Tag Archives: Shopping

Why Back to School Sales are Great for Direct Sellers

Depending on the supplies that you use for your direct sales business, back to school sales can be great for your business pocketbook.  You can get great deals on those products that you need year round.

Typically at this time of year I will pick up the following for my business:

Pens – A few boxes will go a long way, depending on how many people steal your pens

Paper – I try to use as little paper as possible, but sometimes it’s just easier

Stapler and staples – You probably don’t need this every year

Pencils – These always come in handy if your pens won’t work.  Can be particularly useful if you live in a colder climate where pens can freeze (great for using with mileage books)

Pencil Cases – When you buy pens and pencils, you need places to store them in.  This is especially true when doing parties where you are likely taking at least a dozen with you.  Also convenient for holding other items like business cards and calculators.

Notebooks – I keep one in my car for mileage and usually one in my party bag for notes to myself or to make notes for customers

Page protectors – These are great to put copies of specials in.

Duotangs – Folders with prongs in them.  If you like to give customers information to look at, this can be a great way to organize it.  Page protectors work great in here as the paper does not need to be replaced as often.

Flash drives – These have many names but they plug into your computer.  These are a great method for backing up data which you should be doing on a regular basis anyways.

Organizers – Back to school is a prime time to buy organizers and planners.  Students use them to track homework assignments and due dates but you can easily adapt them to your business needs.

Storage items – As back to school also means going off to school, you can find all sorts of storage solutions on sale.  This is a great way to get paperwork or inventory off the floor and into a system where you can find it later.

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Making an Online Sale Personal

In the age of information, when everything is at our fingertips, it makes sense that more and more people are starting to favor shopping online versus shopping at the mall. However, a computer screen can’t replace human interaction, especially when purchasing big-ticket items like jewelry and electronics. Having the opinion of a customer service representative or personal shopper can be priceless and have a huge impact on whether or not you will make the sale. When running an online direct-to-consumer business, here are some ways to keep it personal to help out your bottom line.

Shop online

Shop online (Photo credit: Daniel*1977)

  1. Be present: Just because the sale is happening over the Internet doesn’t mean that there aren’t two parties on either end. Taking advantage of great tools like live chat, where customers can ask specific questions about a particular product or ask for advice can be the difference between a consumer buying an item online or going into a store to check it out.
  2. Have a good return policy: Your return policy is key for customer service, and often plays a direct role in whether a customer will give repeat business. If one of your clients isn’t satisfied with her purchase, having the ability to return it hassle-free will help her keep her faith with online business.
  3. Communicate often: Your website offers a wealth of information about your business, but the difference between a good and a great FAQ page can affect your bottom line. Don’t have control over you’re employer’s website? Facebook and twitter are great tools to help address customer concerns and inquiries. Think about it – if you were shelling out mucho dollars for a set of pearls with diamonds, you would want to know that you were getting great bling for your buck, and constant contact would play a big role. Focusing your store on customer service instead of sales breeds repeat customers.
  4. Socialize: Social media is a huge opportunity for consumers to interact with merchants, so keep it personal when utilizing social media. If someone airs a grievance, use discretion in determining which posts to keep or delete, and don’t be afraid to comfort a customer on a public forum. If other potential clients see that you care, they may bookmark your site.
  5. Be creative: As a business owner or operator, you are certainly creative, so put your brain-wheels to work to figure out the best way to achieve making relationships with your clientele. For some, offering the option of an interactive “dressing room,” where customers can upload an image of themselves and “try on” products may be the way to go; for others, it may mean offering a “Free Try-on Period” where you send home a few items with the understanding that the customer will get charged for the items they don’t send back within a few days of receiving them.

In the age of information, it seems like everything is done online: dating, college classes, and of course, shopping – but that doesn’t mean that these should be impersonal experiences. Keeping these tips in mind can ensure that your customers are happy with their shopping experience enough to return time and time again.

Carly Chodosh is the Social Media Manager at Pearl & Clasp, a pearl jewelry company that specializes in restringing pearls, pearl clasps and custom designed pieces.

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What is a Basket Party?

Basket or sample parties are becoming more popular.  Instead of the traditional party where the direct sales consultant comes into the home and does a presentation, a basket is given to the hostess and then passed around to her guests.  This gives them a chance to try the product and make their own decisions.  Depending on what you sell, this can be a bit time consuming but it should also be higher sales as people have experience with the product already.

Basket full of toys...

Basket full of toys… (Photo credit: lorises)

Having a Basket Party

There are a couple different ways to do this and how you do the basket will be determined by the type of product you sell.  For those that sell candles, a basket that goes from home to home is likely easiest.  If you sell a consumable, the basket also goes from home to home but a few could get together and try it out.  In that situation, encourage your hostess to have a get together with a few people and do some cooking/baking to try things out.

Put together some of your best selling items and put it in an attractive and easy to carry container.  It can be a basket or it can be a bag.  Whatever works for you and your product.   Include order forms, information on how to fill out the order, and any specials that are going on.

