As a Direct Sales Coach, I am often asked about which direct sales businesses are the best ones to join. I believe there are many great direct sales and network marketing companies to choose from. We each have to find the right company and products for ourselves based on our own personal interests and preferences. There are several important things you should consider as you try to decide which direct sales or network marketing business is the right one for you. In this training, I’m sharing nine key things to consider plus some bonus tips for being more successful in direct sales.

How to overcome (and avoid) a slump in your direct sales network marketing business

#1. The Products

First of all, you want to look at the products that the company offers. Is it something that you yourself, use, love are passionate about? Do you feel the products offer a good value? Would you would feel comfortable sharing the solutions and benefits that that product offers with others?

If you love the product that you’re promoting, and what it offers, for others, it’s going to be a lot easier for you to get out there and market it. You’ll feel excited and proud to share about something you believe in.

#2. The Company itself

You also want to look at and consider the company itself. How long has the company been around? Is it a financially stable company? You can go online and research look on social media and see what people are saying about the company, talk with other people that maybe have bought products from them? Speak with other consultants and get their feedback.

What are their values? What did do things look like financially and business wise? Are they a stable & growing company? How long have they been in business? That said things do happen in business and industry and sometimes our companies have been around for 10, 20 or more years, do end up, unfortunately, going out of business. What is their overall reputation?

#3.  Training provided by the Company and team

You also want to find out what type of training the company and the team that you’re going to be joining offers. What type of training they have in place for new consultants? What kind of training do they offer to help you learn how everything works, to learn how about the products and how to demonstrate them and, and all of that.  Is there a solid new consultant training platform and program in place?

You also want to look at the upline and team / organization you’re going to join with. How long have they been in the business? Are they in a leadership position? Are they focused on building their business or only doing this as a hobby? Do they have a great training program in place for their own team or an upline’s you can tap into? Do they have regular online and in person meetings and trainings (if local)? Do they offer things for you to be able to join in and take part of and to get that extra support and encouragement and motivation & connect with your team for community support (like a FB group)?

#4. Avenues to build your business in

The other thing you may want to think about is what exactly do they focus on as far as the avenues that you can build your business in. Some direct sales companies are still more home party focused. Some are more one on one client relationship building. Some are more virtual or social selling focused.  Some allow and encourage both online and in person selling or shows. Do they offer a fundraiser program? What is their team building / promoting path like?

What avenues do you want to pursue in your business? Do you want to do in person events and home shows and build a local, in person business? Do you prefer to build a business online and do social selling? Do you not want to have to do parties / shows? Do you prefer to sell products or memberships? Does the company focus more on recruiting and team building? What avenues offer the most income?

Be sure the company you plan to join offers the avenues and business growth methods you want to pursue and fit your personality and goals. If you don’t want to do home shows or in person business, don’t chose a company that focuses on that method.  If you hate social media, don’t choose a company that focuses on online and social selling.

#5. Compensation plan and business structure

Along similar lines as #4, you also want to look at the company’s compensation plan and structure and find out what % commission you earn on product sales, on team sponsoring, on volume bonuses and other income avenues they offer.  I would suggest you join a company that offers a minimum 25% commission on an individual product or total personal retail sales and 3-10% on sponsoring as well as other bonuses like volume (for instance hitting $1500 in sales a month).

Also, find out if the company offers other kinds of incentives like being able to earn new products, business supplies and other gifts and rewards for achieving weekly, monthly or annual goals.

Also consider the structure of the company. Is it more of a direct sales company, network marketing company or multi-level marketing company?

The main different between the 3 is:

Direct sales: typically a party plan where there is a host program where those who host a show earn free gifts & % of host dollars for purchases.  Direct sales companies also allow you to sell products individually. They will also have a team building and leadership path, but you do not have to recruit to make an income or build a business. (Companies like Tupperware, Pampered Chef, Scentsy and Thirty-One.)

