One of the first things that comes to mind when someone talks about working from home or having a home-based business is direct sales. There are so many direct sales companies out there. The industry has a bit of a bad rep, not entirely unfairly, but this is still a legitimate way to work from home. And it’s one of the easiest.

Direct Sales is NOT Network Marketing

The two industries often get overlapped, and there are some definite similarities. But there are some huge differences. A direct sales company offers business opportunities that are similar to franchises, only with much smaller investment requirements. The head office takes care of the majority of the advertising, the manufacturing, and provides all the branded marketing materials to its representatives. Each representative is required to purchase their own inventory and marketing materials, then resells to the general public, at retail rates. The representatives make their money based on the difference between the wholesale price and the retail price of the inventory they purchase.

Some direct sales companies will limit the number of representatives in certain geographic areas. Some offer bigger discounts to their distributors than others. But all of them follow the same basic format.  In order to purchase a product, a customer places an order with or buys direct from a direct seller representative.

Direct Sellers Sell Directly to the Public

This is the main difference between a direct selling home business and a network marketing home business. Direct sellers sell products directly to their customers. Whether its through a home party, a catalog, a website, a vendor sale or some other means of contact, the representative deals directly with the public.

Some direct sales companies allow their representatives to make commissions off of managing a team of distributors, combining the direct sales and network marketing industries. This is where the confusion comes in. Network marketing companies pay their contractors to recruit new representatives, or sell memberships to new customers. Network marketing representatives don’t sell products directly to the public, but sell subscriptions, memberships or policies.

How to start a Direct Sales Home Business

Most direct sales home businesses all start in the same way. You buy your “business in a box” and you start selling. The box or kit usually contains a sample inventory, a selection of marketing materials — catalogs, receipt books, etc — and some business building tools. Those tools may be a how-to guide for booking parties, for ordering products through the main company’s website, or tips on how to find and sell products to customers.

These kits come at a cost, but usually the cost is much lower than buying just the products by themselves. Often, however, the low cost of the kit is based on the assumption that the new representative will sell a certain number of products in a suggested time frame. If the seller doesn’t meet this quota, they may be charged full retail price of the inventory. So read fine print carefully.

Finding customers

There are a number of ways to sell the products of your direct sales home business to customers. Obviously, your first line would be to your own circle of friends and family. Then you would ask them to let their friends know about your business.

You can also start advertising your business online, through a Facebook group or page. You can post ads on local buy-sell groups or online classifieds as well. Be careful about what you post online, as some direct sales companies may have rules about product pictures or marketing materials. But they may also give you pictures, ads, and website links to use in your social media promotion.

Direct Sales companies are also known as the party-plan business. Many direct sale companies teach their reps to find hosts for parties, where they can pitch their products and offer discounts. There’s a reason for this: because it works! It’s still a tried-and-true plan, so if you want a direct sales business, get good at hosting parties.

Branching out

Another way to promote your new business would be through local promotion. You can hand out catalogs to your neighbours, or post flyers in local community gathering points. Maybe you host a class or workshop related to your direct sales products. For example, an Avon or Mary Kay rep may hold a workshop on applying makeup for special events. Or a Pampered Chef distributor may offer a class on cooking.

A great place for promoting your business is through vendor and craft sales. Christmas time is a perfect time to start with this method! You would find a sale where you can rent a table or booth, and bring products and catalogs to it. You can sell direct to customers immediately, and you can hand out catalogs for future sales. Also, you book parties at a vendor sale.

Selling at a craft sale is also where you can get creative with your sales. Try holding a draw for a prize pack to collect email addresses or contact info. If you include a box for permission to contact later, you’ll have a way to get a new customer list, easy! Or maybe offer a discount coupon to anyone who books a future party date. The limits on marketing are only in your imagination.

Direct Sales are Cheap, Easy and Familiar

Everyone knows how a direct sales home business works. It’s usually under $100 to start a direct sales home business, making this one of the cheapest forms of businesses to start. And, they are relatively easy to do. Because the head offices take care of a lot of the marketing and advertising for you, you don’t have to worry about brand recognition. All you have to do is let people know which company you’re with.

However, direct sales businesses are not known to generate large amounts of income. These home based business options may get you a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month. Your income depends on how many products you can sell. It’s also not going to be consistent income, as you need to keep selling products. You want to find some loyal customers that purchase from you regularly. Direct Sales Home Businesses make a great side-income option, but a not a full-time income option.

There are tons of choices for your direct sales home business. You could have a few different direct sales businesses at the same time. Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Norwex, Epicure, PartyLite, Thirty-One Bags, Usborne Books .. just pick your passion!

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Home Business: Start a Direct Sales Business

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