Include a notebook and encourage people to make notes or comments about the products they tested.  Offer an incentive for writing something – a chance to win something, a discount on orders, whatever you think will entice them.  If they have questions, have them indicate that and make sure you go through the book and call them with answers before placing your order.

Set a deadline for the party.  Depending on how many people the host is planning to pass the basket to will help determine this.  Typically, you never want a party to last more than two weeks as those who had it first start to wonder about the status of the party and when their product is going to show up.

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Getting Over Being Shy

Have you ever thought about doing direct sales but feel that you are too shy to actually stand up in front of a group and do a presentation?  That is fine, being shy is allowed.  You may eventually learn to not be so shy but even if you stay shy, that is fine too.

Shyness

Shyness (Photo credit: susy ♥)

When I first started selling romance parties, I was shy.  But it wasn’t a problem.  I used cue cards to remind myself and I blushed, and that was fine.  There is nothing wrong with blushing or getting caught up on your words in the middle of the presentation.  The cue cards help you stay on schedule and say what you want to.  But do not write full sentences, just the highlights.  It’s important to get more comfortable with presentations.

You may want to consider practicing your presentation in front of a few friends or in front of a mirror.  If you really want to feel nervous, record yourself.  Most computers/cameras/phones have the ability to record.  The idea of doing this is not to critique your performance but for you to feel more comfortable.

One thing to consider when you are giving a presentation is that you are doing this for people who are either your friends, or for strangers.  Friends are not going to judge you, they want you to be successful and to succeed.  Strangers?  Well, if you screw up in front of them, its not a big deal.  You won’t have to see them again or at least, not for quite a while, when they have another event.

So if you look at it that way, there is no reason for you to be shy.  The strangers are there as they want to purchase something and have a good time, and the friends are there to help you out.  Its  a good situation for everyone involved.

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How to Market Your Product Using a Free Gift with Purchase Incentive

Getting customers to pay attention to your marketing message long enough to purchase your products is a constant struggle. Consumers are literally bombarded with numerous advertisements each day. In order to stand out in a crowded marketplace you should use proven strategies that work. Giving away free gifts is the quickest way to build momentum and boost sales of your products. There are several popular ways to set up a gift incentive program.   Free Gift

Gift Cards

Gift cards are extremely popular with consumers. People like them because the cards make perfect last minute gifts for friends and relatives. Some customers will choose to keep them for their own use. You decide the amount of monetary value to give to the card. It could be for $10, $25, $50 or $100. The value can be determined on factors such as how much more each customer will spend when using the card. Gift cards can be applied to specific items you wish to sell. For instance, customers can save money on a high-ticket item that costs over $500 by using their $100 gift card. You can also offer hidden gift cards with smaller values that the customer doesn’t know the value of until use. This way they may come in because they have a gift card, but you will still earn money from their purchase.

Gift Vouchers

Gift vouchers work in much the same way as gift cards. They are more flexible in that they can be used in various formats. Vouchers can be created as a printable certificate and handed to the customer. They can be automatically printed out on receipts. They can also be online vouchers that are applied to purchases during check out. Customers will hang on to their gift voucher and redeem it on their next visit to your shop. They are great for luring customers back to buy more. A good rule of thumb is to offer a product with purchase of another product. An example of this would be a salon that offers a voucher for a free eye brow waxing with a full cost haircut.

Promotional Items

All sorts of businesses use customized promotional items as free gifts. These fun and practical items are personalized with your company logo and message. Among the most popular giveaway items are buttons from custombuttonco.com , keychains and t-shirts. Customer love free gifts. Whenever they use these promotional items, other people will see your company name and they may be interested in learning more about what your business has to offer. Promotional gifts keep your business fresh in the minds of customers.

Reward Points

Consider rewarding your customers for their loyalty to your business. Set up a rewards program and invite your best customers to join. Each time customers buy certain items, they receive points. They can use these points towards purchasing special items or receive a discount.

Punch Cards

Give each of your customers a card. Have a certain number of products or services on the card and each time they come in sign off on one of the lines. After they have come in the designated number of times, give them a free product or a discounted product.

One of the fastest ways to get consumers interested in products is to offer them a free gift with purchase. Incentive programs are simple to set up and are a powerful way to stimulate more sales. You will still earn money from these purchases and can gain loyal customers for the future.

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Riding Out the December Sales Slowdown

With December comes a slowdown in sales.  Your customers are out partying, they are doing their holiday shopping at the mall, and they cannot wait for product to come in as it may not arrive in time.   Depending on where you live and how long shipping takes will determine when the slowdown starts.   But there are plenty of activities in your direct sales business that you can work on and take advantage of in this time.

december

december (Photo credit: Chiot’s Run)

Cleanup

If you are like me, your office can get messy.  Now is a great time to tidy up and put things where they belong.  It also will make your life easier as you are trying to accomplish other activities.  You may be surprised by what you find.  You may want to clean up before you attempt anything else as you may find items you will need for other activities.

Bookkeeping

If you are a person who keeps putting their bookkeeping off, now is the time to do it.  The sooner it is done, the sooner you can get your taxes done.   Make sure to gather all your paperwork before you sit down to make life easier.  If you have kept everything organized and in one spot, it will be that much easier.

