The art of selling

By at home

Beauty creams, supplements and household goods… with direct selling, you can have loads of fun with friends and earn a living at the same time

Are you looking for part-time work to fit in around the kids, or evening work to fund a holiday?
If you have the gift of the gab and are passionate about consumer products, you could be a direct selling consultant. It’s about selling products to customers at home or in the workplace. In return, you can be your own boss, with flexible working hours and extra earnings to boot.

The sweet smell of success
In the UK, more than £2 billion of goods and services are sold each year through direct selling. Home parties are a hit because consumers benefit from a fun and convenient way of buying products.

How it all began…
The concept of home parties (known as the home party plan) was established in the USA by Stanley Home Products and it was developed further by Brownie Wise (a former employee of Stanley Home Products) in the early 1950s for the brand Tupperware. As a result, the company’s sales and popularity soared during the 1950s as more and more customers assembled at the home of hostesses to watch product demonstrations and mingle with friends. By the 1960s, as Tupperware went global, more direct selling companies were created, basing their business on the Tupperware model

What to expect
Industry consultants sell a huge variety of products, but the majority of UK sales come from the following four areas: personal, which includes cosmetics, clothes and accessories; household such as kitchenware and gardening items; family, which includes books and leisure items; and nutrition. The selling is done away from retail places, most often at consumers’ homes. You may have heard of, or attended for example, an Avon or Ann Summers party, where a group of people get together at someone’s house and the consultant displays and demonstrates the products or services.

There’s often an opportunity for guests to ask questions and then, if interested, to place orders. As a ‘thank you’ for her time and effort, the host – who is responsible for inviting guests and providing snacks – will normally receive discounted or free products from the consultant. It’s a fun and relaxing way to get together and shop with friends, family or co-workers. Even though people enter direct selling for part-time income, others join the industry for a full-time career, whereby they manage teams of consultants. As a result, it attracts all types of people from students and stay-at-home parents, to those who have full-time jobs and retired people. 

Richard Berry, chairman of Direct Selling Association answers some FAQs…

I want a business of my own. What are my options? ‘If you have savings or can get a bank loan, you could buy an established business or a franchise. The challenge for most people is that these options are out of reach. Starting a completely new business demands capital and is more risky. The ideal option, for most people, is to start on a part-time basis. That is one with a proven business format; that requires only a modest financial commitment; with ongoing support, and the option of making it a full-time commitment. Over 100 companies in the UK offer this opportunity and most are members of the Direct Selling Association (DSA). Demanding an investment of no more than £200, DSA members offer a universally affordable opportunity.’

How do I get into direct selling? ‘Visit and look at the list of members. Research and then select a business with products that appeal to you. Having confidence in the company and enthusiasm for its products is far more important than the level of commission and other benefits that may be offered.’

Do I have what it takes? ‘The most successful owners of direct selling businesses are those who like meeting others, enjoy recommending products they like to others, and those who welcome the opportunity of creating, motivating and helping their teams of like-minded direct sellers.’

Pictures: getty images

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