Hate Job Interviews? Do Direct Sales!

Over a dozen years ago, I left a six-figure corporate job to do direct sales full-time. I was very successful with the company for nearly 10 years, finishing #1 in the entire country at their 2012 conference. I thought I would do direct sales forever.

Back when I was in the industry full-force, totally drinking the Kool-Aid so to speak, a really good friend of mine asked me what I was doing in this new career. I told him, and he replied, “Oh, you throw those ‘screw your neighbor’ parties.” I went on and on trying to explain to him that it’s not that way, his perception is wrong, and wrote it off to him being a guy and not understanding.

Well, fast forward many years later. This friend and I met for lunch to discuss a potential job I am interviewing for tomorrow. (GASP. Yes.)  He asked why I left my last company. To be honest, that subject can, and probably will, fill dozens of upcoming blogs. I have never been with such a horrible company in my life, and never had a worse experience. Three days into it, I wanted to quit, and in retrospect, I should have. They had the most bizarre culture, and were so blatantly dishonest, it was mind-blowing. Unfortunately, I had this mentality that I brought 40 women in with me, and I was responsible for trying to make things right, or at least tolerable, for them. To quote my husband, who in turn, always quotes Felix Sabates of NASCAR, “You can’t buff a turd.” No, no you can’t. Don’t waste the time trying.

To put it in perspective, I would tell friends I would go work for the owners of the company who sued me and made my life a living hell in 2013, before I would go back and ever work with the owners of my last direct selling company. At least the owners of the first company were business-savvy, had a track record, and last I checked, didn’t have a DVD available for sale on a porno site with the wife in it. (Yes, I said it, and yes, it’s a fact. I even ordered it. And like everything they did, it was lame and a total waste of time and money. Thankfully, I ordered it from Amazon for $3.00, if that tells you anything…but I digress….)

So, during this lunch conversation, my friend said he thought that maybe there was an abundance of sleazy people in direct sales, because of the whole nature of the business itself. I don’t necessarily agree with that–I can think of a couple companies off the top of my head that I think has a great leadership team, and good reputation–Thirty-One Gifts and Stella & Dot come to mind. I also have a great friend who works for Wines For Humanity, and she raves about the owner, whom she works directly with, so let’s throw them in there as well. I am sure there are many more that I am just not familiar with, but I can tell you, the companies I have looked at recently all just give off a “sleazy vibe.”

There seems to be an abundance of new companies lately, and maybe it’s my recent experiences, but when I see pictures of them at their conferences, or in rallies at hotels, my skin crawls a bit.

I was at dinner with my husband on Friday, discussing all of this and asking his input. My husband is the Director of Sales and Marketing for a $100,000,000+ a year company, and even though I rip on him in my personal blog, I do respect his business opinions. (Not enough to NOT do my last company…he spoke to the owner before I joined, and was NOT impressed, and told me to do whatever I wanted, but if he had his say, he’d steer me far away from that company. Yes, it goes into the “should have listened to my husband once” category. I can admit it.)

My husband is a very blunt person and said, “What do you expect from companies that don’t care about their brand?”

I had no idea where he was going with it. He explained that only in direct sales, can ANYONE just join a company. The company loses all control over who is representing their brand, and how they are doing it.

Would you go to a restaurant where any random person can walk in and cook your meal, or take your order? Certainly not. You’d want someone who went through a vetting process, and subsequent training with the company.

With direct sales, you can go on a website, plunk in your credit card number, and represent a brand. It’s odd.

I argued with my husband and said many women will point out how wonderful the direct sales industry is, that it is all-inclusive, ANYONE can do it. That’s true. But as a company, do you really want ANYONE to be able to sell your goods, train your incoming sales people, and represent your company any way they want to?

