Well, one of the more interesting lessons I’ve learned so far in 2019 is: People have REALLY strong feelings about direct sales. (or MLMs. Pyramid schemes. Network marketing. Call it what you want.) My blog post about some of the really terrible cold pitches I’ve received sparked dozens of texts, comments, and just general conversation about how those in direct sales use social media.
Truthfully, I’m somewhere in the middle. I do sell Young Living Essential Oils, but have never approached anyone about selling the product; truthfully, I became a distributor to get a discount on Thieves cleaning products because they are the least harsh on my dyshydrotic eczema. While yes, I am a part of a MLM, I have been on receiving end of terrible pitches– see my post about a total stranger pitching a makeup brand on a photo of my critically ill cat. I have stories of people pitching friends at vulnerable times of their lives and using that as a crux to get a sale– seriously.
I think my middle-ground stance on MLMs comes from my experience in media sales. I’m often reminded that many people get into direct sales without a sales background and think that the best way to prospect is to pepper every person they know with a pitch. This isn’t the case, and this is how we get the hilariously true headlines like Reductress’ Wow! This Woman Is Reaching Out To All The Girls She Bullied In High School To Sell Them Skincare Products
I spent a few days asking friends with varying opinions on MLMs what worked for them and what didn’t about promoting on social media. I talked with a couple of the savviest momtreprenuers I know about their social media strategies. I texted at length with a friend who has a very hardline view on MLMs (it’s a hard pass) for feedback from that perspective as well.
One thing came out loud and clear: Nobody wants you to sell them something on social media.
But here are the five big things the #bossbabes in my life do to keep their social media promotions inviting, but not ingratiating or awkward:
- Find a product you love. The passion will show through your posts and how you talk about the products.
- Don’t badger your friends and family. The people closest to you are going to know about the product— as evidenced by my work wife regularly grabbing my Stress Away roller because she knows I keep it in my backpack. Most of your sales won’t come from your inner circle, but rather you network with. Put the “network” in networking marketing like you’re at a business mixer- but remember, you wouldn’t pitch someone you just met and had tiny hors d’oeurves with, would you?
- Don’t go straight for a pitch. How would you feel if you walked into a car dealership and before you even told the salesperson you were there for an oil change, they started pitching you an SUV?
- Be genuine. People don’t want to be pushed nor do they want to feel taken advantage of. If you’re upfront about limits of the product and respectful of your potential customers’ boundaries and limits, you win the long game.
- Find your target market. And no, it’s not everyone on your Facebook friends list.
So in a nutshell, the best direct sales people are the ones who never straight up sell the product to you. Rather, they’re savvy about marketing, building solid relationships and they have a product they’re passionate and can talk up a storm about.
I’d love your feedback: What makes a good direct salesperson? Even if you loathe the business model, I’d love to hear how you maintain great relationships with the MLM peeps in your life.