All posts tagged communication

How to Share Your Idea Quickly and Effectively

How to Share Your Idea Quickly and Effectively
How to Share Your Idea Quickly and Effectively

How to Share Your Idea Quickly and EffectivelyHave you ever felt pressured to convey your message quickly? Maybe as you walk into a coffee shop, an old friend is walking out. You stop for a couple of minutes to chat before she heads out on her way. During the chat, she asks you what you do for a living or what’s new these days. Depending on the circumstance, it may be necessary to make whatever you are saying as brief as possible. If you find yourself in such a situation, the following tips might help you out.

  • Start with the solution first. Since you don’t have time for a whole back story, you have to spark interest right away. By introducing the solution from the get-go, you’re capturing attention so that even if you have to leave out some details you deem important, the person will want to know more and follow through, perhaps at a later date. For example, your friend asks what you’re doing these days. As a new consultant for a nail wrap company, your response could be something like this: “You know how I always complain that I never have time or money for a manicure? Well I started using these cool nail wraps! I loved them so much, that I started selling them.” Your very first sentence presents a solution to a problem. This is especially effective when you know your audience has the same problem as well. Even if the rest of the conversation is rushed, the next time that person is thinking about doing their nails, she’ll remember your solution and will be more likely to either give you a call or respond with action to your follow-up.
  • Make it personal. This definitely requires either some prior knowledge about the person to whom you’re speaking or one or two smart questions to find out more about the person in order to customize your message. In the example above, the nail wrap consultant could mention that because her friend is home with her newborn baby every day, it’s understandable that getting to the manicurist can be challenging. She has then created her opening to briefly describe the product. If you don’t have that kind of personal information right away, have a couple of questions prepared that you would ask someone so your message can be more personal.
  • Give concrete, factual examples. Speaking in general terms comes off vague, generic, and irrelevant. Instead of saying, “These nail wraps are easy and affordable,” you could say, “A $15 sheet gives me 3 manicures that each last two weeks.” The latter gives specific information in the same amount of time as the former. Furthermore, it has more meaning, which will make it more memorable for the other person. Again, concrete examples should be prepared ahead of time for you to give when needed.
  • Don’t repeat yourself. Many people do this when they are nervous or anxious. Use other methods of emphasis besides repetition, which causes the other person to tune out. A good idea would be to record yourself in a hypothetical conversation in which you are trying to get to your point quickly. Make note of any repetition, and adjust accordingly. Practice often so you are always prepared. 

Much of what you do as a direct seller requires quick thinking and strong communication skills. Our suggestions in this post should help you improve both of those things. 

What would you add to our list? Please share your ideas below!

Three Tricks to Improve Your Communication

Three Tricks to Improve Your Communication
Three Tricks to Improve Your Communication

Three Tricks to Improve Your CommunicationThe advantages to living in this digital age are nearly endless for your direct sales business. It only takes a few seconds to send an email or text to a customer or colleague. However, face-to-face communication is still an extremely important part of how you interact with others. Emails and text messages are convenient, but they cannot convey tone of voice, emotion, and other non-verbal cues. As you continue to build professional relationships, make it a priority to improve your face-to-face communication skills.

  • Bring a friend or partner for confidence. Meeting a friend, acquaintance, or even a stranger for a sales presentation or opportunity meeting can be intimidating and anxiety-inducing. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or colleague to tag along for moral support. For example, you are about to do your very first home party hosted by someone you only met one other time. All the guests at this party will be strangers to you, and you don’t feel completely comfortable going it alone. Ask someone in your upline or even a close friend to accompany you. Introduce him or her as your assistant, for instance, and you’ll not only have someone to help build your confidence, but you’ll have someone to help you set up, pass out catalogs, and answer questions if appropriate. Sometimes just the feeling of having a friend in the room can boost your self-esteem and make you appear confident to others.
  • Practice your conversations. This can be done alone in front of a mirror, by recording yourself on your smartphone or tablet, or even by role-playing with a friend. A direct seller named Vanessa always rehearses the introduction of her sales presentation in her bedroom mirror right before she leaves for her parties. In doing so, she pays attention to her facial expressions like making sure she’s smiling, and her tone of voice to make sure it stays warm and light-hearted. Another benefit of doing this is that she will notice before it’s too late if anything about her outfit interferes with her presentation or just doesn’t look and feel right. Find a way of practicing that is comfortable for you, and make a habit of doing it often.
  • Make eye contact naturally without staring. Eye contact is an essential part of face-to-face communication, as it signals to the other person that you are in fact listening and giving your undivided attention. Looking directly into someone’s eyes can be intimidating, however, so use some techniques to avoid staring. Tip: Look directly in between the person’s eyes instead of right into the eye when talking. It won’t be detectable by the other person that you’re not looking into the eye, and you will feel more at ease while giving your attention. As with any skill, you will become more proficient and comfortable with practice and experience.

