2017 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling

by Courtney Roush

4 Signs
4 Signs

Click here to order the April 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


“Most people think trust is earned. Here, trust is granted. We wouldn’t have hired you if we didn’t trust you.”

These very words are spoken by Xyngular CEO Russ Fletcher to new hires during the company’s new employee orientation sessions, presented by the four members of its executive team. At Xyngular, one of this year’s Best Places to Work in Direct Selling (see special award supplement included with issue), that statement sets the tone for what’s to come: a culture and a host of perks and benefits that convey an implicit message of trust, a key component of employee engagement. So what kind of impact does it have when an executive not only takes the time to personally welcome a new employee, but also makes a declaration of trust right out of the gate? For starters, a 97.7 percent employee retention rate.

Employee engagement: It’s both a simple concept and a complex dynamic. On the surface, employee engagement refers to satisfaction and happiness, but it is so much more than that. It’s a science that puts hard data around “soft” variables like emotional investment and intent to stay. Examine any high-growth company, and you can count on finding employees who believe their opinions are heard, who know specifically how their jobs contribute to the company’s objectives, who have access to professional development opportunities, and who feel valued by leadership. All too often, a company first learns of an employee’s disengagement with a resignation letter. Earlier intervention through better onboarding, mentoring, professional and personal development, recognition and occasional, but regular, touchpoints with senior leadership could have made a difference.

Engagement is a critical topic because, according to our third-party vendor and research partner Quantum Workplace, which conducted surveys and compiled findings for the 2017 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling contest, those perceptions are directly tied to a company’s bottom line.

For more than 10 years, Quantum Workplace has been conducting in-depth surveys with organizations throughout the world. Along the way, a consistent theme has emerged from their findings: Companies with higher employee engagement see better retention, better productivity, better profits. Based on that knowledge, Quantum, through its in-depth research, has revealed some of the primary drivers of engagement, along with factors that can diminish it.

When we speak of employee engagement within direct selling companies, the contributors and detractors really don’t differ from the business world at large. However, it’s important to note the effect of employee engagement on our ultimate customer: the independent salesforce members we serve. It stands to reason that happier employees mean a happier independent salesforce.

The continued growth of the direct selling channel has created an exciting climate in which talented candidates have …

Click here to read the rest of the article at Direct Selling News.

 

 

DSN Announces the 2017 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling

Building on the positive results from its inaugural year, Direct Selling News has partnered once again with the employee engagement experts at Quantum Workplace to identify the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling. The contest was open to all direct selling companies headquartered in North America and having at least 50 employees.

The 2017 honorees for the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling are listed below in alphabetical order. All of these companies are equal honorees and are recognized collectively as the Best Places to Work within the direct selling channel.

Click here to view the honorees.

 

The Social Age

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the January 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


The Social Age is here. If you’re not taking full advantage of the tools and technologies that social platforms have to offer, you and your company are likely to be left behind as the competition leaps ahead. Now well into its infancy, the Social Age is and will be making a tremendous impact on the sales industry, especially within the world of direct selling. The changes already cannot be ignored.

Technology drives everything—recruitment, retention and revenue—for most companies. Those businesses that realize what they can achieve when all of their internal, back office, social media, field tools and software systems work together are equipped to innovate and leverage essential data that will let them thrive in the future.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram are potent tools that companies and consultants are learning to use as they build connections with customers and grow sales. Other apps such as Periscope and Google Hangout are gaining traction, too. Yet many executives and companies are slow to embrace these advances. A study from CEO.com and Domo finds that 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence. Among the 30 percent who do, they only use one social channel. Here LinkedIn was the chosen platform.

In contrast to that study, it does appear that C-level executives within direct selling are more plugged in to the benefits of these engagement tools. A recent study conducted among members by the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA), titled The 2015 Managing Your Company’s Web Presence and Technology Systems Survey, indicates that nearly six in 10 companies surveyed report that one or more of their chief-level executives have company-associated social media accounts that they actively engage in
(57 percent).

Additionally, over half of those also indicate that the chief executives create the content for those accounts. At Scentsy, the Idaho-based wickless candle company, it’s common for an executive to personally respond to field achievements or post in conversations on Facebook, the social media platform most used by Scentsy Consultants.

