What is relationship marketing and why is it so important in direct sales?
Direct sales is bogged down with the reputation for spammy tactics, predatory practices, .
Why? Because 1 – brands don’t teach how to market correctly. They teach how to use their systems and how to record orders, but when it comes to the ins and outs of running and marketing your business, that’s all on the consultants. And 2 – the primary audience for direct selling and network marketing (moms who are looking for an easy-to-start business) doesn’t always have a deep business and marketing background.
If you tell someone who doesn’t know anything about marketing — isn’t really sure what the difference is between marketing and sales — that they can just “share your love of the product with your family and friends,” then guess what they’re going to do? Share the product with their family and friends.
But they’re going to do it the way they share anything else:
- Someone will say “I love your nail polish!”
- Instead of responding with “Thanks! I got it at Target,” they will answer with “Thanks! I sell it!”
Whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute! There’s a difference between sharing where you purchased something and sharing that you can sell them something.
Have you ever walked into a store or a car dealership only to have the sales person start following you around, asking if they can help, reminding you that if you have any questions you can ask them, or otherwise “checking in” with you? Remember how uncomfortable that felt until you were actually ready to talk to them about buying?
That’s what the response above feels like to your friend. Responding right away with “buy it here” encroaches upon your relationship, presuming the jump from friend to customer before the other person has given their consent.
If your sales are low and you can’t figure out why because you’ve been telling all your friends and family about your new business, this is why: it’s time to learn about relationship marketing.
So here we go.
What is Relationship Marketing?
- Drawing people to you because you’re positive, energetic, and fun.
- Sprinkling your products into your daily life posts.
- Leading with value and genuine friendship.
- Being self-deprecating enough to laugh at yourself, and invite others to laugh with you.
- Sharing unique and original content that your communities won’t see elsewhere.
- Selling yourself first, and your products second.
Relationship Marketing isn’t:
- Spamming your friends.
- Cold messaging about your products.
- Posting constantly about your products on your newsfeed.
- Being mean or abusive online, which would lead to someone blocking you, and telling all their friends to do the same.
- Doing what everyone else is doing.
- Selling your products first.
Here’s a crash course in relationship marketing.
Too often, we see people struggling to make it in direct sales because they are given the same bad advice that leads to these spammy tactics: ask your friends and family. Go for the 100. And the worst? “Your friends and family want to help you succeed so just ask them to help you reach your goals.”
The one thing these tactics are all missing?
Respect for the relationship.
Respect for your friends, respect for your family — respect for your business.
Relationship marketing isn’t about using your current relationships to try to get sales. It’s about building relationships with potential customers so they will want to purchase from you.
Sales is, truly, an emersion: it requires several different skill sets, which is one reason why it’s so hard to find a single book or a single course that can cover everything. But this is one of the most important skills: the ability to build a connection with someone and spark a relationship that nurtures and respects them while guiding them to a sale.
If you want to succeed in direct sales, it starts by remembering how to respect the relationships you already have and then extending that respect to building new relationships. People did not sign up on Facebook to listen to you beg for them to help you reach your goals. They signed up to connect with the people they love and want to hang out with.
Respect that and they will respect you more. Instead of rolling their eyes and hiding your posts while whispering “pyramid scheme” under their breaths, you’ll see that more and more of them will comment on your posts and even get excited when you post something new.
Owning your own business doesn’t mean you have to do it all on your own! Come hang out with me over in my free Facebook group: Social Marketing for Direct Sales, with Brenda Ster.