Monthly Archives: August 2012

Proper Phone Manners for Direct Sales Consultants

Part of the reason why people do not like making calls is that they do not know what to say or do while on the phone.  If this is you, here are some ideas to help you out.  While some may be hard to follow when a customer calls you, do the best you can.  It may be helpful to ask if you can put them on hold for a second.

Tell them Who You Are – There is nothing worse than getting a phone call where the person starts telling you all about why what they are offering is awesome.  Tell them who you are, why you are calling, and how you met if you think they may not know.  This gets the conversation off on the right foot.

Language – Keep your language clean.  I cannot think of any business reason for you to use swear words or other negative language while making a business call.

Allow Enough Time – Make sure that you schedule enough time for phone calls.  If you only have five minutes, it is probably best not to make any calls.  Even if you expect an answering machine, this will be the time you get a person.  I have had calls that I expected to take five minutes and an hour later, I am still talking to them as we got into the opportunity or she wanted more information about the products.

Be Prepared – Before you pick up the phone, make sure you have everything you need.  Catalogues, the hostess program, the opportunity and even your computer with the website up can all be helpful.  You never know when you might need more information and people get frustrated when you have to put them on hold to go find it.

Watch the Time – Everyone has different ideas about how late they will accept phone calls.  Keep this in mind when calling people.  If you know they have small children, you may want to call them earlier than those without children.  If you know someone has a job where they are up at 4 am, you might want to call them first.  Do not forget about different time zones if you are calling another province/state.

Multi-task – We are so used to doing many things at the same time that it becomes second nature.  But it is best to not do this while on the phone.  The person at the other end of the line can tell that they do not have your 100% attention.

Calling while Driving – It is best not to make business calls while you are driving.  Even if you have a Bluetooth headset, you should be paying attention on the road.  A business call is not a casual call usually, you need to pay attention and possibly write things down.  If you really need to make the call, pull over into a parking lot or the shoulder and call.

Keep it to Business – People have a tendency to get off topic when calling customers, especially if the customer mentions it first such as a fussy baby or being in the middle of doing dishes.  Keep it on topic and if it is a bad time, offer to call back later.

Kids – This is a tough one as a lot of people in direct sales get involved to enable them to stay home.  If at all possible, make calls while the little ones are down for a nap, at school or down for the night.  Another option is to make calls when your partner can entertain them.  Call from somewhere that you can close the door and muffle any noise if possible.

Food/Gum/Drinks – While you make think this is common sense, unfortunately, it is not.  Toss out gum you may be chewing when making calls and wait until you are done eating to make phone calls.  It is best not to drink while you are on the phone, but if it is a long phone call and you are getting dry, you may need to.  If so, excuse yourself.

Are there any other important tips that you have when it comes to making calls?

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Lightening up the Phone

Chances you have experienced the phone that weighs 100 pounds and it is stopping you from making the calls to grow your business.  But what is the real reason that you are avoiding it?  Is it because the phone truly weighs 100 pounds or are you afraid of the rejection that can come from making calls?  Because if it is the second, there are things that you can do to make phone calls easier on you.  If your phone really does weigh 100 pounds, then you should go buy a new phone.

Here are some ideas to help you learn to pick up the phone and make those calls.  Chances are you will not have success in every call, but you will not curse the phone after you hang up each time.

Help – One big reason that people get into direct sales is to help others.  For this reason, ask your customer if you can help them in some way.  Maybe they are having issues with a product, maybe they mention that money is tight, see where the conversation goes and what you can do about it.

Just Because– We are used to making calls for a purpose and that is to sell something in direct sales.  But what about making a call just because you care?  Maybe you had heard that she had issues with a family member and you want to know if things resolves themselves satisfactorily, maybe you knew that she was finishing school and you were curious to know how that went.  Tip:  Adding your Hostesses as friends on Facebook can help you to find something to call them about.  When they think about ordering your product, you will be the first person they call to place their order.

Opportunity – Offer the opportunity on every call you make.  This lets you find out who may be interested today, tomorrow or next month/year.  It is always good to have a list of people that you can call.  And even if they expressed no interest, you never know when that may change, which is where your just because call fits in.

Needs – Chances are you are looking into growing your business and that requires you to find those who want or need your product.  Phone calls help you identify these people.  Even if the person you are calling does no need your product, they may know someone who does.  Offering a referral program can be helpful.

Ask Everyone – It is not up to you to determine who wants what you have to offer.  You should be asking everyone is they are interested in what you are offering and put it out there for them.  You do yourself and others a disservice by not putting it out there.  I have heard of people who attended a party, were interested in joining, but were never asked so they never joined or signed up with someone else.

Even if you are turned down on the call, ask if you can call them back next month/in six months/next catalogue release/whatever works for you and your business.  This gives you permission which keeps the phone from looking quite as forbidding.

