Direct Selling Uberization: The New Rules of Distributor and Customer Engagement

Let’s cut right to the chase. What questions are on the pressing list of challenges for today’s direct selling companies?

  1. How can companies prove that the direct selling business is a lot more exciting and fulfilling than any other gig opportunity?
  2. How can companies build an onboarding program that accelerates the time it takes to make the first sale?
  3. How can companies deliver relevant training and support to a massive, distributed workforce?
  4. How can companies keep distributors engaged and active?
  5. How can companies help distributors gain more customers to sell products?
  6. How can companies win over customers’ hearts and boost sales?
  7. How can companies differentiate themselves from their competitors?

To solve these challenges and seamlessly adjust to the upcoming changes in the industry, direct selling companies have to become pioneers in establishing new ways of achieving success. But what are those ways?

1. Make distributors’ success as easy as 1, 2, 3

Direct selling is not the only gig in town. Not anymore. The gig economy marketplace is huge and involves more and more people every year. This trend moves the direct selling industry to a new, yet uncharted direction. To tap into independent workforces’ needs and goals, DS companies have to innovate and offer opportunities that embrace the simplicity of success – opportunities the gig economy can’t compete with.

Having been helping direct selling companies supercharge their distributors and increase productivity for seven years, we’ve outlined the major aspects that people are looking at now when choosing the right gig opportunity. Spoiler: It’s not the amount of money they can earn. It’s the ‘level of effortlessness’ that they care about.

Brett Duncan, marketing and communications strategist, supports this idea:

What most people are looking for is the easiest way to make that side income in a way that fits their schedule the best. The majority of your distributors, and definitely those who choose an option outside of direct selling, are looking for the easiest, quickest, most streamlined and hassle-free way to earn a modest amount

In other words, in addition to stellar products, flexibility, and the friendly community direct selling companies offer, they should also ensure easy enrollment and business-building opportunities. Thomas Kelly, Executive Director and Board Member at the National Federation of Independent Contractors Association, says that even though distributors are in the business for themselves, direct selling companies shouldn’t leave them alone.  

To solidify your recruiting and retention, give your direct sellers access to the tools, services, and benefits they need to meet their professional and personal goals. When you offer your direct sellers the opportunities to better-run their businesses and their personal lives, you demonstrate that you are with them on every level and you give them a chance to benefit from a larger community.

All in all, the first step of future-proofing your company’s competitive ability in the gig economy environment is offering business opportunities that are easily accessible and help distributors achieve success within a short period of time. This is possible only with the right tools.

Think about what kind of a digital platform Uber offers to improve its drivers’ experience. The company helps its drivers “earn smarter with real-time information via the app that supports them – like a partner – at every turn.” Users are not only provided with a single resource full of tips and informative videos, but they also get just-in-time alerts on where to drive when it’s busy, seamlessly track their progress toward earning goals, and more. Direct selling companies can learn from that. If distributors are able to run their business successfully with just a couple of swipes on their phone, knowing when and what to do, they’re more likely to stay and keep being productive. 

2. Make the customer buying experience data-driven to the core

The second step to taking a leap into the future involves revamping the customer experience. This is where direct selling has to strengthen its position to compete successfully with the gig economy giants like Amazon, eBay, and others. 

Today, consumer behavior is propelled by three factors.

  • Convenience between digital and physical shopping experiences.

Online shopping provides greater convenience in terms of time and accessibility. That’s why 57% of consumers prefer to shop online. However, it’s not that simple. For 51% of them, the biggest disadvantage of online shopping is the inability to touch and try a product, a lack of interactivity, and fraud issues. As a result, the eMarketer report shows that 65% of consumers would like to see “consistent levels of service across physical and digital experiences” as well as “an option to chat with a live representative.” For direct selling companies, it means leveraging tools and resources that would ensure consistent and outstanding digital and physical shopping experiences to foster strong customer engagement. 

  • Personalization to the bone.

Personalization becomes more crucial than ever before. According to a report from Accenture and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, 63% of consumers want to receive personalized recommendations, exclusive deals, and special offers, even if it means sharing more personal data. Another study reveals that 71% of consumers feel frustrated if their shopping experience is impersonal. What’s more, personalization drives important benefits including a 39% improvement in brand perception, a 46% increase in lead generation, and a 55% increase in customer engagement, as research suggests. That’s why direct selling companies have to turn all their customers’ available data into actionable steps to improve the buying experience and make it as personalized as possible.

  • Strong connection and interaction with the brand.

According to PwC, 65% of consumers believe that a positive experience with a brand is far more effective than advertising and 67% are even ready to pay more for this kind of experience. Indeed, another report by WalkerSands The Future of Retail 2019: The Paradox Between Convenience and Connection supports this fact, highlighting that consumers strive for a stronger connection with the products they purchase and the brands they purchase from through positive buying experiences. Such strong connections can be fostered via an elaborate social selling strategy as well as through post-sale customer support, among others, which require effective distributor training. 

If stepping into the future and improving competitive ability means reshaping two big layers distributor and customer experiences then how can this be done in the most efficient way? 

Stay tuned for the second part of the Direct Selling Uberization series to learn how direct selling companies can propel their businesses with the right tools on hand.

Can’t wait for the second part? Talk to our experts who are always ready to answer your questions and help fortify your company’s growth in the ever-changing business world!