Monthly Archives: July 2012

Time Management in Direct Sales

One of the biggest things that people in direct sales can have a problem with is time management.  Whether the consultant is a stay at home or one that works outside the home, it can be tough to organize your time and get everything done.  But there are some things that you can do to try and keep on schedule and finish your tasks.

To Do Lists

To do lists can be a great method to keep on track and to accomplish those things that need to get done.  You can create a daily to do list, a weekly list or a monthly list.  I prefer to create a monthly list and then pull things off of it to do on a daily basis.  The great thing about a monthly lilt is that you can use it each month.  The list can be just those items that are related to your business or they can be everything in your life.  It is up to you.

Scheduler

Another way to manage your time that can be helpful is to set up a schedule.  It may be in hour blocks during the day or you might want to use smaller blocks.  Whatever you find is the most helpful.  I always create my schedules in half hour blocks as it is enough time to accomplish something but not enough that you get tired of it and hate it.  This is especially true for dreaded tasks like phone calls.  You can get through several in half an hour and feel that you have accomplished something.

Small but Helpful Ideas

  • Create reminds on your cell phone if you tend to carry it with you
  • Turn off your email, Facebook, Internet
  • Close the door to wherever you work if possible
  • Ask family members to leave you alone while you work
  • Get rid of any other distractions – television, radio

Opinion: Mary Kay Ladies Are Really Just Pawns in a Pyramid Scheme

If you want to read the article, you can check it out here:  Mary Kay Ladies Are Really Just Pawns in a Pyramid Scheme
I will tell you up front, the link is not on a business blog.  It is a blog that is more feminist/gossip/health.

I want to reply to a few points and to many of the comments in the article that rubbed me the wrong way.

Pyramid Scheme:
The definition of a pyramid scheme is one where most of your sign-up fee goes to the person you are signing up for.  Any direct sales company that I am familiar with – such as Tupperware, Gold Canyon, Epicure – send you product worth way more than you pay to sign up.  Yes, as you make sales the person that signs up makes a commission off you, but how is that different than anyone who works in retail or elsewhere making commission?  They sell to Susie and sales person makes money, their boss makes money, bigger boss makes money and it continues up the ladder.

Inventory:
The article talks about companies that require you to purchase inventory.  Personally, I have not heard of any company that makes you buy inventory to get started.  I had heard of a Canadian company that “loans” you several thousand dollars worth of inventory but you know that upfront.  While a company may recommend that you purchase inventory to allow you to show more, this is definitely not a requirement.  If you cannot afford it, do not do it.  Instead, invest the money you make from each even to purchase more if you feel you need it.

Making Money:
The majority of people in direct sales do not make a lot of money at it.

  • The median (50% more; 50% less) gross annual income for a direct seller is $2,420.
  • The median (50% more; 50% less) gross annual  income for a direct seller working less than 5 hours per week is $420.
  • he median (50% more, 50% less) gross annual income for a direct seller working 40+ hours per week is $34,130

Want more stats?  You can find more here:  A Few Interesting Stats

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Using BizBrag to Promote Your Business

In recent years, many businesses have turned to social media as an easy way to market products and services. Direct sales businesses can benefit greatly from utilizing social media, as they are typically localized businesses that serve a certain niche. However, with the plethora of social networking sites available today, it can be difficult to choose which sites to use; it can also be very time consuming to monitor all of your social sites and hop around to each site updating it on a regular basis. It is also hard for direct sales businesses to rank well in search engines, as they are small local businesses; in the beginning stages of your direct sales business you simply do not have enough internet traction to make an impact on a search.

If you are experiencing these set backs with your direct sales business, you may be able to solve your problems thanks to the unique internet tool BizBrag. BizBrag is currently the only social platform that allows you to extend your content to both search engines and your social networks in order to increase your customer base.

