Building A Direct Sales Business Without Being “That Girl”

This is a post I’ve been chipping away at for a little while now, because it’s something I definitely wanted to make sure I addressed with y’all. It’s on the long side, but I hope you’ll take time to read it — especially if you’re someone who has always dismissed any and all direct sales companies (just like I used to do).

As most of you probably know, I’m a Beautycounter consultant. (Quick context if you’re not familiar with the brand: Beautycounter is a skincare and makeup brand that creates products that work well AND are far safer than many other personal care brands on the market. You can read more about the brand’s story — and commitment to safety — here.)

I discovered the brand while I was pregnant and all of a sudden incredibly aware of what I was putting both on and in my body. I first tried Beautycounter’s tinted moisturizer with SPF, Dew Skin, and was hooked. (It’s still one of my very favorite products.)

I loved the brand. I loved its mission. But I had never even CONSIDERED becoming a consultant until a friend asked me to join her team. Why hadn’t I considered it, despite being fully on board with the brand as a whole?

Because I didn’t want to be “that girl.”

You know exactly who I’m talking about.

That girl who fills your email and Facebook Messenger inboxes with product news all the time (even when you might have no context for what she’s talking about). Who is pushy and salesy. Who packs her Facebook profile with updates about the brand.

No, thanks. I didn’t want to be her.

But then I started thinking: What if maybe — just maybe — I could create a different direct sales reality and build a different kind of business? One that was centered around relationships and creating value through educational and helpful content and thoughtful customer service? And, simultaneously, support a mission I can get behind AND get a discount on products I love AND bring in extra income for our family?

Hmm…this was starting to seem like something I might be into.

So I went for it. And guess what? It’s amazing. I love this gig so much. SO much more than I thought I would. I love the independence I have to run my business the way I want to. I love the way it’s helped me strengthen relationships and build new ones. I love the way it’s challenged me to be creative. I love the support — both professional and personal — I’ve gotten from my team members. I love the fact that now I pay for our mortgage and Maggie’s childcare each month with my Beautycounter earnings. (Yup.)

I set up a dedicated Beautycounter Facebook group to avoid posting incessantly about the brand in my personal social channels. This way, people know where they can go to find Beautycounter information, including how-to videos, news about deals and promotions, product information, etc. I work hard to provide top-notch customer service to my customers (just like I like to receive from the brands I love and purchase from the most), and it brings me so much joy when I hear about people loving the way the makeup makes them feel or having great success with a skincare product or enjoying their experience purchasing through me. When I send emails or texts or Facebook messages, it’s to suggest specific products or share info about a promotion I think they’ll want to take advantage of or to just check in on my customers. It’s all in an effort to add value and remind them that they can use me as a resource.

(After all, that one-on-one interaction piece is part of what I love most about this business. When you make a purchase from a place like Target or Nordstrom — both brands I love! — you don’t have a single person to go to who can provide recommendations for YOU in particular based on you as an individual. I can help you do that with skincare and makeup, though! And if you have issues with anything, reach out to me and I’ll help you navigate those problems.)

Building my Beautycounter business — and being around other women both within this company and within direct sales roles for other brands — started to reframe the way I thought of direct sales companies in general, too. After all, Beautycounter’s Founder and CEO, Gregg Renfrew, set up her company with a direct sales model because she knew Beautycounter needed educated advocates to spread the word about the brand, instead of just having it sit behind a counter in a department store. It’s a model, and is most definitely not always a scheme.

This blog post from The Blonde Confidential — which I found a few months after becoming a consultant — articulated the reality of direct sales businesses for me (and the MAJOR shift in my thinking around them).

Here are a few key excerpts I especially want to call out:

“Think about it this way. Kylie Jenner releases a lipstick everyone buys it. Michael Jordan puts out new shoes and everyone buys it. But when a friend or family member starts a new business and stands behind their products we are wary of supporting them? Why are we so quick so support someone we don’t know? Yet we come up with a million reasons not to support someone we know and love?

“Something to keep in the back of your mind: when you’re buying from a chain store, you’re helping contribute to the retirement of the millionaire or billionaire owners and CEO’s. When you’re buying from a small business owner, you’re helping pay for that family’s groceries, maybe an outstanding hospital bill. You’re helping pay down student loan debt and you’re likewise contributing to someone’s ability to have more time with their children or their significant other.

“I have personally taken a new view on these MLM companies. Instead of being ‘annoyed’ by the posts- I like, comment or share it, why? Because I support those I love. Even if I am not interested in buying what they’re selling if I can help them gain just a little bit of exposure it’s worth it to me. If you can’t count on those closest to you to at least give you the virtual high fives you need, who can you count on?”

But really — please take a couple of minutes to read the full post.

Do I think some people run their direct sales businesses better than others do? Sure I do! But that’s partially preference for certain styles and partially because some people are better at things than others. I try to hold myself to a certain standard within the way I run my business, but I also make a point of supporting friends of mine who are also in direct sales roles. (And guess what? The quality of those products — and the personalized attention I get from the people selling them — is outstanding.)

I would love to hear from you on this, whether you’re someone who has always been turned off by direct sales brands OR someone who has tried them. What has your experience been like (with both the products and the customer service) if you’ve tried them? If you’ve always been opposed to them, what’s the main thing holding you back from giving them a try? 

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