I have been doing sales training for over 25 years, and I am always amazed when I see a salesperson having trouble building rapport. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject: “Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of subconscious communication. It is commonality of perspective: being ‘in sync’ with, or being ‘on the same wavelength’ as the person with whom you are talking.” In other words, rapport is when we get each other. It’s as simple as that, but it becomes complicated when we believe that everyone should think like us. Not only do we think it, we spend time trying to convince the other person of our position. If you’re spending your time convincing, it shows a lack of understanding of communication. In order to be a good salesperson, you have to give up your position of having to be right and hand it over to your customer. Remember, if you want to be right to win, that means the customer has to be wrong. In any transaction or relationship, no one wants to be wrong. According to Sravanthi Reddy G., selling is a two way communication relationship and involves talking and listening.
Before conducting any type of sales training, I always suggest we do a standard sales training inventory: a test that will show the person how they communicate, who they communicate best with and what gets in their way.
Learning about your communication style makes it easier for you to absorb new information and understand how it will help you. This is why school is so difficult for many; they can’t understand why they need the information and how it will help them. Once you do some communication testing, people will open up and want to learn. I use BEST Instruments because it’s simple and very revealing.
Building rapport is the concept of connecting to your customer. Instinctively, we know how to communicate with people like ourselves. If you ask people why it works, they often say, “We just click.”
You can click with anyone. Isn’t that amazing? Instead of passing on a customer because you don’t like them or just don’t get them, once you learn about yourself, you can make adjustments in your communication style.
Great salespeople are in control of their communication. They know why they connect and what makes it work. On the other hand, amateurs leave it up to fate. Another great line is, “The customer just wasn’t ready to buy.” Building good rapport has little to do with the customer buying your product; it has a lot to do with whether the customer buys you!
Give a gift to your salespeople: the ability to understand their communication and sales skills. It will benefit them and your business many times over. Lisbeth Calandrino has been doing sales and customer service training for over 20 years. To book a consultation or have her speak to your group, contact her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or 518-495-5380. Lisbeth lives in Historic Hudson Park, Albany, New York, with her cat Rainyday.
Several weeks ago I conducted a sales and product knowledge training in Burlington, Vermont for Mohawk Industries. In the front row was a rather petite, attractive and outspoken young woman named Marion Posluszny. Marion is part of the management team at Wholesale Flooring in North Hampton, NH.
Marion was extremely sharp and when I mentioned exercising, she stated, “You just don’t know.” The statement stirred my curiosity and I went on Facebook to find that Marion is a body builder. As a dedicated gym rat, I’m aware of what someone has to do to be successful at body building. I decided to give Marion a call.
Marion, tell me a little about body building, how did you get interested in it and why do you like it?
I was always fascinated by the “look” of these super fit athletes. I just never knew how to get involved in it. I met my trainer Laura through the referral of a mutual friend. I like the ever-changing challenge that comes with it. It is always evolving, and it’s a continual process that has to be constantly worked on.
How does it relate to sales success?
I would say it relates to success in the way that you need to combine drive, work ethic, attention to detail and letting go of the fear of failing. It’s ok to fail; I look at it as a lesson learned. It paves the way to getting it right. What keeps you motivated to be a good manager or salesperson? I love people that I come into contact every day. I love the creative aspect of designing a project alongside them. I believe it is very helpful to continue to branch out and seek information, be it conventions, sales seminars or trade shows. I always like to see what other’s perspective is. It gets the creativity going. I have gotten some of the best ideas form other people. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that “The only way to be a champion is by going through these forced reps and the torture and pain.” Although he called it pain, he still said he loves it. How do you feel about this?
Well funny you should mention him; I refer to his “Six Rules of Success” often. His story is just amazing, he says, “Never be afraid to fail.”
The amount of drive he possesses is amazing.
He recounts when he was first competing and was in the Austrian Army, he had to sneak onto a freight train to get to Germany to compete. The point is he stopped at nothing.