When I first started with the jewelry company  that closed their doors, cough cough, but are still selling online, much to the chagrin of the sales force that all became unemployed right before Christmas, I ended up having a teammate under me who would do parties, ONLY take cash or checks (red flag) and never turn in the parties, and pocket 100% of the money, instead of the 30% she would have gotten legitimately.  She was eventually not allowed to represent the company anymore, but she was able to go to any other direct sales company’s web site, put in her credit card number, and play her game all over again.

We wouldn’t feel comfortable going into a hair salon and having some lady who just showed up and decided she was going to be a “stylist” that day come near you with a bottle of color and a scissors, but we think it’s fine with direct sales to do that every night, in our friend’s houses.

To go back to my husband’s point…it’s hard to take certain businesses seriously when anyone can decide to be the jewelry lady, the cookware lady, the makeup lady, and not have to do any specific training or pass some test before they can go out and rep your brand. Even if you are the best customer in the world for that company, you still aren’t necessarily qualified to sell it or advise others. I frequent several restaurants often–but have no idea how to cook.

It cheapens your brand, and your reputation by allowing any Tina, Dora, or Harriett to plop down $99 bucks and join your company. You wouldn’t like to deal that way in any other area of your life, so why is it acceptable in direct sales?

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Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking

On September 10th, 2013, after a full day of picking out the new line jewelry for the Spring 2014 catalog, I was totally unexpectedly called into a conference room with a bunch of very serious-looking faces who wouldn’t make eye contact with me, and told that effective immediately, the company was closing it’s doors. No reasons were given, no advance warning. Just DONE. And the driver is waiting to take you back to the airport for a flight that was cancelled and you will be stuck in Canada, freaking out until some fancy footwork and phone calls are made.

That was how my direct sales journey ended with a jewelry company.

So, as everyone knows, a big direct sales jewelry company announced they were closing their doors a couple days ago. They gave their advisors basically a month notice.

I know many leaders saw it coming, and have been making arrangements for a Plan B for months. I am torn on that. On one hand, it’s a totally responsible move to make sure you have a game plan in place, and a way to continue to support your family. However, what if the company had not closed? Talking to your downline and trying to rally the troops to come along with you is a violation of your contract, and frankly, something that many people have been sued for and crucified by the same leaders for doing in the past. (For the record, I was *NOT* sued for that.)

There is also the train of thought that had these leaders focused on their current business, instead of looking for the next one, they could have “saved” the company. I have to be honest and fair here…I respect the people who were giving 110% at the end to try to do that, but I honestly don’t think it would have made a difference, and in the same boat, I am not sure I wouldn’t have been trying to do BOTH–I always give 110%, but I think I would have also been looking at a Plan B.

Nonetheless, everyone is scrambling now. Having been though this a year ago, I feel for them. I had no Plan B because I was blindsided. I also came home to a very supportive husband who insisted I take a whole month off and decompress from the events of the past year (working 60-80 hour weeks, a nasty lawsuit, and several life-changing events).  He told me to grab my kayak, hit the lakes, and ignore everything for a month.

Easier said than done.

First, literally by the time my plane from Canada had landed, I had 47 messages from other direct sellers telling me “how they felt for me, am here for me, and have this opportunity that they’d be doing me a disservice for not sharing with me.”

Yeah.

Let me tell you something. Every woman who lost her job sees right through what you are doing. You are being a vulture, acting with no class, and ruining any chance of someone really good joining your team. The fake “sistah-hood” act is so transparent. You might as well just message them and say, “It sucks that you lost your job. You are really good, and I want you on my team for the over-ride you will produce for me.” I would have respected that more, to be honest.

Another tip…as a direct seller with another company, don’t post on your Facebook wall, “OMG. I just heard about company XYZ closing. I feel so awful for all my fellow direct-selling sistahs. Please know I am here for you.”  Hello…you look like a troll wrapped up in insincere concern. Again, you think you look like you are being “caring and sympathetic” but in reality, the people who just lost their jobs know you are fishing for recruits. You honestly just make yourself look bad.

If you are good at what you do, and would be a good leader, people already know what you do for a living. You should be talking about it regularly, you should have a reputation, so people will know if they want to hear more about what you do, they can ask you. Don’t look like a huckster thinking you have to do so or you will lose out on a good opportunity.

To put it in perspective…if your best friend’s husband was suddenly killed, and you always thought she’d be a great match for your brother, do you go up to her at the casket in the receiving line and say, “Oh Suzy, I feel for you. This is awful. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I think you and my brother would make a great couple and you should check him out”?  Of course not. You would be totally classless. You need to give someone the chance to mourn, and the grace of space. Same applies here. These women are suffering a different kind of death, and the last thing they need is anyone pushing something new on them. When they are ready, they will let you know.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with just saying, “Hey, I heard the news…it sucks. You know what I do, and when the time comes when you are looking for something else, please know I’d love to chat.” None of the phony-baloney, “I’m there for you. Anything you need…blah blah blah.” Right now, they need money to pay for their kids Christmas presents. You going to give them that? No. You want them to spend money they might not have right now to come make money for you. Bottom line. So, be sincere and classy–people will respect you a lot more.

It’s times like this that brings out the worse in direct sales and sellers. Please do your part to not contribute to the stereotypes of our profession.

 

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The Day Has Come…

I debated writing this. I fantasized about this day for over a year now. Some may think that is horrible, but until you have been in my shoes, you would not understand.

I thought when it actually happened,  I would secretly be doing the happy dance. I am not. It’s strange to be past that feeling.

What am I talking about?

The business I left in January of 2013 just announced they are closing their doors in 60 days. To me, they are like Voldemort, in the Harry Potter movies–”The company that shall not be named”.

But you all know who I am talking about.

I am not going to go off on a big tangent about this. I feel horrible for several people who genuinely are still my friends, and didn’t join the “Joyce Foy is the devil” bandwagon when I left. They were friends with ME, not the money I brought in to them. I am grateful for their continued friendship, and am sad they are out of a job.

I do hope people learned, discovered empathy for others, and maybe a little humility through this.

For example, the gal who used to be one of my best friends, who recently was bragging on a Facebook page how she and another former bestie of mine “brought Simply You down”.   You just can’t go around saying things like that and not have it bite you at some point. Be grateful you got a 60 day notice. We didn’t even get a 60 second notice.

Or all the leaders at the leader conference last year in Disneyland, who thought it was hilarious when the “Fairy Godmother” said, “You wished for Simply You to be closed…and BOOP…it’s closed.”  Really funny to relish in others losing their jobs, isn’t it? Not if you have class, it isn’t.

I am so glad a chapter in my life is closing, literally, and I can mentally move past it all now. That is how I honestly feel. I never have to look back and wonder if I made a mistake in leaving. I didn’t. Had I stayed, it would have bought me a year-plus in employment at the same place, but I would have been wondering when the doors were closing every day since they cancelled their national conference in summer.

I learned who my “true” friends were–and that was the most painful lesson of all. I learned that the “sistah-hood” in direct sales is a big farce, and only extends to as long as you can help someone, by either making them money by being in their downline, or sharing business tips. I am not going to lie–learning that lesson had me in tears many more times than I would care to admit.

So, now they are all scrambling, making deals with companies to bring as much of their downline along as possible. And they get to enjoy doing so without a company threatening to sue them, suing them, serving subpeonas to their underaged son, and telling everyone that they can have no contact with them and besmirching their names in the industry.

Welcome to my world last year–to those who reveled in it happening to me, and my gals last September 10th, karma truly is a bitch.

To those who were empathetic, and reached out to me, and wished me the best, I wish nothing but the best for you as well. I was going to say I can’t imagine being in your shoes, but I can. Been there, done that, got the stupid t-shirt…and survived. And you will too. Much love, respect and all the best to you.

 

 

 

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Being a Guest at Another Direct Sales Party–Dilemma

Okay, I know I have a lot of friends who are direct sellers as friends and I would like your thoughts. I was going to blog about this upcoming question the past two weeks, and of course got sidetracked with life (son going to college and parties!).

I have done several parties in the past couple months where there is a seller for another direct sales company as a guest at the party ( I DO NOT DO JOINT PARTIES–PERIOD. That is another topic for another day). Again, as a guest.

I have had two parties recently where the direct seller LITERALLY passed out THEIR CATALOG at the table after I finished my presentation. I was FLOORED. The first one shocked me–the gal had been selling for 2 weeks, and maybe was not well-versed on direct-selling etiquette. The second one was a veteran, and to be blunt, was just being tacky and trying to hi-jack the party, in my opinion.

I know I talk a good game, so you all are probably wondering what I did in each situation, and are assuming I called them out in the open or pulled them aside and asked them to stop. NOPE. Again, I talk a good game, but I sat on the side and continued to enter orders and help customers, give the direct seller the stick eye and stewed all night.

One of them said she would “trade parties with me”, and I declined and told her I had a good friend who sold her product already and I only do parties with her, and to be honest, I didn’t like how she did business. She asked me what I was talking about, and I told her it was direct sales 101 that you do NOT take your catalog out and pass it around at another person’s party. I explained to her that I am the one who has expenses into the party, I did the invites, paid for postage, etc. and it is totally gauche to piggy-back onto someone else’s livelihood. She disagreed. Well, that is fine, but don’t think I didn’t remember her name, and when someone invites me to a party for that company, the first thing I will do is check to see if she is the advisor or not. And, if any says, “Hey, I want to have an XXX (no pun intended…although now you can guess the company) Party”, her name will not be the one I pass on as a good person to book with.

On another note, I had a party last week where there were two direct sellers (for competing companies) and no one would have even known they sold other things had I not mentioned it in my presentation (their products personalize as well, and I tied it in with Mia’s personalization and talked about how people love it from all three of our companies). These women both respected that it was a MIA PARTY, and didn’t say boo about their products. You can bet if anyone asks me for consultant recommendations from either of their companies, I would totally pass their names along.

It’s always a slippery slope if you are a guest at a party, and someone asks what you do. I personally always tell people, “This is so-and-so’s party. I am FB friends with them, so tomorrow, if you want to find me on FB and message me, I will send you info.”

Here’s my personal opinion–no sale or booking is worth stepping on another direct seller’s toes or being perceived as hi-jacking or being pushy. I know it’s hard to believe (and you won’t believe it unless you are one of my personal customers or hostesses), but I am beyond laid-back at my parties, and NEVER EVER PUSH. And outside of my parties, I personally rarely talk about my business. I never wanted to be looked at as the crazy uncle at family gatherings who everyone avoids because he sells insurance and is always pushing people to get insurance from him. Or, the makeup lady who everyone avoids because she is constantly pushing them to “have a facial” with her line of products. You all know who I am talking about. I think that is the culture of that particular company. (To be fair, a really good friend of mine sells for that company and never ever pushes, and only talks about it if you ask her. You can bet any time I want products from that company, SHE is the one I call.)

Where do you stand on it? How do you handle it when you are at another direct seller’s party and you are asked what you do? Or if you overhear someone talking about an issue that your product can help them with? I have had that happen as well–if someone is talking about psoriasis, in theory, some would say I am not doing my business justice if I don’t mention I have this amazing body butter that is great for it, and pull a sample packet out of my purse for them.  However, I don’t carry samples OR business cards even (Bad Joyce…but again, I am “off the clock” and don’t live, eat, breathe, pee, poop and puke  my business anymore.)

So give me some insight. What do you do? What do you think is acceptable or unacceptable for another direct seller to do a someone else’s party? I’d love your feedback!

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One of the TWO Parties I Ever Left

Okay, time for a funny one–I’ve been way too serious lately.

So, two years ago, I showed up for a jewelry party, and I could tell right away it was going to be “one of those.” I had no idea it was going to be the worst “one of those” parties I ever did. Or actually DIDN’T do…because I packed it up and left.

