over for you.

Come back on Wednesday to read about more elements of making a good advertisement for your direct sales business.

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Participating in Trade Shows – Advice

One thing that a lot of us in direct sales tend to do is get involved in trade shows.  Whether we organize them ourselves or join one that someone else is organizing, there are some things that you can do to make everything go smoother for you as a vendor.

If you are not organizing the trade show, here are a few things to keep in mind when getting in touch with the organizer.

  • Do not ask how many people will show up, the coordinator is not a mind reader (especially true for smaller events; for large, arena type events, they likely have this information)
  • Do not expect the coordinator to do work on the event that you won’t do.
  • Please read through the information provided before asking questions – This will typically tell you what is expected of you, how much space you will have, information about electricity or anything else you may need to know.
  • Do not assume the coordinator has extra room for friends or family to come out.  If you know someone who wants to participate, have them contact the co-ordinator to see if there is room.
  • Provide the coordinator with an email address or phone number that you can be reached and reply to any correspondence within 48 hours.
  • The coordinator is probably spending hours upon hours trying to make this a successful event, so if people don’t show up, don’t assume it’s because of the coordinator.
  • A simple thanks or small gift goes a long way.
  • Invite people multiple times – especially within a few days of the event happening.  People are forgetful.
  • Invite absolutely everyone you know.  We all know only a quarter or a third of the people invited to a party actually attend – the numbers seem to be less for trade shows (from my experience), so invite absolutely everyone!
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How to Organize a Direct Sales Trade Show

If you decide that you are going to organize a trade show, be prepared for a lot of work. It may seem easy, but there is a lot to do to have a successful show.

Date/Location – The first thing you need to do is pick a date and decide where you aer hosting the event.  Some people like to host at home to keep the costs down, others like to rent a hall and host the event there.  Of course, location is going to have a bearing on the cost for your vendors.

Advertising – Decide on the type of advertising you want to do.  Figure out what it is going to cost you before you establish your table costs.  The type of advertising and the cost associated with it is going to determine the cost of your table.

Information – Figure out any rules/conditions/requirements of your vendors.  This means – do they need to contribute a door prize, is there going to be electricity available for them, do they need to provide table cloths – basically, anything that you think that your vendors will want to know.  The more information that you provide, the less questions you will be asked.

Find Vendors – You likely already know people that you plan to invite to your trade show, but depending on the location, you may need to find more people to join the event.  There are several ways you can do this but the best method may be word of mouth.  Invite those vendors you know and ask them if they know anyone else to invite.  You may want to tell them what companies you already have so that you do not get vendors with the same company inquiring.

Pre-payment – One of the last things I recommend is getting pre-payment from your vendors.   If people have already paid for their table, they are less likely to flake on the day of the event.  I did one show where the organizer did not get pre-payment from the vendors and half of them did not show up.

Keep in touch– Keep in touch with the vendors once they have signed up, especially if you are organizing the event a few months in advance.  This is especially important if you have not dealt with these vendors before as they want to know that the event is still on and that you will not just run away with their money.

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Why Discounts can Be Dangerous in Direct Sales

Everyone loves a discount, except the person selling the product.  But, keep in mind that depending on where you are shopping, their markup could be at least double their cost, making a 50% markdown equivalent to their cost.  Unless you are receiving that much in commission or you enjoy losing money, you cannot afford to give that type of discount within your direct sales business.

De-valuing Product – One of the biggest arguments against giving a discount to customer is the fact that they will come to expect it in the future.  This is especially true if you offer the discount to a hostess and her customers in order to get them to book a party.  Once you do this, it will be expected the next time and they likely will not even book until you promise them the same incentive.  You may even have to increase the discount to the point that you are losing money on the party.  Not only will this hurt your business but it will hurt other direct sales consultants as the customer will approach others in the same business expecting the same deal.  They may even try approaching consultants with other companies to get the same benefit.

That said, there are times that a discount is appropriate such as clearing out older inventory that is no longer in season or that there is an issue with such as a crack or tear which does not affect performance.

If you feel the need to give a discount, you may want to consider offering a bonus or gift with the purchase instead as an incentive.  One good reason to support this is that if they try something else, they may like it and purchase that in the future as well.  This can be a great way to increase your sales instead of decreasing them with a discount.

 

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Offering Party Perks on your Own

There are some consultants that find that their company does not offer incentives that they feel their customers want.  For that reason, these direct sales consultants go out of their way to offer their own perks to the hostess and customers.   There are several ways that you can do this without cutting too far into your profits.

Bundles – Your company may offer some sort of bundle, but restrict the colours/scents/flavor to the ones that they select.  One thing that you can do is offer your customer a customized bundle but at the same price.  Make sure that yShopping Bag, Orangeou state that it is only those specific items but they can select what colour/scent/flavor they want at the same price point.  Be careful that customers do not try to substitute here as they might to try and get a better deal.

Packages – Maybe your company offers items that would go together well but yo find customers do not tend to buy the items together.  Try offering packages putting the items together and allowing them to still customize the colour/scent/flavor that they want but you put together a package that includes three complimentary items for one price.  You do not even need to discount it much as people will be happy that they can just pick a package and be done.  A package that might cost $78 retail could be marked to $75 retail and it will sell just fine.  Create a few packages at different price points but do not go crazy with a dozen different ones – it will just confuse people and they will not buy anything.

Free Gift – Another perk that I have seen offered is a free gift with purchase.  This can be something that you ordered on a supply order for cheap or a sample of a different product.  People do not tend to be picky about what they get for free; they are just happy to get something extra.

There is no rule that says you have to offer above and beyond what your company offers when working in direct sales, but sometimes it can be beneficial and help you to meet goals and quotas.

