KEEPing True - Tales of a reluctant business owner

Demolishing the Direct Sales Stigma

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

I have a confession to make. Before I began my own journey into the direct sales world, I could not stand the idea of such companies.  Throughout my childhood, my hardworking,money-conscious parents were constantly searching for the perfect business that would help to supplement their income. They checked into countless MLMs.   I always felt like they were scams. They pushed overpriced products to people who were not really interested.  And those die-hard consultants that shamelessly refuse to take no for an answer were (and, quite frankly, still are) the most irritating kind of people.   It wasn’t until I found a product that I truly believed in that I thought it might be worth buying in to such a company.  If I were to enter into this world, I was going to do it the right way.  There had to be a way to break the stigma and capture a customer base without being annoying and insistent. 

Leaning on friends and family…at first

The truth of the matter is if you truly believe in what you are selling, you don’t have to be pushy.  Your product will speak for itself.  I honestly love everything in the KEEP Collective catalog.  I wear it proudly nearly every day because it reflects my style; not because I feel like I need to advertise.  Beyond that, I appreciate what the company stands for:  appreciating the beauty in every moment and empowering women to live their lives according to their own rules.   As for growing my business, it is true that I had to rely on my friends and family in the beginning.  You have to develop a customer base, and the best place to start is through people you know. 

Since we generally associate with like-minded people, it is only natural that they will love the products that you love too.  In addition, a strong circle of friends and family will raise you up and support you because they love you and they want you to succeed.  They may not need your product or have the money to spend at this moment, but the people that love you will still be willing to spread the word about your new business and help to support you emotionally on your new journey.  Do not push them into purchasing from you.  Instead share your passion with them and they will support your business in the ways that they are capable.

Attracting customers naturally

 Of course, you do not want to abuse your loved ones’ support, so you are going to need to network and grow your customer base.  Craft and vendor shows are a great way to branch out beyond your social circles. You can find information about these in your local community by referencing your community calendar or joining community Facebook pages.  Many schools will host these types of events as fundraisers as well.  When you do a vendor event, focus on the visual appeal of your booth and then feature your glowing personality!  Greet every person that approaches your booth with enthusiasm and kindness.  I view vendor events much like a do teaching.  My students are not going to be very engaged if I try to teach them while sitting behind my desk.  Likewise, do not sit behind your booth, playing on your phone.  Engage with each potential client that walks by.  Create interest and enthusiasm, but DO NOT be pushy or abrasive…remember, we are working to end the stigma; not perpetuating it!

But I don’t have inventory!

 As a KEEP Collective independent designer, we do not have inventory on hand to sell.  Vendor events for me consist of inciting interest for my product.  I have a raffle prize, and encourage everyone that stops by my booth to fill out an interest inventory to enter my drawing.  My prize is usually a $25 gift card (because, really…who ONLY spends $25 on KEEP Collective???  I want a prize that is going to lock in a new customer).  Every customer who books a party at the event will get the added bonus of choosing one free keeper on me when their party closes. This ensures that I only gift a keeper to the customers that actually host their party.  This way I avoid people who may book and then cancel before the event just to get a prize.  Vendor events are not unlike a day in the classroom as a teacher.  Your authentic enthusiasm for your subject matter will rub off on your students, just like your enthusiasm and love of your product will influence your customers as well.  

Using social media the right way

Social media makes growing your social circle so much easier, but you have to be careful.  Just because you aren’t facing the crowds in person doesn’t mean you are above annoying them!  We’ve all seen those overzealous, in your face salespeople.  When my once “friend” becomes nothing more than a product pusher, I generally deal with them one of three ways:  hide, block, or unfriend.  Clearly, that tactic doesn’t work when it is so easy for us to remove them from our social media feeds.  The key to being successful lies in allowing those that are interested to follow YOU. Do not “add” people to your group; instead, invite them to join you on your journey.  If they make the choice to follow you, than they are accepting and anticipating your sales strategies.  And if you remain authentic, mixing your business posts with genuine posts that reveal who you truly are, they will stay because they like not only your product, but YOU as well.  Because when it boils down to it, success in sales is 50% about the product, and 50% about the personality selling it.   

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