Access Supplies

Go through your supplies and determine what you need to restock on.   I always seemed to be losing pens so now is a good time to restock your party bag.  Add more order forms, catalogues or anything else that you may require.

Inventory

If you tend to have a lot of product floating around, make a list of what you have.  Consider selling it to those who need last minute gifts or ideas.  You may be amazed at how much money you have tied up in product that is just sitting around and doing nothing for you.

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Getting Ready for 2014

As you are wrapping up things for 2013, you can start getting items ready for the 2014 year.  Some tasks can be done in 15 minutes where some are a bit more time intensive.

Oh so much to do, to do today, tomorrow, the n...

Oh so much to do, to do today, tomorrow, the next day (Photo credit: Chapendra)

Accounting

While you are sorting out all your paper work for 2013, start your folders and fields for 2014.  This is a great time to do them as you know what did and did not work for you and you can make modifications or changes at this time.  If you wait until March, you may have forgotten what you wanted to change and spend another year not being as productive as you could be.

Reorganize Your Space

Chances are during the year, you haven’t had the time to keep your space neat and tidy.  Take this time to do that.  Find those shelving units you bought but never put together, the pen organizer that is still in the bag and put all the paper away.  Put the expired books in a cabinet to be used for trade shows or other events.

Restock Your Packages

If you have gone through a lot of hostess and recruit packages, start making new ones.  Depending on the timing of your company, you may not be able to put in catalogues but you can get everything else ready.

Prepare Mail-outs

If you do a mail out in the New Year with new catalogues, you can also get these ready while you wait.  Find envelopes and get the addresses onto them.  Print out any paperwork that you put into the envelope and put it in them.  Throw some business cards into the envelope or anything else that needs to go in that you have already.

Read Company Information

If you have gotten behind on some of the information relating to your company, take this time to get caught up.  I know I don’t always read the company emails that come out (the general information ones) so now is a good time to do it.  You never know what questions may get answered when you do this.

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Pack in Advance for Events

I don’t know about you, but when I have an event or a party, I always tend to forget something.  While many things stay in my bag between events, some come out as I need those items in other parts of my life.    That said, I have made a list to try and prevent this from happening in the future.  Packing for an event a day or two early helps with this as you will run into things and realize that you should take it with you.   I am a huge fan of lists, so I created one to remind me what I need to take and wanted to share it.

Suitcase

Suitcase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To Pack:

  • Pens/Pencils
  • Order Forms
  • Catalogues
  • Pens
  • Business Cards
  • Stapler or Paperclips
  • Specials
  • Products (Do you have everything you want to show packed?)
  • Samples
  • Money bag/change
  • Hostess Packages
  • Recruit Packages
  • Props for any games such as a hostess game – dice, envelopes, music, whatever you require

If you are doing trade shows or vendor events, you will pretty much need everything above.  Depending on if you are able to sell off your table or not will determine what you bring for products.

Product to sell – If allowed, check with company if you are not sure.

Cannot sell – Bring samples and product to show to people and entice for bookings.

Product to sell, if your company allows you to.  If you aren’t sure, check with your upline or company

  • Expired catalogues to hand out
  • Notebook to write down any questions you need to research and phone numbers/email to let customer know
  • Sign up list for email newsletter if you have one
  • Table cloth
  • Table decorations

Regardless of the event, consider putting your hostess and recruit packages into fun bags to tempt people to want them.

Consider putting specials, order forms, a catalogue and a pen into a folder for each guest.

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Gearing Up for Prime Time in Direct Sales

The holiday season is upon us.  If you do not already have the supplies you need to get those holiday sales, it is time to get them and get yourself prepared to party!

English: Wemyss Bay Holiday Park The reception...

Fall and Holiday Season (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make sure that you have the following:

Hostess Packages – Even if you don’t have the current catalogues, you can get everything else ready for a hostess package.  Make as many packages as you want parties and then 10% more for good measure.  It never hurts to shoot to the moon and ideally, you want to run out and need to create more.

Recruit packages – You may get recruits right now but you also want to plant the seeds for when they start seeing holiday bills so be prepared to give out information about joining your company.  Put some information about recruiting in all your hostess packages as well, quite often hostesses will roll into consultants.

Customer List – If you haven’t contacted your customers recently, get in touch.  Get them to book their party early for best selection.  Depending on the company you represent, you may get items that go onto back order quickly and may not be back in time for the holidays.

Stock Your Bag – Put a selection of business cards in your wallet or purse to have with you.  Hand them out wherever you are without being a pest.   If you have a pin, a bag, or something else with your information and to book a party with you, carry it with you and have cards ready to give to anyone who asks.

Supplies – Make sure that you have all the supplies you need.  Order forms, pens, a calculator, business cards, and stickers, whatever it takes.  Get organized and be ready to go.  You never know when someone will call and want to have you over tomorrow.  One of my best parties was due to another consultant never following up and the hostess had a dozen women coming over and no consultant.

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