Direct selling has always been about creating personalized customer experiences through strong relationships between customers and their field sales representatives. To drive growth, direct selling companies enhance the business-building tools, compensation opportunities, and marketing support they provide to their sales representatives. That hasn’t changed.
However, today’s successful direct selling companies are broadening their go-to-market reach by increasing their focus on consumers. With the help of technology, they’re enhancing the consumer’s experience at the brand level to strengthen overall customer loyalty, bolster recruiting efforts, and provide valuable marketing support for sales representatives. The result of this hybrid approach? In today’s marketplace, optimizing the experiences of both representatives and customers is a win-win-win for direct selling companies.
Win #1: A Broader Reach
Today’s consumers are savvy. They have an ever-widening range of choices when shopping for and purchasing products and services. To increase the focus on consumers, companies are leveraging their direct selling software to create targeted customer strategies and tailored experiences to fit the way different people want to engage.
A hybrid go-to-market strategy enables companies to say:
- “If you’re interested in building a business and selling our products, great! Enroll as a representative and follow our journey-based onboarding path to get started. Then, we’ll support you with the proven products, E-commerce platforms, and business-building tools you need to succeed.”
- “If you’re interested in buying our products, great! Respond to our marketing campaigns, browse our website, and when you’re ready to buy, we’ll connect you with one of our experienced representatives to answer any questions and provide personalized customer service.”
- “If you’re interested in sharing your love for our products with your friends, family, or social media followers, great! We’ll provide you with incentives and rewards as a thank you. And, if you want to take it to the next level and become a representative, we’ll make the process simple and seamless.”
Win #2: Experiences that Stand Out
Experience counts. Sixty-four percent of customers rank experience as more important than price. To give all types of customers the best experience possible, direct selling companies are upping their games when it comes to shopping and communications. Consumers have high expectations for online shopping and personalized marketing communications. The good news is the best direct selling software platforms go beyond basic eCommerce functionality to enable companies to deliver user experiences via replicated websites that meet – and exceed – expectations.
Taking consumer-focused experiences to the next level centers around four core elements.
- Mobile-first is a must. Everyone – representatives and customers alike – are likely to be using their smartphones as they interact with each other, shopping websites, and social media. That makes streamlining processes and ensuring mobile-friendly design critical for direct selling success.
- Shopping cart functionality needs to simplify both browsing and buying. Customers expect options that help them navigate and narrow their searches, such as filters by product category, style, or price. As they make purchase decisions, they also appreciate tools that allow them to compare products side-by-side and dig into the details like ingredients and materials.
- Providing helpful information at different points in the online shopping experience is valued by consumers. Direct selling software should give companies the ability to tag products to alert shoppers to new or best-selling items and limited quantities. Customer reviews and “you might also like” recommendations help to further personalize the shopping experience.
- Technology makes delivering personalized communications to customers easier than ever. Direct selling companies are able to integrate technology and the one-to-one relationships between customers and representatives to add an even more personal touch. At the corporate level, companies can create templates and content for email and social media marketing that are easy for reps to access within the company’s direct selling software platform. From product images and descriptions through marketing campaigns and videos, reps have a turnkey way to communicate regularly with customers – with all the links going back to the individual representative’s specific shopping site.
Win #3: Brand Loyalists
Increased consumer focus also means strengthening the customer’s ties to the company’s overarching brand. Every interaction a customer has with a direct selling company – including one-to-one, eCommerce, and social media – has the potential to build loyalty to the brand. And turning customers into brand loyalists pays off: When a customer is loyal to a brand, nearly nine in ten will recommend it to their friends and family.
There are three major reasons why brand loyalty is so important to direct selling companies right now.
- With the advent of social media, direct selling companies can generate customer-driven word-of-mouth content that reaches a much larger population than in the past. Direct selling companies can encourage customers to share their purchases and experiences with their family, friends, and social media networks by incorporating clickable social share buttons within eCommerce experiences and marketing messages.
- Direct selling companies can also create increased brand loyalty by rewarding customers for social shares and referrals with discounts, free shipping, or VIP exclusives. Along with attracting new customers and driving sales, these types of customer incentives and reward programs help to inspire customers to become sales representatives down the line.
- Finally, in an industry that has created opportunities for sales representatives to earn unlimited or supplemental income, connecting with customers at a personalized level has been essential to their success. Now, by using the customer data captured through the direct selling platform, companies also have the opportunity to engage and keep customers connected by empowering their purchasing experiences and motivating them through rewards to create a deeper, more engaging brand experience.
Article by Greg Fink, Senior Vice President of Sales – ByDesign Technologies