... one of the fast rising components of the direct selling industry is a subset of the industry, party plan.

Party Plans: Can You Score Five Points?
... and More!

The Direct Selling Option: The New Plan B

By Jeffrey A. Babener © 2009

Party Plans are Significant in the Direct Selling Option

The Direct Selling, MLM and Network Marketing industry is in its prime after more than a century of growth. The industry reaches in excess of 150 countries with global sales exceeding $100 billion, by a sales force of more than 60 million independent distributors. In the U.S. alone, more than 15 million home based businesses post sales in excess of $30 billion.

Although person to person selling is still extraordinarily important, one of the fast rising components of the direct selling industry is a subset of the industry, party plan. Party plan selling is characterized not only by person to person selling, but also group selling that typically takes place in homes or even offices. More than a half century ago, Brownie Wise introduced Earl Tupper to the marketing of home storage products using the Tupperware home party. Today, Tupperware is a global giant. And witness corporate America’s validation of the direct selling use of party plan in Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway acquisition of The Pampered Chef. A brief look at the industry will reveal an explosion of party plan companies led by the likes of Creative Memories, Discovery Toys, Partylite, Passion Parties, etc. Even Avon, the largest of all direct selling companies, and historically a person to person and door to door direct selling company, has representatives promoting the Avon Home Party Plan.

All are part of the party plan approach that is, in fact, becoming the new plan B “direct selling” option for many Americans who are searching for home based economic independence.

Direct Selling and Party Plans: America’s new Plan B

Historically, a full time job has been Plan A for the average middle class individual. However, the 2009 economic downturn has impacted two groups to rethink their strategies. First, the core working population has realized that they have been or may be the next layoff from corporate America. Second, the baby boomers and retirees have watched the value of their retirement plans, retirement savings, and 401(k)’s evaporate by as much as 50 percent. Economic commentators have risen the plausible new retirement age as 75 rather than 65.

As America’s workers look for an alternative to Plan A, major newspaper and magazine articles have tracked tens of thousands into another option, Plan B, the Direct Selling/Network Marketing option. As noted by individuals who sign up with Direct Selling companies, “Since it is not a job, I can’t get fired.” To paraphrase Legally Blonde’s “pink is the new black”, Plan B is the new Plan A.

The Game Plan for the Direct Selling Option

Direct Selling companies and their distributors are seizing the moment. Giants of the industry such as Avon or Amway have spent millions on branding and recruitment, and expect to sign up hundreds of thousands of new reps. They have proclaimed that 2009 is their year. And they are probably right….this may be the year for many Direct Selling companies to “flaunt” their opportunity. Even, for the first time, the 2009 Super Bowl witnessed ad promotion from Avon, which, interestingly, industry experts noted appealed to both men and women.

Get Ready…..Get Set…..Party Plan or Person to Person: Important Objectives

So, whether you choose person to person direct selling or party plan direct selling, are you ready for Plan B, the Direct Selling option? Here are some important qualities to bring to this opportunity:

  1. Meet people. This is a people business. To be successful in direct selling, you have to let your hair down and mix it up with other people. The only way you’ll make sales or find recruits for your sales organization is to get out there and rub shoulders.
  2. Believe in your products. If you don’t use the goods or services your company offers, and you don’t sincerely believe that you’re doing people a service by offering these items to them, it will show up in your sales. You need to be the type of person who can get enthused about sharing good things with others.
  3. Be patient. Direct selling is like any other activity. You have to give it time. When you find a good company, you should give your new business at least two years to succeed.
  4. Attend company training programs. Most companies have high-quality training programs to teach you to sell the products and to recruit new distributors. If you want to be successful in this business, you must be willing to take advantage of ongoing training opportunities and incorporate what you learn in your daily operations.
  5. Work with your sponsor, and work with those you sponsor. A Direct Selling sales organization is very much like a family. When you first join a company, you are like a child who should be anxious to learn the ropes from the person who sponsored you. As you learn and gain experience, you should actively work with the distributors you sponsor, and help them do the same for the people they sponsor. The more success they achieve, the more success you will achieve.
  6. Think positive. Remember, this isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. There will be hard work. There will be rejection. If it takes 10 presentations to make one sale, you’ll have to wade through nine rejections. If you’re the type of person who can maintain a positive attitude, you’ll have an advantage in direct selling.
  7. Get organized. This is a business. To succeed, you must be the type of person who can get down to business by being organized and methodical. Make good use of time planners. Use your home computer for tracking customers and recruits. Set aside a place in your home that is only for business.
  8. Be loyal. Don’t become a “multi-level junkie!” Don’t bounce from one direct selling program to another, a prescription for failure. The most successful distributors are those who focus on promoting the products or services of a single direct selling company over a long period of time. Find the right company and then stick with it. Loyalty pays.
  9. Work! Direct selling is not a quick, easy path to a lifetime of prosperity. Nor is it a free ride to wealth that requires absolutely no effort on your part. It doesn’t work that way. In fact, it doesn’t work at all unless you do! You have to devote time and effort to it, especially at first. It can bring huge rewards.

Whether you choose pure person to person direct selling or incorporate the group selling of party plan, recognize the attributes that make individuals successful direct sellers. So, good luck with your Plan B. It may be the new Plan A.

About the author. Jeffrey Babener is widely recognized as a leading legal counsel in the MLM and direct selling industry. His law firm, Babener and Associates, has, for two decades, represented leading direct selling companies headquartered throughout the U.S. and abroad. He lectures extensively at such universities as the University of Illinois, University of Texas and University of Houston, publishes extensively in books and articles and has served on many committees of the Direct Selling Association as well as general counsel for the Multilevel Marketing International Association. He can be reached at his Portland, Oregon office at 503-226-6600 or visit his website at www.mlmlegal.com for an expansive selection of information on direct selling, MLM and network marketing.

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