So, I never really “met” this hostess at length. She crashed her neighbor’s outside party (she apparently wasn’t invited–that should have been a sign). She ran over on to the deck when I was setting up, and said she couldn’t stay (again, not invited) but wanted to book a party. Okay, bookings are hard to come by in summer–I was happy for this random, unexpected one.

She booked it for three weeks later and went on her way.

She was “one of those” who never did a guest list, was not on Facebook, never replied to phone calls, emails or texts, and I assumed the party was a no-go. Nope, she replied the afternoon of her party date that she was having the party, and she’d see me in a couple hours. She went into some long blah blah blah about some family drama, and that is why she had been out of touch (I should have listened more closely to it…I am sure it was a wingdinger).

So, I arrived at her house, she and her daughter met me out in the driveway. The daughter was 13, and acting really strange. She had a big brace on her leg–and when I asked her what happened, she told me “Nothing, I just like to wear this.” Um, okay.

I started to unload my car and the hostess told me we’d be doing the party in the basement as it was cooler and she had no air conditioning in the house. I glanced at the house, and saw the windows were BLACKED OUT. Like PAINTED BLACK. I should have bailed then. I told the hostess if it was downstairs, I would need help carrying my showcases down then. She told me NO, she had a stroke and couldn’t help. Okay, well, I had a mini-stroke as well, and that is why I always asked for help getting my cases up and down steep stairs as my balance is off.  That ended up being a blessing in disguise, because I could make a quick getaway.

So, I grabbed a show bag that had three “must-have trays” of jewelry, and went downstairs.

The hostess had a card table and two folding chairs set up in the hallway of the basement. FOR THE PARTY. Um, expecting a big crowd? UGH.

I started setting up. The creepy “let’s wear a leg brace for fun” daughter sat down at an organ that was at the end of the hall, and started playing CHRISTMAS MUSIC. In JULY.

She’d get to a certain spot in the song, screw up, and jump up screaming and swearing. Then she’d sit down, start all over, get to the same spot in the creepy Christmas song (I don’t like Christmas music in December, much less July), screw up, scream, and swear. Occasionally, she’d grab a can of Febreze and start spraying it all over.  I was waiting for her to start yelling “REDRUM” and I was leaving.

That didn’t happen, but close to it.

She went over to her mom (who was acting strange and sitting on one of the two folding chairs staring at me) and sprayed her IN THE FACE with the Febreze.  Her mom yelled at her, and she screamed something and went back to the creepy Christmas song on the organ.

Then, the mom banged on a door that was behind her and screamed, “Get out of there! I know what you are doing–I am trying to have a party and you have been in there long enough!”

Good lord…what the hell is in there? I asked her. BIG MISTAKE. She replied, “My oldest daughter has been in there for house and I know she is masturbating.”

At this point, between whatever is behind the door four feet from me and the “creepy Christmas carol on the organ kid”, I was about done. My phone had no signal in this lady’s basement, which also bugged me, but I could get on her wifi. I started messaging a friend of mine what was going on, and telling her to message my husband about it. She thought it was hilarious. Me–not so much.

Then the grandma showed up. To this day, I wish I had snuck a picture of her outfit. Picture this…first, she was a very rotund woman…wearing capris, but the capris had RUFFLES all over them–like you see on the butt of some baby outfits. Layers and layers of ruffles. A–NOT SLENDERIZING.  B–Not a good look on an old lady’s saddlebags. Strangest pair of pants I ever did see.

She came right over to me and started yelling at me that some ring (Savvy ring, for those in the know) that she bought at a party a year ago had tarnished. I nicely explained to her that the guarantee was between her and the company, I hadn’t sold it to her, don’t have access to her receipt, and to contact the company or the rep she had purchased from. That is not necessarily how I would usually handle something like that, but I didn’t care at that point. This was not going to be a qualifying show, I had no plans on seeing these people ever again, and I was at about my limit of being nice.