Rick Stambaugh, Chief Information Officer at Utah-based company USANA, refers to the focus of today as “Digital Humanism.” He says, “The consumer-driven Internet of things has many components, but the most prominent one is social.”

As direct sellers work toward more fully embracing the Social Age and everything that comes with it, a few things are clear…

Click here to read the full article in Direct Selling News.

The Future of Direct Selling in the U.S.

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Direct selling in the United States is undergoing a transformation fueled by innovative approaches rooted in classic business practices. The power generators leading the way for direct selling as a channel of distribution can be found in what Direct Selling News has identified as the upper middle market: those companies with annual sales roughly between $300 million and $1 billion.

Because most direct selling companies are privately held and many decline to disclose their financial results, it is difficult to create a definitive list. Our research honed in on a group of more than 30 U.S.-based companies, most of which are experiencing significant growth. Some of them are on the cusp of reaching $300 million, and some likely have recently passed the $1 billion mark. But together they are critical to direct selling’s competitiveness and future. They tend to be among the fastest growing when it comes to revenue, and they account for a large slice of the job creation pie.

An in-depth analysis of this group reveals a high level of consistency when it comes to executing on key common strengths. The ability of these companies to focus in on products, customers, serving their salesforce and creating a culture that reinforces a sense of family put them on track to shape the future of direct selling in the U.S.

Companies emphasize each area in different ways, but in general these leaders:

  • Harness data. The upper middle market knows how to mine the data it has to gain insights that lead to more and better sales. Executives train leaders and consultants to use data to open doors that might otherwise remain closed.
  • Stay true to classic business practices. Technology and social media do not replace person-to-person interactions, they complement them. Upper mid-market firms build relationships with customers that maintain the consultant-client affiliation but also allow the customer to have a connection with the company itself.
  • Use compensation plans that span all levels of engagement. To cultivate trust and long-term relationships, comp plans are created to appeal to new customers, product enthusiasts, fierce advocates and influencers—all the way up to the entrepreneur who is all in. Payments also follow a more modern schedule.
  • Foster an entrepreneurial spirit. Consultants are allowed and encouraged to go far with personal marketing (think YouTube videos) while maintaining brand identity. Companies deliver superior and frequent training and messaging to make this happen.
  • Maintain a laser-focus on selling. The sale of a product, a group experience or an opportunity all lead to more sales, which generate positive results.

No matter the specific approach, one thing all upper middle market companies excel at is …

Click here to read the full article at Direct Selling News.

 

 

Q&A: Younique Opens for Business in Germany

Younique, the fast-growing beauty brand known for its virtual parties, is opening this month in Germany, its second European market. Outside the U.S., the company also operates in the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Founded in September 2012, Younique identifies as a mission-first beauty company dedicated to uplifting, empowering and validating women through its products and business opportunity. The Utah-based brand currently has more than 265,000 Presenters marketing its wares via social media. Younique’s Director of International Market Development, Jordan Meyer, spoke to DSN about bringing the virtual business to a new market.

DSN: What does launching a new market on social media look like? How do you get the momentum going?

JM: We have an army of women who are on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. When we launch a new market, they’ve all got their various strategies, and they don’t let the barrier of a new country stop them from their business activities. Social media platforms are really conducive to cross-border growth.

DSN: What makes Germany a good fit for Younique?

JM: When we select markets, we choose places where our Presenters can be successful, where consumers in those markets use the same social media platforms our current Presenters use. We look at a variety of metrics, such as social media footprint, makeup market size, direct selling makeup market size, and especially how much e-commerce happens in the country. We also look for markets where our current presenters have relationships and business ties.

DSN: When it comes to international expansions, what is the most significant challenge you’ve encountered so far?

JM: International expansion is just hard. It’s hard when you’re talking about new languages, and as a company this year we’re entering Mexico and Germany. The whole organization has to adapt when we’re using a new language, and because we don’t know the language we feel like we lose some control. To sum it up in one word, localization is a big challenge.

DSN: Younique is in a pre-launch phase in Mexico, where you’ll officially open in October. Are there any other expansions on the horizon?

JM: Yes! At our recent convention, we announced that we will be opening in France next year. We’re looking at the first half of 2016.

Party Plans on Fire

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the December 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Ignited by emotional connections forged with customers, access to products once only available at expensive salons and an embrace of social media, a handful of party plan companies are seeing their business boom—with no signs of a slowdown.