I love the” just go out there and get it attitude.” His attitude is ‘anything is possible,’ and so far I think he’s right!
I’m assuming like sales, you don’t “win” all the time. How do you stay focused?
If you let negative thoughts run through your mind it’s time wasted towards your goal. There will always be days that self-doubt gets the better of you. I don’t focus on self-doubt: I focus on being positive and winning. I’ve realized it’s easier to move forward by having this type of attitude.
The only thing a negative attitude does is erode yourself-esteem. There have been times when I didn’t place in a competition; instead of letting it bother me, but I used the information to develop a plan to improve my skills.
What advice do you have for anyone in sales who want to be above average?
Pressure will help you stay focused. Remember, everyone else is out to win your customer.
Don’t procrastinate; you must get out and do it. Procrastination makes your task harder and longer.
Surround yourself with like-minded people. This way, you can support each other.
Keep yourself invigorated by staying on top of what your industry has to offer and don’t be afraid to fail. Failing helps you evaluate your technique and make changes.
Always keep educating yourself on communication and building relationships.
Taking part in trade shows will build confidence and keep your approach fresh and creative.
Always deliver more than you promise—and promise a lot!
If it’s what you really want, never give up. Giving up is just an excuse for “not wanting it bad enough.”
Believe in yourself and what you’re doing is good for yourself and your customers. Everything comes from your values and what’s important in life.
And lastly, “I personally like this one the best, “Be excited and passionate; no one can take that away from you!
Today I attended a Weight Watchers meeting. What started out as a “fact-finding mission,” has turned into a lifetime membership. I’ve been attending for a year; weighing in weekly and often staying for the meetings. I never thought I would stay, but I find the people and the meeting inspiring. Today we discussed things in the environment that we can’t change.
I went out to eat the other night and noticed that everyone was taking home more than I was eating. There were mounds and mounds of food on everyone’s plate. I kept thinking, if I ate all that food I would just continue to gain weight, but the food looked so appetizing. I heard a little voice say in my head, “It’s not for me.” I guess that’s what going to Weight Watchers for a year will do for you.
You become what you hand around.
Is your environment unhealthy? Here are some tips for staying on top of it.
1. Remember stress of some form will always be in your life. You may choose to see it as stress or change it to excitement. We may not be able to change the stress but we can change how we react to it.
3. Distract yourself from the uncomfortable thing. This will help you forget about it and put together a new plan. You can read a book, turn on the television or take your dog for a walk. Be a good friend and look for positive people.
Get some exercise
4. Be mindful of your situation. Instead of going off into the “what if,” become grounded in reality. Reality might not feel like the safest place to be, but you will have more options there.
5. If you’re stressed, make sure you get enough sleep. Without the proper amount of sleep, things look a lot worse. Consider a short nap to perk up your stress coping abilities.
6. The best way to lessen your stress is to go for a run or exercise. Exercise raises your endorphins and will give you energy. The environment continually changes giving us more things to deal with. The better we are with coping the more pleasant our lives.
Lisbeth helps businesses improve their customer service and the customer experience. To have her talk to your team or schedule a call, reach her at 518.495.5380.
Sometimes we do stupid things even when we know they’re stupid!
I love “Old Cowboy Wisdom,” even though I’m not a cowboy. How many times have you done something so stupid you wondered why you were doing it?
These day’s businesses still think they are in control of what the consumers think and do. It’s just not so.
Consumers are in control and more empowered than ever. They are creating their own experiences wherever they go and are demanding something unique no matter what the venue. They expect every retailer, not just major ones, to create an emotional experience for them every time they show up. Consumers want to be cool according to their standards of “cool.”
Last night, I went to our new Whole Foods Supermarket. It’s only been open for a month, and it’s still nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” by some of the locals. To compete as a supermarket you really have to work hard. Not only do you have to have great food and prices, but you have to come up with things no one has thought of. (I think I mentioned that Hannaford Brothers Supermarket had a gym within the store.) I wasn’t very impressed except for the produce department. The vegetables were arranged as if they were smiling from the shelves. That alone made them look like they should be more expensive. As I was checking out the clerk noticed there was no price on my candy bar. I explained I would go back and get one with the price on it. She said it wasn’t necessary I could have it for free! I told her I didn’t want it for free, but she insisted. Just because they made a mistake (or had they?) it should be free? To me this wasn’t terribly smart.
Think you’re not allowed to make mistakes; if you give it away to the customer, you must have high enough margins to let it go by. Smart customers get that. If you’re dumb, how long will you stay in business? This isn’t Whole Foods.
Finish your sales presentation telling the customer “To have a nice day.” Really, this is another overused expression.
Think that you shouldn’t have amazing events that make customers want to come back “again and again.” I was surprised to see they had Rip Esselstyn author of “Engine 2 Diet” talking about how to eat healthy by eating green and was signing books. There wasn’t a seat in the house, and he must have sold 100 books at $27.00 a book. He was also hawking his two-day seminars. Don’t think there’re many vegetarians, think again.
Greet each customer the same way with some canned presentation. You and I both know that customers are very distinct and want to be treated like they’re special. Spend time talking about different ways to greet your customers. Treat everyone as if you’re dying to get to know them.
Never follow-up with your customers. If you believe once they’re gone, they’re gone, and then you’ll be left with few customers. The customer in front of you night be linked to your next customer.
Don’t update your technology. Do you think that paying for high-speed internet is something you don’t need? Not having it is just frustrating.
Don’t think you need to train your new staff? If you’re still pairing them with your old geezers, you’re ruining your business. Infuse new staff with wonderful ideas and a glowing picture of where your company is going.
Are you throwing away your customer surveys? These should be taken seriously, and random customer should be called for more information. My dentist receptionist made me wait 45 minutes to pay my bill. Instead of paying the bill I left them a note that said my time was as important as theirs. They called me at least four times before I spoke with them.
Let all your calls go into your voice mail. I called the continuing education division of the schools today to find out about a particular class. I called at nine this morning and never got any kind of return message. I actually called two departments. Isn’t this how they make money? Doesn’t anyone answer their phone?
There’s no such thing as business as usual; only business the way the customer wants it.
Lisbeth has been a coach and business consultant for over 20 years. To schedule a call with her or have her speak with your staff, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. http://blog.timesunion.com/success/author/lisbethcalandrino/.
“You can’t hire someone else to do your push-ups for you.” Amen. Like your physical training program, you must take responsibility for your own mentoring program if you expect to gain anything from it.
Nobody wants to hear this but becoming a success takes work—lots of it. It also takes a lot of follow through which most people don’t like to hear either. If you pay attention to both, it’s likely you will be able to accomplish what you want.
These are really simple rules, so why don’t we “just do it?”
Many people talk about being rich but when you look at what they’re doing, you know it won’t make them any money. Most likely, they know that too. To get rich you have to invest your money before you spend it. According to what I’ve read, most people have habits that cause them to fail financially. My mom used to say it’s a simple formula: you need to spend less than you make. Then you will have some left over to invest. I know this is a tough one; there are so many things to spend your money on with new things coming out every day.
If you want to be successful, you will have to spend lots of extra hours working at your trade. You need to ask yourself, do I have the gumption to keep at it and give up other things? It seems that both success and financial freedom require giving up something in the present to get what you want in the future. You will have to endure names like “workaholic, cheapskate and other unflattering descriptions. You must be willing to take consistent action and get out of your comfort zone. Dreaming will not get you much except maybe a good night’s sleep. You must take your dreams and turn them into actionable items.
I was listening to a friend of mine talk about her illnesses; most of which are fictional. Yes, she has a bad back but who doesn’t? She has been told to take Yoga and water aerobics to stretch her tight muscles. She continues to go from doctor to doctor to get some sympathy and the magic pill. Why doesn’t she just do the work? She won’t because effort is out of her comfort zone. Her middle name should be “the easy way out.”
