Adventures in Direct Sales

Confessions from an Avon Lady

Living La Vida Sales

Posted by way2gomom on May 20, 2010

Today is a normal day in sales. What are you doing in your direct sales business today?

I am marketing myself online and offline today, and here’s how:

– Being active on Twitter by chatting with potential new customers, and networking with other moms
– Sharing my URL via email by including my signature on all outgoing messages
– Building my Squidoo lens
– Working on my blog!
– Reading other blogs and websites of direct sellers

What are you doing to market yourself today?

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Connecting With Other WAHMs

Posted by way2gomom on May 20, 2010

When you start a business for yourself, you may feel stress or pressure to sell more, recruit more, go further out of your comfort zone, and much more. It is a good idea to have a support network to help you through the challenges of owning a business – whether it is in direct sales or not.

What are your favorite ways to connect with other WAHMs? Here are some of mine:

* mompack.com – This is a free group which helps moms grow their businesses and support one another at the same time.
* Yahoo groups – there are several groups for Avon reps, as well as pretty much every other company I’ve looked up.
* Cafemom.com – playing games helps relieve stress, and you can also join WAHM grops on this site too.

Share your favorites with me!

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How to Build Your Own Preferred Customer Program

Posted by way2gomom on May 11, 2010

Do you ever shop at a store that offers incentives like discounts or free coupons to people who shop there regularly? It seems like every store these days has a loyalty card to go with it. Using that concept can help you build your direct sales business.

To start, consider how much your customers typically spend in one order – this should be an average, as some will always spend less than others. With this amount you can plan your perks.

For example, an aveage Avon customer order is $25. So for every $20 that my customer spends, I check off a box on her loyalty card (I keep this record on file too, just in case she misplaces the card or doesn’t have it with her one day). After so many purchases, she receives either a free gift or a set discount, she gets to pick which she would prefer.

The key is to not make the goal unattainable. For a coffee shop whose average coffee is $5, requiring 10 purchases before the free coffee works. Requiring 10 $20 purchases to get a prize or discount worth $5 isn’t worth it to the customer.

But what about 5 $20 punches for a $5 gift? If your commission is 40%, you are earning $40 from the purchases and your cost for the gift is only $2. That leaves you with $38 in profit and a great incentive for your customer.

Want more? Increase the prize level and up the requirement to $25. $25 for a punch with 5 punches to get a $10 prize on 40% commission gives you $46 in profit. Just remember that as the profit goes up, so does the value of the prize.

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Organize Your Day, Simplify Your Life

Posted by way2gomom on May 10, 2010

As a direct seller and work-at-home Mom, there can be many days when you might feel pulled in a million (or sometimes two million!) directions. The key to success with both your emotional life and your home based business is to organize. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Now how does that actually work?

The first step is to organize your day. You’ve heard it a million times before, and it’s true if you are staying home with the kids, taking a step beyond to work at home with the kids, or even if you are a full-time working mom (and even more important if you do all three!).

Follow these action steps to organize your daily life and increase both your happiness and your business time:

  • Use a portable calendar. I know, it’s sometimes easy to think – I’ve got this covered, I can remember all these things or I can write it on a wall calendar and I know I’ll check my calendar all the time, so I’ll remember what’s going on for the week if I check it once a day. Wrong. I recommend using a calendar on your phone or one that you take with you in your purse everywhere you go. If it’s with you, you can pull it out and check it, you don’t have to stop and think and inevitably forget one appointment or another. If you’re not already using a portable calendar, start. If you’re not already taking your portable calendar with you everywhere you go, start now!
  • Schedule a daily routine. You’ve heard this one a lot too? No surprise here – it works! This is a great recommendation for anyone who is feeling their life is too chaotic, that there’s not enough time to get things done. Start small. Plan what time you will wake up, what time you will eat meals and what time you will go to bed. Fill the gaps in between with when you will do your paperwork, when you will make your phone calls, when you will do order deliveries. Yes, this may vary, but it will go miles in the long run.
  • Make a budget. Wait, this doesn’t belong in organizing your daily life, does it? Yes, it does. Budgeting is not only a way to control your finances and help you to get out of debt, it’s also a way to keep tabs on yourself. It’s your money’s routine schedule. Once you know your money, and you don’t look away from it or hide your head in the sand, your life will feel more in control. You will also know exactly how many sales you need to meet your minimum goals. Work for those goals – but you can’t do that until you know what you need.

