From left, Jeff Dahl (31 Gifts), Tami Merica (Nerium Intl), Roger Morgan (pawTree)
The direct selling business model is predicated on creating value with its customers to build distributor networks. How our business model creates value through relationships and impacts business performance was discussed with nearly 900 students at the University of North Texas (UNT) on February 22.
DSEF’s “Co-Creating Value in a Technology-Enabled Marketplace” campus event, which featured three leading company executive speakers, was an idea conceived by DSEF Fellow, Dr. Lou Pelton, Associate Professor of Marketing and Logistics at UNT. With the rise of web-based, mobile and social technologies, customer expectations continue to rise. But faced with a myriad of choices, customers are turning to trusted sources – family members, co-workers and friends – when making decisions on a product or service purchase. “Direct selling is the 21st-century’s channel for optimizing value delivery in customer relationships,” says Lou.
In traditional retail, when wholesale manufacturers sell through retail distributors, they have very little control in how the product is sold or whether the customer leaves the store or website happy and satisfied. In direct selling, companies can visualize the customer journey and provide their independent salespeople with the training, tools and support needed to create it. “How do you create value with your customers? Not by putting products on a shelf,” says Roger Morgan, Founder and CEO of pawTree, a pet nutrition company. “Our products are best tried and trusted through relationships.”
Relationships are the heart and soul of every direct selling company. A company’s customers often sign-on to be salespeople, who in turn, share the value of the product with family and friends and motivate others to do the same. “Whether you work as a direct seller or start a company of your own, consider how you can add value,” says Tami Merica, Vice President of Sales at Nerium International, a premium skincare company. “Recognize people for their work. Create your own personal brand. Be a positive influence in someone’s life.”
Having a positive impact in people’s lives extends well beyond business, for many direct selling companies. “Five percent of our company’s revenue is given to charitable organizations every year, but not many Wall Street companies give at this level,” says Jeff Dahl, President of Thirty-One Gifts. Direct selling companies are uniquely positioned to make a difference in the lives of their customers, their independent salespeople and in their communities.