Disclaimer: I have a LOT of friends who run very very successful Direct Sales businesses and LOVE it. They’re phenomenal at their varying sales and marketing efforts. (In fact, I’m about to venture into a Direct Sales company so I can get a discount on some products that I’ve been buying lately). This is NOT an attack on all Direct Sales. This is about traditional sales approach to Direct Sales that I’ve been party to lately.
In college I hated the concept of sales. I thought all sales had to be aggressive and cold. I’ll ever forget my first sales job – it was at a mall kiosk selling phone contracts. I remember the build up – you went to a training and they pumped you up, showing you the top 1% people and saying, “You can be that person!” — but when I actually got into it, yelling at people walking by just wasn’t for me. Most people ignored you or looked annoyed, and as someone who has continually sought after positive attention (if we delve psychologically into that – a result of my super strict Asian upbringing), it didn’t work for me.
But that wasn’t my last attempt at outbound sales. I tried selling phone contracts for a third-party company. It was door to door. I got doors slammed in my face, spoken to in particularly unsavory tones and chased by a dog. Which is crazy cause up to that point in my life I never even considered that a dog would chase me.
I took one last attempt before I swore off sales forever – it was another one of those “Make $1000 a week!” ads in college – this time selling knives. I left halfway into the presentation.
After that I swore off sales. I couldn’t do it. Why would you EVER approach someone with something that they don’t want for your own selfish interests? Sell more volume, make more money.
I think that’s why I love inbound marketing so much. It focuses on education and being a thought leader in order to turn people onto something that might solve their problems.
Let me digress for a moment and tell a story. I worked in hospitality since I was 15 years old, and in college I worked at a pool hall called Trick Shots. I didn’t realize this, but all throughout that time – I had been doing sales. I had been educating people on products that they were there to sample, and selling them on what I knew would fit their tastes best. I remember the owner would always come and sit in the bar and comment on how dynamic I was. He told me, “You should be in marketing.” But having had the experiences I did – I just kinda looked at him. I told him I was going to be a Professor of English and write books. Turns out, though, he was right.
See, I have a natural inclination to connect people with things that can help them. It more than likely comes from my ENFJ personality, which, according to Myers-Briggs, is literally obsessed with helping people – at their own personal expense, sometimes.
ENFJs are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. Forming around two percent of the population, they are oftentimes our politicians, our coaches and our teachers, reaching out and inspiring others to achieve and to do good in the world. With a natural confidence that begets influence, ENFJs take a great deal of pride and joy in guiding others to work together to improve themselves and their community.
It may appear that we’ve fallen far off the topic – but you know me and my tangents, so stick with it here. Anyway – my trek into inbound marketing is pretty natural, particularly if you look at the fact that I’ve literally been doing it all my life.
But I’ve noticed something lately. Direct Sales companies are going after moms because we’re the ones that need the extra income. Most of us have baby clothes obsessions and buy an AMAZING amount of shit. There are marketing companies that are specifically focused on helping businesses reach the Mommy Market, because they know we are SO into our limbic system (the system that uses our feelings to guide our choices), that we will make a buying decision on a dime.
SO – all that said, all these moms or women that are getting into these Direct Sales companies for financial freedom… they’re going about marketing the wrong way.
Know this: this doesn’t make you a bad person, by any means. I love you, I have mad amounts of respect for you, but I can tell you for certain – if you continue to market the way you are, you’ll lose your passion and you’ll never gain the customers that you want
I’m going to give you some advice. Now, you might be thinking, “What does she know about my business?” BUT as a retail enthusiast (shopaholic) and marketing professional that digs into the buyers of her clients on a daily basis to find out what makes them tick – I’m absolutely going to give you some awesome advice and help you by giving you a few basic marketing rules.
- No one wants to “just buy stuff”.
Well, maybe except for me. I have an issue. My mother is a literal hoarder, and because I’m (for better or worse) basically her clone… I totally just buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff. But you have to learn about the limbic system first. The limbic system controls all our instincts. It’s how moms have that gut feeling that guides their parenting decisions. It focuses on instinct and mood. It’s how you either love or hate reading my blogs. They appeal to your emotions. Great marketing and advertising has always appealed to the limbic system. It’s how they reigned you in to decide to start your Direct Sales business to begin with. They didn’t say, “Hey, you wanna sell this shit?” They got you in with financial freedom and changing your life – and that appealed to your limbic system, which is why you made the decision to join it. You’re not just selling – you’re changing your own life, spreading a message and empowering other women. That’s a cause you can get behind. So, you think if you go in asking people to “buy shit” just because you started a business that that’s going to happen? You’re like me standing in the mall yelling at the people walking by. Ain’t nobody got time to be interrupted by your sales pitch.
- You need to get to know your buyer BEFORE you approach them.
So, for a long time marketing and advertising focused on demographics. You have a certain target market that’s a group of people – and you focus on what drives them. But really, what’s the most important is taking the time to understand the INDIVIDUALS that you’re marketing to. What makes them tick? What are their day-to-day concerns? What challenges do they face? How can your products (without discussing your products, because they TRULY don’t care about your products) solve their problems?
- Be persistent, consistent, but not annoying.
You can’t just reach out to people and start talking about their problems and all these products that you have. It has to be… somewhat subliminal. Limbic system, remember? Use things like testimonials. Be consistent. Talk about how you’re helping other people solve their problems. Start a blog or start posting on social media. WHAT do you love about each product that you sell? WHY did you start your business? We spend 90% of our day ignoring advertising that’s plastered all over billboards, fast-forwarding television commercials. No one cares that you want to sell them stuff. You have to help them, first.
I’m all about empowering my friends to take the leap and start their own business. BELIEVE me, no one knows how difficult that is more than I do. But I can’t take the messages asking me to buy stuff. No one wants to shop more than me, but do your homework, people! Be infectious, make people understand what problems can be fixed with the products that you “OH!” just happen to have. And, for the love of all things holy, just stop taking a traditional sales approach to your own marketing.
Best of luck. I adore you and your direct sales business, but want you to succeed and promise that I do this with all the respect in the world! Kick ass, friends!