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Industry Spotlight: 3 Direct Selling Industry Trends in 2023 and How Technology Can Respond to Them
As we see the post-COVID workforce come into being, this will have implications for direct selling and the performance enablement platforms (PEPs) that these companies use. Therefore, it’s important to be on the lookout for direct selling trends.
Performance enablement technology, and B2B technology more broadly, must evolve along with the economy. They must service their customers and provide advanced solutions that can foretell the trends of tomorrow.
Otherwise, they risk falling behind, reflecting an industry and a workforce that exist only in the past. Here, in another context, one can recall the warnings from several years ago that the US risked falling behind China on technological innovation.
Below, we dive into a few major change drivers for the economy in general in 2023 and into 2024; how these might affect direct selling field workforces; and how technology partners can help companies react to such transformations. Your PEP (or other type of direct selling-oriented platform) should be able to account for these changes using its technology and expertise. So without further ado, here are the top 3 direct selling trends that we have are seeing in 2023.
1. Post-Pandemic Fatigue
Yes, folks are excited to reenter a reopened economy – fully participating in the world for the first time since before the pandemic. (We’ve previously written about our predictions for a post-pandemic gig economy.)
Inflation is still present, and still quite bad. But all things considered, the economy is in relatively good shape. Though it does show shaky signs, such as a crisis with some small and medium banks.
Yet people are spending again, they’re out and about. Still, they’re fatigued, tired, and anxious after years of lockdowns, hesitant reopenings, and a general sense that their lives have been slipping out of their own control. There’s a new pandemic, one of stress and mental illness. The COVID years have affected us, and not in a great way, either.
People aren’t built to suddenly emerge from three years of fear and anxiety. Even as the pandemic wanes, it is clear that the mental health issues that arose in 2020 are still issues, experts say. Those things don’t go away so easily. We might be dealing with the effects of the pandemic for years to come. Economic, mental, and others.
What can direct selling do? What does the future of direct selling hold? Direct selling’s advantage in this context is that it is basically a social activity.
Many direct selling reps use communication and social bonds to hit their sales targets. Whether they’re recording makeup tutorials or demonstrating cookware in public, they’re engaging with audiences, speaking to others about products they love.
The thing is that the pandemic has made people less social. In this case, distributors need a way to break through the shell. Technology can help. At least, it can make it easier.
Communication Tools as Motivation Engines
Experts contend that social interaction (often facilitated by social media) helped relieve depression during the darkest days of the pandemic. Direct selling can use the right technology to create sociality and foster ties between customers and reps – and between reps themselves.
Rallyware, for instance, includes segmented communication groups, message boards, private messages, and other communication tools. These help individuals feel seen and heard by their peers and connect with their customers.
Direct selling doesn’t have to be an activity you do alone. It can be one that is communal, social. It can create connection. And segmented communication help to drive that.
2. Price Volatility and Inflation
Though it might seem that the war in Ukraine would not affect direct selling very much, there’s one way in which it could. (Full disclosure: Rallyware, the author of this article, is a global organization with a strong presence in Ukraine.) Namely, gas price volatility might impact the ability of direct selling reps and distributors to travel. It has impacted rideshare apps. Some distributors rely on road and air travel to make their sales targets.
Similarly, inflation numbers affect the ability of distributors and consumers to purchase products. Inflation is high. Though it’s declined somewhat, it remains high. Most experts expect the war in Ukraine and inflation to continue through the next year. This could increase prices at the pump while ricocheting across the chain of consumer goods and must-have commodities.
Plus, it’s just depressing to consumer sentiment. How long can people experience a sense of crisis and stay positive? When times are good, people spend. (Of course, when times are bad, people spend too. But they’re less social, less inclined to become distributors or buy from them.)
So what should decision makers and executives hunt for in technology, in order to counteract these direct selling trends? Likewise, which aspects of technology should direct selling tech partners emphasize? In this environment, how can you drive sales performance for distributed teams? Well, technology with strong e-learning tools can help to overcome increased gas prices and inflation.
Learning Paths for Increased Distributor Performance
PEPs with smart, personalized learning, upskilling, and training paths for each user can teach distributors how to persuade customers that products are worth their time and money.
If you’re using Rallyware, your platform will be able to sense exactly when a distributor needs to receive the exact-right learning module for your company and show it to them. It learns their preferences and skills and then helps them learn.
Each action creates a deeper personalization of the experience. Each interaction with the platform changes the platform’s understanding of the distributor. Her goals, her progress and skills. It changes. It evolves.
Learning modules can take many forms – here are some examples.
- Inflation Persuasion: You can design learning modules that show distributors how to convince customers to purchase products in spite of price rises – for instance, because these beauty products will increase their quality of life.
- Closing the Gap: Another related learning module could teach users how to close a deal when prospective and clearly interested customers are nonetheless hesitating.
- Customer Empathy: Still a third lesson might show users how to empathize with concerns surrounding price rises while continuing to make the case for a sale.
Of course, every company will have modules that match their own obstacles, needs, and products. Still, the point is to have a PEP that is forward-thinking enough to have adequate technology. The point is to lean in to personalization. A personalized learning experience helps the distributor with the challenges they’re experiencing in real time. It meets them where they are.
3. Increased Interest Rates
As a point of fact, trend #3 dovetails with change driver #2. The United States Federal Reserve Bank has already raised interest rates and looks to continue to do so. The point of this is to slow consumer spending, cool the economy, and curb inflation. Consumers will find it more expensive to take out auto loans, mortgages, and other forms of credit. They will thus have less disposable income. They will spend less. Demand will lower.
What is direct selling to do? Demand is a driver of direct selling growth. This could prove to be a pain point for direct selling as consumer spending slows following an estimated $13.9 increase in revenue in 2020. The answer here, at a time of possible consumer retrenchment, is fairly clear. Technology – the right technology – can use data-driven, personalized tasks and activities to improve distributor performance, helping to make up for declines in spending. A more knowledgeable, upskilled, and engaged field can pick up the slack caused by an economic slowdown.
Rallyware is a shining example of technology that can drive a smarter and more capable workforce. Our data shows that Rallyware’s PEP results in 24x ROI, +47% workforce engagement, +32% workforce productivity, and more!
Those are exactly the kinds of numbers you’re going to want to run up if you’re going to react to the change drivers of 2023 and 2024. Get your demonstration of Rallyware today to see how you can transform today’s challenges into achievable opportunities to enhance your market share.
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