Direct Selling: Is It For Me?
What IS Direct Selling?
In a nutshell, Direct Selling is when you sell a product (or products) for a company as an independent contractor, or independent consultant. A person who is a Direct Seller is not "employed" by the said company, but instead is a representative, so to speak. They are to follow a set of standards and rules for selling the product, but can have enough independence to create their own schedule and goals for income.
Often, Direct Selling involves selling a product through either home parties, or person to person. Home parties (which I will go into detail with shortly) can generate income through the taking of orders or selling a product outright with a group of people. Person to person selling usually requires the consultant having a product inventory.
What Should I Look For?
These days, a person can find endless companies that sell a variety of products. If a person enjoys candles, there are plenty of companies that sell candles and similar products. There are jewelry companies, home product companies, "personal" product companies, safety products, makeup products, supplement and health products, and the list goes on!
1.) The first thing you should look for is if the product appeals to you. If you enjoy it, and use it yourself, this is a good way to be able to market the product and sell it.
2.) The next thing to consider is how you feel comfortable selling the product. Often, the company allows for the selling of the product in all environments, such as in the home (at parties), at craft shows, on a website, etc. Some companies though only require direct orders, while others do not allow internet sales.
3.) Does the company require a start up fee? Many times, in order to start selling, there is a start up fee for a "kit" of products. There are some companies that allow you to get a starter kit for free for doing a "starter show" (or home party) of a certain amount.
4.) Is there a monthly maintenance fee or minimum amount that is required to be sold each month? This is very important to know. There are some companies that have a quota each month. Are you willing to meet this commitment? Many companies though are doing away with quotas, and allow for you to maintain activity in a very minimum way.
5.) Find out how much a consultant can make! I know of one company that allows their consultants 50% of the sales! The majority fall in the 25-35% range, which is still a nice chunk of money for a few hours of work. However, be aware of the "sneaky" companies! For example, I am aware of a company that claims you will make 25% of your sales; however, when the order is placed, the 25% discount DOES happen, BUT the amount in shipping and tax is so much that the 25% income earned is thrown out the window right there.
6.) What is the hostess program like? This is a VERY important thing to find out if you plan to do home parties! I have seen very generous hostess programs, such as when the hostess receives 25%-30% of free credit, along with numerous other incentives, like half price items and specials. So, to be specific, the hostess has a $400 party, and gets $120 in free credit, a couple half price items, and a choice of monthly specials! On the same note, I have seen some really terrible hostess programs, such as when the hostess only receives 10% of their sales in free credit and that is it. So in other words, they go through the trouble of having a nice $400 party, only to get $40 in free credit! That stinks!
What Are Home Parties?
Home Parties are by far the best way to generate income when Direct Selling. Often, there will be a group of people together in someone's home. The "hostess" is the one who generally benefits from the company's incentive program. If he/she sells so much to the guests, then they get X amount in free credit, specials, and half price items. Usually! It is important to not only know your own hostess program, but believe in it! Sometimes, home parties have specials for the guests as well.
Home parties take an average of 2-3 hours of the consultant's time. They are scheduled around what works best for the consultant. So, if the consultant works another job, he/she can pick a day and time that fits into their life! If they have children, they can successfully arrange pick up times and babysitters around their work!
Home parties are usually a lot of fun! The hostess provides the consultant with a list of people to invite, and the consultant sends out invitations. This way, they are sure to get out to the people! The hostess is responsible for any snacks and drinks for the guests. The consultant shows up about 20 minutes before the show to display their product at a table or around the room. The consultant can choose to have a casual party, such as discussing some special product item or sale items. Or, he/she can choose to play a fun game involving prizes. Usually, the consultant and hostess can gather what the group would like best. The actual "show" of the items is never longer than 20-30 minutes. After this, the guests proceed to ordering.
What is Person to Person Selling?
Unlike home parties, when a consultant chooses to sell the product directly, such as at craft shows, this is known as Person to Person Selling.
In order to be successful at this, an inventory is required. The consultant must be confident enough to purchase enough products to meet the needs of his/her customers, wherever the products are being sold. There are many people who choose this route, if they are not comfortable going into homes, or speaking in front of others. Although I can say from experience, that home parties are quite casual, like speaking with family members, and not in front of a classroom!
Anyway, there are people who do quite well with selling the product directly. The way this works is, the consultant will order the product with his/her discount, then sell it at the regular price, including the shipping and tax costs. They will then profit the difference. The key to generating income is to have a consistent customer base, or a lot of exposure at various direct selling events.
Short Term or Long Term, You Pick!
The nice thing about direct selling, is that you can choose how long to sell. I know people who have chosen to make a little extra income for a vacation, or just the holidays. I also know people who have been working with the same direct selling company for nearly 20 years and have it as their main source of full time income. Whether you choose to make an extra $200 a month or $2000 (yes, it is easy to do that too), it is all up to you!
Further information on Direct Selling can be found on the Direct Selling Association's website: