The Evolution of the Direct Sales Journey

Feb 3, 2022 12:00:00 AM / by McKinley Oswald

When I attended my first direct sales event in 1991, I helped my dad sell cassette tapes and training tools in the back of the room. We sold different titles that helped distributors introduce the company’s opportunity to their prospects. You could buy a pack of 50 tapes and ten training workbooks for $50. The titles included: “Leverage, Opportunity, and Timing,” “The Right Place. The Right Time. The Right Opportunity.”, and “If Not Now, When?” The industry focused on the opportunity pathway and the tools reflected that. Fast forward 30 years and most things about the direct sales journey have changed. Everything from the tools and the back-office to the customer journey and prospecting techniques. This edition of the Direct Sales Masterclass features a conversation with Jim Marks, the Chief Revenue Officer and Co-founder of DirectScale.

 

You can view the full video of our conversation here.

 

The Opportunity Era

When Jim started working in the direct sales industry, he viewed it as a job to work during college. What began as a part-time job in college transitioned to the pathway for his career. Similar to my experience, all of the tools Jim worked on were opportunity-focused. It was all about helping top leaders duplicate their systems to attract other people to make money. There wasn’t a mention of a “side hustle” or the “gig economy.”

 

 

Over time the industry evolved. With new technologies, companies began to focus on predictable revenue. The entrance of auto-ships preferred customers and social media started to shift things.

 

Enter the Customer Phase

With the rise of social media, the direct sales industry saw several brands and products emerge more customer-centric. It became an experience. Companies began to create a social media presence, encourage their leaders to do the same, and focus on developing long-lasting relationships with their customers.

 

 

The most successful companies created a product journey for their customers. Some started sending customer starter kits. The emergence of customer product promotions became prevalent. E-mail-based marketing and social media pages geared toward the customer journey created new opportunities and fresh ways to engage and interact with customers.

 

It also presented a new set of challenges. Sales and marketing teams began to struggle to find the internal resources in their IT departments to help support these new opportunities. Companies struggled to handle the growth challenges and all it took to run a direct sales business. Combine that with new websites, digital tools, social media, and other technologies, and it became overwhelming.

 

 

Having the right technology partners became a simple way to address many of these issues. These partners also presented new data insights that could help provide new opportunities. Finding flexible partners can help to ease the burden and find the right tools to address the challenges.

 

Four Key Areas to Focus Your Digital Tools to Drive Growth

  1. Message the right audience at the right time. The ability to cater your message to different audiences is critical. Having the right tools to cater to your messaging, from new enrollments and long-term customers to brand new distributors and seasoned business builders.
  2. Market-based tools help international growth. Different markets will have different needs and present different opportunities and challenges that your digital tools need to address. Being able to send messages to distributors in a brand-new market and speak to the masses in your biggest market is essential.
  3. Compliance tools help control the narrative. Having the right tools to protect your brand in different markets and social media networks helps to ensure long-term viability for your company.
  4. Enable the field with the right tools at the right time. Having tools that provide a phone-based opportunity (a mobile app) and a powerful back-office can help distributors build their business and manage it as it grows.

 

Create a Winning Journey for Customers and Business Builders

Being able to craft separate journeys for customers and business builders presents a unique opportunity to help every individual have a winning experience with your company. Keeping your customers and business builders by solving the retention riddle can fuel momentum and create massive growth.

 

“Direct Scale has 12 user profiles among the customer and business builder journey. Our platform allows companies to create a unique pathway for anyone who creates a relationship with the company.” – Jim Marks

 

 

Showing the distributor how to win will create lasting retention within the field. Similarly, allowing your customers to “win” from a product rewards standpoint can create raving fans and long-term customers of your products. Having the right tools to differentiate these users and then cater to them based on their chosen pathway makes a huge advantage for companies. And getting them started right can determine long-term success.

 

Verb Case Study

One client using the Verb app showed that if they can get a new business builder in the app in month one, that individual is twice as likely to be in the business after six months and 12 months as someone who doesn’t access the same tools. Verb’s LMS (verbLEARN) creates a learning pathway to educate business builders and customers in a way that can double your retention and keep them with your company long term.

 

The Right Technology Can Drive the Right Behaviors

Once you understand what the individual is looking for from your company, you can better meet their expectations and help them succeed. Dashboards in the back office can help drive this journey. They can help the individual achieve and support a team leader engage with their team members. When the data tells a story, it can drive predictable behaviors and help create a consistent duplication cycle. DirectScale’s custom dashboards generate this experience for each of the 12 user profiles in their system.

 

 

verbPULSE helps the business builder to receive assigned tasks for follow-up with customers and team members. These prompts come from an integration with the back office and give the app user personalized messaging to share and a digital tool to help increase order size, aid in the retention of auto-ships, and re-engage inactive customers. Using the back office data to drive these behaviors can create wins for the business builder. Having an app to prompt them and help them do this is a unique way to use technology to engage with customers and team members.

 

“We are in the business to help the individual run, grow and know their business.”

– Jim Marks.

 

So, What’s Next?

Now that we’ve discussed the evolution of the journey, what is next? A key part is that the experience matters. Creating the journey and the unique experience for someone increases the likelihood of success. It no longer is a one-size-fits-all approach from a prospecting standpoint or a long-term journey perspective.

 

 

You must do it at the new enrollment level.

It has to be done at the distributor level.

The team leader needs their own journey.

The same is true for the new customer and the long-term customer.

You must do it at the company level.

 

The data leads to insights, the tools help support the journey, and the data creates duplication and repeatable success. Determining which pathways and behaviors produce the most significant ROI and outcome and then focusing efforts on those areas will drive growth in the industry. At verb, we are grateful for our partnership with DirectScale and other companies with this forward-thinking vision of helping the industry use technology to create the right journey for everyone.


 

Topics: Business, Direct Sales, Sales Tool, Masterclass, McKinley Oswald, Leadership, Team Verb, Direct Scale, Jim Marks

McKinley Oswald

Written by McKinley Oswald

President of Global Sales for Verb

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