“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”
Some products are run-away hits in the direct selling arena. Others may start out with a bang and end up with a whimper. So what are the keys to product success in this channel?
I had a question / response posted to a blog several months ago that made me think.
The multi-part question centered on the idea that, no matter how loudly the leadership screams it, no products “sell themselves,” and it’s crucial to understand that direct selling companies often compete against supermarket chains and mass retailers. There was a sense of despair in the question. As in “how can I compete” with all those other factors making it so difficult?
First, let me make my position completely clear:
Direct selling is not easy.
I’ve never seen a product sell itself.
Products sold via direct selling need to be special and unique.
The products that WIN in direct selling, generally speaking, require someone to demonstrate or share stories and experiences about those products, so that prospects (family and friends) see and understand the real benefits that the products deliver.
I simply don’t get that at my local mass retailer. I am driven to mass retailers to purchase stuff I want in a convenient manner. It’s on the way home.
In some cases, I choose the product based on an advertisement I saw. Mostly, I get to “guess” which product to try because nobody has told me their real experience with it. I read all the labels as if I have the secret decoder ring to make it all make sense. Sometimes I guess right. Sometimes I don’t. Frustrating.
Worse yet, I may go look at websites to read reviews of products from people I don’t know. Sounds desperate, almost, when you think about it.
Direct selling is unique—in theory, someone I trust, who has had an experience with a product, tells me about it. Based on that endorsement, if the price is something I am willing to pay, I try it.
If I like it, I may continue to purchase it.
And, if I REALLY like it and want to tell others about it, I may sign up as a distributor and tell my friends.
And so it begins…
Notice a key piece here.
The product has to satisfy a need / desire I have at a price I’m willing to pay.
My soapbox: If a product sells at 2x-3x-4x what I would pay at a mass retailer, it dang sure better deliver on that value proposition. Or, Houston, we have a problem. The cycle of “I got scammed” reviews begins again. And none of us need that.
You would be amazed at how many products we hear about that are going to “change the face of direct selling.” But in reality, nobody wants it. Or they are already getting it somewhere else (mass retailer or online marketplace), at a price they are happy with. There is no real value proposition.
It’s very true that people don’t always want to buy what we sell. But you don’t need everyone to love the product. You need enough to.
Direct Sales is NOT for everyone.
It is NOT a great way to distribute many types of products or services. (I’m going to hear from someone on that comment, for sure.)
But if your product delivers real value, satisfies a need / desire and has a uniqueness that would benefit by someone sharing real experiences / real stories, it may be right for you.
If your product meets those basic criteria, then, and only then, are we ready to talk about making it a business opportunity.