Possessing strong communication skills will serve you well in any career. When you can appear confident, demonstrate good listening, and use proper eye contact, you can begin to build and maintain the relationships that are so important to your business.

Three Ways to Reach New Customers

Three Ways to Reach New Customers
Three Ways to Reach New Customers
Three Ways to Reach New Customers

Three Ways to Reach New Customers

Growing your business and achieving success requires you to continually increase your customer base. Retaining existing customers and acquiring referrals alone will not translate into long term success. One of your goals should be to introduce more people to the benefits of your product or service. Here are three ways to start finding new customers right away.

  1. Find a new niche and build a market around it. Within your obvious target market, there likely lies a smaller, specialized one that has potential to become the spotlight of your business. Find out what this is, and make it the center of your customer search efforts.  For example, after a few months working for a direct sales company that sells women’s fitness products, one consultant met a pregnant guest at a home party who purchased a starter kit in preparation for shedding her pregnancy weight after the baby arrives (under her doctor’s supervision, of course!). This gave the consultant an idea for how to market some of her products to this very specialized population of potential customers. She chose a select handful of products that were deemed safe for post-partum women to help them ease back into a safe and effective fitness regimen. In order to build a market around this niche, the consultant used word-of-mouth and chose a few places to advertise where expectant and new moms could be easily reached (the fitness club child care room, Mommy & Me classes at the local library, etc.). Concentrating your efforts on a niche market can have long-reaching benefits for your business.
  2. Use events and gamification to engage people. Your social media presence can be a very effective tool with which to engage people and start conversations about your business. Hold contests on your Facebook page that require people to share in some way, from which random winners will be chosen. Amazon Mom, a program from Amazon that allows members to save on baby & children’s products, frequently holds themed photo contests. Members post a photo relating to the theme (one recent theme was May Flowers). They choose a “Top 20” list where each winner’s photo is featured on their page for their hundreds of thousands of followers to see. Get creative with how you engage people, and keep in mind that you don’t need to spend money or give something away to do so.
  3. Do things differently to generate curiosity. Thinking outside of the box will almost always serve you well in this industry, so create a bit of mystery around a new product, perhaps, that will get people interested and talking. One direct sales consultant ends her presentation with a question and answer session. Before she starts, she asks guests to retrieve their cell phones because the questions will be asked via text message. This piques guests’ curiosity, and after the Q & A ends, she instructs them to add her phone number to their contact lists so they can reach her if they have any questions, concerns, or want to reorder. Furthermore, she reminds them that she also now has each of their phone numbers as well to make getting back to them and reaching out much easier. When seeking feedback about the party afterwards, this text message Q & A is what people report as the most memorable and fun part of the presentation. Use your unique qualities and have fun with finding different ways to do things.

Reaching new customers doesn’t always require casting a wider net. Look within your existing base for niche markets, engage people in innovative ways, and think outside the box. In doing so, you move your business forward and come closer to achieving your long-term goals.

What would you add to our list? Please share your ideas below!


Ten Tips for Leaders

Ten Tips for Leaders

MP900289528[1]Whether you are a seasoned direct sales leader in your company with a large downline or are just starting out as a consultant, it helps to adopt the qualities of an effective leader. For existing leaders, possessing these characteristics can help you maintain a profitable business. For direct sales novices, strengthening your leadership skills will improve your customer service as well as prepare you for any future aspirations you have for a leadership position within your company. Here are our top ten tips for being a good leader.

