Do What You Love While Keeping Your Friends
On changing the direct sales narrative
As a company supporting direct sellers, part of our goal is to change the negative perception that surrounds the direct sales industry. We’ve seen the benefits, both financial and personal, among the thousands of direct sellers we work with every day. Articles (like this one from The Washington Post) present a one-sided, negative, and over-simplified view on an entire industry of over 60 million individuals worldwide¹.
We felt that this critique deserved a balanced response and asked members of our direct sales Community to respond based on their experiences. You’ll also hear from members of our team who’ve been involved in direct sales for several years: Kara Hoholik (Consultant Success Lead and direct seller for 5 years), Aubrey Mueller (Consultant Success Lead and direct seller for 4.5 years), and Janessa Oriol (Head of Community and direct seller for 7 years).
A career in direct sales by itself will not hurt your friendships, just like a career in any other field. However, mistreating your friends could. These relationships are built on mutual understanding and trust. We encourage direct sellers to be genuine, honest, and conscientious when they share their products and opportunity.
“There are friendships and bonds created among direct sellers and their customers, and between those in the same company as they bond on incentive trips and learn and grow together. I needed the camaraderie and friendships I gained in my business. I’ve found my direct sales friends cheer loudest when I succeed, and I have the opportunity to return the favor. This is not cutthroat, this is not shark-infested waters, this is women (primarily) coming together to learn, grow and expand our horizons.”
“My closest friends are made up of those who I’ve met through my business, those I knew beforehand who continually support me by purchasing and promoting, and those who have nothing to do with my business at all. There is no limit on the number of friendships. And I’d like to keep it that way!”
In an age where we’re spending more time online than in person, building strong community foundations have become important. It varies from company to company, but by and large, the direct sales industry has created a niche for culture and community, support and encouragement.
“I’ve never found a group of more supportive women than I have among my peers. These women have supported me through difficult times and celebrated my successes, both personally and professionally. It has never mattered whether we had sales that month or promoted, whether we left the company or not, this community was built to uplift and inspire, and it proves that we are stronger together.”
“Although I understood the importance of sales and recruiting for ‘success,’ I set my sights on providing a fun outlet for women as well as a safe, uplifting community. To say I was successful is an understatement. The notes of encouragement and gratitude I’ve received from those I serve, my customers, could bring a tear to the eye of even the greatest scrutinizer.”
On Social Selling
Excitement, combined with a lack of training, can cause the phenomenon known as “over-sharing” on social media. None of us are immune, with too many pictures of food, pets, kids, or fill in the blank, and that includes direct sellers! The fact is we share what we are most excited about. However, there’s a great rule of thumb for social selling: the 80/20 rule (sometimes 70/30). In a nutshell, 70–80% of posts on social media should be about your personal life, with just 20–30% about your business.
“Less is more. You won’t alienate friends if you don’t go overboard and promote your business tactfully. It allows your friends to see the ‘real you’ and get a glimpse into your life while sprinkling in the posts that share your excitement about your business so those with an interest in participating don’t miss out.”
“There are negative behaviors of those in the industry that take things a bit too far. ‘There’s a bad apple in every bunch.’ Just as the show The Office highlighted less than admirable traits of working in a corporate environment, there are examples of those that take things a bit too far in direct sales, too.”
The truth often lies somewhere in the middle of two perspectives. Through education, support, and quality services, it’s our goal to empower direct sellers to serve their customers in a genuine, positive, and effective way, and in turn, foster a more positive perception of the direct sales industry.
Please review this article courtesy of the Direct Selling Association (DSA) on the definitions of and differences between direct sales, multi-level marketing, and pyramid schemes.
¹A view of the MLM industry http://documents.jdsupra.com/984a05ad-4de7-453d-92be-76befdc6dfd4.pdf
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