One of the mistakes many (myself included) direct sellers make is starting their direct sales business without the proper tools to help them be successful. When I first joined the world of direct selling years ago, I did so with no mentor, no plan and no clue. That was fun! And that made things infinitely harder than they needed to be. I spent a lot of time failing, which actually was awesome, because now I know better. And when you know better, you do better. And these 12 ultimate direct sales resources are what help me get better and do better.
Ultimate Direct Sales Resources: Training
The two people who have impacted my direct sales business the most, even though we’ve never even met, are Brenda Ster from Sassy Suite and Kari Driskoll from Driskotech. Both are brilliant women who have a huge passion for helping direct sellers be the best they can be.
Sassy Suite offers a ton of online, video-based courses and I think I’ve taken them all. She covers a variety of channels, Pinterest, Instagram and of course, Facebook. Brenda is your no-nonsense bestie, believing in you and encouraging you while pushing you to be the best. If you’re just starting out in direct sales, I recommend starting with the Personal Branding course, which covers how to develop the Brand of You! Yes, you! People can buy whatever you sell from a thousand other people, so to create raving customers who are loyal to you, you need to stand out from the pack and the only way to do that is by developing your own personal brand. Maybe you have hot pink hair and love flamingos. Or maybe that’s just me. Whatever it is that makes you YOU, you’ll learn how to develop an online presence that will make the people of the internet remember you (and tag you in all the flamingo things!).
Brenda also offers a free training group on Facebook, the Socialite Suite. Check it out and wave hi to me, I’ll be on the pink sofa!
If you love video, yer gonna love Kari Driskell from Driskotech. (The “yer” is hers, she’s all kinds of awesome!) Kari has created a program that teaches the ins and outs of creating awesome edited videos that stand out from the crowd. I love creating videos and go live all the time, but I thought creating slick, edited videos was beyond reach. All I own is an iPhone and a laptop. Turns out, that’s all you need. Her Editing E-course walks you through the entire process of creating video awesomeness. There are three different levels, and I invested in The Complete Package.
Kari also offers a free group on Facebook where you can get tips and tricks for free!
Ultimate Direct Sales Resources: Graphics
One of the great things about direct sales brands is they provide all the marketing materials you need, slick, gorgeous photography that really pops. And one of the down sides of direct sales is everyone in your brand has the same access and shares those same slick, gorgeous photos. Not only does it not help you stand out, it can land you in Facebook jail and my friend, that is some hard time to serve.
I was overwhelmed and intimidated by graphic design when I began my direct sales journey. Luckily, I found a couple of great tools to help me create my own graphics that are tied to the brand of Windy. Before you start creating your own graphics, consult your P&Ps to make sure you are aware of any restrictions or limitations.
Picmonkey is my go to for desktop (non-mobile) graphic design. I’m not gonna lie, if you’ve never used any graphic design software, the first time you log in can be a little confusing. (What the hell are overlays? you ask. It’s just a thing laid over another thing.)
Picmonkey is free, but you can subscribe to the Royale plan, which eliminates the ads, runs faster and gives you more editing features through the Hub. The Hub allows you to save layered files in their system, so you can open them up later and edit them. Which is freaking awesome. So, you can create a template (hypothetically, let’s say an image with a bunch of flamingos as the background or texture in Picmonkey-speak) and want to create a series of quotes. You can save your image in the Hub and change out the layers- the quotes- multiple times. It’s pretty awesome and a huge time-saver. It’s pretty darn cheap for a year subscription and worth every penny.
Wordswag is an amazing app for iPhone and Android. If you have zero graphic design experience, Wordswag is going to be your new best friend. For real. It allows you to create slick images with either photos saved on your phone or stock photos from Pixabay, in a variety of sizes. It has preloaded fonts, so you just select your style and overlay copy directly on to an image or other background. Easy as 1, 2. That’s it. Not even 1, 2, 3- just 1,2.
Ultimate Direct Sales Resources: Social media management
One of the biggest time-sucks for me when I began my direct sales was trying to manage all of my social media channels. I knew it was important to be on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, but it took so much time managing all the channels consistently. I wanted to post regularly but it was seriously so time-consuming. Until I found these three tools!
Cinchshare was a serious game-changer for me. Cinchshare allows you to schedule posts for all of your Facebook groups, pages events and profiles through their platform. You can schedule an entire Facebook party through the platform, so when it’s party time, you can interact with your guests instead of worrying about each new post. (And if you want a really killer party, check out Sassy Suite’s Epic Facebook Party training!) I manage two direct sales business pages, a VIP group, three team pages, an opportunity group and a motivational group all through Cinchshare. With Cinchshare, I can spend an hour each weekend planning out my content to each group and page for the entire week.
Cinchshare isn’t free, it’s about $10 a month, but you can get a free 30-day trial to see if it works for you.