  1. Put people first. It isn’t always about the money. Putting people first is not only the right thing to do, but in the long run, it will contribute to your developing a good reputation as a reliable, trustworthy business person. For example, a consultant doing a home party booked several future parties with the incentive for those potential hostesses to have their own parties within the next three months. In doing so, the present hostess was able to receive a bonus in her rewards. When one of the potential hostesses had to back out due to a conflict, the consultant had to choose between rescinding the bonus for the original hostess or work to re-book the lost party. She decided it would be better for her business in the long run if she thought about her customers first; she kept her word, rewarded the bonus, and gained a loyal customer.
  2. Work cooperatively with others. In any sales career, you will likely interact with all different kinds of people. It is important to find common ground and cooperate to maximize your productivity. This goes for customers and colleagues alike, and it sets a good example for those in your downline.
  3. Maintain high positive energy. It’s normal to feel stressed or burned out once in awhile, but maintaining a high level of energy and positivity will work wonders for your own morale. Remind yourself why you started your business, what you love about it, and why you want to continue. Be your own best cheerleader; it will go far in helping to motivate others looking to you for guidance.
  4. Set clear goals. Any goals dealing with your business should be clear, specific, and challenging but realistic. Setting a goal “to make enough money to quit my full time job” is well-intended, but it could set you up to fail. It makes no mention of just how much money that would require or the timeframe involved to complete it. Decide exactly what you want and how you will go about achieving your goal to set yourself up for success.
  5. If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. Trying to accomplish a goal with no concrete way of measuring its completion will only bring you a lot of frustration. Part of what keeps us motivated is the knowledge that we are heading in the direction of accomplishment, but if you don’t know exactly what that looks like, then how will you know when you get there?
  6. Share your power with your people. Have you ever seen a movie you enjoyed so much that you can’t wait for your friends to see it too? That feeling of wanting others to share in your enthusiasm should play a big role in your business. You’ve mastered a certain set of skills that are bringing you great success; share how you do it with others. People under your leadership want to learn.
  7. Lead with action more than words. If you tell people one thing, but do another, you will lose your credibility. Words mean nothing when accompanied by actions that don’t match. Do what you say to earn and keep others’ trust in you.
  8. Use common sense. This is especially important when faced with a difficult decision. In the example of the consultant mentioned above, she was well within her rights to rescind her original hostess’s bonus. However, common sense told her that this would be unfair to the hostess who would likely express her frustration to her friends who were at the party. By following common sense, she avoided a tense situation and gained a loyal customer.
  9. Keep it simple, and don’t sweat the small stuff. When things get complicated, break them down into simple terms. There will always be obstacles, but be sure to pick your battles and don’t get bogged down with trivial things.
  10. It’s business, but make it fun! The wonderful thing about a career in direct sales is the flexibility it brings in allowing you to make the business your own. Add your own personal flair to your sales pitch, your professional development workshops, and your opportunity presentations. Find what makes you happy and integrate the fun stuff into your business. Your enjoyment will rub off on those around you.

Taking on a leadership role may or may not come naturally to you, but adopting certain qualities will definitely improve your effectiveness. What do you think of our list? Would you add anything else? Please share your ideas below!

How to Create an Effective Quick Sales Pitch

How to Create an Effective Quick Sales Pitch

City Business WomenAs a direct seller, you will likely come across the opportunity to talk about your product or service outside the normal home party environment. Perhaps a friend or relative asks you about it, or an acquaintance making small talk asks what you do for a living. In situations such as these, it is a great idea to have a quick sales pitch prepared in your head that you can use when needed. This should be a very brief version of your normal pitch, one which touches on the major highlights of your product or service. When creating this quick sales pitch, focus on the following topics.

