For people who want to work from home, or employed professionals looking to earn a little more on the side, direct sales offers a wonderful chance to make some profit without investing a lot of money. While others may doubt the legitimacy of direct sales, the success of companies like Avon, Mary Kay and Tupperware has proven otherwise.
How exactly does direct selling work and why are more and more women attracted to this type of business?
In direct sales, you establish a more personal relationship with your customer through face-to-face or direct interaction. Traditionally, women have often hosted parties aimed at promoting and selling their products. Your sales will come from the customers buying products from you or when they sign up to join your company, similar to networking.
Aside from sales, what other benefits do you enjoy from direct selling?
1. You have more control over your time and resources.
For mothers who need more time to take care of their children, being able to set their own working hours and schedule is ideal. Full-time employees can choose to meet up with customers after working hours or during the weekend.
2. You can be your own boss.
Although some direct sales companies are now assigning sales leaders to encourage and advise individual consultants to help boost their sales, mostly you still get to create your own goals and plan your strategy.
3. You don’t need any qualifications.
Starting a career in direct sales is easy for anyone. You don’t need any educational requirements to join. Even students and those who have never been employed can start selling, as long as they are committed and are willing to persevere even when sales are not as good as they’d expect.
4. You’ll meet more people.
Since you need to socialize and interact with more people to get more customers, this is also a great way of building new friendships. You might find others who share your interests and you’ll be learning new things all the time.
Finding the right direct selling company
In recent years, many new direct selling companies have emerged to compete with the mainstays. With all these options, how do you choose the company that’s right for you and one you can be more successful in?
1. Product Niche
It’s easier to be more persuasive in selling if your product is something you’re genuinely interested in. There are a lot of different products to choose from so you can choose what your specialty is, whether it’s cosmetics, beauty products, home décor, household products, or cleaning solutions. Be sure to try out some of the products for yourself before you start selling them.
2. Company History and Stability
When considering a company, check on the company’s history. Is it a name that’s recognized by most people? What kind of reputation does the company have? If you’d prefer lesser risk, you can choose a company that’s been around for years. However, some newer companies are also worth looking into if they show a potential to become a major player in the near future.
3. Requirements: Joining Fee and Quotas
Most legitimate direct sales companies require only a minimum amount when you join. This is usually for your starter kit, which includes any training and materials you need to start selling. Be wary of relatively unknown companies that require you to pay a higher joining fee and to first buy a lot of their products. These may be illegal pyramid schemes masquerading as a direct sales company. You will also need to look at the company’s monthly sales quota. Is it something you’re comfortable with and feel confident in achieving?
Finally, one of your greatest motivations to join direct sales is your possible commissions. How much can you expect to earn from each sale? The usual commission for most companies is about 20-30%, so with a 20% commission and a total sale of $300, for example, you’d earn about $60. Higher profits also mean higher commissions and this is something you can check in the company’s specific compensation plan.
Here are some of the more well-known names in the direct selling industry:
Founded in 1959 by Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel, Amway, headquartered in Michigan, USA, has grown into a billion dollar business and has become a strong leader in the industry. Because they sell a wide range of products, mostly in the beauty, home care and health line, their target market is also extensive: men, women and businesses. Although they market their products through direct selling, they also use multi-level marketing where sales consultants sponsor other individuals to join. The consultants sell mainly through catalogues, home parties, mail order, person to person and online shopping. Amway’s bestselling products include Nutrilite vitamins, eSpring water treatment and Artistry cosmetics.
2. Arbonne International
Arbonne International started in Switzerland in 1975 but is now headquartered in California, USA. Their products are mostly for health and wellness, bath and skin care and their customers are both men and women. They also pride themselves on using environmentally-safe materials. Person to person has been their most preferred method of selling. Among others, Arbonne is known for their Arbonne Bio-Nutria health products, ABC Arbonne Baby Care products, RE9 Advanced anti-aging and Arbonne Smart Nutritional Hybrids vitamins.
When it comes to cosmetics and beauty products, Avon is a household name. It’s one of the most established companies in direct selling, with its beginnings tracing back to 1886, by founder David H. McConnell in New York, USA. They manufacture mostly beauty, skin care and fashion products. Though they also have products for men, their target market has always been women. Avon products have traditionally been sold by Avon sales representatives branded as Avon ladies but Avon also sells through catalogues and online. Their most popular products lines are Skin-so-soft, Avon Color, Avon Naturals and Anew.
4. Discovery Toys
One of the newest but most promising direct selling companies, Discovery Toys is unique in the industry. Their product line consists of educational toys for children promoted and sold through face to face marketing. Discovery Toys was founded by Lane Nemeth in 1978 with the goal of creating toys that not only entertain but also help children learn. This company, based in California, USA, believes that presenting and demonstrating their product to parents and their children is more effective than simply putting it on display in a store.
5. Mary Kay
Another direct selling brand known for their cosmetics is Mary Kay. Its founder, Mary Kay Ash, was herself in the direct selling industry before she started her own company in 1963 in Texas, USA. The company has since become one of the most successful businesses in direct selling. Aside from cosmetics, Mary Kay also sells skincare products and fragrances. Though mostly made for women and marketed by women, they have also recently started a men’s range. Mary Kay’s sales methods are mostly via catalogue, person to person, and online shopping.
6. Melaleuca Inc.
Melaleuca Inc.’s founder, Frank L. VanderSloot, started this wellness company in 1985 in Idaho, USA. The company also focuses on being green and eco-friendly. Their products include home care products, personal care and health products. Their cleaning products in particular are known to be effective but not harmful to the environment. Melaleuca’s sales strategies are selling through retail stores, sales consultants and online shopping.
7. Silpada Designs
A newcomer but already growing direct selling company, Silpada Designs has been creating beautiful sterling silver jewellery and accessories. Founded by Bonnie Kelley and Teresa Walsh in 1997, the company gained sales and popularity and eventually turned into a multi-million dollar enterprise. It was acquired by Avon in 2010, but the founders and their families reacquired their company in 2013. Their direct selling method is mainly person to person and through jewellery parties hosted by a sales consultant. Their customers are mostly women but they also have jewellery for men and children.
8. The Pampered Chef
For mothers looking for quality kitchen items and cookbooks, cooking shows hosted by Pampered Chef consultants are a great way of discovering new kitchen tools and delicious recipes. When Doris Christopher began the company in 1980 in Illinois, USA, she started demonstrating and selling her products to housewives through parties. The success of the company allowed it to expand to other countries and in 2002, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway corporation acquired Pampered Chef. Some tools which became customer favourites are their food choppers and stoneware products.
The pioneer in direct selling and marketing through house parties, the brand Tupperware has lasted decades and expanded to many countries, and their company continues to grow. This company began in 1948 when Earl Tupper first developed airtight food containers. Since then, Tupperware became known for their top quality, durable plastic storage and serving containers and the Tupperware party became an icon among housewives. Nowadays, selling of Tupperware products is mostly through person to person interaction, catalogues and online shopping.
Unlike what some people think, direct sales is not a way to get rich quickly. Just like any career or business venture, you’ll need to put time and effort to see results, but if you have the passion and energy to market and promote your products, you will find success and reap rewards.