How Tech Drove Direct Selling Success During COVID-19 & What’s Coming Next

This past year, O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2021 Global Culture Report noted that “unexpected, once-in-a-lifetime challenges have exposed the flaws and strengths of every organization’s culture.” This is certainly the case for the direct selling industry, and worldwide, the industry is prospering and has demonstrated strength and perseverance during the past year. 

The CEO of Direct Selling Australia noted that in 2020, the industry is estimated to have generated $1.87 billion AUD in retail sales, and the number of independent sales people grew by 15% that year – over 90,000 more than in 2019. In the United States, there were 7.7 million direct sellers in 2020, a 13.2% increase from 2019.  

These statistics show that the industry is an appealing one – and this presents an opportunity to augment the strengths of the direct selling industry. How can new technologies – those that focus on prioritizing members of the distributed workforce – support and enhance the industries’ key features?   

As an industry, direct selling is in a unique position, among its key features being:

  • The social aspect – Working in this industry is an excellent way to meet and socialize with individuals of all demographics, and with those spread across the globe. In addition to support from one’s team and company, mentorship is another key component. 
  • Flexibility and entrepreneurship – It allows people to be their own boss – dedicating either full of part-time hours to this venture. They are able to set their own hours and goals, and gain the benefits of working for an established company with strong brand recognition.
  • Multiple skill sets and opportunities for personal growth – Direct selling offers the chance for individuals to develop skill sets in a variety of areas, such as time and finance management, presentation skills, customer service and effective coaching. Increased self-esteem, empathy and expanding one’s circle of influence are all positive outcomes of pursuing direct sales. Some individuals become more proficient in public speaking, and move into leadership roles when they once might not have been comfortable in such situations. 
  • No prerequisites – No formal educational or professional degrees are required, making this an ideal option for students, recent graduates and stay-at-home parents. 

All of these features and benefits that the industry offers need to be personalized and be available at one’s fingertips just when they are needed. This is where modern technology is playing a key role – yet it should be integrated in a strategic way – as noted in O.C. Tanner Institute’s report, “new technology is far more successful when it’s introduced and integrated in ways that strengthen culture.” Thus, companies should utilize technology in such a way that different tools interact seamlessly with one another to support a thriving culture, complete with exceptional experiences for distributed workforce members and are aligned with the overall corporate vision. 

Performance Enablement Platforms such as Rallyware’s support such features, providing the tools and technology on the back-end while integrating with the existing back offices. Let’s go through these elements, and see how technology touches each one. 

No direct selling experience? No problem!

As training is a crucial component in direct selling, it is important to heavily invest in the training and development of new distributors, providing them with the appropriate material, at the right time. First of all, it is critical to uncover a distributor’s previous experience, upon their first 30 and 60 days with a company, in order to provide them with personalized tasks and incentives. What are their aspirations, unique skills, and learning preferences? 

Taking a data-driven approach, Performance Enablement Platforms work to detect where an individual is in their journey, and what their personal and professional goals are. Is their primary goal to gain access to the company’s products at a discount? To earn an additional income? To become well-versed in basic business skills as a stepping stone towards future business ventures? Whatever the goal is, a personalized learning journey can be designed for each member of the workforce. 

For instance, Matthew, a recent college graduate, is completely new to the direct selling industry. With a business degree, he possesses fair knowledge of how organizations operate, as well as strong teamwork and networking skills. His primary goal is to gain some real-life sales experience early on in his career. Using these insights, the relevant training will be delivered to Matthew, concentrating on areas of growth that could be improved upon. Are there any gaps in his knowledge? He may not require basic business and finance skills, yet may require more training related to lead generation and nurturing. 

Performance Enablement Platforms make delivering training materials seamless and straightforward, as well as providing additional learning content to reskill and upskill, when needed. And, as noted above, direct selling is an ideal industry for those looking to develop skill sets in numerous areas. Such platforms allow for this process of continuous learning – the key is knowing the individual distributor, and personalizing the experience to meet their needs. 

Training and ongoing learning programs for continuous engagement

Emphasis on personal growth & goal progression 

Belinda Ellsworth, motivational speaker, sales trainer and industry expert, wrote: “In direct sales, your colleagues want to see you succeed and encourage you to do so. Your promotion within your company is not at the expense of someone else, because there is enough room for everyone to achieve success.” In the direct selling industry, there is ample room for all to achieve success, and there are strong support networks in place to help them along the way. 

As mentioned above, direct selling offers an ideal work-life balance, and is popular among busy parents, caregivers, veterans, and budding entrepreneurs. Being provided with structured tasks allows for freedom and flexibility to flourish. A recent analysis from Rallyware points to the benefits of smart notifications – finding that the percentage of completed business building tasks among users who received but did not open such notifications was only 0.1%, while among those who viewed more than one notification, this indicator increased to 29.4%. 

This shows that being provided with a virtual ‘tap on the shoulder’ is extremely convenient for distributors. Let’s look at an example: Sarah, for instance, is a busy mother as well as a caregiver for her elderly parents, and chose a career in direct sales as an additional income channel, but does not have much time to devote to it. By logging into the Performance Enablement platform, she is provided with a clear picture of her progress and achievements – it is the middle of the month, and she is already 65% closer to her monthly goal of sourcing 20 prospective clients. She is then delivered a notification to complete her daily task, which is to send a purchase reminder email to a client. Within the platform, she composes this email using a handy template, the platform then tracks this email and its performance. Done! Having this all-in-one platform, complete with reminders and built-in templates, makes it easy for distributors to execute tasks that will get them one step closer to reaching their goals.    

Just-in-time microlearning and smart notifications for seamless hands-on training

The significance of communities & connections 

The industry of direct selling is one that thrives on human relationships, and providing distributors the opportunity to connect is crucial in fostering a strong community and a sense of togetherness. In a recent conversation, Martine Girotto, President at LegalShield Canada, noted that she adds her own personal touch to virtual interactions through monthly Facebook Live sessions. Such gatherings are an opportunity to socialise with colleagues who may not mix otherwise, and help to strengthen company culture by keeping individuals engaged. 

Providing opportunities for individuals to connect in the virtual space will continue to be critical, as mentorship and solid support networks are key elements of the direct selling industry. How does a Performance Enablement Platform support such features? With streamlined upline support, for instance, distributors can easily pose any questions, such as where to start sourcing new prospects. Such a tool makes collaboration simple and efficient. Distributors can be part of various online communities, according to criteria such as their rank within the company, product categories, business goals, interests, or even their location. Have a question for those also living within the Toronto area? Ask away.      

Direct selling boasts a culture of networking, camaraderie, celebrating each other’s successes, and skill development. So consider: what is unique to your organization’s culture? What characteristics and defining features make you stand out? In today’s shifting and rapidly advancing landscape of work, how can distributors be provided with effective tools and digital solutions to help them grow their businesses, while also ensuring that they remain engaged and connected to the company values and culture? Then, integrate technology in such a way that it supports and reinforces these key features. It is time to harness the technologies at our disposal to provide the best possible experience for distributors and empower them at every step.  

From personalized learning to engagement programs and social tools, how can Rallyware’s Performance Enablement Platform support and enhance the defining characteristics of your company’s culture and drive a tangible ROI? Schedule a demo to learn how!