Guiding the New Micro-Entrepreneur: The Importance of Engaging and Empowering Distributors in the Direct Selling Industry
Direct Selling Best Practices: Preparing for Field Engagement Post COVID-19
What we’ve seen through all of the uncertainty and panic over the past couple of months is that the direct selling industry has emerged, more so than ever before, as a formidable player in a marketplace that has undoubtedly changed for good. Even prior to the pandemic, direct selling was on a steady upward trajectory as far as being among the most attractive entrepreneurial endeavors in the country. One survey suggests that nearly eighty percent of those interviewed would indeed be open to a direct selling career. Post virus, it would not be surprising at all to see some of these numbers climb even higher.
What the coronavirus did, beyond of course reshape our daily existence, was to get consumers to rethink how, where, and in what way they purchase the items they need. Just for a moment consider what lies ahead in the months to come; what does that picture look like? Social distancing measures strictly enforced, the requirement of masks everywhere, excessive sanitization practices, and then there is also the matter of people’s underlying (or not so underlying) fear and hesitation when it comes to public places and subsequent exposure. The shift to a more direct-to-consumer climate is inevitable. And with direct selling an industry already so well defined in terms of being the quintessential shop/sell from home model, the sky truly is the limit. Implementing those direct selling best practices that perhaps some companies may not have done thus far, will only further boost momentum.
More comprehensive field engagement is going to be critical moving forward from all of this. The rules of distributor engagement have definitely changed over the past few years, such changes seeing something of a supercharge in the first half of 2020. It is going to be a matter of integrating the right tools and technology in alignment with a data-driven approach that will ultimately enable direct selling companies to keep their distributors engaged, motivated, and productive.
The Distributor Engagement Strategies Companies Need to Start Implementing Now
While certainly, we are not out of the proverbial pandemic woods yet, there is no time like the present to start integrating the resources and practices necessary to keep team members engaged. Having partnered with a number of direct selling organizations, we have subsequently seen what works and what, frankly, doesn’t. Below are a few direct selling best practices that we’ve witnessed take companies from the middle of the crowd to the leader of the pack.
- Provide relevant content. Obviously, the coronavirus has been something of a content hoarder. Meaning, most news, social media posts, articles, what have you, center on some facet of how COVID-19 is impacting our world. With direct selling, it’s not any different really…provide meaningful content that reflects the times we live in now. Offer distributors information regarding how to adjust, how to market, and how ultimately to thrive in this current climate.
- Content should vary. Relevance is key and so is variety—after all, it is the spice of life. Attention spans phone it in after thirty seconds, so give them something fun, interactive, and different to focus on, be it polls, quizzes, social challenges. And then of course there is the gamification aspect. Competition is a great motivator, especially for those who might be losing interest. This is also a terrific way for uplines to monitor the progress of downlines. And giving out relevant badges and awards for substantial milestones achieved is crucial here to keep the momentum building.
- Utilize smart segmentation for best distributor engagement results. That is to say, individuals join for different reasons. Some, of course, are looking to build a side gig into a robust career. Others join for product purchases and discounts, and still, others might be looking to become a part of a group. By forming relevant communities based on interests, companies will only enhance distributor engagement efforts.
- Collect feedback…and act on it. Having access to individual feedback is imperative. What’s even more important is that companies act upon the feedback they receive. Once again, we see that data is king. The more you know, the more targeted and effective corresponding actions can then be.
- Have mobile access to, well, everything. Mobile is the way to go, in some instances, it’s the only way to go. According to a 2019 survey, Americans check their phones on average 96 times per day. When considering the frequency of mobile phone/device usage, direct selling companies really have no choice but to incorporate those tools and features such as push notifications and 24/7 availability when it comes to direct selling best practices.
- Establish a central location for all information. Distributors don’t want to be scrolling for long periods of time in order to access the up to date information they need to perform at an optimal level. They want the content and info right there, all amassed in one centralized hub. Everything from product brochures to training manuals, to webinars and checklists, should be consolidated and thus made easy to access.
We understand the challenges that so many companies are going to face in the immediate future and perhaps even long term. The beauty of the direct selling industry is that it was already prepared for many of the changes we saw and many that are still likely to come. The key moving forward, as noted, is going to be to optimize distributor engagement strategies utilizing the right tools and the latest scalable technologies.
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