Start with these three action steps to organize your day, and you will notice the feeling that your life is becoming simpler. Need more? Know more? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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7 Ways to Find New Customers

Posted by way2gomom on May 9, 2010

Customers are the base of any sales business, especially a direct sales business. Without customers you have no sales, and without sales you have no income. But how does one go about finding new customers?

  1. Door-to-Door Sales: This is the way many direct sales companies were started, and there is a reason that it has worked for them for so many years. Door-to-Door sales is a great way to meet new customers face-to-face so that they know you are their personal shopper, their go-to-person for the next gift item, bath and body item, candle, cosmetic, you name it that they want to buy. Once there is a person behind a brochure or catalog, it becomes more interesting, more like building a relationship. Yes, you could do all your marketing online, but then you’d be missing out – missing out on a chance to go back to the roots of humanity and deal with individuals rather than faceless names on a computer screen. Don’t think you have the confidence for it? Go out it pairs!
  2. Create sale packages in pretty baskets and offer them as prizes in businesses. Ask the managers of businesses if they would like to let their customers participate in a drawing for a free gift – you provide the entry blanks, container for the blanks and the prize, the business provides the counter space. Try these businesses out for size: laundry mats, day care centers, banks, credit unions, hair salons, restaurants, diners, locally owned coffee shops, furniture stores, carpet stores, paint stores… get the idea? Come up with your own!
  3. Advertise in the Yellow Pages, online classified ads, the local newspaper – if you get your name out there, you are far more likely to have customers find you than if you keep mum about your business. Be loud and be proud – get your name and business information out there!
  4. Sponsor a local high school yearbook ad. These ads are relatively inexpensive, and they are guaranteed to be looked at for years to come. My sister-in-law still reads my husband’s yearbooks and he graduated quite some time ago. The student is not the only person who will be reading these ads – mothers love to look at reminders of their baby’s high school years when the baby is off to college or has moved out of the house!
  5. Speaking of schools, sponsor the program of a local school production. How many schools do you know that don’t have a play or musical or revue at least once a year? Those pages don’t print themselves, you know. Mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, godmothers, godfathers, so many relatives come to see their family’s star in a production – and many keep the program as a memento. They will see your name and your number – great advertising to hit a large number of people with little effort from you!
  6. Be creative – make or buy pens with your name on them and drop them everywhere. Will there be a local parade this year? Toss your pens! Will there be a fair in your area? Hand them out! Are you visiting the bank, grocery store, restaurant, coffee shop, gym or any other business where you might use a pen? Leave one behind! With your name and address on them, feel free to let people “borrow” and never return your writing utensils – it’s more advertising for you!
  7. Become a member of MomPack.com – this group is an excellent way for women with home-based businesses to get the word out about their business – and not just to a few local folks. Participate in an exchange with other MomPack members so that your marketing information gets out in their area, and all you have to do is share their information in your area. Is there a better price for marketing than FREE?

Have these or any other creative ideas helped you to find more customers? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Next up… how to find more recruits!

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New Fragrance! Outspoken by Fergie

Posted by way2gomom on May 8, 2010

Check out this stellar commercial for Avon’s brand new fragrance featuring Fergie!

Speaking of fragrances, Avon is a finalist for some Fifi awards! A post with more information is coming up soon…

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How to Find Customers Door-to-Door

Posted by way2gomom on May 8, 2010

Whether you are starting out in direct sales, have moved to a new area or are simply needing to recharge your business, finding customers door-to-door can be a great way to gain sales. Many people participate in tossing – dispersing brochures to a neighborhood or area, but find that there is not a great rate or return in customers. The key, as your company will tell you, is in the follow-up. For every brochure that you distribute, you want to have a name and a phone number so that you can follow-up and gain the sale. But how is this possible in door-to-door sales?

Preparing for Door-to-Door Customer Prospecting
The first step that I recommend anyone completes prior to beginning a door-to-door sales route is to arm yourself with knowledge. Check the Sex Offender Registry for your state, or Nationally at http://www.familywatchdog.us, enter an address in the area where you are planning to go door-to-door, and search for sex offenders. It’s sad to say, but these days it is important not to take chances. I do not go to these houses, regardless of the offense. It’s my choice to not serve these folks. You can make your own choices and decisions, that’s just what I personally do.