  • How can your product/service help solve a problem? Some products make answering this question easy, such as fashionable organization systems sold by companies such as Thirty-One Gifts or Initials, Inc. These products solve the problem most people have of needing to organize and store their possessions in their homes, offices, and cars. Other products might not have such an obvious answer, but it surely is there. Look to your upline and corporate leaders for guidance about how to best convey what problem your product line solves for its customers.
  • How and why is it better than the rest? Your product undoubtedly has quite a bit of competition not only from other direct sales companies, but also from its retail counterparts. What makes your product stand out? In the case of Thirty-One’s fashionable storage solutions, their consultants emphasize unique features such as the option to personalize their products, coordinating patterns across product types, and the company’s commitment to giving back.  Put together just a sentence or two to be included in your pitch that clearly explains why your product is best. 
  • How is it a great value for the price? Value can be determined in a variety of ways, but consider level of quality, product versatility, and company-backed guarantee. It helps to also be prepared with knowledge of your competitor’s determination of value, so as to educate a potential customer. When inquiring about hosting a Mary Kay makeover party, a young bride-to-be mentioned that she was also considering taking her bridesmaids to an appointment at a department store makeup counter. The Mary Kay consultant was quickly able to give her some reasons why choosing a department store limits her options for variety, pricing, personalization, and convenience. Being prepared with this knowledge beforehand allows you to talk up your product and your company to anyone at any time.

After putting the finishing touches on your quick pitch, practice it often so it comes across naturally, like a casual conversation. Recruit some friends or family members to rehearse with, perhaps role-playing different scenarios in which your quick sales pitch is just what you need. As a direct seller, you should be ready and willing to discuss your product and opportunity in a moment’s notice. The effective quick sales pitch is a great way to do this.

Have you ever been in a situation where a quick sales pitch would come in handy? Were you able to use one effectively? Please share your comments below!

Five Ways to Keep Customers When Prices Go Up

Five Ways to Keep Customers When Prices Go Up

businessgrowThroughout the course of your business, you will undoubtedly be faced with the prospect of increasing your prices while making sure you don’t lose your customers. As long as you are truthful and you maintain your high quality products and customer service, you can rest easy with the knowledge that your clients likely aren’t going anywhere. If you find yourself in the situation of having to increase prices, here are some tips.

  • Give an honest explanation for the increase and thank them for being loyal customers. It won’t take long for customers to notice a price increase, especially for items that they buy on a regular basis. The most important thing is for you to be honest. For example, a local business owner who designs and makes window treatments (curtains, draperies, etc.) gets most of her materials from out of state. Because of a recent increase in gas prices, her distributor is charging more for shipping. In order for her to maintain her profit margin and keep her business afloat, she must increase the price customers pay for both her supplies and services. Customers will understand and most likely relate to your reasons, so don’t keep them in the dark. Instead, thank them for understanding and show your appreciation for their loyalty. They won’t want to bring their business elsewhere if they know you sincerely care.
  • Offer another lower price item. There will be times when a customer is unable or unwilling to pay the higher price, so in this situation you may want to offer an alternative. The window treatment designer offered her customers a similar fabric that is less expensive for her to buy, so she is able to pass that savings on to her customers. Again, be honest about what you are offering and why it is a lower price, but be sure to emphasize that it is of the same quality that your customers have come to expect.
  • Add more value to your existing items. This is a great way to keep your customers happy despite the price hike. Add value to your items by offering an extra service or perhaps a discount on a future purchase. Listen to what your customers want, and be creative in finding ways to make them happy. In most cases, they won’t mind spending a few extra dollars if they know they are getting more for it, instead of less.
  • Show how the increase gives them more for their dollar. When the window treatment designer explains the reasons for her price increase to her customers, she also makes a point of explaining that without the price increase, she wouldn’t be able to offer as wide of a selection of fabrics. This is a big selling point for her because her business is among only a handful of those like it in the region, and by far the one with the most choices. So for customers who are willing to pay the higher price, they are getting an expert who can offer them exactly what will be best for their needs.
  • Demonstrate how the increase in price is not to increase profit. If you have been honest in your explanation and fair in your increase, it will become apparent to your customers that you are increasing your prices out of necessity, not greed. All too often, we read in the newspaper how large corporations are posting record profits, even in times of economic distress. Show your customers that your small business is unlike those corporations and that you need to increase your prices to maintain your business and livelihood. They will likely agree with you and understand the reasons for your actions.

By being honest with your customers and adding value to your products and services, you will maintain your clientele despite your prices going up. Your customers will appreciate your honesty and will remain loyal if they know you sincerely appreciate them in return. What are your ideas for keeping customers while raising your prices? Please share your comments with us!