When you begin to use BizBrag, you first create a “Braggit.” A Braggit is a simple, stand alone web page in which you can use text, images, video, etc. to market a specific product or service, job opening, upcoming event, and more. After you create your Braggit, you can publish it, so that it becomes visible on the web. You can also send your Braggit to one, a few, or all of your social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Pinterest, and more, to extend your business’ social reach.

BizBrag also uses search engine optimization (SEO) to increase the influence of your Braggit and allow it to rank well in search. SEO refers to the process of increasing your website’s visibility on a search engine results page. The higher your page ranks on a results page, the more likely a user is to click on your link and reach your website. Braggits have built-in SEO technology, and are ad-free, localized, and content-rich. Because search engines value content, this allows Braggits to rank well in search engines. Also, Braggits contain “call to action” buttons that can be linked to your website or fan page, and use specific key works that you want to rank for.

As a member of BizBrag, you also have access to our BragForce, a social network of businesses that share each others Braggits in order to reach new potential customers and find interesting content for their pages. As a BragForce member, you can partner up with complimentary businesses or businesses in your area, and work together to increase each other’s social reach by sharing one another’s Braggits. In doing so, your business is exposed to a completely new pool of customers.

Each Braggit also comes with a report card, containing analytical and social data. Analytical data includes number of clicks to your website, traffic sources, and key words. Social data includes the number of likes and tweets your Braggit has gotten, as well as how many members of your BragForce have forwarded your Braggit to their social networks.

By using BizBrag to help market your direct sales business, you will be able to find new customers and utilize social media and SEO to help grow your business. To learn more, you can visit www.BizBrag.com.

Where Social Media Lets You Stand Between Your Business and Customers

It’s no secret at this point anymore: there is nothing more efficient in establishing a B2C relationship than the utilization of social media. Websites like Facebook and Twitter have given businesses of all types the opportunity to better understand their customers and audience like no other. However, despite the fact that these websites have been such an influence in the trade for more than four years now, it seems that many businesses do not understand how to conduct and develop these relationships. All of the tools are there for the taking, yet they don’t all seem to be used.

Just how involved should you be on your Facebook fan page? Well, in short, you shouldn’t be afraid to be as engaged as possible. From my perspective, a 23 year old, I have taken a liking to the smaller businesses on Facebook who are consistently communicating openly with those who “like” them. They aren’t just creating advertisements and letting fans know of deals (thought that is of course important).

You will often see a representative of the business responding directly to comments made by customers on certain matters. This isn’t any secret to what the return can be: this sort of personalization as a fan makes me feel that my thoughts and comments are actually being heard. Is it a little extra work to try to achieve this sort of reach out? Sure – but can you really imagine other equally effective ways?

These are just some points to consider coming from a prospective patron to your business; the kind of conduct I like to see.

1. Media Media Media

So you have a Facebook fan page, and you’ve racked up an ample number of fans who have liked you. They have provided you with some internet influence, so what is a simple way to thank them? Give them a little access to what you’re doing as a business by including plenty of videos and pictures. People love when they are provided with some “exclusive” access to what people at your company are doing.

For instance, as a fan of small craft breweries, I love how generous the marketing teams are with releasing media. Whenever they are preparing to produce a new product, they might snap a few shots of raw material shipments that just came in for the fans to see. Not only does this entice some excitement in the fans, but also provides them with a sense of belong to the company – that they are part of the process.

2. Posting/Comment Involvement

As mentioned earlier, it looks like some businesses don’t quite get what kind of opportunity they get when someone publicly tries to get in touch through social media. When a fan places a post on your wall or comments on something, respond to them! I get kind of bothered when I reach out to companies and they don’t respond. I know there’s a lot happening, but I also know that you saw what I posted (unless you don’t c

heck your pages anymore – which I doubt.)

Simply put: just be more responsive with your fans. Individual reach out is extremely powerful, as this sort of personalization seems to have never taken the lead in customer relations. Sure, phone calls and emails can arguably be applied in the same concept, but through social media – the individual is speaking to the company.

