Party Plan - even the name conjures up dated images - hence the rebranding as Direct Selling.
Anything from cookery to candles, jewellery, household or beauty products (and yes, there have been Botox parties but I suggest we steer well clear of those).
There are literally dozens of companies now marketing and selling their products through Agents, normally selling initially to friends and family then spreading their network further to expand their sales potential. What used to be viewed as a little part-time work to get mum out of the house a couple of evenings a week is now being turned by many into an extremely lucrative business.
Plus, with the continuing rise in unemployment and the strain of an ongoing recession, many people are getting out there and making things happen for themselves. Certainly some of the biggest earners in all the direct sales companies I looked at appear to be husband and wife teams, and many of those entered the field after finding themselves redundant or unemployed. So could Direct Sales work for you?
Friends and family alone are only going to keep you in business if your product is consumable and extremely fast moving, so you do need to be a people person. When you run your events, there will be people you have met before and people you haven't. Don't make the mistake of giving all your time and attention to the 'host' when it's the new faces you need to concentrate on, as they will invariably have a new set of friends you currently have no connection to. You need to be prepared to talk to people about what you do at every opportunity, the school gates, the supermarket queue, doctors surgery... anywhere you make small talk is a potential business opportunity. Remember – the rewards for the party host are, as a rule, extremely generous so there's something in it for them. Just learn to pick up the 'no thank you' signals as quickly as possible and accept them. Being known as 'that pushy woman that flogs candles' is not the impression you are trying to convey, will not get you sales and will probably lose you some of the friends you already have.
One of the most important decisions to make is which company to choose. If your idea of fully made up is a slick of lipgloss and a smile, then you are unlikely to be able to enthuse convincingly about cosmetics. However, if a relaxing afternoon for you is rustling up a five course dinner for six then you would positively relish (no pun intended) the prospect of testing, using and selling kitchen and cookery gadgets. You have to trust, like and believe in the product you sell. Not only can people quickly tell if you're not genuine, but bad products lead to a bad reputation and potentially a stream of returned goods.
Research the many companies out there. Check what sales methods they use - some are purely party based, others combine this with door to door via catalogues. Training can range from a one-to-one chat and occasional support from an experienced seller through to instructional DVD's or in-depth training days. Try and speak to others already working with the product and find out what kind of ongoing support is offered.
Ask the company how much you can realistically expect to earn. Beware of anyone who promises riches beyond belief whilst pulling out a photo of their top sales person brandishing a cheque with a lot of zero's on it. That person may exist, may even have earned that amount of money, but your question is about REALISTIC earnings. If you are über ambitious, have the confidence and determination to turn this into a full time job and beyond, then one day you might be brandishing that cheque, but what you need to know now is whether the initial rewards will give you the incentive to stick with it and grow.
What about start up costs? Often you have to buy catalogues or a start up kit. Some companies will expect you to carry a full line of products, whilst some allow you to re-stock as you go along. These costs are rarely a 'rip off; the companies have to produce the products for you to sell and they do have to provide training etc. If you are worried about buying stock you are going to be left stuck with, then you need to think twice about whether you've picked the correct product!
You need at least a modicum of business and organisational skills - or have someone on hand prepared to help who does. Keeping control of your stock, getting the orders through, keeping track of the money, making sure the right goods go to the right people can descend into chaos very quickly if you don't keep on top of these things. And accurate financial records need to be kept up to date, preferably on a weekly basis unless you want to find yourself staring at tax deadlines like they were the barrel of a gun.
Direct selling offers a low risk, low cost opportunity to dip your toe into the world of business and self employment, providing a useful extra income for some or a lucrative business venture for others.
And don't forget thebestof Croydon for all your advertising needs!
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