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All Sorts of Training by Deb Bixler

Deb offers a lot of different types of training for direct sales consultants.  If you are interested, check out the following programs:

She has had so many requests for the FREE version of the Direct Sales Recruiting University to be made available again that she has decided to offer it again.

Sign Up Here: http://www.webmarketingmagic.com/app/?Clk=4825845

Don’t miss the 5 webinar series that will be FREE and rolling out every 3 days starting August 31st.

Beginning Monday, August 27th a new training module will roll out but you MUST sign up at the CashFlowShow website: http://www.webmarketingmagic.com/app/?Clk=4825845

Home Party Plan Specific Training Programs

Increase Cash Flow In Home Businesses

Not only will Deb help you increase your direct sales business, but she will help you to stay healthy at the same time.

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Check out Deb`s site to see what else she can offer you and your business 

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Parties can Equal Direct Sales Recruits

Fall is in the air.  Many people are getting ready to send their children back to school.  But the direct sales consultant is excited about more than the return of the school year – they are excited about people holding parties!  They have been to convention and are revitalized with the new product that has been released and want to share it with everyone!

The fall season is the busiest time for direct sellers when it comes to sales and accumulating any points for incentives.  Not only do many companies unveil more new products for this selling season but consumers are in the mood to spend and are prepared and willing to host parties for the benefits.  But, while they are looking to purchase, they are also looking for methods to create an income stream to pay for the holiday spending.

With this, it is important that you are prepared to talk about the benefits of joining your direct sales company when you are doing a party presentation.  Show them how they can start their business and have a debt free Christmas with just a bit of work on their end. Depending on their success, they may continue well on past the holidays to help with other financial goals.

There is a good chance that your hostess may have already thought about joining up with a direct sales company.  She may not have decided which one or is using her party as a chance to make a decision.  More and more people are getting into direct sales as a way to generate extra income for a multitude of reasons.

One of the biggest benefits people see in direct sales is the ability to control their income and to take home their money the night of the party.  Of course, there are expenses that must be accounted for or money put aside for, but depending on your commission rate and the party sales, a person can easily clear $100 and up for a few hours of work.

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US Small Business Owners – How and When to Pay Estimated Taxes

If you’re in direct sales, you won’t have an HR department taking Federal taxes out of your paycheck for you – you’re on your own! In most cases, you can’t put off paying taxes until the end of the year or you’ll get hit with an underpayment penalty. To keep business owners and the the self-employed from racking up a huge tax bill, and to keep the money flowing into the IRS coffers on a regular basis, the IRS and many states require you to pay estimated taxes on your profits four times a year.

Tax

Tax (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

The name “estimated tax” comes from the process you’ll need to go through four times per year in order to know how much to send in. It can be a little annoying but if you stay on top of your accounting, making sure to enter your expenses and income on a regular basis, most accounting programs will make it pretty simple for you. Because of the progressive tax system, you’ll owe less in the first quarter than in the fourth quarter even if you had the same profit in each quarter. If you would like to spread it out, you can always pay more than you currently owe – making estimated tax payments is just intended to make sure you don’t end up paying too much less, or you’ll get hit with an underpayment penalty.

When Are Federal Estimated Taxes Required?

Generally, if you plan to make at least a $1000 in tax for 2012 after subtracting any withholding or refundable tax credits, then you must make estimated payments. To avoid the underpayment penalty, the IRS must have at least 90% of the tax shown on your tax return at the end of the year or 100% of the tax shown on your 2011 tax return, whichever is smaller. If your adjusted gross income is $150,000 or more, then substitute 110% for the former 100% figure.

How to Pay Federal Estimated Taxes

  • 1. You’ll need to estimate your profit up to that point in the year. Most accounting programs such as Quickbooks can produce a profit statement for year-to-date. Remember, this is an estimate, so as long as you’re not off by much, this profit statement will be useful.
  • 2. Alternatively, you can use this IRS Worksheet on page 5 to figure out what you owe each quarter in taxes. If most cases, if your state has an income tax you will need to do estimated payments as well.
  • 3. Then, register with the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or manually send it a check with a voucher. It’s very easy to set up but does take a week or so to complete your registration. Make your payment from your bank account. (You can even set up withdrawals up to 120 days in advance, if you’re the planning type.) If you’re a paper-and-pen sort of person, you can also send them a check, along with a voucher (which I do) on page 9 of the former link for the first quarter or page 11 for quarters 2, 3, and 4.
  • 4. Keep a record of the tax payments you make during the year. The last estimated tax payment of the year is due January 15th of the next year. When you file your taxes, you’ll apply all those payments against your tax owed, and you should be pretty close!

