Business cards are one of the best, low-cost methods for promoting your business that you’ll find, yet so few direct sales representatives use them! Maybe you think the cost isn’t justified, but there are so many things you can do with business cards that no direct sales consultant should be without several on hand at all times.
• Post your business card on every local bulletin board in town.
• Leave 2-3 on the restaurant table with your (generous) tip.
• Stick one in every envelope you mail including invoices, bill payments, letters to customers, even complaints.
• Slip one in several books in your topic area ever time you go to the library.
• Drop one in every business card drawing fish bowl you come across.
• Attach one to your catalogs before passing them out.
• Ask if you can leave a few on the counter at the doctor’s office, dentist and other places you visit.
• Hand them out anytime someone asks for your phone number.
• Use them like the old-fashioned calling cards… present one each time you’re introduced. But use some finesse here. This could be perceived as pushy if not done with the right attitude!
• Ask friends and family members to take several and share them with them their friends and co-workers.
• Buy one of those inexpensive holders that attach to a car and leave a stack of cards in it for passersby to grab.
• Add a note on the back of your business card that you’ll give a free gift or discount to anyone who refers a new customer.
• Use the back of your business card as an appointment card by including a blank line for the date and time.
• Include an inspirational message or quote on the back so people will keep your card longer.
• Attach a piece of candy to the back to “sweeten” your card.
• Need to jot down a note for someone? Write it on your business card.
• Give new team members a welcome gift of business cards with their name and the company website.
• Staple a business card to the outside wrapping on gift baskets you give out, or tape one to the bottom of the basket so everyone knows where the gift came from.
• Try folded business cards if you need more space for product or service offerings, coupons, discounts, etc.
• Order magnetic business cards that encourage customers and prospects to post your card on their fridge and keep you and your company name in sight.
• Canvass your neighborhood and leave a business card on every door.
• When you go to a convention or a trade show, share your business card whenever you take someone else’s.
Having business cards printed is cheap and easy. But don’t let them sit in a box and rot! Get out those business cards and use them to build your business offline. You’ll be surprised at what a big difference those little cards can make.
Customer service is an illusive concept in many ways. While we all know what it is when we see it, it’s sometimes hard to describe. Especially in direct sales where we may not interact as closely with our customers as in the retail marketplace. Here are some tips that will help you, as a direct sales consultant, ensure your customers are satisfied with their products, the order system and you – their sales representative!
1. Maintain good contact with your customers. Most people will understand if an order is delayed, misplaced or simply wrong. But they won’t be as quick to understand a lack of communication on your part. Stay in contact with your customers and they’ll know that you’re looking out for their best interests as you work to get their orders to them on time and as they requested.
2. Go the extra mile. If there’s a problem with an order, do everything you can to make it right. Offer free shipping or return on the replacement – even if the company charges you. Or add a small gift with the order when it finally arrives. Let your customer know she matters and she’s not just a sale for you, but someone you care about helping in any way you can.
3. Offer a personal guarantee. Many people will hang on to an item even if they don’t like it, just because they don’t want the hassle of a return. But most people will be glad to know they can return something even if they never do. The option of a return is what matters more often than not.
4. When you have to give a refund, do it cheerfully. While a lot of consultants will refund a customer’s money when they have to, all too often it’s done with a grudging attitude that tells the customer know the money is more important than she is. Choose to have a better attitude and your customers will respond with loyalty and referrals – that’s a guarantee you can be sure of.
6. Offer a discount for repeat sales. Offering your repeat customers 20 percent off subsequent orders, based either on quantity of items purchased or simply on the number of orders given, lets your customers know you appreciate their business. And everyone wants to feel appreciated.
7. Give them a referral fee. If one of your customers refers another customer to you, thank them with a small gift or a added discount on their next order. This minimal amount can go a long way toward getting you added customers on a regular basis.
