Direct Selling 101: Dealing with the Berthas.

Direct sales is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of shit. And sadly, those people are out there. They promise you riches beyond your wildest dreams. They promise it’s an easy, marketable product. They swear you can work without a lick of effort because customers will just fall from the heavens right into your lap, dripping in glitter and spending oodles of their money on your product and all you have to do is one simple post on Facebook. It’s a lie. I’m on to those pitching you that. I’m watching them in shame—some of them may even be reading this.

Here’s the thing. Direct sales does work. It can be life-changing. It can save someone’s life–literally. You CAN make money. You can do it with class, sass and have a ton of fun on the journey. I say this not from assumption but from personal experience. All of the above are truths I can vehemently vouch for. But it’s hard work and it takes effort to overcome some of the obstacles you get dealt in this gig.

The company I am a part of believes deeply in the golden rule, which is to treat others the way you want to be treated —all you Christians reading this better have gotten that or you best head on back to church this weekend. Anyway, I want to honor that golden rule. I wish I had known some of the things I know now when I started. Before you have to go through and learn the lessons I’ve learned from this business, I’m going to share some advice and most honest transparency with you so that you can find comfort, learn or at least be informed before you take a dive into this industry.

Direct selling is hard because we carry a stigma in society. There are a lot of super crotchety former reps out there and even more people with a deeply ingrained opinion of us all.  I don’t know where it developed. I don’t know who is at fault. All I know is it hurts us. Over the years, it has never gotten easier and I hate admitting that but I promised truth. I move often and each time I’m getting to know a new mom or friend, the question of what I do always arises—typically after she asks what my husband does, isn’t that annoying? Anyway, the moment I say I sell a product with a direct selling company it happens. She glosses over, panics, maybe wets her pants a little–I don’t know but it’s almost always the same. “I could never do sales.” No ones asked if you could. “I had a friend who did that once and she didn’t succeed in it.” Yea, you usually don’t if you quit. “I like my Mac and Clinique.” Name dropper. “Oh, isn’t that a pyramid scheme?” No, and I could write you a ten-page paper citing facts on why it isn’t but like anti-vaccers staring fact versus proven lies straight in the face, it would fall on blinded eyes. I’ll smile while these answers run through my head like a pinball in a machine, but those comments tear at my heart and my self worth. They hurt. They’re rude—usually unintentionally. They make me feel little, shamed and send a clear message she has no intention of supporting me. So I close up. Terrified to ever mention my small business again—even though it’s the hers of the world that I need most to support me.

It’s always so confusing because I see them supporting a local boutique—going so far as to do try-ons or sharing coupon codes. I see them supporting a stranger they follow on Instagram who’s on a fitness journey and she’s sharing recipes from this person out of blind faith they’re any good. I see her supporting her hairstylist with before and after selfies. I see ME supporting her in her own business endeavors. I even see her pushing that new Kylie lip kit in apparent support of Kylie’s continued ass shots from her private jet. But when it comes to us direct sales gals…crickets. Why is that? Why won’t she help us? 

Now that I have you convinced to never do direct sales, let me tell you my best guidance on this and give you hope. When this happens, don’t give away your power. Also take this counsel with you through life in general. Stop giving away your power to people. What does that mean? It means don’t over-explain. Don’t over-explain your choices, your decisions, your reasoning for having decided to do whatever it is you did/do. For example, Bertha at the church group (after asking what your husband does) asks what you do and you tell her you sell for  “blah blah blah” company and then she looks at you and says, “Oh, I could never do sales.” You respond with, “Interesting,” or, “Gotcha,” or my personal favorite, “Ok.” Done. End of topic. Ask her what she does. Move on.

You really need to practice the pause on this one because your knee jerk reaction is going to be to explain all the ways that it’s actually really easy to sell and anyone can do it and you aren’t a car salesperson—and here’s why—and people are selling themselves daily by all their pictures on social media—selling their kids and how happy their marriage is and their recipes and all the things. Blah blah blah, verbal vomit all over her and she just keeps looking at you like, oh hunny you’re so one of those people, and then suddenly you, breathless, decide to quit direct sales.

It’s the over-explaining. With each desperate reason you give her, you are giving away your power. It’s a total mind eff. It makes you want to beat your head against a wall and it makes YOU question your well thought out decisions. This random person, with one silly statement, has suddenly made you question something you were passionate about two minutes ago because she’s set herself up with that inconsiderate response to make it seem like you need to give her justification on why you do what it is you do AND if you can’t convince her why people can sell, she’s not only right but insinuating you can’t really sell it either. Might I add something? Most times we bring this anguish on ourselves. Bertha doesn’t even realize what she’s saying. We live in a very egocentric world where it’s all about me, me, me. You tell her what you do, she finds a way to turn the conversation to make it about her. We do this a lot. I do this unintentionally, you likely do as well. Was her comment lame? Totes. But we do have to take part of the blame for giving her that much power to doubt ourselves.

Doubt is a powerful thing. Think of it this way–you’ve got this boat. You can drag Bertha on to take a ride–kicking and screaming–only for her to get seasick and throw up everywhere ruining your boat and leaving you questioning if it was your captaining that made her ill. Or, you wave and leave her on the dock without letting her anywhere near your precious vessel. Bon voyage, Bertha! 

You have no obligation to convince or explain to anyone why your business is the best and you love it. Period. She wants on the boat? She needs to be onboard with you–ha, get it–onboard? Save your energy and passion for someone who wants it, someone who genuinely wants to see your boat or wants to take a cruise with you if even just for fun. Practice the pause, and don’t give away your power. You could literally answer, “Ok.” to all of the above questions I initially presented. It ends the convo and I promise it will stun her. She’s expecting an explanation. She’s expecting a reaction. Don’t give it. Be kind always, but protect yourself. This tiny, super simple trick will save you a ton of heartache, a ton of doubt in yourself and will leave you looking like an ultra confident business woman who really doesn’t care if someone gets it or not. I believe it’s part of the reason I’ve been as successful as I have in this business–if only it didn’t take me so stinking long to figure it out!

Let me also say this—sometimes Berthas come around. They might just need to see your boat sail for a little bit before they want to take a ride. They may need to see you in action as a captain before they trust you won’t drown them. I have hundreds of Berthas in my customer base and even on my team and it’s honestly in using this tactic that it happened. Also, there are people out there who will initially support you. People who will cheer for you the second you meet them. They will go out of their way to help you as best they can by liking your posts or trying your product before they go grab something similar at Target or telling their friends about you or simply talking to you about your gig. They’re out there. I promise. They’re absolute gold and they will be shiny, beautiful blessings in your business. 

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