At that point, the freaky leg-brace “Christmas music on the organ kid” ran up and sprayed Febreze in the mom and grandma’s face and started screaming swears. (Thank God this was before I had my conceal carry, thinking back on this, not sure I would have been able to contain myself). The grandma yelled at the girl to “watch her mouth”.

The girl replied that they all need to “Shut the **** up or she was going to run upstairs, get a baseball bat and beat them to death.”

Alrighty…I quickly messaged that to my friend and told her to REALLY tell my husband what was going on, in case I disappeared.

I should also note that the older sister was still in the bathroom, doing “whatever.”

I like to joke around, and I have ZERO tolerance for snotty kids. I looked at the girl and asked how old she was. She replied very snottily that she was 13. I said, “If my 13 year old son ever talked to me that way, he’d lose every privilege he had–no iPod, no TV, no computer…nothing except a bed and three meals a day.”

She replied…get ready for this…  “YOU shut the **** up or I will get the baseball beat, beat you to death and then chop you up in tiny pieces and eat you.”

Um, DONE. DONE, DONE, DONE.

I packed my stuff up, handed catalogs to the mom and grandma and said I was going home to enjoy a night with my family, and to call if they have anything they want to order.

The hostess seemed shocked, “You are not going to do your spiel?”

Um…not a chance in hell am I spending one more second in this loony bin.

I got out of there in record speed, and I was barely out of the driveway, and my husband called.  He started laughing hysterically and said, “So rough party tonight–a weirdo kid playing Christmas songs on the organ and another one masturbating in the bathroom?”

I FLIPPED OUT, and started screaming at him that I don’t make enough money to tolerate freaks, told him that the girl threatened to beat me to death and eat me, and said he had better be grateful for me walking into crap like that to bring money home for our family. I was in total hysterics, screaming like a crazy woman at him.

He told me to calm down, come home…and wisely, he had a glass of wine waiting for me.

Ironically, the hostess did scrape together over $250 in orders. She told me she wanted to do another party. Um, no. Not a chance in hell. Not even one I’d book and dovetail to ANYONE on my team. Not happening. There were a couple ladies on my team who I absolutely could not stand (Ironically, I think they are the only two still selling)–and I wouldn’t even send them into that situation.

I did call the past hostess and ask her why she didn’t come to the party. She said that she found them to be “odd” and that she was busy. Then she told me she was having the youngest daughter (Christmas carol freak girl) watch her dog when they were out of town next week.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”,  I yelled. And filled her in on the girl’s behavior. I’d like to think I probably saved that dog’s life.

So, officially the worse party ever, and for future reference, if I show up and the windows are all painted black–not going in. PERIOD.

 

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Plan B, for the Morning After You are Out of a Job!

This morning, I received many phone calls from women concerned about recent events at their companies, and their concerns about what they should be doing. Several of them have been looking at other options, and others have not, because they feel like doing so is conceding that their current situation will not be successful. They said that they feel like traitors even talking to anyone else at another company.

Let me ask you all a simple question: When you fly on an airplane, and the flight attendant goes through the pre-flight safety information, do you put your fingers in your ears and say “La la la la la, I can’t hear you”, because listening to them is a concession that you WILL crash and need a back up plan? Of course not! You don’t wait for the plane to crash and then learn how to use your cushion as a flotation device, or where the emergency exits are.  You listen to the information, hoping you don’t need it, but storing it away in your memory in case you do.

Last September 10th, 2013, I was totally blind-sided when the company I worked at was unexpectedly closed. Trust me when I tell you, if there was ANY inkling it would be happening, I would have been one of the first to know. I had FORTY SIX parties booked between September 11th and October 31st. A new catalog had come out TEN DAYS earlier, so to say I was absolutely not expecting it would be an understatement. I had just spent the whole morning/early afternoon finalizing the jewelry line-up for the Spring 2014 catalog.

I was called into a board room and blindsided with the news. I got on a plane to fly home and had NO IDEA what I was going to tell my 46 hostesses. I had no Plan B. It never crossed my mind that I needed one.

