Measuring Success in Direct Selling
When considering an opportunity, it’s natural to want to know how successful you’re likely to be. It’s also important to understand that the answer can’t be found by looking at the number of people who earn “big bucks.” There are certainly direct sellers who earn six-figure incomes (and more!). However, that is not the norm, and holding all direct sellers to that standard does not create an accurate picture of “success.”
One common way to measure “success” is through income – of course a majority of people who get involved in direct selling do so, in whole or in part, because they want to earn money. However, to determine success in terms of income, one must consider do so in the context of the seller’s initial goals. A person who wants to earn $200 a month, and does so, is just as successful as someone who develops their business into a six-figure income. Someone who joins with the purpose of buying products at a discount is just as successful as a stay-at-home mom who joins to meet to new people.
Even in a multilevel compensation system, there may be many people who do not earn commissions on a downline – because they don’t have a downline. Of course a business grows and evolves when new people join as sellers, but recruiting others is not essential to success unless your definition of success involves a level of earnings beyond what you will be able to earn from your own personal sales of the products and services.
Focusing solely on the number of people who achieve a certain income, or on the length of time consultants remain in direct selling, is simply not an accurate way to measure success. Success must be analyzed on an individual level, based on personal goals.
Direct selling critics will often focus on the small percentage of direct sellers “at the top.” They make it sound like it’s impossible to achieve that level of success, when in reality, most people have no desire to devote the time and energy necessary to be a top performer.
In fact, the direct selling model has many parallels to a traditional corporate business model. In a corporate model there are a few people at the top (president, CEO, Chairman of the Board) who drive the business and motivate those below them. A large number of directors and mid-level managers execute the business operations and are developing professionally and personally. In a few cases these individuals may one day rise to the senior executive level. Finally, there is an administrative level where one generally finds younger, less experienced people who are learning the business and, depending on their career goals, may continue to climb the corporate ladder or they may leave after a relatively short period of time to pursue other goals.
The salesforce structure in direct selling is actually very similar, but in reality, the potential for someone to reach the top is much higher. In a traditional business, there are a limited number of desks in the senior executive suite, but in direct selling, personal sales and the development of a productive downline will propel you to the top regardless of who else is already there.