Tools to Bring Door-to-Door
Now that you know your area, you can pack your tools and get ready to prospect! I recommend that you carry at least: brochures pre-marked with your contact information (I bring only a few in-hand and carry the rest in a bag or basket so my hands are relatively free for writing), a notebook for writing down customer information, and a pen. If you have a business name tag, I’d wear that too (high on your right hand shoulder). Business cards, samples, mini-flyers, free gifts and the like are completely optional. These are items you may find help you a lot or weigh you down, but you can customize your toolbox to your needs.

How to Prospect for Customers Door-to-Door
The first step when prospecting for customers is to take a look in the mirror. Is your hair fixed and your makeup done? Is your outfit free of stains (I have a toddler, I know how quickly clean can move to stained!), wrinkles, comfortable for walking and suitable for the temperature outdoors? If you pass that step, you’re ready to begin!

Now that you are ready to go door-to-door, get started! Assuming you are already in the neighborhood where you would like to begin, now you approach  your first door. Follow these steps at the door (I’m an Avon rep, so I’m using it as an example, but you can customize for your own company!):

  • Knock on the door.
  • If a man or child answers, ask if the lady of the house or their mother is available. If they say no, ask if you could leave an Avon book for her. If they say yes, look down at your notebook and ask for her name and phone number so you can give her a call and see if she likes the book and would like free samples brought to her. If they say yes, write down her information. If they say no, give the book anyway and tell them that your contact information is on the back and ask them to have her call if she’d like those free samples.
  • Make a special mark next to these names so you remember that the spouse or child gave her contact information.

There are a few ways to do this if the lady of the house opens the door. You will want to tailor these to your company, your products and your own words. Here are some examples:

  • Introduce yourself as a local Avon Lady and ask her if she currently has an Avon Rep. If she says no, ask her if she would like an Avon book. If she says yes, look down at your notebook and say, “Let me get your name and phone number so I can bring you some free samples (or future books)”. If she gives you her information, great! If not, it’s your choice whether you’d like to leave the book with her or not. I would, but if you’re low on books, you might choose not to leave one.
  • Introduce yourself as an Avon Rep and ask her if she would like to have a book. Same as above, try to get her information so you can call her back.
  • Introduce yourself as an Avon Rep and tell her about a current special – for instance, the Eye Makeup Remover Lotion for 99 cents or the Glazewear for $1.99 with an entry in a giveaway. Ask her if she would like to have a book, try to get her information, etc.
  • If anyone seems like she really wants you to call, she will have an order soon, make a special mark next to her name so you’ll remember.

What to Do When It Goes Badly
Not everyone has a great day all the time, and unfortunately people find it easy to be rude or mean to a door-to-door sales person. When this happens, you need to remember that it is not your fault – they are just having a bad day, week, year or whatever.

If someone is rude to you because she is an Avon rep herself, remind yourself that not everyone remembers you are sisters. She is probably just mad because she didn’t have very good sales that week. You can choose to leave the neighborhood, or if you have had several new customers from the area, she probably just isn’t going door-to-door and you could keep going. There are no assigned territories in Avon anymore!

If someone tells you she already has an Avon Lady, tell her that’s great and thank her for being an Avon customer – remember, we are all sisters!

Follow-up With Your Prospects
Now comes the most important step. You are at home, you have rested and you are ready to attack your list of customers. It may be the next day or two days later, but you don’t want to wait too long before calling. Now all you have to do is pick up the phone!

First call the ladies who acted like they really wanted you to call – the ones you marked on your list. Call and just tell her you are the Avon lady who stopped by her house recently and asked if she is interested in any of the items in the catalog. You can share with her current specials or offer her some free samples if she has a question about a product. If she does not want to place an order now, ask her if she’d like you to bring by a new catalog when the next one comes out.

Next you want to call the ladies who gave you their information when you were out. Ask the same questions, and hopefully you will gain an order! Finally, you want to call the ladies whose family members gave you their contact information. Make sure you let them know how you came across their name and phone number, so they know you were the one who dropped off the brochure. Ask if they have had a chance to look at it and if they would like to order anything.

Now you have more customers! Make a list of the ones who would like future brochures and deliver a brochure to them in the next campaign, making sure to follow up every other campaign with a phone call. Keep up the great work!

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