The Direct Selling World Alliance (DSWA) which is celebrating its 20th year of service to the industry, is a global association dedicated to supporting the sales force of our profession. The DSWA works directly with companies and their distributors to create a more effective and harmonious business bond.
In recognition of their 20-year milestone, the DSWA has launched an app and a plethora of professional discounts (group health insurance, video conference calls, free weekly business books, printing discounts – just to name a few). We caught up with the co-founder and CEO of the DSWA, Nicki Keohohou, a few weeks ago.
Nicki, since you work with our industry on a global basis and see the entire global direct selling landscape, what are you seeing today on how companies are becoming or remaining relevant in today’s marketplace?
The successful companies are realizing that it’s really about two key elements, other than product: It’s about (1) providing excellent communications and (2) effective tools for the field. The salesforce is much savvier today than in decades past with access to a lot more opportunities. Companies need to acknowledge and respect that their distributors are there by choice. The distributors expect the companies they represent to directly provide help, training and be in communication; in addition to what their uplines are sharing.
We are also seeing that younger distributors – in their 20s-30s for the most part – are more ‘gig’-oriented and are interested in having more than one direct selling business. The companies that are allowing multiple businesses, within reason, are generally seeing more interest from this younger demographic, which the industry has been trying to attract for a long time.
In regards to the younger demographic, what is attracting them to certain companies?
Technology, technology, technology! They work fast and need the tools to conduct business that way. Companies that have sophisticated apps, texting programs, and video technology are popular. Email is not considered ‘technology’ per se with this group of distributors – they are not on email daily and sometimes do not check it for days; it’s too slow for them.
The other important component of today’s direct selling businesses is social media. Younger generations are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to social media and it’s critical that companies teach their distributors how to use social media correctly for their direct selling businesses. Remember, most members of this ‘group’ conduct business outside this industry that may not be bound by certain compliance rules that our profession needs to follow.
In regards to technology and COVID-19, and from your overview perspective, how are the virtual conventions going?
Companies are finding it a bit more challenging than they expected, I believe. It’s much more than taking your convention format and moving it online. It’s adjusting to the medium. So, sessions must be shorter as people are not going to sit at their computers all day. There needs to be more entertainment value to keep people engaged. Speakers need to know how to present in a virtual environment; it’s very different than presenting on stage to a physically present audience. And, if companies are asking people to pay to attend – then the virtual convention must be just as professionally run as former live conventions.
How are companies attracting and retaining leaders?
Successful companies engage their leaders. They have relationships with them and speak and/or meet with them outside of events or planned conferences. There is an ongoing dialog. Also, we see “Advisory Boards” and “President’s Councils” being created that consist of distributors at every level. Lower ranked distributors that want to be groomed for leadership as well as established leaders looking to grow their teams and that are more emotionally invested in the company and its success. Listening and acting on suggestions from the field is incredibly powerful.
Younger generations are looking at companies and who ‘they’ are. What philanthropic causes are supported, is the company ‘welcoming’ of diversity in race, age and gender. These issues are more important to younger generations and plays a significant role on the companies they choose to represent.
How do you see the industry moving forward?
I currently see it stabilizing. We’ve adjusted to Amazon in the way we do business. Companies continue to find value in our business model and are entering the industry. Direct selling businesses will involve the entire family, somewhat a new model for a family business. There will be more texting, more technology and less face-to-face physical interaction and that will be driven by the new generations that are entering the profession. In the future, I believe there will be stronger companies that are able to quickly pivot to new realities of business, yet less companies in the industry overall. And, that’s really the incentive for today’s companies – where they want to be in the future and strategically creating that path.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE: