Six Predictions from the WPC on the Future of Direct Selling
When I say futurist, what comes to mind?
Maybe you’re picturing a fortune teller with a crystal ball. Maybe you’re imagining doomsday preppers stocking their survival bunkers, or climate change activists fighting for green energy. According to Wikipedia, a futurist is someone who “systematically explores predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present.” That’s what thinking about the future is all about: possibilities and predictions; looking at existing circumstances and making educated guesses about what might come next.
Last month, the Women’s Power Circle welcomed Judy Galloway, a market researcher, brand specialist, and futurist who has worked for a number of brands in the direct selling industry. Judy also teaches integrated marketing communications at New York University’s School of Professional Studies and market research at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Hosts Kate Gardner and Michele McDonough invited Judy to the WPC call to talk about some current trends in digital technology and suggest how direct sellers might adapt to them.
Here are my key takeaways from Judy’s six predictions for the future of direct selling:
#1 – Data is the Future
Ah, the magic of math. Judy pointed to new software that can monitor and analyze social media campaigns and return real, actionable data. This is a subject I’m familiar with; the formative years of my career were spent in technology and data, and I learned a couple of things during that time. First, any output data is only as good as the original data that went into it. Second, data isn’t sexy, but it doesn’t lie.
What about if you don’t have the budget for analytical software? There’s an old-school solution that often goes underutilized: talk to your distributors and consumers. Ask them how they found out about your opportunity and what ultimately led them to make that buying decision.
#2 – The Party is Here to Stay
Storytelling is changing: less words, more visuals. Judy explained that in sales, you have about 30 seconds in an initial meeting or call before the other person decides whether they want to talk to you or not; in digital arenas like Snapchat and Pinterest, it might be even less. But even as our lives become increasingly digital and consumer decisions move online, the ‘party’ will never disappear—human touch is simply irreplaceable. Infuse your brand experience with truth and emotion to better connect with your audience.Human touch is simply irreplaceable in the #directsellingindustry Click To Tweet
#3 – Customers Want 360° Support
Every company runs into issues from time to time. Whether it’s delayed shipping or confusion over pricing, a handful of your customers and distributors are going to have a bad experience with your organization. What matters is that you have adequate support structures in place to resolve these issues quickly and efficiently. Today, that means a combination of old-school service (e.g., phone support) and modern channels (e.g., in-browser live chat).
Make sure that it’s convenient for your distributors to get support when it matters most, or you risk losing them forever. Hyperwallet offers comprehensive payout support by phone, e-mail, and live chat, ensuring that distributors always have an easy way to get help. And because Hyperwallet’s support is client-branded, distributors don’t even realize they’re not talking directly with their company.
#4 – It’s Time to Pick Up the Speed
As a result of the digital revolution, our collective expectation for speed has increased dramatically. We don’t want to wait; we want everything now. Take Amazon, for example. Their new Dash Buttons automatically reorder select products with a touch of a finger. Their Prime Air drones will drop off products in 30 minutes or less. Amazon recognizes the demand for speed, and they’re delivering.
Speed of delivery is just as important in direct selling as it is in any other industry. Fortunately, the days of having products shipped to the consultant and spending hours sorting and matching are over; most companies now ship directly to the guests. That said, there are always opportunities for us to improve how quickly our customers get the products they need.Ask yourself: is it time for your direct selling company to pick up the speed? Click To Tweet
Of course, the importance of speed isn’t limited to delivery. Whether it’s getting access to support or receiving their commission earnings, distributors expect their company to move fast. Ask yourself: is it time for your direct selling company to pick up the speed?
#5 – Community Continues
Family and friends. Emotional ties. Loyalty. Judy explained that the importance of community will continue to be just as strong as ever before.
Consumers are loyal to brands, and when they convert to a consultant or distributor, they achieve a sense of community as they bond with their fellow members of the sales team. They find people like them that have started independent businesses to supplement their income or to earn more flexibly. Often, they end up finding lifelong friendships along the way.'After all, #directsales is all about togetherness.' - @JMA135 Click To Tweet
It reminds me of my days at Partylite, meeting at the local Denny’s on Sunday mornings. In the very back you’d find me, just 23 years old, sandwiched between housewives and soccer moms. We’d talk about how to keep the excitement going after 90 days into the business and how we could work together to reach our sales goals. After all, direct sales is togetherness.
#6 – Experiences Will Set Us Apart
Looks are important. Beautiful packaging is a great way to attract attention. Smile when you demonstrate your product. Make the purchase an experience for your consumers.
Consider a company like Pampered Chef. It’s more than a party; it’s an experience. Guests learn how to make a gourmet pizza using their pizza stone. They can see and smell the pizza as it’s being made, then taste it when it’s finished. If they’re impressed—and how could they not be?—they can buy a pizza stone on the spot.
Buying things makes people feel good. We’re just wired that way. There’s the rush of the purchase and the excitement of getting that package in the mail. Amplify that feeling with a great experience to go along with it.
A Final Thought
Judy closed the WPC call with a final thought: consultants take on the extra responsibility that comes with an independent business not just because they want to improve their own lives, but also because they want to improve the lives of their customers. Your company has ignited a passion within them, but you need to keep fanning the flames. Take note of how the direct selling industry is changing and recognize how you can harness those changes to provide a better experience for everyone involved.