This morning I was thinking about two very cool rings I ordered from a friend's catalog jewelry party. I was super excited about these rings when I placed my order about two weeks ago. I haven't heard anything since and now I'm starting to get a little annoyed. I'm wondering if the party's been closed, and if I'm ever getting my rings. And I sure don't feel very valued by this consultant at the moment.
It got me thinking about my own direct sales business and how I conducted my catalog parties. It's not a topic that's part of any of my training materials. That's probably because I didn't do a lot of catalog parties as a rule in my own business.
I knew that I was in business to do three things:
- Sell my products
- Book parties
- Share my opportunity
Since catalog parties only cover one of those three objectives (and really the least important one to the overall growth of a direct sales business, in my opinion), they really shouldn't be taking up much of your time.
That being said, there is a time and place for them. And I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that I had a systematic way of working my catalog parties. So I thought I'd lay out when I offered these and the systems I put into place to make sure the customers from these parties felt as valued as possible by me.
When is It Appropriate to Offer a Catalog Party?
In my opinion, only when it's crystal clear that the person you're offering it to has no interest in hosting a party. Now, wait a second. I said CRYSTAL CLEAR. That means, you've used all of the great booking techniques you've learned, you've identified their objection and attempted to overcome it, and they're just positive that they have no interest in booking a party. Please don't give up easily on this option. Physical parties are so much more valuable than catalog parties in every way. That's why I always considered my catalog parties "gravy." I didn't count on the income, but it was very nice if a few catalog parties happened to put a couple extra bucks in my pocket every month.
My 3 Tips for Catalog Party Success
1. Coach Your Host
First of all, you MUST coach your catalog party hosts. This is actually as important (if not more important) with this type of host as with a regular host. You have to educate them about how to:
- Get the word out about their party (how will they "announce the fact that they're having this party?)
- Accurately fill out an order form, get payment information, etc.
- Use your catalog to sell (and upsell) your products (this is important and it's pretty easy to teach as long as you're good at it yourself)
2. Go for a Goal
Make sure you have your host set a goal for herself so she's shooting for something. That will motivate her toward a successful party. Without it, most catalog parties are doomed to failure.
- She can choose an item or a few items she wants to earn
- She can choose a total sales goal for her party
- She can choose a number of orders she's going to get
- She can choose all of the above
3. (This is the most important) Set a Closing Date
This one would have eliminated my current frustration. It's tempting with a catalog party to simply turn your host loose and say "Let me know when you're ready to close." This is a bad idea for a couple of reasons:
- It makes for a lazy host. Most of us are natural procrastinators. If she thinks she has as much time as she wants, she'll put it off as long as possible.
- You end up having to chase your host around trying to get her to close her party
- Your customers end up getting frustrated and their feelings about you and your company reflect that (I'm living proof of this last point).
Hopefully these tips will give you a little structure the next time you agree to a catalog party (even if you're hosting one yourself for a direct sales representative who doesn't happen to read this blog – LOL). As I said, I've got fairly limited experience with this part of the direct sales pie, so if you have any other tips to add, I'd love it if you posted them below.
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Julie Anne Jones is direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.