Is your Direct Selling business guilty of believing these 4 myths?
To say that direct selling has evolved over the past decade is an understatement of the highest order. While the first ten years of the 21st century forced direct selling companies to come to grips with the idea of the online space, the last ten years have been more about seeing how direct selling companies have (or have not) practically embraced the capabilities of the online space. It seems a new company who pioneers a new take on what direct selling should look like moving forward pops up every six months. It’s a fun, fast-paced moment in our industry.
That pace can also be exhausting and nerve-racking. While you try to keep up with technology at the Home Office, you’re also keeping up with how your Distributors want (or don’t want) to use it. Balancing how and when you accommodate those needs can be overwhelming. On top of it all, the marketplace is holistically shifting in terms of what it expects and how it wants to shop. Throw a pandemic in the mix, and you find yourself on a never-ending roller coaster ride that covers every emotion imaginable.
We’re sorry to say we don’t have a magic wand to make it all feel more like a pleasant stroll in the park. But as we’ve worked with executives at both established direct sales companies and young launching companies alike, we’ve pinpointed a few areas of perspective that require a shift to be successful moving forward. In many ways, some of what we thought were tried-and-true principles of our model have been tested and even debunked.
There are four myths that seem to pop up in our conversations over and over. These myths seem easy to spot at first, but upon deeper reflection and discussion, it often becomes clear that executives haven’t completely come to grips with some important new ways of thinking in direct selling, especially when it comes to how you strategically leverage and think about technology.
Could you be guilty of holding onto some of these myths?
Myth #1: A strong salesforce and great products are all you need
Let’s be clear: a strong (and compliant!) salesforce and great products are most definitely needed. But a streamlined online experience that at least keeps up with the standards we expect in every other online experience of our lives must also be in place. Otherwise, your prospects won’t have the patience to ever connect with your salesforce or your products.
Simply put, consumer preferences must define the way you sell (and not the other way around). Put another way, we can’t force people to buy the way we like to sell. One of our best sales tools is our ability to adapt to the marketplace, but it’s a tool we too often leave in the tool shed until it’s too late.
The most successful, most enduring direct sales companies build strong brand cultures. And brand cultures cannot rely solely on strong products or a hard-working salesforce. The customer experience is a core component of the foundation for success that can no longer be ignored.
We break it down even further in our article How Direct Selling in a post-Amazon, mobile-first world has evolved
Myth #2: Personal touch can overcome a poor online experience
Direct sales leans hard on the power of personal touch. And it should. But perhaps we’re guilty of giving it super-powers it’s really not capable of?
The personal touch of direct selling and a streamlined online experience are not competitors, but should rather be seen as two powerful pillars of success for modern direct selling. As strong as personal touch can be, we’ve all seen time and time again how the formula of “great personal touch” + “poor online experience” = poor experience.
While the personal touch of a salesperson might still be a substantial factor in some decision-making, it’s no longer THE factor that is most likely to determine if a customer will try your product. Instead, a clean, well-designed, and mobile-friendly website with a simple checkout process is often what determines whether a prospect becomes a new customer or spends their time evaluating three of your competitors’ options while waiting for your site to load. It’s probably not hard to guess who’s going to get the sale in that particular scenario, no matter how great the personal touch may have been.
The real target is to match a great personal touch with a great online experience. Now THAT is at the core of a winning formula for direct selling. Want to know more? Read our article The role of user experience in a Direct Selling channel
Myth #3: You can always adjust your tech approach later
One of the most constant frustrations among direct selling executives centers around the limitations of their current ecommerce platform. Many a strategic discussion is halted in its tracks with comments like “our system doesn’t allow that,” or “it will take 16 weeks to make that happen”. Sadly, so many direct selling companies are truly slaves to the system.
On those few occasions the discussions go deeper, one can start to discover that the decision-making process and rush of launch may be more to blame for the current frustrations than anything.
It makes sense: if you’re trying to launch your direct selling company, you need to get that business off the ground fast. You need customers buying, Distributors selling and product getting shipped. So to reach that point as quickly as you can, you sign off on the platform that promises to get you there the fastest (and typically cheapest). Whatever modifications need to be made are tomorrow’s problem.
And a problem they most definitely can be. So many companies spend years dealing with the rushed decisions of their launches. While you may be eager to get off the ground now, you overlook the mere fact that shifting ecommerce platforms midstream is a challenge of a much higher order.
Should you spend more time (and maybe money) now and spare yourself the adjustments later? We think so, as we detail in our recent article Launch now, adjust later: A good approach or a future headache?
Myth #4: Direct selling companies are not ecommerce companies
If you were asked “Are you a direct selling company, or an ecommerce company?”, what would you say?
If you said “both”, you’re right. Yet while many companies would say the right answer, so few actually operate that way.
The simple fact is that if a direct selling company doesn’t think they are an ecommerce company, they’ve already lost. Sure, direct selling requires its share of unique considerations. But we can no longer think the rules of ecommerce don’t apply to us. If anything, the stories of both recent successes and failures in our industry point out just how much those rules do apply to us.
Ready to think like an ecommerce company? Get more of our thoughts in this article, Are you a Direct Selling company, or an ecommerce company?
Need help navigating your ecommerce needs?
If you find that any of these myths raise your blood pressure by a few ticks, we’d love to chat with you. Paragon is the complete platform for companies who work with distributors, affiliates and ambassadors. We provide everything you need to launch, manage and grow your business through the power of people-driven commerce. Learn more at paragoncommerce.com and schedule a demo with us.
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