As many of you know, I work in direct sales and by all technical terms own my own business. I do this through Pure Romance, a company that promotes positive romantic relationships, self-care, education, and research concerning sexuality. But of course, if you’re online you know that there are dozens more: It Works, Jamberry, LuLa Roe, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef and so on and so on and so on and cue the impatience you have with all of your friends who do this. To that end, I would like to share just a few thoughts about my perspective (from the other side) in the hopes of making this mom-trepeneur surge a better experience for all involved. So I give you the ten things all of us in direct sales wish you knew:
- We do this for a reason. – Let’s start here. I didn’t wake up one day and decide that my house needed an influx of things that go buzz in the night because I was bored. No, I sought out direct sales because at a time in my life when I was underemployed full-time and my husband’s work situation had changed, I needed a way to pay bills and feed myself. I was powerless, because I was in a two income household with two people working full-time and no availability to get a second part-time job. Also, an over-qualified resume´ pretty much got me shafted from every potential prospect I had. Direct sales was a way to level the playing field, take care of my family, and most importantly stay off of welfare. It’s disappointing when others think that you choose this work as part of a fad or mainstream mob mentality. I, as well as every woman I’ve met who does this, choose this work because it meets a need in our lives that our current job market or social circles do not currently meet. Some sell to make friends; some sell to make money. It matters either way.
- We actually make money doing it. – People like to laugh and ask if I actually make money doing what I do. This question seems to suggest that I might be the type of person who does something pointless and nonprofitable…just because? A little insulting to a person’s self-actualization, but moreover the answer is a loud YES. Of course I make money doing this. On a good day, I make more money as a novice entrepreneur than I do as a professional with a Masters Degree and 5 years in the field. Just sayin’. Don’t assume it’s a waste of time.
- We will contact you, because we’re good at what we do. – Any saleswoman worth her salt will reach out to people at random. In general, indirect advertising is about only 3% effective. (Expensive Super Bowl ads, huh?) That number goes up to 10% when you are directly contacted by a person. So while it may seem odd or awkward or unusual in a society where you’d prefer to never pick up a phone call again, people who work in sales reach out as part of their work. It’s not intended to be intrusive; it’s simply offering you access to something for which those 3% initiatives may have passed you over.
- We will follow up with you, because we’re good at what we do. – If you express interest at any level, we’re going to contact you again. Another fun fact: It takes between 5 to 12 follow-ups for people to actually follow through with what they say they will do. In short, people are forgetful, apathetic, and fickle. Mostly, we spend our lives glorifying being busy, so we lose time and don’t make good on our intentions. No worries. Almost all of us do it. It doesn’t offend a salesperson; that’s the job. But please don’t be surprised or offended that we follow-up on something you said.
- We will leave you alone if and only if you actually say, “No.” – So I’ve heard a lot of dialogue about the frustration people feel with their friends hounding them for their business. I understand how that would be annoying if you were not interested. The common theme however is that none of these people actually tell their friends this. Here’s what happens instead: They say something along the lines of “maybe” or “not now” or “I’m just really busy” or “I don’t have enough friends” etc. Now, if you refer to what I just said in #4, this results in a cycle of run-arounds and avoidance and many noncommittal conversations which does nobody any favors. The person still gets contacted because a good saleswoman is attempting to follow-up with a client who may actually have needs they can meet. Also, the salesperson is wasting her time that could be spent on something that will actually help her with someone who actually has needs. In the end, both parties feel a little resentful of the whole situation. It doesn’t have to be that way! What started as someone trying to be polite ends with someone frustrated, feeling hounded, and being misleading. This has happened to me for sure. People commit to parties and then avoid my calls and texts or make up a series of reasons why they can’t until it fizzles out. People just simply start giving the silent treatment. It’s silly. So I give you permission and encouragement to let go of the fear of “being impolite” and the guilt of “not helping a friend” and just be honest. Your ambiguity is not helping a friend; it’s actually the opposite. In sales, you go for the “no” and you move on because statistically it just means you’re closer to an actual sale. Please do not be afraid to say you are not interested. If you really want to help you can offer a referral as an alternative. I’ve had people say “no” and it feels relieving, because I can cross them off of my list with a definitive answer.
- We will not harass you just because we have your contact information. – This is a common fear. But we are in the people business, and as people, we know how annoying spam and email influx can be. Nobody wants that. We also know that people hate not being able to express their concerns, complaints, questions, comments, and mistakes made. If you are unwilling to share your contact information, you are giving up some of your customer service. Just an FYI. Salespeople cannot help you if they cannot contact you.
- We believe in our products. – I do not offer anything to others that I do not either use myself or know someone using it with positive results. As I said, there are many places that people can seek out direct sales. You can bet that they chose a specific company because they believe in their brand, mission, and results. I don’t sell Pampered Chef, because I just don’t think everyone needs a grapefruit fork. 🙂
- We genuinely want you to enjoy your experience. – I am a person and not a corporation. If you are unhappy with something that makes me sad. If you have a bad experience, that is a reflection on me and our disconnect. Everything I do or say or offer is always designed to make my client happy and satisfied. Returning clients are what make a successful business and not one-time clients that we trick into buying things. Just another thing to consider. People want you to have the life you want to have.
- We get asked to participate too. – I know what it’s like to be invited to a shopping group and event, both online and in person. That is really all I have on that one. We are not exempt from the experience, and we empathize with what it feels like.
- We get tired of the things you post too. – Games I don’t play, causes I don’t value, advocacy that seems like bulldozing, memes that aren’t funny, memes that are funny but I cannot share because of a typo, meals that aren’t impressive, places I’ll never go, inside jokes that I’ll never get, sports teams that I think are lame, anti-nerd culture, millennial bashing…just some of the things I am exposed to that I sometimes get tired of online. But I understand that part of engaging with others online or not is learning to ignore or accept the parts of others that drive you bananas. In a digital context, that includes their posts. So while I don’t want or intend to bother others with my Pure Romance posts, I take it as much as I dish it. Our online feeds will always have noise and clutter. We just keep scrolling past what is irrelevant.
In short, you do not have to shop, join us, or promote us. But try to at least understand us. We are all real people trying to make a better life for ourselves.
I value every client I have ever met and have loved every party I have executed. Though my reasons for continuing this business have shifted since the beginning, I continue this work because I feel like I am helping women in a real way and I am sticking it to student loans one bottle of Coochy at a time. Thank you everyone who made it this far in the reading and anyone who has supported my business ventures. Happy weekend, everyone! Off to a party!