You can bet, if I had ANY clue it would happen, I would have had a Plan B in place to transition those 46 hostesses to, instead of having to inform them the company they booked with was closed, I had nothing else lined up, and I was taking a month off to see what I wanted to do with my life.

I was in the fortunate position of having an incredibly supportive husband who saw that I had been working nearly around the clock for the previous 8+ months with this company, not to mention 60+ hour weeks for the past several years at my previous company, and he pretty much insisted I take a month off and not worry about money, hostesses, customers, etc. Nonetheless, if I knew then what I knew now, I would have researched every direct selling company I had a vague interest in, and would have had some back-up plan to go to immediately. I lost several good hostesses by letting that month go by. Had I had something else to transition their party to, instead of asking them to schedule a new one once I landed on my feet somewhere, I have no doubt the majority of the parties would have stuck. As it was, about two thirds of them did, but I still fixate on the one third that got away. Off the top of my head, I can still name three ladies who had parties scheduled with me, who I talk to often, but I can’t get them to “reschedule”.

If you have any warning signs that the company you are with is in some kind of transition, it’s not being negative, it’s not conceding failure and it’s not disloyal to line up a Plan B. It’s smart business. Even if you claim to have tuned out the flight attendants, I know you know where the exits are, you know where the air mask will drop from, and you know to use your seat as a flotation device. And knowing that is not conceding your plane will crash. It’s being prepared. Same thing.

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“Ethics”–Direct Sales vs. Every Other Industry

I am doing something tonight that I have never done before–writing at night, and under the influence of 1/3 of a beer (Sprecher, Hard Ginger Beer…delish!). I like to write this blog first thing in the morning, when I am in a great mood, and as positive as possible–certainly not after a long, draining day, and under the (small) influence. I was getting ready for bed and reflected on the day, as I always do, and came up with what I wanted to write–tomorrow. Then I didn’t trust myself to remember it, or that I would find the time to do so. So here goes. I’ll probably be more blunt than I usually am.

There are some major things brewing lately in the direct sales industry with several companies. Because of this, I get several calls/messages a day from people around the country, asking “my take” on things. I am always VERY CAREFUL on the opinions I give on one situation, as I was involved in litigation with one of the companies involved last year.

Today, I’d like to reflect on a conversation I had with someone. They were approached by another company in the same field they are in now, and offered a “salary” plus bonuses to come join their company. This particular company has a negative perception with many people I know in the industry for doing that. This person asked me if I had ever heard of companies doing that. Let me tell you all something. Not only HAVE I, but I don’t disagree with it.

When I left the company I was at in January of 2013, I got a “salary” from the company I went to. And so many of my former friends said how “unethical” that was. Here’s what I don’t understand… in this direct sales industry, we say we “own our own businesses”–that “we are the CEOs of our own businesses”, yet the majority tends to just go with the flow and parrot back what we are told to say.  True successful entrepreneurs get ahead by NOT marching to the same beat as everyone else. They purposely march to a different beat, think outside of the box and don’t WANT to be part of the same flock.

Case in point. This “salary” thing. I worked in corporate sales for 19 years prior to doing direct sales exclusively. Have any of you heard of a “draw plus commission”? That is basically what these companies (my previous one included) offer to successful, established direct sellers. Some also offer to have you start at the equivalent level you left your previous company. Many people in this industry sneer at that practice, and say it’s unethical.  To be honest, those are the people who I write off in my head immediately as NOT being true entrepreneurs, NOT understanding how BUSINESS really works, and rather are part of the phoney-baloney “let’s make women feel better about themselves with  fancy titles” direct sales mentality.