Avoiding the underpayment penalty

The main reason to send in estimated tax payments is to avoid the underpayment penalty, which the IRS assesses when you haven’t kept current in paying taxes. While most of us think of April 15th as the day to write the big check, you’re actually required to send in taxes on the money you earn as you earn it, which most people with wages or salaries will have done for them by having money withheld from their paycheck. The IRS won’t be amused if you send them a lump sum of your taxes owed for the entire year on April 15th, and as with many other situations, they’ll express their displeasure with whopping fines. There’s no need to panic, however, because you’ll only get hit with this penalty if you’ve seriously underpaid. The IRS is mainly interested in getting its money, and as long as your estimates were done in good faith, you’ll be fine. You can do a more thorough job at the end of the year and make up any shortfall with the last payment on January 15th.

Payment Dates

Each quarterly estimated tax payments is intended to cover the taxes on profit from that quarter. Here are the payment dates for your estimated tax payments for 2012:

  • 1st Quarter (January 1st-March 31st): Estimated taxes due April 17th 2012
  • 2nd Quarter (April 1st-May 31st): Estimated taxes due June 15th 2012
  • 3rd Quarter (June 1st-August 31st): Estimated taxes due September 15th 2013
  • 4th Quarter (September 1st-December 31st): Estimated taxes due January 15th for 2012

For 2013 the dates are as follows:

  • 1st Quarter (January 1st-March 31st): Estimated taxes due April 15th 2013
  • 2nd Quarter (April 1st-May 31st): Estimated taxes due June 17th 2013
  • 3rd Quarter (June 1st-August 31st): Estimated taxes due September 16th 2013
  • 4th Quarter (September 1st-December 31st): Estimated taxes due January 15th for 2014

For information on self-employed IRS tax tips visit TaxDebtHelp.com’s Blog by clicking here.

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Is it time to get out of Direct Sales?

For many people, there comes a time in their direct sales career where they wonder if this is still something that is beneficial for them and if they should stay involved with it.  While this is not something that I can give you the answer for, here are a few things you may want to consider.

Enjoyment

One of the biggest considerations is if you are still enjoying it.  If you dread every party or event that you do and you ask yourself why you are there, this may be a sign that you should get out.

Lack of Business

Are you feeling unmotivated to work your business and even get those parties or events?  Have you seen a sharp decrease in the amount of sales you are making?  Is it because you are choosing not to work your business or is it because you cannot find people who want to host parties or purchase products?

No Longer Fits your Life

Maybe you got into direct sales for a specific reason and this is no longer the case for you.  People change, life evolves and this does happen for some.

Changes at the Company

Not only do people change but companies change.  And some of these changes may not be for the better in your mind.  If your company has changed in ways that you can no longer support or that you do not agree with, it may be time to consider leaving.   This could be the products that they bring in, policies that change or changes in the compensation plan that do not work for you.  Maybe the products are good but product is constantly on back order or pricing has increased and people are no longer interested in purchasing.  There are many changes at the company level that could cause you to re-evaluate.

Of course, these are not inclusive of every reason a person may want to leave their direct sales company.  Have you left a company for a different reason?

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Social Media Marketing and Direct Selling: 3 Fast Ways to the Young Consumer’s Heart

Young consumers, especially those that are in college, are pros when it comes to using social media. Maybe that’s why so many marketing experts struggle with attracting these young shoppers online—it’s their turf and they’re unfazed by more traditional marketing techniques such as an excessive amount of promotional-sounding statues or tweets.  It may be a little harder to “woo” them if you will, but it is most certainly possible.  To learn a few easy ways that you can build up your “young” client list, try some of these tips below.

Young Teenagers Playing Guitar Band of Youth

Be Transparent

The younger generation really appreciates transparency—they don’t want to feel like they’re getting duped or feel like someone is trying to run a scam on them. If you’re upfront and honest about what your mission is (i.e. what you’re selling) then your Facebook business page will most likely get more “likes.” *Notice how we said Facebook business page. You should not promote your products on your personal page. That’s a huge no-no. Keep the entities separate.

It’s also important to mention that transparency on a business page will help you get rid of people that have no interest in buying your products—you don’t want to waste your time with disinterested people anyway.  While transparency is appreciated, that doesn’t mean that you should sound like a walking pitch, which leads us to our next tip—

Build Relationships

Young consumers aren’t really keen on “bots”—businesses that just sound too promotional and write statues and updates that exclusively sound like a salesman robot. It’s ok to sound like a real human being and try to encourage threads and conversations by posting statuses that are a little less formal. You can even try to insert some humor when appropriate—young consumers like funny statuses a lot. Just like in the off-line world, building relationships with clients is key. So sounding a bit more personable and striking up a conversation with a potential buyer can be super beneficial.