We’re all guilty of looking for short cuts. I have a friend who won’t train his dog to learn simple commands. He doesn’t care if the dog jumps on you, nips at your hand (he taught the dog to play rough) or doesn’t come when his name is called. (Of course he doesn’t know his name, why should he come?). His owner is unwilling to do the work to socialize or make his dog successful. Maybe it sounds silly when I say “successful” when talking about the dog, but he needs certain skills to live in society. One wrong move and he will be back in a shelter and considered not adoptable.
If you want results, you will have to take action. You can’t let things happen to you or say, “I’m not lucky.”
The sad thing about all of this is that we are all destined to become successful but only a small portion of us will make it.
Some of you are cuter, richer and smarter but not of this guarantees success.
You need to do the right things to get the results you’re after. How will you find out what you should be doing? The best thing is to learn from someone who is successful. Once you know how they did it, just apply the same strategies. At l least, it will put you on the right road. You may not get it exact the first time, but few successful people do. Just get a plan and keep at it.
I hate the expression “no pain, no gain” but it’s probably so. Be willing to sacrifice and you will get the rewards.
And like I said, you’ll have to do your own pushups.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been doing training and mentoring for over 30 years. Join her in Panama City, FL for two days of workshops: sign up at http://www.mohawkuniversity.com/2DayPanamaCitySeminar2014.aspx
I recently joined Weight Watchers. Those of you that know me are laughing—where is the weight? Well, I’ve put on 5 pounds and when you’re 4’11” every ounce makes a difference. I figured, why not; I’ll learn something and lose the weight. I enlisted my running pal Molly, who also attends. (I don’t know why she goes , but she says she’s over her legal weight limit too!)
It was a very big group, and no one laughed when I got on the scale. “I said I’m here to get rid of those 5 pounds before they turn into 20.”
“Good idea said the woman behind the counter.” I knew this was serious.
I have always been weight conscious since my beloved grandmother died weighing well over 200 pounds, and she was also 4’11” tall. She used to treat me to hot fudge sundaes after we went to the movies. I remember she used to get on the scale and weigh herself. I asked her what she was doing, (I was too short to see the numbers.) She kindly said, “It’s none of your business.” That was Grandma Christina; always nice to me unless I mentioned her weight.
The history of Weight Watchers goes back to Jean Nidetch, a 41-year-old 214 housewife who decided to start her own support groups.
In 1963, Weight Watchers incorporated and had their first public meeting in Queens. There were 50 people standing in the wings because Jean had only rented 40 chairs! In 1978, it was sold to HJ Heinz and has continued to support health initiatives in this country.
The cheerful group leader was an 85-year-old dynamo that had lost 150 pounds 20 years ago. Actually, she was more like a drill sergeant; I liked her immediately. I thought, what a great job; helping people succeed.
After some niceties, the meeting began.
The first question was, why should we journal our food intake? She liked my answer, “It shows accountability; I yelled.”
You know I was always one of those kids who needed to be first and yell out the answers, and this was the place to do it. The takeaways were right on target. If you need some “pumping up” check yourself into Weight Watchers.
You didn’t get fat in one day so don’t expect to get thin in one day. I love this! I would say, success is a process not an event so stay with it.
If you fall off the wagon, get back on. One day off won’t kill you. I love the expression: Neither success nor failure is permanent. How much you can eat is determined by how much you weigh and is on a point system. They give you extra points weekly in case you fall off the wagon!
Hold yourself responsible and keep track of your goals. Holding yourself accountable, means you’re serious; if you want it, make it happen.
Remind yourself of what you have done, not what you haven’t done. Making yourself a victim never helps other than to provide an excuse for yourself.
I couldn’t eat all my food points—you are told that you must. I was also told I probably not eating enough of the right foods and then overeating. (In my case, treating vegetables as my major food group.) Vegetables are free, eat as much as you like, but you need other foods other than pasta.
Not hungry yet and I had corn-on-the Cobb and olives with my oatmeal this morning. So far, so good.
Rome also wasn’t built in a day either.
Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build loyal relationships with their customers through customer service and powerful communication training. To hire Lisbeth for your next event, she can be reached at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.
Interesting thought.Work that really doesn’t make a difference?
I find that having a yearly plan helps me stay focused and show results. If you don’t do some soul searching, life will just drag you along, and you’ll become part of someone else’s success plan.
With the New Year around the corner, “we can all use a little prodding” to get us to success and more out of life. And who doesn’t want more out of life? Here’s my list of what I call “the read and re-read.” I’m also addicted to pod casts, listening to them every night before I go to sleep. Of course, I fall asleep in the middle but maybe my subconscious is getting it.
Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting, by Lynn Grabhorn. She calls her life journey “the physics of thought.” The book is easy to read and gives us another link on how to get more out of life. Her theory is that we get what we want through feelings, not necessarily because of planning and sweating. The book helps you understand how your feelings can help or hurt you. Personally, I think it’s worth owning, underlining and reading it again
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, byMiguel Ruiz This is an old book, but it too is super—easy read and it makes you want to call Miguel up and have a conversation. His best advice, “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally. Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” How many times a day do we take things personally? You can sign up for his Academy of Awareness which is very cool.
Are you Ready to Succeed, by Srikumar S. Rao.This is another personal favorite. The book has readings, , exercises and lessons to help you reconstruct and improve your professional world. This has lots of ideas on “getting unstuck.”
212, The Extra Degree, by Sam Parker. The premise: at 211 degrees water is just hot. At 212 degrees, it becomes steam and is powerful enough to move a locomotive. Who can argue with this? The tiny book will keep you captivated and wanting to read it over again. Tapes are also available. Read it out loud to anyone who will listen.
Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell. This has to be one of the best books I’ve read. Based on the premise of when you were born, where you were born and what was going on in society had a huge effect on you. It made me look deeper into my own life and how lucky I was to miss attending the first grade by one year! You’ll love this. If you can’t get enough of Malcolm, I can’t, start listening to Malcolm’s pod casts. Freakonomics.
The Myth of the Entrepreneur, by Michael Gerber. This is a quick with great insight. If you haven’t read it and own a business, go get it. This is definitely a reread.
The Great Wing, by Dr.Louis Tartaglia. I just ordered 21 of these for a customer service class I’ve been teaching; it’s the kind of book you can’t’ put down. Gomer is a baby goose in the midst of learning how to survive the great yearly migration. Somewhere in our lives, all of us have “bellied up to the bar” and done something we haven’t wanted to do. Fellow trainers Lou, Sam and I created a workshop for the board of directors at the Toledo Opera Company. It was a blast with everyone yelling, “flock yes.” A great parable and you will feel for Gomer’s struggle.
I hope this article is timely for you; it is for me. For many of us the economy is still moping along and we’re trying to figure out what to do next. Consumers are changing their buying habits, myself included. Friends are downsizing their lifestyles and examining their life choices. The recession may be over, but the landscape has changed. In many ways it’s unfamiliar; at least it is to me. I’m in a different place too. It’s not a bad place, it’s just a different place and different doesn’t always feel right–especially in the beginning.
Change is good. Well, change is interesting but it’s more interesting if it’s happening to you rather than me. In my case, I find when it’s time for a change I put more hours in at the health club! Somehow I know it’s a safe place for my mind and my body. I feel less stressed after my workout and feel I’ve done something good for me.
The biggest obstacle to creating a wonderful life is self-limiting beliefs. A self-limiting belief is an idea you have that you are limited in some way, in terms of time, talent, intelligence, money, ability, or opportunity. - Brian Tracy
What are my dreams, my goals or my purpose? What would I like more of in my life?
I know I want more time at the lake.
Sometimes visions are statement for the future, a destination that you want to achieve. Last year I joined Toastmasters. I have competed in several events and recently joined the advanced Toastmasters Group. My goal is to continue to advance my speaking craft–I love speaking. The club gives me the opportunity to test new topics, get feedback and make changes. It’s a way to continually focus on something that’s important in my life.