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Increasing your Sales

Upselling is a great way to increase the total sales at a direct sales party, but there are also some other methods that you can use to increase sales.  Here are a few ideas and how to implement them.  See which one feels comfortable to you – it may vary depending on the party as well so be familiar with all the options.

“Did you see our specials?” – Do you have a customer special going on that the customer qualifies for?  Quite often people get caught up in making sure that they ordered the things they wanted, they forget to look for the specials.  Point them out so that they are not forgotten about.

“Is that everything?” – Another great way to get the total of the order to be higher is to ask them “is that everything?”  Quite often they will say something like, “well, I was thinking of getting this, what do you think of it?” or they will just add it to their order.

Your Own Specials – Do you offer your own specials?  Maybe you have a deal where they spend X amount of dollars and they get an item at half off.  Point out to them that if they spend just $5 more they will qualify to get the item of their choice (or of your choice if you have created a special).  Quite often, people will spend the extra money to get the incentive.  You could also entice them with a free gift once they spend Y dollars.

Another good method to increase sales is to accept credit cards.  When people can charge their purchases, they do not think about how much they are spending.  Customers who pay cash or cheque tend to be watching their money a bit closer and will stick to what they planned to spend.

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Upselling at Direct Sales Events

upselling

upselling (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Do you try to upsell when you are at a direct sales event?  If not, why don’t you?  If you can a $10 item to every order, you could have an extra $50 to $100 or more in your pocket at the end of the night.  This earns the hostess more rewards which will make her happier and more likely to host another event with you.

Not sure how to upsell while at a direct sales party?  Here are a few ideas:

“Do you need…” – Depending on your product, there are likely some add-on’s that you can suggest.  Do you sell cookware?  Maybe you have a wonderful cloth or scrubby brush that works wonderfully on the cookware that they should have.  Usually you want to suggest a product that is complimentary to the product they have purchased.

If there are multiple items, then you may try to upsell a few things but be careful that you do not become over-bearing or become that salesperson that everyone hates trying to jam things down other people’s throats.  Focus on one or two upsell items per order or per party.

Does your company have one signature item that everyone knows and many buy?  If your customer hasn’t bought that, ask them if they require one of Y product that everyone loves and raves about.  They may tell you that they just bought it at another party, that they weren’t fond of it, or to add two to their order.  You just never know what will happen.

Not everyone will jump on this bandwagon, but it does not hurt to try and see what kind of results you get from it.  At worst, the person turns you down and the order does not increase.  At best, they end up spending more which makes everyone happy all around.

 

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How to Pack Direct Sales Orders

One of the most fun things in direct sales is to receive a box of goodies.  But then you have to go through it, sort it, and deliver it.  This can be a great way to see products that you have not seen already but if you have a large order, it can be time consuming and cumbersome.  Not only that, but how do you pack it to get the maximum benefit to your business?

English: A square open cardboard box. Based on...

Image via Wikipedia

This is the way I unpack and re-pack my orders.  This is just one idea as I’m sure others have found a method that works for them.

  • Unpack the box – locate everything that may be hiding under the packing peanuts
  • Put my re-order labels on everything that I can
  • Grab a customer order
  • Find a bag, label it with their name, and locate their products.
  • Check their products off
  • Place a copy of the order form in their bag
  • Put bag into box for delivery

Occasionally I have discovered there was an addition error on an order that requires a customer to be given change.  At this point, if I have not already calculated it, I will figure it out and put the money in an envelope.  This gets stapled to their copy of the order form.

I repeat this for all orders making sure that I have nothing leftover or missing.  At this point, if there are leftover items, I will check what I ordered from the company to see if I screwed up my order or if I just mis-sorted.  I have had both situations happen.  If I am missing a product, I will put a note in the bag and I likely will call them as well so they know I am aware of it.

Once this is done, I will go through and put various paper in the bags:

  • Product Care Card
  • Business cards (usually 3)
  • Referral Card
  • Any other information I feel is relevant.

I find it easier to do the paper all at once as then I do not have to remember who did or did not get paper.

Do you sort your orders in a similar way?  What do you do differently?

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Tips for Waiting for your Direct Sales Kit

When starting your direct sales business, it can be hard to wait for your kit to show up.  But do not despair as you expect it to take a week or so, there are many other tasks you can do while you wait.

Read – Chances are, your company has a manual online somewhere.  While it likely is not the most exciting reading, it isn’t a bad idea to sit down and read it to become familiar with what the company has to offer.

Play – Play with the company’s computer system.  Try creating a fake party and see what kind of data is required and become familiar with how the system works for inputting products that are free and those that are paid for.

Call – Contact your friends and see who wants to earn free product!  Explain that you have just started this great new business with Y Company and you want them to be one of the first to see it from you.  This approach may not work so well if you attend a party and signed up there, and you are approaching the same people to book with you.

Buy Supplies – There are likely some supplies that you can purchase to help your business out – labels to put on your catalogues and onto products as well as business cards, a stapler or other supplies. See:  Unique Ways to Save on Direct Sales Supplies for Trade Shows

Plan a Business Launch – While you are talking to your friends about booking their own party, invite them to attend a launch you are having for your business.  Ask them to come by, check out the product, and tell you what they think.  This can be especially helpful if you joined a direct sales company that is not known in your area.  Make it a no-pressure to buy event so they can check it out and then book.  This is a good route to go if you are getting resistance to bookings.

Attend a Party – If possible, attend a party with your upline or someone else in the same direct sales business.  This will allow you to see how a party works and how to take orders.  If you have not attended an event before, this can be very helpful.

 

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