1.  Recognize the power of Software.

Direct Selling must embrace technology and recognize that every company is a software company. Software is no longer a piece of your business that allows you to do business, it is your business.  It is how you are viewed by the world.  Companies that are on outdated technology or stay with software providers that are no longer innovative will be lost.  Some of our industries oldest  companies are at great risk because their software has become antiquated and bloated and is not
flexible and adaptable.  Older companies run the risk of being outsold by newer direct selling companies that understand a flexible platform and are able to adapt quickly.

2. Embrace social media.

It is no longer something a company can do part-time.  Direct Selling companies need to have at least one focused employee that serves as their social media chair. Companies that do not post regularly will not have as big an impact as those who do.

3. Give your field what they need.

Direct Selling companies must provide their field with the information they need to be successful.  This can be accomplished through a tie-in of the back-office and the tools.  Field partners need to know how they can reach the next level of success.

4. Go Mobile.

Direct Selling Companies must invest in mobile technology.  While currently only about 10% of purchases are made online through a mobile device, this number is growing exponentially and companies without mobile technology will be left in the dust.

5. Use Video.

Direct Selling Companies must recognize the power of video and harness it.  Gen Y is extremely video dependant and other generations are comfortable using it.  It is a great way to communicate to the field and build value.

Many of the older companies are relying on customer loyalty to maintain their business.  Loyalty is becoming a thing of the past, though company commitment can be maintained with consistent interactions and appreciation. This can only be found in the ways that I have expressed above.

It is important that as your company moves forward into the New Year that it is equipped to be successful.  Take time to explore what your company is offering.  It could make a huge difference in your future success.


DSEF gives back to the community with help from Direct Selling Execs and Vendors

Last week was an amazing week at the DSA’s Be Connected Conference.  I wrote in my blog last week about my fear of public speaking and I have to admit, it went really well, I didn’t shake at all!!   I had room to move around and everyone seemed engaged. It was a very positive experience and I would definitely do it again if given the opportunity.  Thank you to those of you who sent me encouraging notes!! It was a great opportunity to grow and do something I had not done in this industry before.

I wanted to share today about an event the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) put on while we were there.  The DSEF is a non profit organization that educates and engages the public on the ways direct selling empowers individuals, supports communities and strengthens economies worldwide.  Several years ago, they decided that whenever Direct Selling executives got together for the major conferences, wherever that was, the DSEF would lead an effort to make a difference in that community.

The activities range from painting and updating a local YWCA to beach cleanup. You never know what the DSEF will be doing, but whatever it is, you want to be a part of it.  At this conference our task was to pack a present for the Boys and Girls Club of Las Vegas.  I have found that direct selling executives and vendors are some of the most generous people I have ever met, both in sharing information and finances.  On the first day I took a photo of the collection bin (I have included it).  By the end of the week, they needed two or three more bins!

Friday morning, a small group of children were invited to have breakfast with Santa.  They were given breakfast and presents.  The DSEF did a great job of allowing all of us (vendors and executives) to see the event but not overwhelm the children.  The president of the Boys and Girls Club shared with us that many of the children will not receive a Christmas present this year and that our gifts might be their only gift this year.

I am always amazed at the power of the individual, but no one should ever discount the power of the team.  One person can make a great difference, but a team can change lives.  Thank you DSEF for allowing us to be a part of your team and change lives!!

The scary microphone is waiting!!

This week I am attending the DSA’s Be Connected Conference. This conference is held every year and focuses on Marketing and Technology. Each year I attend, I walk away energized with new ideas that can help the companies we serve.

This year is a first for me, I will be speaking. I am not a speaker by trade and if I am totally honest, speaking in front of people terrifies me. Though I don’t enjoy public speaking, I really enjoy teaching. Before I came into this career, I taught deaf and hard of hearing children. During my first year of teaching, I was asked to speak at a State Convention on the Writing Methods I was teaching my students. I was very honored and excited; unfortunately, the night before I was to speak, I got food poisoning. I was committed to speak and did not want to let anyone down (including myself) so the next morning, I drove to Orlando, with a bucket beside me (as a precaution) and readied myself to speak.

Here I was, one year out of college, speaking at the state convention, nauseous from food poisoning and who should walk in to hear me speak but the professor who taught me all those great techniques! That was serious pressure!!! As I began to speak, my legs were shaking so badly, I thought I was going to fall. My mouth was dry, my stomach was nauseous, but as I proceeded into my speech, I remembered that I am helping improve lives by the message I am sending. What I was talking about worked for my students and could work for others. Teaching is about helping and I can do that without being nervous. I made it through without stumbling too much and at the end of the presentation, my professor came over and told me how proud he was of me.

That event taught me a lot:
NOTHING ever goes perfectly
Be determined to FINISH no matter how much you want to quit
A SMILE can go a long way
You are STRONGER than you think

So, this Thursday as I stand before clients, prospective clients, industry business leaders, vendors and competitors, I will take a deep breath and dive in.

What is holding you back from being your best? Dive in!! I promise you will come out stronger!

Serena speaking to a class

I had the opportunity to visit my son’s school and speak about what I do. I talked with them about what we do, how we built the company, the products our clients sell and about technology in general. I walked away shocked at how privileged my children are because of the nature of the business environment they are raised in.

Jeff has worked in software their whole lives. In 2000, he opened ByDesign Technologies, a software company that services the direct sales industry. He had a vision of creating a software company that not only provided great software but great customer support and over time we have built a great company.
While in the process of building the business, my children have helped dump trash cans, clean white boards and put together computers. They have seen us struggle to write up presentations, heard us talk about finances and know that creating a business requires constant attention and work. They have been there for dinner parties with managers, employees and clients. (Typically they say hi and then go upstairs to hang out with the sitter). They know what the terms profit, loss and demand mean to a business person.

As I was speaking to the various classes (3rd-5th grade), I was shocked at how many children view a computer like a toaster; plug it in, turn it on and it works. They had never considered all the parts or the people that make it work. I had the opportunity to speak to them about a language they had never heard of, programming language. I told them, it was just another language, like Spanish or French, but it is used to talk to computers rather than people.

I was able to tell them about the great customer service people that work for us and how they help companies be successful. By far, the children’s favorite department was QA. One little boy said, “so let me get this right, I get to try to break what other people build and I get paid for that?!?”
I received thank you notes from the kids for speaking to them and I loved them. Here are a few:

“Thanks for teaching us about hardware and software.”
“I want to be QA, it is cool to break things.”

And my personal favorite:
“Thanks for teaching me to be successful, I have to work hard. I learned that from you.”

Industry leaders need to make sure that we are not only leading our companies but the future generations. Please consider taking some time out, perhaps even your lunch break, to speak to a group of kids that are desperate to know about your reality. I think many of us in the technology field find it difficult to put into words what we do but it is vital that we share what we know and plant the seeds of future growth. I know there is probably a school just around the corner from where you work, waiting for you. Will you go?