Our competition (retail stores and online web sites) provides consumers with a vast selection of services and products, low prices and convenience. Evolving technology is making it easier for consumers to buy, automatically reorder frequently-used products and receive their purchases on their doorstep in as little as an hour.
Consumers are accustomed to buying from stores and online, conditioned to seek out the lowest price and rely on recognized, national brands they see on TV. There is a perception that products offered by Direct Sales companies are "nothing special and overpriced" (more about that in another post), and that the Direct Sales business model itself is old-fashioned and obsolete because of technology and the Internet. Our industry's negative stigma doesn't help, either.
Given these challenges, can direct sellers compete? Are we even relevant in today's highly competitive and rapidly-changing world?
The answer is YES.
To get people to change their buying habits and buy from us, there must be a very strong and compelling reason to do so. Our industry must prove that it offers unique, competitive value that the competition either cannot provide or cannot provide very well.
We must also be clear about the type of customer that we are best designed to serve...despite what we may be told, our products do not sell themselves and not everyone wants to buy what we have to sell.
Direct Sales, which we defined before as person-to-person business, is traditionally described as "the direct personal presentation, demonstration, and sale of products and services to consumers, usually in their homes or at their jobs."
According to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA), "...consumers benefit from direct selling because of the convenience and service it provides, including personal demonstration and explanation of products, home delivery, and generous satisfaction guarantees."
WFDSA's list of benefits are good, although one could argue that our competitors provide as good or better convenience in terms of product selection, ways to buy and faster home delivery. The other benefits, however, are very advantageous for Direct Sales; as one of our project team members recently said, "What we offer is service and guarantees and knowledge. We cannot forget that."
It's true that our customers gain many benefits from doing business with us:
- Safe, effective, quality products with full disclosure about what they contain and where they are made
- Knowledgeable guidance to find the right service or product to solve problems and meet needs
- A positive, caring, educational and fun personalized buying experience before, during and after the sale
- Flexible choices for purchase and delivery, from self-service to full-service
- A real person to call for help and to answer questions
- Generous satisfaction/return guarantees
But there's more. Our industry features an exceptional advantage, unmatched by the competition, that is truly special and unique: At it's core, Direct Sales is about People Helping People.
Stores and web sites may offer excellent, healthy products, ideas, information, support and other perks for their customers. However, only Direct Sales truly provides the human touch. As Robert Kiyosaki says
"It's a HUMANE way of doing business...heart to heart, soul to soul, business to business - let's help each other out."
Unlike giant retail corporations focused solely on profit margins and enhancing shareholder value, Direct Sales is about empowering average people like you and me to serve and add value to others. It's about more than commerce. It's about friendship, relationship, joy and community.
In fact, our industry's Unique Value Proposition (UVP) could be defined as Direct Sales - Business With The Human Touch.
Our ideal customers, the ones we are best designed to serve, are special and unique, too.
They value community and relationship. They want personalized service and a real person to talk to when they need help. They prefer to do business face-to-face, with someone they know, like and trust. They want quality products that are good for them, good for their family and good for the planet. They want to make a difference for others and contribute to causes greater than themselves. They have specific goals to achieve, problems to solve, needs to be met. They are passionate, awesome people.
Direct Sales is the perfect vehicle to serve these customers - and the reason why our industry continues to be relevant and valuable in today's world. (The specific ways in which we serve our customers will be covered in future blog posts.)
"Just because we live in over-sized houses in gated communities, with food [and other products] delivered on demand, doesn't make us immune to needing one another." -It's a Shareable Life
When we support person-to-person business, we bring relationship and community to us. No other industry can match Direct Sales' ability to empower average people at the grass-roots level to serve customers who value the human touch -- while contributing to the overall health and well-being of people, community and planet.