Nail wrap creator Jamberry, beauty products firm Younique, personalized jewelry maker Origami Owl and two newcomers—jewelry boutique Chelsea Row and nontoxic cosmetics maker Beautycounter—are experiencing significant advances in profits and popularity at a time when overall growth for the party plan model is stuck in a plateau.

Data from the U.S. Direct Selling Association’s 2014 growth and outlook report reveals that between 2008 and 2013, party plans dropped from 26 percent to 23 percent of market share as a direct selling platform.

“Home parties in terms of their success are fairly cyclical,” says DSA President Joe Mariano. “When we think it is hitting a low point that is when we see a rebirth.”


While 40 million business-related fan pages exist on Facebook, only 17 percent are equipped to sell directly through the social media channel. This is where direct selling has an edge.


Top-Ranked Companies

These five standout companies are evidence of that resurgence. Two of them—Jamberry and Younique—are in the Top 10 six-month trend rankings at HomePartyRankings.com and MLMRankings.com, which track public interest and Internet popularity of most party plan direct sellers.

Jamberry reports revenue is more than $10 million a year. Younique’s distributors have said the company sold more than $25 million in September, up from $1 million in December 2013.

Origami Owl is consistently listed in the Top 5 for overall rankings at both sites. It posted 2013 revenue of $233 million and grew by 870 percent for the year. As a reflection of this growth it was ranked at No. 50 on the 2014 DSN Global 100 and received the DSN Bravo Growth Award Based on Percentage this year.

Chelsea Row, launched in September 2014, is too new to have its own rankings. A spinoff of e-commerce selling platform company Kitsy Lane, Chelsea Row is turning the traditional home party on its head with vParty—a truly immersive, real-time virtual party that lets guests shop together online while being connected on audio and video.

Beautycounter launched in March 2013 and offers a safe and nontoxic line of skincare products that work. The company now counts 4,000 consultants in more than 44 states, with 23 percent average monthly revenue growth. Between January and October 2014, Beautycounter posted 424 percent sales growth.


Beautycounter’s “Never List” is “a robust roundup of ingredients that you will never find in Beautycounter products,” as many are known or believed to cause irritation, allergic reactions or cancer.


Embracing Social Media

The founding philosophies of these companies are rooted in a desire to better the lives of women by empowering them with products that aid self-expression and by providing the flexibility, resources and training needed to build a career. Each utilizes social media such as Facebook to drive sales, although the strategy is different for each business.

To maintain growth, diving deep into social media selling is likely to yield even larger dividends. Here’s why: An analysis by marketing firm Vocus projects that by 2015, half of all web transactions will occur through social media, accounting for an estimated $30 billion in sales. While 40 million business-related fan pages exist on Facebook, only 17 percent are equipped to sell directly through the social media channel. This is where direct selling has an edge.

The Power of Virtual Parties

Jamberry, Younique and Origami Owl use the Facebook event model to host virtual parties.

Younique sells almost exclusively on social media. Jamberry and Origami Owl independent consultants use Facebook events to supplement the home party experience. Origami Owl Chief Sales Officer Sandy Spielmaker says the technology “extends the reach of the home party.”

Best known for its 3D fiber lashes, Younique built its selling model on virtual parties for two reasons, Co-Founder Melanie Huscroft says. “The overall feeling among women was they are so over the traditional home party and having to clean the house, make the food and send their husband and kids away,” she says. “The virtual platform allows the invite list to be limitless, and location doesn’t matter.”

Virtual parties typically run for seven to 10 days, with independent consultants making frequent posts to encourage interest and spotlight products. Consultants do not carry inventory. They sell through their own branded e-commerce websites.

Many consultants also create videos or use those provided by Younique, Jamberry or Origami Owl to explain how to use the products and suggest ways to mix them up to create new styles. Guests link to these videos through the Facebook event page for their specific party.

The model is working for Younique. In the near future, its virtual party model will also work on other social media platforms, such as Twitter and Pinterest. At 2 years old, Younique now counts 121,285 presenters in five markets. When it entered the U.K. on Oct. 1, 999 presenters signed up within 26 minutes.

Huscroft says people want to sell Younique because of its “simple and generous” compensation plan. Younique pays presenters within three hours of making a sale. Each presenter receives a bank account and a Younique debit card.

“It doesn’t matter what the compensation plan is from a corporate perspective. Everyone pays out … Click here to read the full article