Our Perspectives on Direct Selling

Classically Contemporary.

The Girardi Group’s philosophy is founded upon this dichotomy of thinking, classic yet contemporary. The bedrock of our belief system is grounded in sound, core business principles. Yet, we “get” the modern tools and methods of doing business today. We don’t recommend chasing a new trend, but we do recommend being ahead of the curve. We set ourselves apart by melding what’s old with what’s new. We don’t believe that direct selling has to turn into eCommerce across the board or that social media is the only way to get ahead. We promote the use of a wide variety of strategies and methods to broaden the reach of business and expand potential, in addition to what some might call “old-school” consumer-focused business. We believe in an integrated, blended strategy in all areas of sales, marketing, training and operations to meet the diverse skills, interests and needs of an increasingly more varied consumer base and sales field.

  1. There is no longer one, cookie-cutter approach to achieving success in direct selling
  2. Your corporate, brand “best practices” may not translate to field “best practices” in terms of social media presence
  3. There is an ever-increasing technology gap in terms of available tools and methods versus field abilities or access to learn new skills.
  4. Success comes from providing valuable service and personalized interaction and rich, memorable experiences.
  5. It’s time for a change in strategy and thinking: from sales cycle to consumer decision-making process.

There is no longer one, cookie-cutter approach to achieving success in direct selling.

This fact makes leading a sales field more difficult for companies and leaders. Rather than trying to determine the exact one path each consultant “should” follow, we suggest a more entrepreneurial approach to training and field development.

The Girardi Group focuses on teaching clients a new way of thinking about business.

The Girardi Group was established explicitly to meet the ever-changing needs of the direct selling industry. Today’s direct sellers and companies are trying to determine how to best thrive in today’s high-paced, high-tech world — in a relationship business model. A number of them are doing it well, and many are not. Laurie Girardi has proven expertise leveraging technology and social media and also promotes and advocates the sound, core business principles that made direct selling a viable and desirable career or job opportunity for countless people.

We don’t claim to have the “one” approach. We don’t recommend that everyone do business in one particular way. We help our clients develop their brand strategy and establish their path for growth based on a consultative approach designed to make sure that our clients’ desire to be modern doesn’t undermine the powerful, unique nature of direct selling — the independent consultant’s entrepreneurial spirit.

It’s no longer about providing a field with a script and a starter kit. No one wants to hear a scripted sales pitch or recruiting talk. People want conversation, connection and a contemporary (and sometimes faster) way to execute a purchase, hold a party, start a business and participate in training.

The Girardi Group focuses on teaching clients a new way of thinking about business. We believe direct sellers are smarter than average and want to learn strategies not scripts and how to hold conversations rather than memorize commercials. It’s a transparent world out there, and we like helping corporations and individuals elevate their unique brand offering, rather than perpetuating carbon copies.

Your corporate, brand “best practices” may not translate to field “best practices” in terms of social media presence.

One of the greatest challenges we see with our clients is a blurry line in terms of “best practices” for the company’s sales, marketing, training and general business strategies versus what’s smart, allowable and recommended for independent consultants within the same company. It’s often a changing target, but direct sellers need clarity. Otherwise, they become paralyzed. Paralysis affects their bottom line and the momentum of the company.

There is no cookie-cutter recommendation.

In today’s direct selling climate, companies must stay ahead of the technology curve and invest in social media/marketing expertise. The brand identity of the company depends on the messaging and perceptions in the consumers’ mind. Consumers are more informed than ever before, and they take the time to compare products, parties and opportunities. Fairly or not, they also judge a company by its website and social media presence. Potential consumers or prospects determine if a company is just dialing in the engagement or is truly in the conversation based on what they see and read. An integrated approach is vital. No matter the size of the company, it’s essential to have a top-notch website, a company blog with a distinct voice, branded graphic design, a social media marketing strategy and exceptional eLearning opportunities for consultants, that they are proud to talk about in public forums.

However, what’s essential for a company to be competitive in the industry today is not necessarily essential, nor recommended for an independent consultant. There is no cookie-cutter recommendation. What might be a smart, productive use of time for a leader with an organization of 1000 is not the same as someone who just closed their first $1000 in sales. There are key questions. First, what are the company’s policies? What’s the level of commitment (time) that the consultant is willing to devote to his/her business weekly? What level of success have they achieved already? What’s their skill level? Who are their target consumers? What are their business goals? Do they have a willingness to try things that might not work? Are they good writers or creative? Will they repel potential consumers or draw them in based on the strategies they choose? What access do they have to corporate sponsored graphics and other digital marketing collateral? Have previous plans led to increases in sales, recruiting and team building results?

There are basics that most independent direct sellers would benefit from learning – the essentials of social media savvy — for the development of the consutlant’s “brand me.” But, beyond the basics, what’s smart, savvy and suggested depends on the answers to the many questions above. Consultants need to determine the best actions to take based on their personal goals, resources and abilities.

We help companies and independent consultants learn the “best practices” that fit their specific product line, business model and stage of business. For some clients this includes developing their complete corporate social media policies with a full suite of field-directed eLearning, and for others, it’s simply about providing experience-based advisory services.

There is an ever-increasing technology gap in terms of available tools and methods versus field abilities or access to learn new skills.

We are “fans” of data-driven decision-making.