4 Ways to Keep Reinventing and Re-energizing Your Business

4 Ways to Keep Reinventing and Re-energizing Your Business

Have you ever reached that point in your business where things just feel a little stale? Things have been the same for a while, and the business just doesn’t feel like it’s growing? It’s important to move beyond this, because a business that isn’t growing is one that’s fading. You are always moving in some direction. Take control of the direction of your business, and help yourself move forward, with these tips.

  1. Socialize with Customers: Sometimes you need to get out of your rut. So find out where your customers hang out, and spend time there yourself, socializing and getting to know people. Find out what’s important to them, what interests them, what they talk about. Make sure you’re focused on learning as much as you can about the people you serve, and use that insight to improve and grow your business.
  2. Connect with Other Business Owners: Another great source of insights that can help your business grow is other business owners. So team up with other local small businesses and learn from them. Join the local Chamber of Commerce and volunteer your time to help improve the business environment in your town. Help promote the businesses  of others, and you may find that you increase your customer base as well.
  3. Remind People About Your Business: Don’t assume everyone remembers what you have to offer, especially if you don’t own a brick and mortar establishment that people see regularly. Marketing and advertising should be a regular part of your business activities. Make sure everyone in your local community knows what you do and do whatever necessary to encourage them to come to you with their needs. For example, a local scrapbooking consultant always sponsors her son’s sports team. For the entire season, her name and her business are on the backs of all the children playing (for all their parents to see), and it’s also listed on team schedules, as the name of her business is the name of the team. Another business buys a plaque each year at the local Little League field, and it stays up all year, reminding people about the business. Make sure you’re doing what it takes to stay front of mind for your business.
  4. Provide Personalized Service: If your business has a reputation for personalized, excellent customer service, your reputation will spread. Everyone likes to feel like they have someone who is completely committed to meeting their needs. Make it a point to make every single customer you work with feel like they are a rock star. Ask questions, learn the names of their kids, find out what matters to them. Bring these things up each time you talk to them. And try to anticipate their needs, so that they feel like you are going the extra mile for them. It will be appreciated and bring them back, because very few businesses provide this level of service anymore.

A growing business takes careful thought and strategy. Be sure you are consistently focused on what you can do to grow your business, so you don’t stagnate and go in the wrong direction! By constantly working on growth, you can enjoy a thriving business and enthusiastic customers who refer their friends to you.

How do you keep your business growing? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Today’s Highlighted Video from the DSEF: Product Buy-Backs

Today’s Highlighted Video from the DSEF: Product Buy-Backs

Today’s highlighted video from DSEF:

Can’t see this? Click here:

Do you know what the DSA Code of Ethics says about Product Buy-Backs?

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How To Be Persuasive Without Being Pushy

How To Be Persuasive Without Being Pushy

Low angle view of two business executives shaking handsA big fear that many who enter the sales field have is that they may be perceived as “pushy” when seeking sales. It’s important, of course, to ask for the sale, but at the same time you don’t want customers to come away feeling uncomfortable about their encounter with you. So how do you find a balance? How can you be persuasive and get sales without crossing a line and becoming pushy? Here are some tips:

