No matter what your business background is, you can be successful in direct sales. Direct sales saved our finances and was our first step into business. When people meet us today, we seem like successful business people. But if you could rewind the clock 30 years and see where we started in direct sales, you would see people who were totally clueless about business. Between the two of us, we couldn’t even balance a checkbook. Adding insult to injury, everyone in our little town knew we were broke!
How broke were we?
Even our cars were broke. My car window on the driver’s side didn’t go all the way up, so when it rained, the whole bottom of my car would fill with water. I kept a shower curtain in the trunk so I could spread it on the wet seat. This would keep my one good dress dry as I drove off to lead a seminar on financial freedom. As long as my foot was on the gas, the force of movement would keep the water in the back of the car. But when I braked, a little tidal wave would slosh forward under my feet. If people like us can make six figures in direct sales, you can too!
Two important ingredients for success in direct sales.
Influence helps your direct sales business get off the ground quickly. Starting out, we had no influence. Influence explains how some people get into direct sales and quickly experience success. People who have influence start a direct sales company with the advantage of having a pre-existing network of people with whom they’ve already built rapport. Maybe they’ve been a leader in another field, or they’re naturally charismatic, or they have clients who listen to them. For example, a popular yoga instructor with a large client base will automatically have a potential business network at the very start. This can result in immediate success, but not due to the amazing product or company. Other newcomers to that business might see her success and feel discouraged that they’re not achieving as much that quickly. Because Joe and I did not have this ingredient, we had to find other ways to make direct sales work for us.
Are you a person of influence? It’s a blessing and a curse! Although you may have a large following, team members you bring into your business may not, (which includes most people). Your quick success may end us as just a flash in the pan if you do not have a sales methodology to help others attract and retain team members of their own. If your initial achievement in a direct sales company is based on influence, it can fizzle out if you don’t expand your knowledge to include the second ingredient.
2. Sales Skills
We were lacking this ingredient also but fortunately, it is a learnable skill. Sales skills are absolutely necessary for everyone who wants to have sustainability. Remember, this is direct sales. Sales skills are foundational for success in any form of selling.
Can’t sell? Let our story bring you hope. In the beginning, we had no sales skills. One night, Joe made 54 phone calls and got 54 rejections. But he didn’t give up. The next day, he made call number 55, made a valuable contact, and eventually became successful. What if he had stopped at 54? As for me, I was terrible at sales. Absolutely terrible! If you ever read our book Sell Naked on the Phone, some of these stories are in there. I got my first sale through tearful begging, which was pretty embarrassing. A lot of people said “no”. Eventually, I reached the point where it didn’t matter to me if they said “no” because with each experience my skills gradually improved.
With so much against us, how did we succeed?
When we started our direct sales business, there were several strikes against us. We had no influence and no sales skills. In addition, we were on our own, with no help from our upline, and we were living in a little town with limited leads. However, we knew two things: we knew how to work, and we knew what we didn’t know, which was how to sell anything. We learned to study people who were successful at selling.
Here’s what we learned about sales:
1. Qualifying Leads
We were frequently told that selling was like throwing mud on a wall: just keep doing it and some will stick. This approach just wastes time getting a muddy wall. Gradually, I realized that it wasn’t good to show the products or business opportunity to just anyone, but that I needed to find people who were actually interested. I learned the importance of quality lead generation. The more we built the business, the more we realized we weren’t just looking for just anybody, but for motivated people who would participate.
TIP: Make a traget list of individuals who would be especially receptive to your product or business.
TIP: Create a LinkedIn profile and lead generation strategy to target high quality leads.
2. No Excuses
You can make money or you can make excuses, but you’ll never make both.
My sister was killed on a Sunday. We traveled to Pennsylvania on Monday for her funeral on Thursday, and Friday we were back in Florida presenting business plans and selling product. We didn’t take time off. It was painful to have to keep moving forward, but we were in such a financial state, we had no choice. Joe and I had the courage and the focus to be able to do that. Two years later, my parents’ house burned down and my dad died, and I had to be in Pennsylvania for six weeks cleaning up that mess and moving my mother in with me. But our business continued to move forward. You can’t make this decision for the people in your group, but you have to decide whether you will continue to forge ahead regardless of what life throws at you. It’s okay if you decide to take a break: you’re still a good person. However, realize every time you take time off, you lose momentum which will reflect in your results sooner or later.
Assess your influence and sales skills
- Step one: look at your business and yourself to determine whether you’re a person of influence. It’s okay if you’re not – you can still make six figures in direct sales. But be aware that you’ll need to learn great sales skills. If you are a person of influence, use it, but realize that you’ll have to get some sales training into your group, or your initial success will not stick.
- Step two: improve your sales skills. Do you get motivational vertigo? You are excited one moment and discouraged the next. For example, at the beginning of the year or right after your direct sales company’s convention, it’s easy to be excited and motivated. You believe you can do it, but the following week reality sets in. You begin to struggle because you do not know how to generate leads or you cannot close on your presentations. Discouragement sets in and now you doubt your ability to achieve success. Sharpening your sales skills allows you to apply your excitement and belief into actionable steps that will build your business.
Joe and I are great supporters of direct sales: it changed our lives. It taught us everything we know about business and built the foundation for our current success. You, too, can solidify your chances for success by learning how to sell and building a profitable business.