I have some experience in direct sales. I’ve been part of a number of them, and had varied success with each. Some people I’ve known have been wildly successful with their direct sales businesses, and many more people have failed in some way. Is there a magic formula or business plan that creates the success I’ve seen? Are some people just better at direct sales than others? Both of these are good questions, and my answer to both is, “Probably”. Let me tell you a bit more about my personal experience in direct sales businesses, and I’ll explain more about this as I go.
How I Started in Direct Sales
In 2002, I was in community college. I had an apartment with a roommate who drove me crazy, I was working two different restaurant jobs to pay rent and I had a full year of private school student loans already to my name from the year before. I wasn’t struggling too much, but I would have killed for a little bit of disposable income. I learned about a new cosmetics company that was under the umbrella of a much larger well-known direct sales brand. I thought to myself, “I can sell that”, and so I signed up to do so without much thought.
I met once with an upline representative and I placed my first order for catalogs and samples. I canvassed my neighborhood, talked up the products to my classmates and handed out samples to interested parties. Social media wasn’t a thing in 2002, or at least it wasn’t a big thing, so all of my work was done old-school. After about 6 months, I realized that I was spending more money on samples and catalogs than I was making in profits. I also realized that I hadn’t heard from my upline in all of that time. I quit that business without a second thought and enjoyed using all of the product that I had on hand until it ran out.
So, what went wrong? Lots of things! First, I hadn’t done any research before jumping into this company. I had no idea what it meant to sell cosmetics or if I even had what it took to be good at it. I had no training, no upline support, and nothing to tell me if I was successful or not except for my checkbook. As it turns out, I’m not really good at face to face sales, and handing out catalogs is a practice with very low returns. I was also very young and knew very little about running a business. At that time I didn’t even know that the way to make more money in a direct sales company is to build a team. I never even tried to do that.
My Second Try
Fast forward to 2011. Now I’m a college grad with a full-time job, a husband, and a brand new baby. I’m back to work after maternity leave, pumping breastmilk in my office on breaks and missing my baby all day long. I’m searching for an exit – anything that would allow me to stop working nine to five and be home more. *Note that many DS companies specifically target this demographic, as they are most likely to join as consultants. It’s basic psychology. New moms want to work from home.
I went to a home party for a company that has been around for many years. In fact, I hadn’t even realized that this company still existed and I was thrilled to be able to purchase the products that my mom and grandma had used. For whatever reason, I was romantically swept up with this company. I decided to host my own party and later decided to make that party my “grand opening” as a new consultant. I earned my starter kit for free, I booked three starter parties, and I was well on my way to a very successful first month!
I stayed with this company for nearly a year. I booked 3-5 parties per month, started to build my own team, and showed a small profit throughout. I did vendor shows. I did giveaways. I went to team meetings. I had a strong upline that was always willing to help me out. I quit after 11 months. Why? This business that was supposed to bring me freedom, didn’t. I was out of the house 3 evenings every week or more. That’s not what I wanted! I was doing everything right, slowly building a business with a product that I loved, but I wasn’t reaching my ultimate goal fast enough. Also, I really hated doing home parties. Wandering into stranger’s homes made me extremely anxious. After some cost-benefit analysis, I realized that I needed to stop. I wasn’t happy.
What I Learned From These “Failures”
So what have I learned at this point? Lots! I know that I have what it takes to build a direct sales business. I know that I hate home parties, and that I don’t love carrying inventory and storing it all over my house. I know that if I ever decide to do this again that I’ll have to be extremely selective because these last two attempts just didn’t work for me.
Even after those two failures, I hadn’t completely given up on the idea of direct sales. I just needed to wait for the right opportunity to come along. I waited 4 years.
By 2015, social media was the place to be if you were in direct sales. That’s how you found your customers, how you communicated with them, and how you showed everyone how great your company and your products were. I love social media! Perfect! Now, all I had to decide was which company to join.
It turns out that at this time I was feeling pretty bad about myself. I had had two babies and wanted to lose some of the weight. There are a number of weight loss companies on the market, but the one that stood out to me then was Beachbody. I did research, I learned about the MLM structure of the company, followed other coaches on Facebook to see what they were doing. I decided that this was the company for me – I would lose weight, make money, quit my job, stay home with my kids, and live happily ever after. Yay!
It may not have played out exactly that way… I did lose weight, I did make money, but I haven’t quit my job. I am still with Beachbody, I have a team under me, a supportive upline, and the flexibility to work as much as I want to whenever I want to. And that’s just what I do! I decided to make direct sales just a PART of my overall plan to create earnings. This works really well for me. I don’t have all of my proverbial eggs in one basket, and I can work on other projects that I’m passionate about too (like my virtual assistant business, this blog, or occasionally reselling things on Ebay and Amazon).
I’ll probably never be a person who makes a complete living from a direct sales business, and I’m totally OK with that. I think that direct sales and multi-level marketing opportunities are going to always be an excellent option for people looking to start a business with very little investment or overhead. And finally, I suggest that you do a LOT of research before you start with any direct sales company. Some of them are just bad, but the majority of them are good, just not for everybody. Find a company that you can be passionate about and that fits with your goals and your lifestyle.
Questions about the Beachbody coaching opportunity? I’m happy to answer any of them for you – no pressure! Leave a comment or contact me at email@example.com.
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