The global landscape of selling is shifting, with technology acting as a powerful catalyst for change. Exploring innovations, embracing technology, and leveraging it to foster business growth and success can help businesses thrive in an industry that is always evolving. The struggle I see owners and executives facing is: How do you prioritize technology investments? From what I’ve seen, outside of core technology (commissions, shopping, etc.); it generally breaks down into three categories:
- Enhancing Communications & Message Delivery
- Enabling Customer Relationship Management (CRM) & Learning
- Social Selling & Video Commerce
Understanding the potential opportunities and how they apply to your business is key. I’ve outlined the considerations and decision points I’ve seen clients go through over the years as they’re evaluating these technologies.
#1 – Enhancing Communications & Message Delivery:
Communication strategies have undergone a significant transformation over the past decade; from email to text and more recently to more modern social/messaging channels. As these messaging channels have evolved, it opens a lot of potential options that a company can implement. This diversification makes it imperative to ask: What exactly are your needs? This should be viewed through a few angles, specifically:
- Demographics – This generally boils down to a few key factors – age of audience, gender, and culture as those drive the most common messaging channels that should be leveraged within your business.
- Geography – As companies grow internationally, it becomes critical to be able to communicate with customers & consultants in distinct markets.
Beyond understanding the messaging channel, it’s important to map out and identify the customer journey and the logical touch points throughout the customers’ experience. This underscores the significance of building and mapping the journey for both sellers and customers with an understanding of behaviors you’re trying to drive and their messaging preferences. By tying these journeys to specific milestones or events, businesses can ensure a holistic and seamless experience leveraging more personalized messages that resonate deeply.
From what I’ve seen working with companies, everyone can benefit from a comprehensive communication strategy that encompasses both the journey and delivery preferences of users. By establishing your company specific requirements (delivery methods, triggering events, etc.), you’ll be able to assess vendors both within and outside of the space to ensure they can meet your needs.
#2 – Enabling Customer Relationship Management & Learning:
The essence of any direct selling business lies in relationships. In this context, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools can be game-changers if implemented in a way that aligns with your business. The key to achieving results with a CRM implementation is to be laser focused on exactly HOW and WHERE the system will be used and ultimately aligning it with a consistent sales process.
Additionally, we’ve seen more CRMs that embed some form of Learning Management Systems (LMS) to help drive the most relevant learning combined with driving to the activity that will ultimately drive sales. Combining a CRM with a LMS that has a comprehensive system for what should be done at each stage in micro steps is the goal; but with this – it’s even more critical to be clear on exactly what your objectives are and how these connect to the overall journey.
As you evaluate CRM & LMS solutions within your business, there are several considerations:
- What are the most common way products are sold to customers? Do your consultants maintain some sort of inventory they sell from, or are all sales drop shipped from corporate? Companies with a large portion of sales through personal inventory require a different CRM solution as inventory tracking, receipts and tracking end-customer sales based on existing inventory is incredibly important.
- What is the sales process & behaviors you are trying to enhance with a CRM? For example, if your field leverages samples to build customer awareness – having a solution that enables end-to-end tracking of samples is an important requirement.
- What exactly is the goal/measurable you’re going to be moving with the CRM & LMS solution? If the goal is to drive up sampling rates, sales to customers, and ultimately driving retention up – it’s important to be crystal clear on the objectives and the way you will measure success.
#3 – Social Commerce & Leveraging Video Selling:
Video has exploded over the past decade, and I’ve seen numerous companies capitalize on this over the years to drive significant growth. There are countless stats that show the impact of video; from both stand-alone videos that showcase a product to interactive live videos. As I’ve spoken with companies on how they are leveraging video; the key always comes down to their overall selling journey and how video is currently (or can be) tied into that journey. For example, if the primary use of Facebook Live is to generate attention of an existing audience (friends/family/other connections), that’s a lot harder to replicate with a new tool that takes the users out of Facebook. Establishing clear goals and understanding both the current & desired selling process; companies can identify the best video selling solution.
When evaluating video solutions, there are several areas to consider and evaluate:
- Consultants who are currently leveraging an existing social live selling solution (e.g.: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) are benefiting from existing audiences and connections. When evaluating tools that can increase their sales; the initial focus should be around ways to make the live selling process easier, versus replacing the video solution with something that requires their audience to leave the existing social networks. This can be handled through solutions that offer comment selling functionality where customers can make comments & the technology can automatically send an invoice or link to purchase to that customer.
- The current selling approach to customers will have a major impact on the exact type of video solution that is required. Are your consultants broadcasting live, or selling 1 on 1? Do you envision your consultants creating their own content, or is the focus more on corporate generated? For corporate generated, how exactly is this content shared to enable calls-to-action to purchase?
- The type of product and fulfillment strategy are other big factors in the right solution as certain types of products have a better outcome for live sales. For example, if consultants maintain inventory of items being sold on the live, it will drive a very different solution then if the model is drop-ship. Additionally, there are certain types of products that lend themselves to impulse video sales (e.g.: jewelry, candles, gifts, etc.); whereas other products require more education and learning outside of a brief video (e.g.: nutritional products, training, etc.).
As you evaluate the right social commerce & video solutions for your field; understanding the requirements of exactly what you plan to achieve will be critical in selecting the right tool.
Navigating the vast technological landscape might seem challenging, but the journey often begins with understanding your own business goals, audience, and ultimately the needs of your field. With the number of technological tools and innovations at our disposal, the challenge lies in prioritization and effective integration into your business and existing technology. As the selling paradigm shifts, those who embrace and integrate these technological innovations stand at the forefront of growth and success in a changing industry.
Author: Daryl Wurzbacher – CEO, ByDesign Technologies a Retail Success Company
Originally Published In: The World of Direct Selling – worldofdirectselling.com/embracing-innovations-technologies/
Learn how the Freedom mlm software can help take your mlm business to the next level.