Good customer service makes the difference in one-time sales and repeat business. And any sales or marketing expert will tell you that it’s much less expensive, and much easier, to keep a customer you already have rather than try to find a new one. Do what you can to keep your customers while continuing to add new ones and you’ll build your direct sales business bigger than even your wildest dreams.
What do you think of when you read the word momentum? Think of a marathon runner, keeping the pace, never slowing down to let the person on his tail overtake him. Just as a marathon runner holds a steady pace, so as to not expend his energy too quickly and sputter out, so should we in direct sales.
How do we do that? What is a steady pace in direct sales and how do we keep from sputtering out? Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get the momentum and keep the momentum going to help build a strong direct sales business.
1. Start off strong but steady. Don’t take off too hard and fast. Book your first six shows but no more. Book them over a two week period, 3 in the first week and 3 in the 2nd week. From there you will get other bookings for the following weeks, taking everything nice and steady. You don’t want to overbook yourself from the start because you will feel tired out and then get burned out from the get go and your family probably won’t like that you’re gone all the time. Having a lot of shows to deal with – until you create a system to handle it all -makes it harder to keep records then you get behind and feel unorganized. Starting out with a steady pace will keep you organized and going strong during your direct sales career.
2. Keep the momentum going by setting a goal of getting at least two bookings from every show. Be sure to book your new shows the same as in step one; 3 in one week and 3 the next week. In many direct sales businesses, holding 3 shows a week is enough to earn a good income. You will probably have a team meeting one day a week and the fourth day you will need for record keeping and organizing. If you need to hold more shows, choose the 3 days in a week and hold 2 or 3 shows each day. You could do a morning and afternoon or evening show. Be sure you are prepared with meals and check with your family first. You don’t want to be gone 8 hours a day, 3 days a week when your family needs you.
3. Set aside one day a week for record keeping, organization and follow up phone calls. This is very important. You need one day to update your records, record your sales and receipts from the previous week and make follow up phone calls to your new clients, new hostesses and old clients and for sales calls. If you keep a steady pace in doing these things, you will keep up your momentum and your business will grow and succeed. You won’t get behind and then have piles of receipts to catch up on, sales to record and phone calls to make. You will be offering your customers good customer service by making regular phone calls they can count on.
4. Set your long term goal and then set smaller, weekly goals to reach your long term goal. Some good weekly goals to keep the momentum are:
- Hold a set number of shows a week. If you don’t get your bookings at your shows then make phone calls to those who showed some interest but didn’t book at a show. Maybe the time wasn’t right or they didn’t think they could fit it in their schedule, but now perhaps something has changed. You never know unless you call. Make those calls – it’s your job. If you were working in an office and didn’t make the required calls you would probably get fired. Just keep repeating, “The phone is my friend.”
- Set a dollar amount in sales to reach each week. How much money does your family need to pay the bills or to buy those extra things you normally can’t afford? Take into account what your commission is and then set your goal to sell a certain amount each week. You will need to know how many shows you will need to hold to reach the dollars in sales that you want, so set your show goals accordingly as well.
5. When you find your momentum slowing down a bit, and it will, re-energize your business by making some warm market calls and some cold market calls. In these tough economic times, your resources like friends and family and their friends and family may run out, so you will need to find some new resources. Warm market and cold market calls may be just the ticket you need to reach a whole new set of people you wouldn’t have probably reached otherwise, so don’t be afraid or intimidated by making those phone calls.
6. Perhaps your momentum is slowing down because you didn’t reach some goals and you feel like you’ve failed. Remember this: You only fail when you stop trying. To get your momentum going again, set some new and exciting goals. Is the company offering any new incentives for sales or recruits? Then set your goals to reach those incentives You can change your goals, but never stop setting them and striving to reach them. If you always have goals to reach you will never stop growing.
Just like a marathon runner, when you start out steady and strong, keep a steady pace and look toward the goal, you will keep the momentum and your direct sales business will grow and be successful. Simply follow these steps and refer back to them often when you need some reenergizing and to get the momentum going again!
photo credit: Lindsay N. Kelly