Here are four tips for anyone considering going into direct selling for fun and profit:
1. Keep in mind that direct sales involves selling. Obvious, right? Actually, though, many people attracted to the lifestyle benefits of direct sales seem to forget this.
If you’re shy or would feel uneasy asking your friends or family to purchase products or help host parties, this is not the best career choice for you.
Remember, too, that direct selling requires quite a bit of behind-the-scenes work. You’ll need to place product orders, attend training sessions, recruit distributors and handle the paperwork that comes with running a business.
2. Look for the right company with the right products for you. Select one that offers quality goods you can get excited about selling. Be sure it has a good reputation, along with rigorous training programs and a compensation plan that will reward you fairly for your efforts.
The Direct Selling Association’s website is a good place to learn about firms. Its roughly 200 members must abide by the group’s code of ethics. At this site, you can search by the name of a company or a product or service category.
Do an Internet search to find out the buzz about a company and whether its sellers or regulators have reported problems. After running a search for recent articles and blog posts, do another one using the company’s name and words like “scam” or “complaint.”
3. Read the fine print. You’ll want to learn how much you’ll pay in start-up costs and ongoing expenses before agreeing to become a company rep. The average starter kit for a Direct Selling Association member company is $99, but some firms charge much more, especially those with expensive inventory, like high-end fashion companies.
In addition, you might be required to pay membership fees or maintain a certain level of sales to continue receiving your consultant discount.
Be sure to get the company’s compensation plan and refund policy in writing.
4. Ask questions – lots of them. The FTC has an excellent online list of queries for the person who'd be your sponsor or for other distributors. A few examples:
If you don't get satisfactory responses, this direct selling company should be a "no sale" for you.
Erik Boh and Lynn Pistacchio are the contributors to our