Ok, moment for truth, time. I have a love hate relationship with Pinterest. Hate may be a strong word. Pinterest and I are not friends. Mostly because I’m super busy, and I need to be disciplined when it comes to my time. And girl, Pinterest makes it possible to look for one digital paper and then three hours later, ask yourself what the hell just happened? Was I abducted by aliens? Nope, I was in a Pinterest black hole where time and space just disappear.
So Tailwind was a huge life-saver for me because it allows me to still have a presence on Pinterest (an amazing search engine) without leaving me filled with self-loathing and 142 different craft projects I will never, ever make.
Tailwind allows you to schedule pins in advance, up to 400 a month, and even recommends the best posting times for the most reach. And their analytics are pretty dope- letting you know which pins are rocking it, so you can re-pin them.
Tailwind is $9.99 a month, but you can sign up for a free account with 100 pins to check it out and see if it’s for you.
Planoly is a Instagram visual planner. It allows you to plan your Instagram posts in advance, on either a desktop or mobile device. And it’s free for up to 30 posts a month! The only downside is it doesn’t actually post for you- I haven’t found a program that does. It simply copies your post and alerts you when it’s time to post, so you do have to physically publish the image.
Ultimate Direct Sales Resources: Customer Relationship Management
So here’s the thing: we’ve all met someone, bought something from them and never heard from them again. And that sucks. I made the decision when I started my direct sales career that I didn’t want to be that girl. I genuinely wanted to be a friend to my customers. But as my business grew, it became harder and harder to stay in touch. Especially with people who I met at a vendor event or simply made a purchase off my website. I didn’t really know them, so it was easy to forget about them. So I found a tool to make it easier for me, FIITFU.
FIITFU stands for Fortune is in the Follow up and it’s a seriously amazing CRM (customer relationship management) tool. Once I enter a customer or lead into FIITFU, it will remind me when it’s time to reach out to them. You can control the frequency you want to touch base with them, add orders, even schedule emails to remind your customers when it’s time to re-order (for consumables) or if a purchase is ending its warranty period. You can create your own templates and pre-schedule emails, add their birthday, add notes about them (Oh, Sarah, how did your daughter do in her piano competiton), and more. Seriously, I love it.
And, there’s a iPhone app, so I don’t even have to log into FIITFU on the computer for my daily reminders.
Try FIITFU free for 30 days to see if it’s right for you.
Ultimate Direct Sales Resources: Online presence
Having a strong online presence that Google can find is crucial for every direct seller. It may feel like everyone you know is aware of your brand, but there are millions of people who are not entirely familiar with your product and don’t know anyone who sells it. When they ask their go-to know-it-all, Google, you want to make sure Google lists you! And the easiest way to do that is get yourself a SassyDirect listing.
Sassy Direct, the ultimate direct sales directory, features three different levels of listing, starting at $5 a month. I recommend the premium level, for a couple of reasons. First, it is the only level that features the option to get reviews. If you are searching for something online, are you going to trust the person who has no reviews or the person who has a bunch of positive reviews? The one with the reviews, of course. Second, the premium feature gives you the option to have a micro-blog. Micro-blogging gives you all the benefits of a blog, without the hassle of actually setting up a blog. And blogging is the top of the social pyramid- it’s where you want to be!
Ultimate Direct Sales Resources: Show me the money
True story time. It was about four days before my very first vendor event when I realized I had no way to collect credit card payments. Oh hi, I’m so glad you love my things, but I can only accept a check, because apparently it’s 1956. Eek! I’ve been with Square ever since.
You can get a Square card reader for free and it’s so easy to use. Their processing fees are very reasonable, the money is delivered to my checking account the next business day.
Ultimate Direct Sales Resources: Show them your face!
Have you ever wanted to show a customer how to actually order from your website or teach a new team member how to navigate the back office. Screencast-o-matic lets you do just that. You can record your screen to show someone step by step how to do just about anything. And, if you have a webcam (and who doesn’t have a webcam these days), you can even record yourself if the corner so they see your pretty face telling them what to do.
Screencast-o-matic has both free and paid versions. The free version limits your video to 15 minutes and your finished video will have the Screencast-o-matic watermark on your finished piece. You can record longer videos, edit your video and eliminate the watermark with the paid plan for $15 a year.
I love Zoom for video conferencing with my team. We are spread out, from Hawaii to Connecticut, Washington to Florida, but we all see each other every week using team meetings with Zoom. I’ve even started Zooming with clients who have questions about how something works. We can pop on a Zoom conference and I can see exactly what they are trying to show me.
With a Zoom free account, you can host a meeting for up to 50 people for up to 40 minutes. Having a one on one chat with a client (or grandma), stay on as long as you want. And, you can record your meeting (great for team trainings) and save to your computer!
Zoom offers paid accounts as well, that lets you host meetings for unlimited time and additional participants. But honestly the free account has worked for me (and frankly, I like that I can only blather on for 40 minutes- it keeps me focused and on track!)
I hope these 12 ultimate direct sales resources help you start your business on the right foot! Have a question about any of these tools or wanna talk about how awesome flamingos are? Connect with me on Facebook or contact me!