Herbalife: Flexibility First

As a business opportunity, direct selling is an alternative to franchising. Country director for Herbalife Southern Africa, Lesley-Anne Thornton, shares the ins and outs of the industry.


Herbalife: Flexibility First

Direct selling is not a 9 to 5 job, but rather a lifestyle. “The people who succeed in direct selling are goal-orientated, self-managing, self-motivators who are disciplined, dynamic and positive,” Thornton says. “Selling is about building relationships and people skills are always an asset.”

Who is suited to direct selling?

At our organisation, we have distributors from all walks of life. We have a person with a chemistry PHD and another without a matric who are both equally successful. In general, the best sales people are passionate and positive.

They believe in what they’re selling and are not afraid to do what it takes to succeed. People with a pessimistic outlook don’t last long. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset and thrive on a challenge, you will succeed.

How should you choose the products you would like to sell or the brand you are joining?

Choose products you are passionate about. Passion breeds enthusiasm and it’s easier to sell something if you truly believe in the benefits that it offers. At our organisation distributors start out as customers, which means when they sell our products, they are selling real benefits that they have experienced.

Some of our best distributors are truly immersed in the brand. They experiment to create new recipes and put their own spin on the product – and have fun at the same time.

The next thing to consider is the support offered by the company with whom you’ll be partnering. Does it offer the training and knowledge to help you sell? Does it offer excellent sales tools? What market presence do they possess? Does it maintain a website and does it invest to promote the brand you will be selling? Do your homework and make sure you’ll be getting the right return on your investment.

Are there any dos and don’ts related to direct selling?

Take a sustained approach to your business. Hit and run tactics don’t work – it’s hard to rebuild if you neglect your sales duties even for a few weeks. Be consistent and over time you’ll create an ever-stronger revenue stream. Make plans. Create a routine and stick to it.

Success and strategy go hand in hand. Monitor your activities and take note of what works and what isn’t achieving the right results. Change accordingly. Do be professional. Ensure you know all there is to know about what you’re selling so that you can be a credible and confident advisor.

What errors do people in direct sales make that could be avoided?

Many newcomers to direct selling make the mistake of thinking that it’s just about filling orders. This is not just a numbers game. It’s not just about how many sales calls you make. At its core, selling is about connecting with people, discovering what they need and positioning your product to fill that gap.

You must have an intimate understanding of your product and the person you are trying to sell to. Do not under-estimate your customers. They know what products are out there and they know the benefits and price comparisons.

Do not go in underprepared. Many people underestimate the investment of time and effort to create a sustainable business. This is not a get rich quick scheme. It requires dedication and perseverance to pay off.

How important are follow-ups and good customer service?

Selling and communication are indivisible. You cannot build relationships without talking to people. Whether it’s a follow-up phone-call, or a quick call every other week to find out if the customer is happy, or an SMS on a birthday – it all counts toward relationship building.

Always keep the customer up to date on new products. Part of the task as a sales person is to make your customers aware of what’s new, and which products can add value to their lifestyle.

Is direct marketing a part-time or full-time profession?

Direct selling allows you to choose your own work style. The time you put in is ultimately dependant on what you want to get out. Some people just want to supplement their income and have the flexibility to pick up the kids from school.

Others are driven to outperform, thrive on competition and realise remarkable profits. Direct selling accommodates both of these approaches.

Nadine Todd
About the Author
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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