We had a great time at the DSA conference. The mood has shifted and the energy level is skyrocketing. We’re all ready for the next step in direct selling, and we’ve discovered that we need each other to get there. So what does that mean for the industry? It’s primed for growth. And as we build our community, we’ll be ready for it. We are all ready to engage at a deeper level that allows everyone to grow easier than ever.
Collaboration, not Competition
When we work together, everybody benefits. Gone are the days when direct sales meant providing an opportunity for a big payout without giving customers a valuable product in return. Direct Selling as a business channel offers everything from consumable products to beauty products to services— the industry has expanded, and its individual players have grown right along with it.
At the same time, the experience for sellers has become more sophisticatedly simple in their approach. They want a great product that’s easy to use and easy to share, and they want a system that rewards them for their effort. I believe that creating an experience and an ecosystem focused on delivering that success is possible. But it can’t be done by one software provider or even a team of dedicated developers; it takes a village of like-minded groups coming together with the same outcome in mind to create the best client and customer experience.
Have we achieved that vision yet? I don’t think so, but a collaborative effort with the providers in the space matters. When we work together to solve the challenges of the direct sales industry, we make it safe for expansion to happen. We create a vision and a home where we can begin to shift the negative paradigm associated with our business channel to really focus on the good that it does.
Growing Pains: How Software can be the Solution
With this shift comes great success and great challenges, but our business model offers unparalleled growth potential. It’s exhilarating to see the momentum generated from a group of peers obsessing about a product- growth comes and it comes quickly when you have software that works and scales with you.
Let me paint the picture for you. Let’s say a new company has a hit product that takes off. This product is so hot that keeping inventory in stock is nearly impossible, so the burden immediately swarms supply chain, manufacturing and operations. Unknowingly, the support group just got signed up for hourly overtime work while leadership has to explain that there is no product to share for a field that gets compensated by sharing the product. The Customer Support team is thrust into chaos from unhappy distributors. But there’s a great way to make them feel better! To relieve some of the pressure, said company has their technology team adjust the compensation plan on the fly to make up for the challenges the other departments are experiencing. A quick fix allows the organization to focus on expanding markets and prepare for the events and development that will fuel their growth going forward.
“If you want to grow, focus on what you do best”
As with any work initiative, any framework that is created on the fly to put out a fire usually takes twice as long as it should to complete. Focused frameworks, workflows and processes always translate to more output and quicker throughput. So what do you do when your system for tracking inventory, taxes, sales, commissions, incentives, and all the complexities of a direct sales or MLM business is no longer meeting the needs of a growing company? The simple solution is to find software that has already figured out those processes, frameworks, and solutions that integrate with existing partners who specialize in those key business functions. If you want to grow, focus on what you do best.
Our industry is full of product and marketing companies, not technology companies. If you aren’t spending the majority of your time focused on how to market and sell, but instead are asking your internal development teams to create something that’s already been developed by a third-party provider, you may be slowing your speed to market. By providing the sales force with a single interface that allows them to purchase product, manage inventory, track incentives, and calculate taxes, and more, they have more time to focus on their job: selling, and you have more time to empower their success.
Partners: Let’s Get Together
Providing the sales force with the tools they need requires collaborating with those who have specialized experience, and a comprehensive solution can’t be delivered by one provider. So let’s come together as industry partners to deliver a product that matters. We have specialized expertise that when combined can be a powerful force for those aiming to shift the negative paradigm that surrounds direct selling.
Partners like merchant providers, tax solutions, prospecting apps, training methods, and payout solutions have the tools that organizations with large, remote sales forces need to go about their business. To put it simply, our customers need partners that are coming together for the greater good.
The bottom line is that one company can’t manage all that it takes to run a successful, scalable direct sales model.
Building on the Conversation
Connecting customers and partners in meaningful ways is essential, but it takes effort. An extensible and scalable software solution that allows modification for specific customers along with room for growth can make changes happen in a reasonable and comfortable amount of time. Wondering what is out there that can help you? Not ready for a full-scale solution? Long overdue for something that can make your company run more smoothly? Curious about SaaS solutions? These are the conversations we’re ready to have with you.
At DirectScale, we have put together a team of industry experts who have experience not only as software service providers, but as users in the corporate and partner sides of direct sales. In short, we have the first-hand experience and expertise to work with you and to connect you with the partners you need.
Where do we go from here?
We want to keep this conversation growing. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be producing content to push the dialogue forward. We’ll look at industry trends, problems, and solutions. We’ll hear from some of DirectScale’s partners to see both how they have managed the changing industry and they might have to offer our clients in the way of future collaboration. And, of course, we’ll keep you up to date on what we’re doing at DirectScale. The direct selling ecosystem is growing, and we’re excited to be right in the middle of it. We welcome you to join the conversation.
Jim Marks is the CRO and a founding member of DirectScale.