3. Integrate Apps

Apps are what keep the social media wheel turning, and given that there are so many to choose from, it can be a little intimidating in knowing what to use for maximum effectiveness. Facebook allows you to integrate your fanpage with very helpful apps that will expand your information to fans.

– Twitter

You might notice how some Facebook pages have posts from the same person/company’s Twitter. The Twitter app on Facebook will put what whatever you tweeted right on your Facebook page, which in turn expands your news and updates to a wider audience.

– Skype Me

If you’re feeling bold with how you want to connect with your audience, you can put a Skype app right on your Facebook, which allows for open conferencing and discussion with the people who care about what you have to say, as well as showing that you do consider the thoughts of others.

There are plenty of others, and luckily Facebook makes it easy for you you to filter out and see what is most important to you.

4. Instigate the Conversation

Some might say that enacting on a conversation towards a customer is a bit of a precarious move; that you don’t want to get too close to your fans. I say: what’s so wrong with that? Any company that approaches me personally (say, write on my wall; contact me individually) is going to get my attention like no other. Obviously, you’re not going to be reach to everyone, but to those that you do, they will remember it and tell their friends just how focused and personal you are to them.

While these points I have made are not in terms of metrics for generating sales, it is about customer relationship establishment. Of course, this kind of trust that gets put in place when you and your business such a high level of transparency can generate the kinds of relationships that you seek. All in all, don’t be afraid to be more open with the potential patrons. They are already following you in one way, so reward them, and the rewards just might reciprocate just as you were hoping.

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Mike Lamardo is a blogger and marketer based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. Expanding into various subjects, his work can be seen in ZME as a music critic, the Washington Times Communities as a blogger about the business and awareness of craft beer, and as an entertainment writer for DX 3.

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Picking your Direct Sales Sponsor

So you have done your research and found the company that you want to join.  But you need a sponsor.  How do you pick the right one?  Well, only you can do that but here are a few ideas to help you.

What do You Want? – One of the first things that you need to know is what type of sponsor you want.  Do you want someone who will be there to help you whenever you ask or someone who will leave you alone?  How about having a sponsor who will call you once a week to see where you are at?  Do you want a sponsor who already has several people on their team or someone who is just starting to recruit?

Interview – Start by talking or interviewing your potential sponsor.  If you are considering someone local, see if they will get together with you for coffee.  If they are not local, see if you can set up a phone call with them or an online chat.    I will be posting a list of questions to help you later in the week.

Catalogue – If you have not already seen the product or a catalogue, ask your potential sponsor to send you one.  Chances are they will also include some other information about the company to help you with your decision.

Training – What kind of training do they provide for their team?  This will vary depending on whether you are local or distance to them.    If you are distance, do they have other people on their team who live at a distance and how do they handle that?

Attend a Party – If you did not find your potential sponsor by attending a party, you may want to ask if you can go to a party with them and see what one looks like.  This can be especially helpful if you have not experienced a party with this company.

What other methods do you use to pick your sponsor when joining a direct sales company?

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Book Review: Be a Recruiting Superstar

By Mary Christensen

With over 25 years of experience in direct sales, you know that Mary Christensen’s advice comes from the heart and can be trusted.  To be successful in your direct sales business, not only do you have to get bookings and make sales, but you need to grow your business by finding the right people.

When you read this book, you will learn what your recruiting style and how to identify and approach those who will be an asset to your team.  You will learn how to do and say the right things to convert those prospects to your team and overcome any objections people may have.  This book will give you ideas to get them selling so that everyone meets their goals.   With confidence, you will find people who never considered a direct sales business will approach you about joining!

Not only do you get a book full of ideas, but there is advice, worksheets and exercises to help you become a recruiting superstar like you should be.    While some of her ideas may not be for everyone, and although she sometimes comes off a bit preachy, you can take the information and adapt it to better suit your personal situation and style.