Your vision may be simple. If you are invested in the outcome and feel ownership over your vision, then the happiness is in the journey– the appreciation of the uniqueness of the components it takes to get there.
That’s how Jorge Morgado describes the experience and the day that would change his thoughts and his life forever. What started out as a normal day for Jorge didn’t end that way. He had his breakfast, coffee and a kiss goodbye. While most of us don’t think: will this be the last kiss?, for some reason Jorge did think about it on his way out the door.
This is how Jorge calmly describes to me what happened on January 15, 2009, the day that US Air flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River with 155 passengers aboard.
It was a nasty, snowy day as the five golfers headed out on the Merritt Parkway to pick up their friends and cousins for the drive to LaGuardia Airport in NYC to catch their Spirit Air flight to Myrtle Beach, SC. The usually 1½ hour ride to the airport turns into a 3½ hour fiasco. The snowstorm on the Merritt, bumper-to-bumper traffic and a series of airport “mishaps” — missed flights, cancelled flights and an eventual rebooking on US Air’s flight 1549. As luck has it, the six golfers from Mass get the last six seats on this historic flight. Not only did they get the last six seats, but since it was only a one way (they were still on Spirit Air for the return home) they qualified for a one-on-one special screening by TSA. Weather delays, special screening, plane changes turned a group of strangers into fast friends. Little did they know how important this would prove to be. As it is often said, “things happen for a reason.”
Finally, the six board the plane, taking the last six seats and separating them during the flight. The six find themselves not sitting next to old friends, but next to — what would be — their “new and lifelong friends.”
Things seemed pretty normal. Snow, delays but finally a take off. “One of the last things I noticed was Trump’s plane while he was on the runway,” Jorge remembers. Take off, the booming sound of something in the engines, a funny smell (cooked geese in the engines, Jorge supposes). “I heard the Captain yell prepare for impact. I just saw everyone else with their heads down and I just followed. It was a hard landing, luggage flying all over, people praying and darkness. I felt the water coming up over my ankles.”
What followed next was not ordinary, but extraordinary. 155 passengers got out of the plane in one piece, without injury to each other.
“I yelled and looked for my brother in law and I found him,” says Jorge. “And then there were the children. People yelling, get the children out. There were three kids on board that were separated from their parents that we instinctively knew we had to get them and their parents off the plane. Then started the craziness, people wanting to swim from the plane, pushing out the door, and jumping into the water. I just knew this was wrong. It was about 20 degrees out. All of a sudden someone yelled, stop, don’t jump and let’s get organized. A passenger on board suddenly took charge.”
“In my mind,” Jorge continues, “this was the turning point. It was all about leadership. Someone who was willing to take charge and make it happen. Preparing us to work together for our survival. Slowly and methodically we grabbed our seat cushions, it seemed like a smart thing until we realized how cold the water was, and we filed out of the plane. As we got out of the plane we realized that getting us off the plane was a lot harder than we thought. Ferry boats with huge wakes making it impossible to board, helicopters causing more havoc and most of us freezing. We pulled the ‘swimmers’ out of the water and shared our dry clothing. We knew it would be a long day.”
“Eventually help was on the way and there was a briefing from law enforcement: were we terrorists? Then a hotel, food, dry clothes and calls to/from our families. We no sooner got in touch with them and we were on national TV and everyone’s Twitter.”
Who are all of these 155 passengers? About 100 are now best friends forever. “Many of us call each other daily, we will be in each other’s lives forever,” says Jorge. “Lots of kind people. An investment banker friend of Nick Faldo said he was sure Nick would want to help, and soon enough we were invited to his golf course and got autographed photos. Of course we lost our clubs and Titleist called and invited us down to their manufacturing plant to fit us all for custom clubs.”
I also met Rob, Jorge’s uncle-in-law who was also on the flight. Another person with memories and thoughts about going forward. “Living life every day has never been more true,” says Rob.