Network Marketing company:  most network marketing companies focus more on social selling, 1:1 sales, may have a preferred customer program / membership and a more robust recruiting and leadership path and compensation plan.  Some also offer a host rewards program, some don’t. (Companies like Arbonne, Paparazzi, AVON, Rodan + Fields)

Multi-level marketing: multi-level marketing (MLM) companies typically require a monthly membership fee or minimum order of products for yourself. They focus more on enrolling customers and business builders. Some do not even offer physical products. The comp plan will be highly built upon and reward recruiting more than sales. In my personal opinion, most multi-marketing companies end up having very questionable business practices and are much more difficult to earn an income in.  I do not personally recommend joining multi-level marketing companies. (Companies like Amway, Melaleuca, Herbalife, Isagenix.) *I’m not saying these are bad companies, products or anything negative about the reps. The compensation plan and business structure can often make it more difficult to grow your business and make an income in an MLM.

#6. Inventory Requirements

It is also important to find out whether you have to keep inventory or not? Are you going to have to keep products on hand? Are you going have to buy a certain amount yourself personally every month?

Most all companies are going to have minimum requirements you have to meet to keep your account active or stay at a certain level.   That’s normal, but you want to make sure the requirements are reasonable and something you could meet with just part-time hours or a couple shows or few customer orders – in the beginning especially.

You also want to make sure you don’t have to personally keep things in stock and on hand – either by the companies requirements or your upline’s encouragement. Unfortunately, some uplines will encourage you to have items on hand so your customers don’t have to wait for items to ship.  It’s never good to end up with thousands of dollars of products that you may or may not sale and be stuck with in a year or two. People are used to having to order and wait a few days for shipping of items.

An exception to this rule is companies like Paparazzi where you purchase the jewelry at cost upfront and then sell it and keep the profit.  If you plan to join a company like this, just be prepared to have a higher upfront sign up cost and monthly cost to buy the inventory. Also make sure you are going to do the work to host live shows and sell the inventory each month & ship it in a timely manner so you continue to make a profit and grow your business & keep your customers happy. This type of business can and does work for a lot of people. However, not everyone has room for inventory or can invest that much upfront or wants to ship items every week.

#7. Sign up Kit Cost & Contents

Next you’ll want to consider the sign up cost(s) and the business kit options & contents. All companies require some kind of fee to join and most include a physical business kit with products and business supplies.

A lot of companies are offering virtual kits now where you basically pay a small fee to join and get a website.  This is a great low cost way to get started, but you may have to invest some money to get physical business supplies or a few products so you can use them yourself or have them to show / share with others.

Most all direct sales / network marketing companies offer 1 or more business kit sign up options. The business kit will typically include a few of the company’s most popular products and business supplies like catalogs, order forms, samples and training documents.  You’re gonna get a kit with products and supplies and things to help you with building your business.  If you are planning to do home shows or even online shows, it’s definitely helpful to choose a kit with products so you have them on hand to demonstrate.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $10-$200 for most sign up costs and business kits. Most companies business kits that include products are around 50-75% less than retail. (For instance, a $99 kit would include around $200 of products and $50 of supplies.)

#8. Is this the right business model for you?

Remember that you are starting a business, this is an investment and start-up cost. Starting a direct sales business is much more cost effective than a brick or mortar business. You can also write the cost of the kit and any supplies off on your taxes when you file and use the deductions for small businesses.

It might seem like a big deal and big decision to join and start a direct sales business, but keep in mind the cost is very minimal and if it doesn’t work out or you decide the company or business type isn’t for you – you still have a kit full of products you can use yourself or gift that you got at a great price.

Direct sales isn’t for everyone, but it’s a low risk cost business that may be worth trying.

Also, sometimes we have to try more than 1 company to find the right fit for us.  You can get all the answers to the questions and info I’ve suggested considering but find out you don’t really love the product or the team environment isn’t that great or the company maybe make big changes or you end up making a big change in your life and it end up not being the right fit anymore.

My point in that is that – if one company didn’t work for you in the past or isn’t working now, it doesn’t mean all companies are bad or you aren’t cut out for direct sales. You just may not have found the right company, business model or product for you.

Direct sales can also be a great stepping stone for shifting to other types of businesses or finding out what part of having an online business is best for you.