Let me ask you this…let’s say you worked for 20+ years in Corporate America, and applied for a Director of This and That position at McDonald’s corporate. In your current  job as Director of This and That at Burger King, you make six-figures. Would you go to McDonald’s and start at minimum wage and flip burgers, and work your way up to Director of This and That at McDonald’s? Is that how they hire and fill those positions? Does everyone start off as burger flippers for minimum wage and work their way up into executive positions? OF COURSE NOT. Once you have proven yourself at a certain position and achieved a certain level of expertise, you make a lateral move–you don’t start all over flipping burgers for minimum wage.

But in direct sales, there is some unwritten (and perhaps in some cases, written) rule that everyone must start all over at the beginning. No lateral moves. You must go from six figures to zero and work your way up again. Ladies (and the rare gentleman), this is NOT CHUTES AND LADDERS, or some board game where if you land on a certain square, the rule says you go back and start all over. That is not how Corporate America works, so how come we expect direct sales to work that way? And we wonder why our husbands, friends and family members don’t take our businesses seriously and treat it as a “real job”. WE DON’T TREAT IT LIKE A REAL BUSINESS. Why should they?

Another thing I do not understand…right now a certain company is getting lambasted for approaching leaders of another company that is known to be having some concerning issues and trying to recruit them. Trust, me, I am intimately familiar with companies accusing other companies of “raiding their sales force”.  I read about it over and over in legal papers.

I think it’s safe to say that Donald Trump is a savvy business man. Let’s use him as an example here. So, Donald Trump hears one of his biggest competitors is having some seriously concerning issues that has its employees looking for Plan B. Does he approach the top people there who have proven track records and have been a thorn in his side as his competition, and try to have them join his company, or does he consider them untouchable, and instead look for people who have never done business in his field, but hires them and trains them from scratch?  What would be the smarter business move? Shoring up your sales force with not only experience, but weakening your competition by having their top people join YOUR TEAM, or starting from scratch and spending time and resources training people who may or may not even be any good or interested in sticking around? Putting it in the context of Donald Trump–the answer is obvious.

But if you ask most experienced direct sellers, they will blather on about stories of how certain companies “steal other companies reps so they are unethical.” And that is what makes some direct selling aspects embarrassing–and shows that many of the so-called “CEOs of their own businesses” just march lock-step with others, and really don’t understand business at all–just do and say what they are told to do and say. No one is “stolen” from another company. They are presented with another option. We work at companies. In any other industry, people change jobs all the time, whether it be for more money, a better product, or just a change of scenery. But in direct sales, it is treated like a freaky cult or sorority, and if you dare to try to walk to a different beat, or worse yet, switch companies (I am talking at the higher levels, not your average advisors), you are blacklisted and accused of being unethical and the people who approached you are unethical.

If you still don’t agree with my point, let me ask you this…if your favorite football team was able to get the Super Bowl MVP quarterback, would you want them to get that quarterback, or would you want them to go get some kid fresh out of college and hope in several years, that this kid is the fluky needle in the haystack who ends up a superstar and takes your team to the Super Bowl? You’d be screaming for the general manager’s head if he didn’t try to get the Super Bowl MVP quarterback. So what’s the difference in direct sales?

The difference is we have some bizarre “rules” that do not fit in with any business sense or conventional wisdom, and hold us back long-term from being “real-businesses”.  This is not Chutes and Ladders. It’s business. If someone from another company calls to tell you about a business opportunity, it’s not unethical, and the people who go around saying that are just trying to protect their own business through fear. They try  to make YOU feel unethical if you analyze other business opportunities and entertain the thought of leaving your current company.

If your company truly has the best of everything–best commission structure, best product, best hostess plan, best customer special, then let others come and approach your team. Who cares? If what they have to offer is not as good, then you only look BETTER in the end. If you have to put other companies down and name-call and say they are unethical and scare your people to get them to stay, you won’t last long-term. At some point, they will all see it for what it is.

At the end of the day,  if you really are running a business, ask yourself,  “What would Donald Trump do?” Would this thought-process fly in a conversation with him? If not, then you probably are not operating from a business perspective, but rather by the pseudo business perspective most direct sellers engage in because they know no better.

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