His thoughts on the power of social selling
Launched: 2006/re-launched 2019
Executive: Jason St. Clair
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
This month, SSN interviewed Jason St. Clair, part owner and CEO of Xendurance, a performance supplement company.
SSN: Will you share your background and how you got involved with Xendurance?
I was drafted out of high school to play professional baseball and played seven years with Tampa Bay’s organization. Unfortunately, health was not on my side. I had many injury-related surgeries, the last of which effectively led to my retirement in ‘07. When I left the game, I had to start a career outside of sports for the first time in my life.
As the gig economy was starting and social media was becoming more of a presence in our lives, I saw a golden opportunity. I started working not just with baseball players, but also CrossFit athletes and Olympic athletes, includings runners all the way to weightlifters. I helped them build their social media platforms and build endorsements off that. From there, I built a media company where those endorsements were streamlined to give athletes some income once they were finished playing.
During that time, one of the Xendurance founders asked my father to manufacture their supplements. My father then introduced the company’s flagship product Extreme Endurance to me; it was clinically proven to reduce lactic acid in the body and raise aerobic threshold. It sat on my desk for a couple weeks, then I tested it three different times, racing mountain bikes with my family. I couldn’t believe how well I was performing or how easy the recovery was. My breathing was easier, my legs didn’t burn. I called the founder and said, “How come I’ve never heard of you? Why aren’t you everywhere? What’s in your product? Is this legal?” He chuckled. I said, “We’ve got to get this to the general public.”
SSN: How is a performance supplement different from a nutritional supplement?
Separating performance from health and wellness requires clinical data proving that you’re able to do more on that specific supplement. We have supplements that have clinical data to show improvement in performance. For example, by being able to reduce lactic acid, you’re able to perform at a higher level.
We’ve completed numerous clinicals over 10 years; two of them are published. We have ongoing clinicals happening right now at Louisiana State University. Of course, we take claims very seriously. We only educate on what we have proven through our clinical data.
SSN: What motivated the owners to move into social selling from brick and mortar?
We had 12 years of retail/wholesale in the U.S. with a few companies looking to acquire us and our products because of our clinical data. Some of those companies were direct sales companies. Leaving those meetings, we realized the forecast for sports nutrition and high-energy categories are estimated to have huge growth through 2025.
Plus, they really liked our social media presence because we grew through testimonials on social media. That’s our slogan, “social level selling.” There’s huge power through social media when it’s done properly. Those were some of the reasons that other companies wanted to acquire us, but it really came down to sports nutrition. Companies don’t have time to develop products and then gather clinical data and to prove their products will absolutely help you perform better.
We took about two years to build out this model, with a lot of support from people who have more than 30 years in the direct sales industry. We created a one-page compensation plan. Then we did a lot of research based on Amazon Prime to help create our model which includes free shipping, partner discounts and discounted pricing. We launched this model in January 2019.
SSN: How do you educate your field about what they can and cannot say, according to FTC guidelines?
We take false claims very seriously. We have direct communication with our distributors via many channels. We use email, newsletters, Facebook groups specifically for the Builder, an Instagram page, and every Friday I hop on Zoom to give product education. I talk about what the products are, what they do, and what we can talk about through our clinicals, if it’s a clinically proven product.
SSN: How has the lockdown and COVID-19 impacted your company and the field?
The COVID-19 shutdown literally happened the day before we were having a Summit, so we had to cancel the live event and shift to virtual. Fortunately, that’s one of our strengths, so we were able to do a virtual Summit that next day with our team.
Then I started doing weekly Zooms for distributors and even customers. It’s a great way to learn more about our products and what’s going on. We keep it fun. They can meet some of the corporate staff, get tips on using the back office, hear what other people in the business are finding helpful.
COVID-19 has really made us thrive even more, to be honest with you. I think people are paying attention to their health, and that’s our focus. Plus, we have our hybrid with an opportunity to learn the formula of having a better quality of life health-wise, paired with an opportunity for side income, which we know is important to the world right now as well.
SSN: Why do you think that it’s important for a direct selling company to leverage social media today?
When we were a retail company, we had an app, and people would promote the products on social media. They would earn virtual coins to purchase our product from those posts.
Our product is very complex, and so social media is a tool for faster education for us. We really grew through “social level selling” with personal testimonials of how and why to use this product, and what it can do for people. We had moved away from strictly retail, and we were operating as a direct sales company, I just never saw it. All we had to do was add in a compensation plan. That’s when we realized we were a new-age direct sales company and we made it fun. We developed a free sample Focus Game and an incentive program that gets people moving, called IN Motion.
If direct selling companies aren’t able to adapt to using social media and however it evolves, to be honest with you, they won’t grow. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. That’s what we all have to adapt to.
SSN: Do you also provide some of your education through content on social media?
Yes, through athletes. One of my favorite books, Shoe Dog, tells the story of how Nike’s growth exploded because top athletes like Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson were wearing Nike shoes. Now, everyday people wear Nikes because the best wear them.
Our thought is, “hey, if the best athletes in the world are using our products, performing well, winning world championships, medaling in championships, why wouldn’t everyone else want to use these products as well?”
On our social media, you’ll see great athletes, from baseball to track and field to weightlifting to yoga. We want to educate on how to move our bodies. But also, those athletes show that those who are using it are the best. So our social media content is the best way to educate people on how and why to use our products.
We also leverage social media through (pre-direct sales) endorsement agreements. We have sponsored athletes as part of an ambassador program. As a newer company, we have 68,000 followers on Instagram and over 110,000 on Facebook, but our Athlete Ambassadors have hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of followers.
SSN: What advice would you now give your younger self?
Truly, to have more patience and to stay the course. I was very impatient when I was younger from probably being an athlete.
SSN: Who has influenced your career the most and why?
My mother and father and my older brother are always an inspiration to me. Also my former agent, who then helped me become an agent. Agent work taught me a ton and really helped me get where I am today.
Success to me is the ability to help others and have healthier relationships. The movie Jerry Maguire says it best. In it, his mentor says, “Relationships, relationships, relationships.” That’s what success is to me.
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