Offer Incentives

While typically direct sellers are the ones who receive incentives if they meet certain goals, you can also offer your young consumers “incentives” as well. Research shows that young consumers are more willing to follow someone on Twitter for example if they see that there is something in it for them. While you may not have the authority to offer coupons or discounts for adding you on Twitter, you can get a little creative and have “contests”—like the 100th person to re-tweet you can win a free sample for example— or you can offer some exclusive “tips” on how to use the product you’re selling.

This is a guest post by Pepper Givens from http://www.onlinecolleges.net/
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5 Ideas to Quiet the Crowd at a Direct Sales Event

Sometimes when doing an in home party, the crowd can get a bit loud and rowdy and you cannot be heard over their voices.  But fear not, there are a few things that you can do to get their attention again to allow you to finish your presentation.  (Remember, keep it short, people have short attention spans!)

There are a few techniques you can use, so decide what you feel comfortable with, or try them all and see what works best for you.

1)      Talk Quieter – A great thing to do is start talking more quietly.  Chances are someone who is trying to listen will start shushing the crowd because they cannot hear what you are saying anymore.

2)      Play a Game – Depending on the game you play, this will allow them to get a bit of their wildness out or else capture their attention.  Play even if people are not paying attention, and maybe when they see you giving out a prize they will stop talking.

3)      Ask a Question – Ask the group a question about something you said.  Those that were paying attention should know the answer and those that were talking may stop when they realize what is going on.  You could give a gift to those who can tell you what you said.

4)      Hostess – Make sure you tell your hostesses in advance that if the group gets out of control, she will in charge of quieting them down.  Work out some sort of signal in advance or just simply ask her to get her guests quieted down.

5)      Ask for Help – Another idea is to ask one of the talkers to come help you with your demo.  Say that you need an assistant and ask them to come up.  Or you could ask them to try demonstrating a product that you have.  This is especially fun to do if you can hear them talking about how they could do a better job.

6)      Blow a Whistle – Some people carry a whistle that they can blow to get people’s attention back.

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5 Tips to Keep your Direct Sales Presentation Short

When it comes to your direct sales presentation, most people are not willing to sit there for an hour while you talk.  After about half an hour people will get restless, want to get up to use the washroom or have a smoke break.  If at all possible, you want to make sure your presentation is done by that point.   Here are a few pointers to help.

Keep Your Presentation Short

  1. Limit the Products you Discuss – Do not talk about every product you have.  Each product you discuss takes a minute or two to talk about.  Times that by 10 and you are already at 20 minutes.  You still have hostess benefits, customer specials and other items to discuss.
  2. Top 5 – One of the best ideas I have seen is to talk about the top 5 products.  Talk about why they are your favourites or why they are your customer favourites.  Do not forget the benefits and why people should order them.
  3. Tag Your Product – If your product is the type that you pass around for everyone to see, label it.  I cannot tell you how many times I have passed something around and then people ask what it is as they were not paying attention.  Tie on a label with the name, price, colours and what page it can be found in the catalogue.
  4. Be Prepared – The more prepared and ready for your presentation you are, the easier it will go and the more likely you will be done within your time.  If this means using cue cards, then go ahead and do it.  Practice ahead of time to get an idea of timing and practice for friends to help with nerves.
  5. Set a Timer – A great idea to keep you on track is to set a timer.  You can tell everyone at the party that you promise your presentation will be 20 minutes but for this to happen they have to pay attention and not interrupt.  Set a timer on the oven, on your phone or bring one along.  Set the time on it and start your presentation.  Give a small gift to the hostess and attendees if you do not make it.

Do you have other ideas that you use to make sure that you keep your direct sales presentations short and sweet?  Please share them in the comments!

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Creating A Host Coaching Checklist

It is very easy to get off track and confused as to where you are in regards to a direct sales party and your hostess coaching.  But with a simple checklist, it can be easy to keep track of where you are and what the next step is.  Not only does it keep you on track, but you will not forget important items that you want to mention.

Hostess Checklist

  • When it comes to my party checklist, there are a variety of things that I keep track of.
  • Hostess name, phone number, email address, physical address of party
  • Where hostess found me
  • Who hostess booked off of if applicable
  • When I mailed their hostess package
  • First phone call – Discuss hostess benefits, pick a date, set a time, go through requirements for a party
  • Second Call – Going over any questions she may have, customer specials, and the hostesses’ wish list.  This is also a good time to explain how to fill in an order sheet and what types of payment are accepted.
  • Third Call – Typically the day of the party or the day before – Any questions she may have, finding out how many people are attending, confirm address and let her know approximately when I will be arriving.   Depending on what all you put in the hostess package you mailed, you may want to go through this information with the host.
  • Thank you letter mailed out (I usually put this in the hostesses bag but others mail them later)
  • Day the order has been placed
  • Day the order arrives
  • Day order has been delivered to the hostess

You may want to add other items to this depending on how you run your parties and business such as when you mailed out a thank you card for hosting, when the invitations were sent out or anything else that you may do.

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