For instance, many direct sales leaders like myself took the skills, experience and confidence we gained to move into other careers like coaching, digital product creation, blogging and speaking. I learned that I really love teaching, coaching, coming up with creative marketing ideas, building a community and organizing. This helped me take the next step to starting CEO of Me and DSCEO. I credit my time, experience, confidence and skills gained during my years in direct sales as being key to helping me get to where I am today.

#9. Are you ready & willing to do the work required to grow a direct sales business?

Remember that starting or growing a successful direct sales business (or any kind of business) isn’t so much about the product, the company or the compensation plan.  You need to also be willing to learn, grow, adapt, change and try new things. You need to market your business, share genuinely with others, be visible, follow up, get out of your comfort zone, attend trainings and be consistent in doing the work.

Being self-employed requires self-discipline. It can be a roller coaster at times and your income and growth may not always be the same each month. You have to step and work even when you don’t feel like it at times and take a lot of personal responsibility.

Your direct sales business (or other type of business) will not work, profit or succeed if you don’t do the right kind of work to build and grow it (and yourself) consistently.

I hope these tips helped you with figuring out what to consider and ask before joining a direct sales company and starting your own direct sales business. If you would like to learn the steps to build and grow a direct sales business correctly from the start, check out my other training and tools for direct sellers here.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Did you consider all of these things before you joined your company? Are there any other important factors you think people should consider before joining a direct sales company? Please leave a comment below! (Please refrain from trying to recruit others to join your company in your comments. I encourage authentic marketing, networking and supporting each other as we all create our own amazing businesses.)

  • Great video. Thx for your tips. I like what you said about some people needing to join a couple of different companies before finding the one that’s right for them. I’ve been in my company for 8 years, but it has always been a struggle. I love the company, the incentives, and the people, but I am finding it hard to be completely on board with the products. If I didn’t sell it, I don’t think I would buy it at retail. I guess that’s been my issue all these years.

    • Having a belief in what you are selling/promoting is really important – for me at least. I know that was a big factor in why I left 1 company, I realized I no longer believed in the value of the products or the compensation plan (the company made a major overhaul and basically made it harder to make $, which is never good.) so I just couldn’t promote it whole heartedly which didn’t do me, my team or my customers any good. I would encourage you to really think about it and if you feel this way because of a hidden fear maybe that you think your products are overpriced, no one will buy them or spend that kind of money or if you legitimately don’t feel a passion/connection to the products and the solution that you provide. Life is too short to do things half-heartedly. 🙂

  • This is a great video! I think it’s really important for a person to ask these questions before joining a company. Usually, the answers to these questions can help you weed out the legitimate business opportunities and the companies that are invested in their consultants’ success from the ones that are just trying to turn a quick buck, or won’t be able to stay in the game for any length of time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great video and tips! I didn’t consider any of those things when joining, though 🙂 the products looked great (I didn’t own any but liked what I saw in the catalog) and I liked the idea of working from home, and jumped in (21 years ago). The comments about it not being a huge deal make so much sense since it’s easy to overthink and sometimes better to go for it and see if it’s a good fit (within reason ~~ financial issues like inventory, sales requirements, and ongoing/annual fees are good to know so there aren’t any unpleasant surprises).

    • Thanks for the comment Jill! Yes definitely considering inventory, annual fees and sales requirements are good too. There are several companies now that have a bigger kit / inventory cost / requirement that weren’t around yet when I made this video a few years ago. I need to record a new one as I have rebranded and definitely learned better video skills since then too. 🙂

  • Love all your insight Misty! Thank you for sharing!
    I’d like to add that there are very few DS companies that benefit from “kit-nappers”, folks who only join for the discount. I’ve found that in those companies typically the consultants are the company’s best “customer” and it truly makes it difficult for those that are focused on building a legitimate business to be successful due to “kit-napping” consultants offering bigger discounts to receive a larger discount on their personal products. I, unfortunately, was drawn into one, like this, and for quite awhile, thought I was earning a decent income through sales and recruiting… not so much the case when I ran the same team volume numbers through other DS/MLM compensation plans. Nowadays, it’s very important for me to educate my team on the difference between earning an income and earning a discount. Hoping to help others succeed! – Terri

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