Whether we are talking about software systems, applications on a desktop, apps for a smart phone or tablet, video, podcasts, live streaming or countless other technology tools, one thing we can say is that there is a huge technology intelligence gap in the direct selling industry. The breadth of skills range from technology novice to technology genius, and everywhere in between. How does a company portray a cutting edge platform and simultaneously meet the needs of less savvy sellers who are motivated to sell?

Companies are expected to provide advanced software solutions, training on the system and support. They have to provide high-tech solutions to keep up as well as attract younger generations with high expectations. Similarly, consultants expect to have unlimited access to data, yet many don’t know how to manipulate it or analyze it once they have access to it.

At The Girardi Group, we are “fans” of data-driven decision-making, especially at the level of a consultant or leader. A focus on results helps consultants of all levels determine what’s working and what’s not. We help companies assess what they need in terms of a reporting system, and we help independent consultants use whatever data they have access to in order to make sound decisions based on facts.

In the field, there is a growing expectation of communicating in new ways – video conferencing, webinars, new online-forums, live streaming, etc. The tools are often driving decisions rather than decisions driving the use of the most appropriate tools. It’s hard to learn all of this new “stuff” and figure out what’s effective.

Leaders are faced with dividing their time between training on revenue generating activities versus training on the “how to’s” of technology. And, even if this was a good use of their time, with so many different skill levels, platform types, smart phone styles and changes evolving each day, it seems an impossible task. Leaders are faced with the daunting challenge of providing virtual learning opportunities, training and support using tools they may or may not have any in-depth understanding.

Success comes from providing valuable service and personalized interaction and rich, memorable experiences.

It may seem like “everyone” wants to turn to social media as the solution and that “no one” wants to attend a party, live event or face-to-face meeting anymore. We stand tall in our belief that people still long for a personalized approach and real, live interaction. We suspect that it may just be that the parties, live events and face-to-face meetings all began to look and feel exactly the same – and the feeling wasn’t a good one. Whether live or virtual, we believe that direct sellers must create compelling experiences that add value in the lives of their potential customers, hosts and team members.

Even though there is a broad spectrum of new methods and tools for doing business, it’s the need to add value to the experiences of our customers, consultants and leaders that matters most. As we work to bring Gen-Yers into the future of direct selling, we have to remember that it’s not about the mode of communication or the method of doing business — it starts with the answer to the question, “What value to we bring to the marketplace?” and ends with the question, “What’s the best tool for us to use in this particular situation?”

Know your audience. Know your purpose. Make your decisions accordingly.

There’s a newer trend for virtual everything – parties, meetings, opportunity events. What’s our opinion? That would require a longer conversation to delve into the audience, the purpose and the plan. Of course, we believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of the direct seller, who can make smart decisions, and we believe that utilizing virtual methods for holding events is part of the answer. But, we caution chasing any trend without understanding exactly what’s making a new strategy work – the specifics of the strategy that may not be obvious at first glance.

Nuances matter. What might work for a certain person’s style may not work for someone else’s. Sound business strategies are long-lasting. And, besides, trends are temporary. Next time you see an idea that sounds like a trend, delve deeper and likely you will find that those who are most successful are trying the new strategy in addition to many other core revenue generating activities, not instead of. They are also likely doing a high enough level of business that they are working out the kinks along the way, too. What works, say, on one social media platform today, may not have as great of an effect a year from now when it becomes saturated. If you choose to ride new waves, be sure to continue to cultivate your selling skills to ensure your long-term success.

Some may even say that the phone is no longer the technology tool of choice. At The Girardi Group, we believe there is a time and place for each tool — and the phone is still one of the most effective of them. It’s about knowing your audience, believing in the value of great service, and picking the tool to match the situation. Sure, maybe some people want to be courted via text. We don’t. If you want to have one of us host a party or entertain an opportunity, your best bet is to call us on the phone, and make us feel like our time is worth the call. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t also pique our curiosity in many other ways using a plethora of media. It’s just that we have heard many consumers express similar sentiments – know your audience. Know your purpose. Make your decisions accordingly. Technology is a powerful tool, and we simply recommend leveraging it in smart, purposeful ways!

What we hear in our conversations with direct sellers across the country is this: People, specifically consumers and consultants still desire a more personal, high-touch experience. They don’t always want to have their hand held or hold a lengthy conversation, but real human interaction is of great value. It’s easy to move from a “real” world to a virtual one when you have already begun to develop the relationship. The magic ensues when classic principles are augmented (like a dance) with contemporary tools and methods.

It’s time for a change in strategy and thinking: from sales cycle to consumer decision-making process.

We are here to help you navigate the challenges you face.

As we move forward as an industry, it’s important to embrace change and run with it, all while understanding what motivates consumer and independent consultant decision-making.

By shifting our focus from the sales cycle we want potential customers, hosts and consultants to go through to the actual decision-making process they go through, we will not only capture more business, but we will become more effective in achieving results. Consumers have more access to information than ever before, and it’s essential that we change our strategies in terms of teaching our fields of independent sellers how to cultivate leads and capture sales and recruits.

Companies have to learn to think more like their diverse fields and consultants have to learn to think more like the breadth of consumers with whom they want to develop business relationships. This skill will lead to both companies and consultants making better decisions as they navigate the challenging, changing world of direct selling.

We are here to help you navigate the challenges you face. Depending on your need, we can simply lend a hand or delve in deep and help you develop a whole new strategy, or take over the steering for you. Our ultimate goal is to provide you with the understanding of both the core business principles as well as the contemporary tools and choices available to you in all aspects of business.

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