  • Focus on what they need, not what you want. This is the single most important thing that every salesperson must take to heart in order to be effective. If you are driven by quotas and your own bottom line, you will not be successful. The most effective salesperson takes the time to build a relationship with each and every prospect, discovering the challenges that he or she faces, and then crafting solutions with products or services that meet those needs. You may not sell as much at first as you would being pushy (at least not the first time), but what you will do is build customer loyalty that results in many more sales over the long term.
  • Make your solution realistic, applicable and concrete. In order to truly present a solution that is valuable to the prospect, you must understand WHY they need what you have to offer. If you sell to other businesses, take some time to learn about their business. If you sell to individuals, take the time to interview people who are in the target market of your product line and learn about their day to day needs. Invest time in truly understanding where your prospects are coming from and what problems they face. Then the solutions that you offer will come from a place of understanding, rather than sounding like you’re making them up as you go along based on what you want to sell. The best solutions are realistic because you understand the need, apply to the problem at hand, and truly offer concrete help to the problem at hand.
  • Tell stories. When presenting a solution, one of the best things you can do is tell stories that the prospect can relate to that draws similarities to their situation. Talk about another person who had a similar situation (this is one of the place your research pays off!) and how your product or service helped resolve that situation. The phrase “facts tell, stories sell” is quite true, because it helps people to imagine how what you have to offer is applicable to their situation. Many people are visual learners, so create a picture for them that helps them to understand why what you have to offer is compelling, and meets their needs.
  • Listen more, speak less. Even if you feel that you understand the prospect’s situations perfectly because you’ve seen it a hundred times before, let them tell you anyway. People are more likely to feel comfortable with the solution you offer if they feel like they’ve been heard. So be sure you listen more than you speak when working with a prospect. And when you do speak, rephrase what they’ve said and ask them to confirm that you’ve stated it correctly. Everyone wants to be heard, and too often we don’t listen enough in our society. Give the gift of total attention and listening to your prospect, and they will walk away from the experience feeling positive about the interaction.
  • Accept “no.” If you’ve done your research, listened well, shared stories and offered good solutions that meet the customer’s needs and they say no, that’s OK. While you will, of course, ask questions to confirm that they aren’t missing relevant information related to your product, not every single person will buy. If the prospect begins to avoid eye contact with you or their body language indicates that they are trying to distance themselves from you, it’s time to stop. Thank them for their time, offer a card and a willingness to help in the future, and move on to the next prospect. You don’t have to close every single person every single time. There are plenty of other prospects who need what you have to offer, and rather then spending lots more time on someone who won’t buy, focus on finding people who will be interested.

Think about your last good and bad experience with a salesperson. What made those situations what they were? Chances are the good experience was with someone who knew their product line and could answer your questions competently. It was someone who could point you in the direction of a good value that would solve your problem. The bad experience was probably with someone who was ill-informed about the product line and was simply trying to sell you something. Remember, a service-oriented salesperson is one who is focused on solving problems and meeting needs. This type of salesperson is the one who creates the good experiences that people remember and tell their friends about.

How do you avoid being pushy when selling your products? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

4 Ways To Make Your Product Seem More Valuable and Desirable

4 Ways To Make Your Product Seem More Valuable and Desirable

Woman Carrying Gift BoxesYou probably think that your product line is the best one out there. After all, that’s why you sell it! And it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because you understand the benefits, the value is obvious to everyone. But that’s usually not the case. And simply reciting a long list of features and benefits will likely lose you the sale. It takes a skilled salesperson to highlight products in a way that make them seem valuable and desirable to customers.

Here are some tips to make your products feel more valuable and desirable for your customers:

  1. Get people talking. The more you can get others talking about your products, the more valuable and desirable they will seem. So when your customers are happy with your products, ask them to tell a friend. Provide them with the “above and beyond” service experience that makes them want to jump on Facebook and tell all their friends to shop with you too. Record videos of your customers using your products (or ask them to provide videos) and feature them through your social media profiles. Post testimonials from happy customers on your Facebook Page and website so people see how great your products are. Run contests where people submit pictures of themselves using your products, and share those photos with their friends. It’s a human trait to want what others have and like. Capitalize on that to build the desire for your products.
  2. Skip the long features list. Presenting too many features and benefits can bore your customer, and cause them to become overwhelmed, so they buy nothing at all. Instead, listen carefully to your customer and ask questions that help you find out what is important to him or her. Then you can highlight just the features that are most relevant to that specific customer, which makes your product seem most valuable to him or her.
  3. Highlight ease of use. The easier you can make your product seem, the more valuable it will be in the eyes of your customer. Of course you don’t want to in any way misrepresent your product, but educating your customer on how to use your product so that they don’t have to struggle to figure it out later will help your customer make a purchasing decision. Rather than having to rely on the instructions that come in the box, they’ve already had an educated salesperson who has taken the time to explain the product, and shown how easy it is to use. That beats a nameless, faceless big box store with uneducated employees every day of the week, and makes it more likely you’ll get the sale.
  4. Offer a test drive. People love to “try before they buy,” so when possible, give people the chance to test out your products risk-free. Offer a money-back guarantee, or have samples they can use before they purchase.  When you let people use your product first, they can see for themselves how valuable your product is, which increases the likelihood that they will buy it, because they’ve integrated it into their routine.

When customers have a chance to use and understand your products, they are more likely to purchase for themselves, and tell their friends. How do you present your products so that your customers find them desirable and valuable? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.