From Cassette Tapes to Apps: Lessons Learned from 25 Years of Direct Sales

Aug 20, 2020 7:00:00 AM / by McKinley Oswald

To view my full conversation with JJ, Click here.

When I was in high school, my dad bought a cassette duplication company. My siblings and I would frequently go to work with my dad and help assemble cassettes and prepare them for shipments. Some of our earliest clients were direct sales companies. My brother and I would travel with my dad to various direct sales events and sell the cassette tapes at the back of the room. This was our early introduction to an industry that we have come to love and serve for more than 25 years. The cassette tapes have changed, but the way we work with our clients and the principles that we’ve learned over the years hasn’t. We love what we do and are so grateful for the lessons we’ve learned over the years.

Verb - Archive - Cassette Tape 1-2

Direct Sales Masterclass - JJO

This week’s Direct Sales Masterclass features a conversation with my brother JJ, the Senior VP of Sales at Verb. We talked about some of the changes we’ve seen in the industry, lessons that we’ve learned, and share some of the success stories we’ve experienced with our clients.


Lesson 1: The Right Tools Lead to Growth and Retention 

There is a direct relation to the use of tools and the growth of a company. In the mid 2000’s we did a case study with a client that was focusing on retention. They analyzed everything from enrollment packages, auto-ship options, and event attendance to the use of tools. The #1 indicator for someone still being in the business after nine months was if they had purchased tools in month one. Tools drive the business. Without them, a distributor can’t succeed.

Fast forward 15 years, and we had a client do an independent case study that showed almost the same exact results. They analyzed a year’s worth of enrollments to see what the key retention indicators were. They found if someone logged into the Verb app and shared something with a contact, 33% were still in the business after six months. By way of comparison, if they didn’t log in to the app in month one, only 1% were still in the business after six months.

The takeaway is clear: Giving your field the right tools to build their business will help them succeed and will drive your retention numbers in a positive way!



Part of a tools strategy should include the use of video. Someone is 67% more likely to make a buying decision if they watch a video first. Verb’s interactive video has shown conversion rates 1200% higher than normal video. And, our VerbLIVE video platform it takes video to the next level.


“If I was coaching a company on where to start with tools, I’d tell them to focus on their video strategy.”

– JJ Oswald, Sr. VP of Sales at Verb


Lesson 2: Social Media Has Changed the Industry

The use of video has been one of the key trends that have changed the industry in the past decade. And along those lines, social media has had an even bigger impact on direct sales companies and their distributors. Whether you’re giving new people something to say on social or creating Facebook groups to help with customer and distributor pathways, social media is helping drive sales and company growth. Giving your field the technology to share on social and then teaching them the right way is key. Fire-hosing your social network isn’t an effective way to sell on social media. A simple formula that we teach our app users goes something like this:


The 10-4-1 Rule

  • 10 generic posts: Everyday posts of spending time with family, hobbies and personal interests
  • 4 indirect company posts: generic references to product benefits or industry benefits (before and after photos, travel posts, and photos of product without packaging)
  • 1 power post: a post referencing a specific product, promotion, sample, or event with company branding

*these posts should be done over a 15-day period with one post/day



At Verb, we have seen great success using the social media tools in our app combined with sampling. One use case had a distributor who posted a generic sample giveaway post and saw the return of seven enrollments from one individual post. And, five of those enrollments were people who weren’t even on her list.


Lesson 3: Sampling Is the Ultimate Customer Acquisition Tool

Sampling has been around the direct sales industry for decades. At Verb, we didn’t invent sampling, but we like to say we perfected it. The right combination of letting someone try a product with the technology to enable effective follow-up has proven to be the ultimate tool in customer acquisition.



“Sampling works when the senior management team slows down, embraces the process, and creates a sampling culture.”

– JJ Oswald


One of the great successes we have seen with sampling is using it as part of the on-boarding process. Many companies are giving new distributors 3-5 samples upon enrollment. We have several clients who reward those distributors with 3-5 additional samples if they give the first set out in under a week. All of this can be automated through the app. This drives the right behaviors with the distributors from day one and helps them enroll their first customers.


Verb has seen some astounding conversion rates, with sampling approaching an average of 20% for our customers, and some achieving rates as high as 40%. There is a science to it: Anyone can sample a product, but combining it with the right technology and proven follow-up principles can help you increase those conversion rates.


Lesson 4: Focusing on Promotions and Rank Advancement Will Drive Growth

Oftentimes, companies over-think the process. At Verb, we have seen that companies that focus on promotions and rank advancement have great success. One prominent Verb client uses what we will call the “push-and-pull” technique as described below.


The Push and Pull Technique

  • 90-day focus on pushing to drive enrollments
  • 90-day focus on pulling distributors to achieve new rank advancements
  • Repeat

Having this type of a focus helps you to not only run product promotions, but to also focus on creating behaviors through promotions that will drive rank advancement. This may include free shipping for enrollment packages. Or, waiving the sign-up fees. Combining customer/product promotions with enrollment promotions can create a healthy balance that will encourage growth.



Lesson 5: Create a Strong Digital Foundation

Whether you are a start-up company or a legacy, billion-dollar brand, establishing a strong digital foundation is key to your success. Over the past several years, JJ and I have had the opportunity to meet with numerous startups as they laid out their launch plans. The companies that have had the greatest success have incorporated a digital strategy to provide technology solutions to their field from the day they open their doors. This has included a way to get the word out and maximize the technology in the app to create massive activity and drive the right behaviors in the field.



Over the years we have also seen very successful legacy companies that have innovated and adapted to create next level growth. The key focus there has been innovation.


“Legacy companies must innovate, or they will stagnate.”

– JJ Oswald


Some of the great success stories of 2020 have been companies who have been in the industry for years and have found ways to shift what they are doing, apply technology, and create growth opportunities for their field.


Succeeding in the New Era of Direct Sales

 Having “grown up” in the direct sales industry, both JJ and I have a strong passion for helping companies succeed. You could say that building the right tools to help companies grow is in the DNA or our company at Verb. As a team, we love providing these solutions and helping our clients achieve their goals.

Direct Sales Masterclass - photo with caption - JJO



Topics: Business, Technology, Marketing, Best Practices, Direct Sales, Sales Enablement, Verb App, Income, Masterclass, McKinley Oswald, Leadership, Disrupt

McKinley Oswald

Written by McKinley Oswald

President of Global Sales for Verb

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