The best moments from 2021’s Getting Real interviews
Connections and Conversations
David Bland, Publisher
One of my favorite assignments as Publisher is interviewing leading executives in the channel to seek their insights from the C-Suite. The Getting Real feature, published about six times per year, allows me to do that in the most fluid way possible: a Q&A format.
It’s here they get to share the good, the bad and the exceptionally relevant. Sometimes they
share what’s really working; sometimes they share the defeats. Often, they provide lessons learned that truly inspire and stimulate new ways of thinking about
Closing out this year, here’s a chance to revisit some of the most interesting thoughts from social selling executives. Please visit SocialSellingNews.com for the complete interviews.
Comp Plans in the Digital Age
February 2021 Issue
Bob D’Loren, CEO, Longaberger
Traditional direct selling companies have complicated compensation structures and push sales reps to distribute products. We felt that that’s not consistent with the digital world.
What we decided was to reimagine the whole thing and become a peer-to-peer social platform, and simplify it all. So, first we asked, what is the technology we need? Let’s look to technologies that are being used in social media to adopt and modify them for what we need to do.
We didn’t start this thinking that we were a direct sales company or a multilevel-marketing company (MLM), so we didn’t have a preconceived notion of how compensation should be set up with multiple layers.
We’ve just kept it simple and clean and straightforward. We started with, “How are social media influencers paid? How is Disney doing it with their MCN (multi-channel network)? How is Dreamworks doing it with Awesomeness TV?”
We approached it looking at how social media influencers are paid marketing fees for influencing people and converting them to sales of products.
Practical Ways We’re De-stigmatizing the Channel
March 2021 Issue
Jack Fallon, CEO, Total Life Changes
To begin with, we break the barrier of the wall that surrounds the C-levels and the CEO.
Next, we have to start looking at the companies that are doing tremendous things in the marketplace.
We looked at Uber. What is Uber doing that we can do in our business model? So, now we pay daily. What about Tesla and Starbucks? I drive my kids to school every day—they’re 10 and 8. Every day they say, “Dad, why aren’t we in a Tesla? Why aren’t we stopping by Starbucks right now and getting my hot cocoa? When can I get an iPhone 12?”
The point is that these companies created a culture where it doesn’t matter if you’re 8 or 80. You want to be a part of that. It’s our job in network marketing to do the same.
I think the key is transparency through social media. I really, truly do. We have the people, we have the stories, we have the passion, we have the love and we have the tears without paying for it. I believe social media is where we can be transparent and say, “This is what we do. People get customers, they build teams and they sell product.”
We have so many people in our company that make an extra $100 to $400 a week that depend on that money. We don’t take that lightly. We put things in place to make sure that they’re not at risk at all.
Pandemic-Era Changes Result in Positive Marketing Shifts
May 2021 Issue
Chris Cicchinelli, President and CEO, Pure Romance
We’ve had more new people join the business because they do want that gig economy type of money; they want to work when they want to work. We found that a lot of people don’t want to go in homes, and we had never marketed to those folks.
We never added them because we were always worried about productivity—that was our biggest thing. When somebody got in the business, it was all about “How do we help them be more productive? What is the right number for productivity? Is it a particular amount per month, or is it that the person is just happy to be part of something?”
How can somebody say that they have fallen in love with any business in the beginning? Or that they want to start something big? Before the pandemic, we never marketed to them—we were only asking the old questions: “Do you want to start a business? Do you want flexibility and freedom?” But I’ll tell you, I think for more and more people, the answer to those questions is, “I want a little extra money. I want to be a part of the Uber and DoorDash lifestyle. I want to choose when I work.” And we never embraced that before. This really opened us up to the reality that we needed to change our verbiage.
After the pandemic, I don’t think that our consultants are going to go 100 percent back to parties. I think we’re going to have a blend now, where they’re utilizing their social selling, where they’re connected in their communities.
Integrating Customer-centric Omnichannel
June 2021 Issue
Clint McKinlay, CEO, Ruby Ribbon
My point of view is that omni is here to stay, and we must embrace this reality in social selling. It is unavoidable, and I believe this is a good thing because omnichannel is customer-centric in these modern times.
It is about meeting your customer wherever she is at. At the end of the day, delighting customers must be our North Star or nothing else works, including the Stylist opportunity.