I like that she explains how to make phone calls no matter what reason you are calling someone.  It is definitely important to know why you are calling someone instead of fumbling for a reason when they answer the phone.  By stating the reason that you are calling, people see you as genuine, realizing that you are calling for a specific purpose, which helps to build trust.

Overall, I think this is a great book for a person to pick up if they are thinking about building a direct sales team or has started building and needs help going forward.  It can also be great for a refresher or if you are feeling burnt out with your recruiting efforts.  With so much information thrown at us from so many places, it is nice to have one good resource with everything we need.

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How to Pick a Business Credit Card

Last week I had a guest post about picking a credit card merchant.  Today I have a guest post about picking a credit card for your direct sales business.  I hope you find this helpful.

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There are so many things to think about when opening your own direct sales business; especially if it is your first venture. Many times, entrepreneurs must depend on other companies or third parties to provide them with essential business tools and other services, and this means business owners need to choose business partners who are looking out for their best interests.

Credit cards Français : Cartes de crédit Itali...

Credit cards Français : Cartes de crédit Italiano: Carte di credito Русский: Банковские карты Tiếng Việt: Thẻ tín dụng 中文: 信用卡 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some examples of tools and services that business owners must contract out include health insurance, business credit cards and loans, large office supplies and document shredding services.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right third party service provider for your direct sales business, and this is especially true for business credit cards which involve interest rates that could potentially ruin your company’s budget.

Before choosing a business credit card, take a look at the following advice:

  • If you don’t plan on using the credit card very often (and know you will pay off the balance in full every month), a card with a high interest rate may not be a bad idea for your business.
  • If your business is just opening and needs a good credit cushion for just a few months, look for a card that offers 0% interest for a year or longer. This will allow you to make charges and pay them off slowly without accruing any interest charges. Just be sure you pay off all the charges before the introductory rate runs out. Also, pay attention to the interest rate they give you after the introductory 0% period, because it could potentially be high to make up for the year of lost interest payments.
  • If you will be traveling a lot for work, look for a credit card that offers travel rewards. There are several things to consider, though. First, make sure the rewards plan doesn’t contain too many exclusions to be useful for your company. Second, if the card requires a yearly fee, you will need to weight the benefits with the cost of the card.
  • If your company doesn’t require travel, look for a card that offers cash back rewards. Make sure the annual percentage rate or annual fee (if there is one) isn’t too high, because this could wash out the cash back reward.
  • Cards with annual fees aren’t necessarily bad, if you plan on using the credit card a lot. This is due to the fact that annual fee credit cards often offer lower interest rates and longer grace periods (30 days instead of the usual 20 days).

The most important thing to consider when choosing a business credit card is how often your business will need to use the credit card. If you will be using it a lot, then it is worthwhile to get a card with an annual fee but a lower interest rate. If you won’t be using it very often, look for a card with an average interest rate and low penalty fees.

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This guest post is written by full time writer and blogger Eliza Morgan.  Eliza enjoys writing about all things business and finance. When taking a break from the pen, Eliza likes to explore new city parks and dream about travelling the world. You can contact her at elizamorgan85@gmail.com.

Are you running your Direct Sales business how you want to?

I don’t know about you, but when I started my direct sales business I had all these plans – especially once I started building my team.  I was going to do all this training and totally be on top of it and everyone was going to be rocking the business.  But, it didn’t happen that way and now I regret it.  I know that I can still get on the bandwagon, but can be hard to go back and start new habits.

Where am I going with this post? I guess what I want to say is that if you plan to do things a certain Running your Direct Sales Businessway in your direct sales business such as checklists, it is important to start doing that and continue.  It will make a huge difference in your business and how it goes.

I was talking to someone the other day about their direct sales business.  She is busy.  She is making sales and building an active team.  She has already beaten her recruiting goals for the year.  But she said she is tired from working hard which makes sense.  Her sales are over four thousand a month and growing.

