Modernizing the Tried and Tested Strategies of Direct Selling: Why Innovation and Technology are Critical to Your Company’s Success

May 19, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by McKinley Oswald

To view the full video of Kendra Brassfield’s conversation with McKinley Oswald, click here

In 2000, Blockbuster had a chance to buy Netflix for $50 million. By the end of 2018, Blockbuster was down to one store and Netflix was worth $172 billion (that’s billion—with a B). So, what went wrong? Where did Blockbuster lose sight of what the future held? How different would their company’s future have been if they had chosen to adapt, innovate, and change with the times by adopting new technology? As the world became more technologically oriented, Blockbuster as a company failed to follow suit.

“Investor concern over the threat of new technologies is overstated.”

– 1999 Blockbuster analyst report


Many companies have fallen victim to this same pattern. They depend on the historical “tried and true” instead of looking to innovate and adopt new technologies. What worked ten years ago, or even last year, likely won’t work in today’s business.

The same is true in direct sales. Companies that have failed to innovate have fallen victim to the same fate as Blockbuster, left behind by innovation. Whether you are a part of a start-up company or a billion-dollar industry veteran, how you adopt technology and innovate as a company can dictate your company’s failure or success.


In a recent conversation with NeoLife’s CEO, Kendra Brassfield, we talked about the topic of innovation and technology. Founded in 1958, Neolife has the history and experience of an industry icon. One of their key values is long-range vision, and that vision has provided a commitment to make decisions that will benefit the well-being of both the existing and future NeoLife family members. Part of this commitment has always been to innovate and adopt technology.



The Transition from High-Touch to High-Tech

One of the tried and tested strategies of direct sales is to build the business face to face, or belly to belly. For many large organizations who built their businesses in this manner, the mere mention of technology may not sit well. Building on social media or using technology to connect can be met by a lot of resistance. Regardless of the resistance, Kendra and her team were committed to making a transition from high touch to high tech.

The NeoLife team knew that the principle of relationship building—meeting face to face—was the ideal way to connect with people. But they realized that technology didn’t replace that, it just served as a tool to reach exponentially more people in more area codes and more countries than they had thought possible in the past.



Covid-19 has served as what Kendra terms a “wake-up call” for the industry.


“In order to be successful, we have to be constantly evolving and innovating and connecting with technology that makes it easier to build from anywhere, even our homes”. – Kendra Brassfield


NeoLife’s adoption of technology and Verb’s app allowed them to quickly adjust at the beginning of the pandemic to provide their business builders with the tools that they needed to succeed. Together as a team, they realized that it wasn’t time to sit back and relax. It was time to reach out to more people than ever and see it as a big opportunity. The Verb app allowed them to reach a lot of people with the same content as they had historically done in person, but more effectively with the app. And sales have skyrocketed in the last month. This has created a lot of excitement coming out of the promoter field and a large part of that has come from being prepared on the technology side.

This preparation started several years ago when I met with Kendra and her team to talk about their technology goals. They were looking for a way to take the fundamentals of what they were seeing on the offline side of the business and bring it to the online side—going from high touch to high tech.



Key Benefits of the Verb Platform for NeoLife Business Builders

  • Low introductory cost compared to other technologies
  • A powerful tool to share, prospect, follow-up and train
  • Easy to integrate
  • A partnership, not a vendor
  • Proven platform with dozens of direct sales clients and over 1,000,000 users
  • An international solution for markets outside the U.S.


“I loved that with Verb you felt like partners—Verb really partnered with us from the beginning. We never felt like a customer, we felt like partners.” – Kendra Brassfield


Segmenting a Customer Experience Before Regulatory Issues Require It

Another strategy that many see as a flawed part of the industry is only leading with the opportunity and taking on customers only when they say no to the opportunity. NeoLife as a company has long been committed to providing unique and superior products that create a separate experience for their customers.

Part of this came from a realization that direct sales companies are competing with major retail companies for customers. Providing a unique customer-friendly experience is critical in developing this segment NeoLife made a clear delineation in their Club Member (Customer) Path and their Promoter Path. Here are just a few aspects of the NeoLife Club Member Journey:

  • Create value within the community
  • Provide weight loss and fitness challenges
  • Offer online events where doctors and scientists educate their Club Members about nutrition
  • Incentivize referrals with free products

This unique segmentation has created a consistency and a loyalty that has led to strong retention among their customers. In fact, over half of their customers who start on autoship are still subscribers after six months.

Having a customer pathway actually led to more success for their business builders. Giving business builders something different to talk about and a powerful way for customers to engage with the company was a real value that made sharing the NeoLife products extremely easy. Providing a high-tech solution that included online webinars, simple shopping, rewards, and a simple app for business builders to connect with customers has helped NeoLife innovate and adopting these technologies has led to continued success.


Innovate or Die

With over 60 years of experience, it would’ve been easy for NeoLife to rest on their laurels and rely on the things that made them successful. Many companies have tried to resist innovation and technology and have become historical references. NeoLife’s commitment to technology and innovation has allowed them to stay true to their values and continue providing solutions that have been critical to their company’s success.



Topics: Business, Tips and Tricks, Marketing, Segmentation, Direct Sales, Verb App, Masterclass, McKinley Oswald, Verb Technology, Kendra Brassfield, NeoLife, Industry Inside, Customer Experience

McKinley Oswald

Written by McKinley Oswald

President of Global Sales for Verb

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