This doesn’t mean that companies need to suddenly do something drastic. Nobody needs to make a hard right or left here. But I think channel executives should look more courageously at little forks in the road and make decisions to be brave, and to understand that this is about a couple of things.
First, we have to give customers what they want. Second, we have to be where they are. We can do both in omni, while driving the gig economy and helping independent female thinkers and workers to have successful careers. Being in multiple channels raises the water level for the salesforce. In other words, the boats rise because the water level rises. The execution is very strategic. There are many different points of view on this.
Companies often reach a fork in the road with omni debates. Let’s use a scale of 1-10. Let’s call a “10” a completely omnichannel company, and a “1” is that old direct selling company, or that old retail company, that will never entertain a new channel. Ruby Ribbon will be somewhere comfortably in the middle. That means we are seen and heard where our customers are in the digital world.
Here’s a term I’m trying to get into circulation: “H2H,” which denotes “home-to-home.”
This highlights the power of a woman working from home. The consumer is in her home and is connected to the entrepreneur in her home. doing commerce, a deal is getting done, gorgeous intimate apparel is being purchased, a woman is getting confident, and the world is getting better.
Lessons from the Franchise Business Model for a New Direct Selling Company
August 2021 Issue
Antonio Barrera, CEO, Bellia
I have spent the last 20 years dedicated to Curves franchising with Gary Heavin, as well as other franchises. I started the first Curves in Mexico, and then we opened in Central America. We went to South America also, and then we bought other businesses. I obtained representation to become a master franchisee for a French skincare brand, called Guinot, that is now in 70 countries.
When the opportunity for Bellia arrived, Gonzalo Artiach and I brought the concept to Gary, and he advised that direct selling was the way to go because we would not need storefronts or have to carry a large inventory. Everything, for the time being, could be virtual. So we started Bellia in June of last year as a direct sales endeavor.
Direct sales shares some important features with franchising—most importantly, the level of support that you need to give to people. This is our major goal for Bellia, to support people, to train people, to try to build on the lessons we learned in franchising.
Franchising was a bigger investment for us, as we needed a physical location and a territory. The individual franchisee needs a tremendous amount of support from us. We provided the training for the different areas of the business, like sales and marketing, along with training on the actual product and service to be provided.
This is now our goal with the direct selling business, to provide our partners with a high level of training and support that they can then duplicate as they bring in others to start their own business. People become leaders by taking someone by the hand and helping them grow to then duplicate this success. This is the key to long-term growth for our business.
With direct sales, we knew that everything would need to be in place when we flipped the switch—the training, the website, the inventory, and the packing and shipment methods.
Telling the Truth, the FTC and the FDA
October 2021 Issue
Dallin Larsen, Founder and Chairman, Vasayo
I am not one of those people that slams the FDA for overreach because, for the most part, I agree with the majority of what they’re doing. We live in a country governed by laws. If you don’t like those laws, you can elect officials to change those laws.
With respect to vitamins and supplements, maybe I wish that we could say a little bit more, but no company should be claiming that their product cures a certain disease. The FDA looks to make sure that what is legally allowed to be said is said, but that the line is not crossed. I’m glad we have a governing body to do that. Otherwise, the marketplace would be littered with unrealistic health claims that could give false hope to consumers.
As far as Vasayo goes, we take the FTC seriously, and I want to believe that we’ve done it right from the beginning. It’s hard to monitor every person and be on every Zoom, but regulators have an easier job with technology now. They can plug into any company’s Zoom and hear what they’re saying. I know that when we see certain posts on social media that we feel like could be over the line, our compliance department is immediately in communication with that person to ensure a post is removed or that their wording is changed to be compliant.
Sadly, with COVID-19, I’ve seen some outlandish claims on social media by some nutritional companies that taking their product will absolutely protect a person from ever getting the virus. The FDA has acted against these overzealous marketers, and rightly so in my mind. It’s always a challenge in direct selling to educate your distributors on what you can and cannot say, and I think we are doing a very good job in this area at Vasayo. It requires constant education.
The FDA and FTC have important jobs to do to make sure that the consumers are told the truth without hyperbole because a lot of people get taken by false claims. They buy into claims that just aren’t true, and that’s sad. I want to make sure we always tell the truth.
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