Every DSA Annual Meeting is pivotal in sparking new thinking and challenging us all to try something new or different. This year was no different. But there were a few key takeaways worth noting and highlighting from this year’s meeting that every direct selling company should take note of. Here are the top takeaways from the members of Strategic Choice Partners that were at this year’s event:
- I was struck by the increasing importance of technology in the direct selling space.
- I was also intrigued by the increasing globalization of the direct selling industry. I find it very interesting that a UK-based company contacts a U.S. consultant who then connects them with a company that created software in South America. Also, more and more companies from outside of the U.S. are considering opening shop in the U.S. (and we’re usually focused on the opposite).
- I was also struck by the increasing sophistication of payment processing making our model of person-to-person commerce much more fluid.
- The diversity classes displayed the opportunity direct selling can provide for EVERYONE.
- I thoroughly enjoyed the get organized classes. The information provided could benefit each individual in productivity.
- The Awards Gala ALWAYS touches my heart. There were so many deserving, hard-working recipients.
1. The challenge of the national economic impact of retail stores closing brick and mortar stores, mixed with expanding retail competition in the cyber world, is causing direct sales to balance the emotional attractiveness of direct selling with the retail experience.
2. Technology continues to be a struggle in direct sales. I am still hearing from companies still are not getting what they asked for from a digital solution and it is still too costly.
3. Amazon is the two-ton gorilla in the room that is going to set and dictate future shipping, which will influence profit margins across the direct sales space.
- The industry is now seeing the power of story-telling and the impact it can have on their sales force.
- Word of mouth marketing is a vital component to a direct selling company’s marketing strategy, and it must be leveraged in every way possible both online and offline.
- The sky is the limit for this amazing industry.
- The direct selling industry is rapidly entering “uncharted waters” as direct selling evolves more and more into a hybrid of online and face-to-face business. Most everyone sees it coming but few have a clear idea of how to take more advantage of the new reality.
- Customer service levels and sales force service levels will be the next big competitive differentiators in direct selling.
- The opportunity for direct selling has never been bigger than today!
- I spoke with one company who told me that none of their executives have previous direct selling experience. When I asked him why he chose direct selling as a distribution method, he said it was the fact that he could launch a direct-to-consumer business WITHOUT having to use Amazon. That was very attractive to them. It was a huge eye-opener for me, because we worry as an industry so much about what Amazon is doing to us, when others see us as a great alternative to Amazon.
- Almost every CEO who spoke from stage spoke about the importance of focus. In Orville Thompson’s talk in General Session, he explained how Scentsy’s dip in sales occurred about six months after two new brands were launched that were outside of their core business at the time, and that the positive turnaround in sales occurred about six months after they closed the last of those brands. I found this to be a fascinating example of the power of focus.
- Millennials don’t know what “direct selling” is; they know specific companies. So improving and amplifying our reputation as an industry can only be changed at the company level.