Here’s what Jorge’s keeps in mind these days — for both life and business:
“How important life is, friends, family, even strangers. If I didn’t know before of their importance, I really know now.”
“Working together, how important team work can be. It saved our lives and prevented serious injury.”
“Live each day with zest and excitement. Yes, it may be your last.”
“Prepare for your future with today in mind. Make each day count for something.”
“Everyone you meet and in your life matters—period.”
“Don’t be afraid to ‘just do it.’ Sometimes you don’t know if it’s right or wrong; you just have to put yourself out there.
“Give thanks daily, to those you love and make a difference. In a blink it can be over.”
“Live life as if it matters. It does.”
“Look for the humor in life. As we stood on the boat looking back at the plane, a fellow golfer turned to me and said, ‘We can still drive [to Myrtle Beach], you know.'”
“Of course, we didn’t realize then that our golf clubs were in the Hudson!” Jorge says.
The group have since reunited for the golf outing, which took place in April. Photos here.
Thank you Jorge for sharing your memories and experience with us. If you haven’t seen it yet, this animated sequence shows what happened with Flight 1549 that day. The timing has been condensed so it’s more of a ‘fast-forward’ dramatization rather than a minute-by-minute one.
(photo at top: Jorge Morgado and Captain Chesley ‘Sully‘ Sullenberger)
Like many of you, I am working harder than ever to maintain the level of business this year versus last. As I work on the core of my business – consulting, training, writing books, etc. – I am always searching for new revenue streams. Who isn’t looking to make more money?
My search led me to look into the field of direct selling. I know what you’re thinking: "What’s Lis gone off and done now?" Hear me out.
Direct selling, also known as multilevel marketing (MLM), is sometimes confused with what people call "pyramid schemes." According to my research, although seemingly the same, direct selling and pyramid schemes are very different. By definition pyramid schemes rarely involve a product of value. The income from a pyramid scheme comes primarily from the recruiting of other associates. On the other hand, multi-level marketing is a marketing strategy that compensates promoters not only for product sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they introduced to the company. With multilevel marketing, you can continue to make money by selling the product even if you never recruit another person.
The products and company are usually marketed directly to consumers and potential business partners by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing, basically another form of retail marketing. In a 2007 Wall Street Journal interview, economist Peter Vander Nat stated, "If people are buying because they want to use a company’s products, those sales can count as retail. So now I'm wondering is, could network marketing simply be another retail business without a store?
The most recognized MLM businesses have been Amway, Avon Products and Tupperware, to name a few. These days, you see MLM businesses for all kinds of products and services. Health and wellness is a huge MLM segment (think Herbalife, Melaleuca, etc.). The majority of direct sales companies use a compensation plan where the seller is paid not only for their own sales, but also a percentage of the sales of other representatives they introduced into the organization and helped train. The key to success in any MLM business is in duplicating a system and then leveraging that system through the work of other associates on your team. You do not need to be successful sales professional to be successful in direct selling.
The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations reports that its 59 regional member associations accounted for more than US $114 billion in retail sales in 2007, through the activities of more than 62 million independent sales representative. The United Sates Direct Selling Association reported that in 2000, 55% of adult Americans had at some time purchased goods or services from a direct selling representative and 20% reported that they were currently (6%) or had been in the past (14%) a direct selling representative.
You can see why the multi-level marketing industry has experienced growth in each of the last 20 years. I can’t think of any other industry that can say the same.
The second part of this recipe for success involves the explosion of the Internet. Every day over 100 million videos are viewed on YouTube. In the last 5 seconds, 10 million emails have been sent! According to a New York Times article, overall, 57 percent of Internet use was devoted to communications like e-mail, instant messaging and chat rooms, and 43 percent for other activities including Web browsing, shopping and game playing. Users reported that they spent 8.7 percent of their Internet time playing online games. I guess what it says is that people are online.
Direct selling has seen entrance into the world of email, video and the video email business.
What’s next? Stay tuned for my experience with direct selling and new technology.