Social Selling: How to Avoid Four Major Distributor Mistakes

To generate new leads and grow sales in the fast-paced world, direct selling companies have to meet customers when they are offline or online. As Forbes reports, DS organizations, with their inherently social business model, have the potential to gain a competitive advantage in the Digital Age by meeting customers’ needs “in the spaces in which they socialize, learn, share life stories, and shop—social media platforms like Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and many others.” For this reason, distributors need to be adept in the art of social selling.

According to the Forrester report, those companies that leverage social selling expand their outreach by 48%, increase their sales productivity by 41%, and have a 39% greater lead volume. In addition, 75% of buyers resort to social media to make purchasing decisions.

However, not all DS companies see such impressive results. Today, we’ll consider the reasons why some distributors fail at social selling and suggest several solutions on how to fix these mistakes.

Reasons why distributors experience failure in social selling

Since the direct selling industry is social by nature and highly depends on personal connections, a cornerstone of distributors’ success is “being there”. This means constantly engaging in meaningful, authentic conversations and making sales through party-planning, one-on-one presentations, online stores, and other arrangements.

However, distributors come from diverse backgrounds and experiences; they have different personalities, motivations, and amounts of time they can dedicate to their DS business. Some might not feel comfortable going out and talking to people for fear of rejection; others might simply want to make some extra money without getting too deep into these social connections, seeing their DS business as a side gig. Moreover, to have a meaningful income from direct sales, distributors have to grow their customer base on a daily basis, and this can be daunting.

Fortunately, social media and the abundance of opportunities it offers facilitate distributors’ goal of “being always there” for buyers who are now highly social, digital, and mobile. This is the reason why social selling has become a go-to for the success of the field. However, not all distributors manage to achieve their sales goals and grow leads by leveraging their social networks. These are common reasons as to why they fail.

  1. Distributors get spammy.

When distributors operate in the social media world, they may think that it’s something completely different from how their offline interactions happen, but the rules are the same. You don’t pitch your products to people at a party as soon as you enter the house, right? You introduce yourself, meet people, engage in meaningful conversations to get to know them better, and only then offer a product that will be useful for them. This is how accounts on social media need to be developed as well.

People don’t like when they constantly get tons of links and ads in their feed or direct messages for products that distributors want to sell. Moreover, they won’t enjoy getting tagged in each and every post. This is the wrong way to attract potential customers’ attention. It’s more than likely that such distributors’ accounts will be reported and blocked.

Distributors should position themselves as thought leaders on particular topics rather than as annoying car salesmen. People value genuine connections and useful tips, this is the point.

  1. Distributors don’t engage with the audience.

The rule of “being there” is also crucial for the online world, so distributors have to be active on their accounts. It doesn’t mean 24/7 presence, but it involves a gradual building of trusting relationships with the audience. Those distributors who show up once a month to post product ads will inevitably lose this battle, but those who like, comment, and engage in conversations relating to potential customers’ needs will come out winners.

Again, this is how engagement happens in real life. You talk to people, showing genuine interest in them to build connections, and these conversations should be maintained further on. If people feel that you’re sincere and don’t see them as a “wallet”, they’re more likely to become engaged.

One way to help your distributors with continuous and authentic audience engagement is by leveraging marketing automation tools like HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, Pardot, etc. They can be very helpful in sales acceleration efforts, lead nurturing, maximizing ROI, and other crucial processes.

  1. Distributors make it impersonal and annoying.

Rachael Pavlik, writer and blogger, described an annoying experience people can have when distributors get too pushy.

I got your friend request on Wednesday, and even though I barely remembered you from high school, I accepted. Approximately 19 seconds later, I got the notification that I had been added to your “Super Special Essentially Sensual Scented Thirty-One Thrive Jamberry Jamboree!” Facebook group.
Yeah, me, along with 400 of your other hapless victims close friends.
Here’s the thing — NO. Just leave me and my wallet out of it, please.

Distributors need to be aware of “sales etiquette”. This point only highlights the above-mentioned two: meaningful conversations and engagement don’t result from spammy behavior. If distributors send friend requests to their old friends just to immediately add them to some fancy product community, they won’t generate new leads. They will get irritated people.

  1. Distributors exaggerate the benefits of their products.

Even if distributors avoid making the three common mistakes listed above, one more way to gain a bad reputation is by deceiving potential customers. It’s great when distributors love the products they sell and use them with great pleasure, but they shouldn’t overestimate their usefulness.

For example, the FDA accused a direct selling company of false statements that its distributors made while promoting essential oils “for conditions such as viral infections (including Ebola), Parkinson’s disease, autism, diabetes, cancer, insomnia, heart disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and multiple sclerosis, which are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners.” Such actions were not only inappropriate but also could cause serious health consequences.

However, all these mistakes are avoidable if DS companies train their field in the right way and provide them with timely reminders about the best social selling practices.

How to drive social selling through just-in-time training

Studies show that 88% of consumers look for products reviews and peer suggestions online on platforms like Quora, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, and the like before actually making a purchase. This is a good starting point for distributors to bring in their knowledge and engage in meaningful conversations.

By following prospects and being aware of the needs, wants, and pain points they share on social media accounts, distributors can show themselves as subject matter experts in specific questions and offer help by sharing relevant content related to products they sell or by giving advice. But to become experts, DS companies need to make sure their field has seamless access to the needed material and updates on products no matter where they are or what device they use. This is why a just-in-time training solution is a must.

The more timely, helpful and relevant information distributors give customers to answer their queries, the more they’ll be seen as trusted advisors and the higher the chances they have to sell products to a broader audience. Along with that, distributors won’t need to make up some false statements about products in an attempt to attract attention.

The important thing is that field support doesn’t end with only product training because distributors’ hectic lives can “get them out of the game”. DS companies that leverage Rallyware’s performance-based platform facilitate their distributors’ paths to success, helping them to fit their DS business into busy schedules. Thanks to smart algorithms, the system triggers personalized activities for each user—smart notifications that remind each distributor of what to do and when. Distributors will know how to act in any situation, without feeling lost or forgetting something important, be it publishing a post about tips on how to use a new cream or connecting with five new prospects on Facebook.

Social selling is an art that allows distributors to drive more sales and generate a greater number of leads. Supported by a smart performance-based platform, your field will become not only more knowledgeable about products but also more productive and successful.

To see how Rallyware drives workforce productivity,  request a demo.