She said her biggest reasons for success though is keeping a checklist that she uses with every single hostess and coaching (yep, this was on my list of things I planned to do).  And using that five thousand pound phone!

Here are a few things she does:

  • She doesn’t let her hostesses use a Facebook page for their invitations; she gets their list instead and sends it out on their behalf.  Call it an additional service that you provide – it’s all in how you spin it!
  • Makes sure her hostesses follow up on the invitations with phone calls personally inviting her guests.
  • She screens those who join her team for those that she can work with and whatever else she feels is important.
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Time Management for Sales Professionals

Planner screenshot

Planner screenshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unlike money, time is equally available to every individual globally. Each and every one has just 24 hours to plan and execute actions, deeds and activities of the day. Here is where time management comes in as every individual has to complete all the daily tasks within the time available.

With time management techniques, people could improve on the quality of work and quantity of work addressed to each day. Getting more things done in less time always gives a certain amount of satisfaction to an individual, but then having said that; allotting time to the most important tasks is also one major aspect that should be not be forgotten.

Time Management is a whole new ball game when it comes to executing sales deals on a daily basis. Every minute counts as the responsibilities of each person piles up if not addressed in stipulated time. Hence, planning every minute is vital when it comes to managing time. The following steps can help manage time effectively:

Analyzing current Time tackling strategies – Time Management firstly starts with figuring out one’s current strategy of performing daily tasks and segregating time for each and every client to be met every day. Tracing out loop holes and areas of improvement is a major step. Giving a thought to the time taken currently for each task to figure out any scope of improvement is necessary. Prepare a time-log and keep track of what is done every 15 minutes for almost 10 days to get a time graph on activities done. Try and improve productivity if the need and scope of doing more is traced out.

Prioritizing – A list of direct sales activities should be prepared with the estimated time to spend on each personal task and client meetings as the table could be daily or weekly. The next step is to give importance to each deed and get things done accordingly. A To-Do list can be made with all the activities ranked according to their importance and follow to get optimum productivity. Having and going according to such list helps the sales executive to decide and focus on the daily tasks and client negotiations. Moreover, the priorities can be set according to the importance or the urgency at which the activity needs to be completed.

Organizing and Scheduling – The requirement is being focused on prioritized tasks and deadlines at all times. In such cases, a planning tool can be of great help. Setting reminders, and jotting down important points for further reference actually help to address the issue on hand and presents ways to tackle them effectively. The four important steps to be kept in mind while making a planning tool are –

  • Record: Make a record of all activities and targets according to priorities on a daily basis
  • Review: Go through the individual targets in the planner so that the important tasks can be addressed at the right time
  • Remember: Have a rough draft of the plan in mind and the tasks mentioned to make planning and tackling tasks easier
  • Synchronize: Get a copy of your plan on all electronic devices for easy prioritizing

Avoid Procrastinating and Multi-Tasking: Putting off direct sales activities for later has always been an issue for people. Reasons for doing so are usually because the task or the deal seems overwhelming or unpleasant. In such cases, all one needs to do is to break the process into smaller portions and get those portions done on a daily basis. There is also a problem of getting started with disinterested tasks or clients, in which situation; a preparatory task of collecting data or required materials should be put into action or a pre-planned approach to the meeting with clients should be figured out.

It has often been claimed that multi-tasking does not really help to get tasks done on a daily basis. Shifting focus from one task to the other often results in wastage of time and lead in difficulty in focus on the tasks and maintaining focus when needed. So an ideal solution is to get a portion of one task done completely before shifting attention to the other. In case of meetings, sales executives should make sure that the negotiations are dealt with patiently and sufficient time is segregated to each and every client in order to achieve daily targets with comparative ease.

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This is a guest article written by Sapna, Manager at Taaza.com, an Indian horizontal site. Significant verticals include Jobs, Classifieds, News, Education, Photos, Movies, Travel, Shopping and Finance.

 

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