Direct Sales … not so directly

I’m a self-confessed sucker for direct sales. Something about that face-to-face sales process that lets you see it, touch it, open it up and try it … with someone you know telling you how great it is.

I mean, who doesn’t love a personal recommendation?! Yes, I do want to lose weight! Yes, I do want chemical-free cleaning and beauty products! Yes, I do want to hide my baby weight in leggings and baggy shirts with fun patterns! Yes, I need a quick gift! I mean, when Thirty-One was a big thing, who wasn’t convinced that all their storage and organization problems would be solved immediately by adorable and practical solutions???

Direct sales companies are nothing new. Once upon a time things like encyclopedias and vacuum cleaners and cleaning products were sold door-to-door, DIRECTLY to the consumer. And successfully so. But why sell to one family at a time, when you can get your “hostess” to recruit more customers FOR you?!   From Avon to Tupperware, Mary Kay and Pampered Chef, the “legacy” direct sales companies are being joined by newer organizations that seem to be popping up everywhere, in every industry.

The problem, as I see it, is that direct sales have become less “direct” and more annoying. (Some might argue they were ALWAYS annoying. No comment.) They’ve moved on from the face-to-face asks and home parties and into bombardment on social media on our friends personal pages. I’m pretty sure “social” media has been taken over by people trying to exploit the free platform to cast a wider net and “build their business.” Because the hustle is real, don’t you know.

Hey Facebook friends. I want to know what’s going on in your life. That’s why I’m on here. I don’t want to be bombarded by your product “testimonials.” When you copy and paste that status or “deal you’ve never offered before,” most of us with brains will see it on multiple people’s pages. KNOCK THAT OFF. Don’t make me unfollow you because I’m annoyed by whatever product you’re currently pushing. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t even care if your product works, I’m so annoyed by your posts that I’ll never even try it. This, from a direct sales junkie.

Direct Sales Meme

Look, I get it. I’ve dabbled in direct sales, several of them. The appeal of “making my own schedule” by offering “products that sell themselves” is certainly enticing. As a stay-at-home mom, I’m plagued by the mom guilt that is associated with not earning a paycheck. I want to “contribute” to the family income. Of course I do.

But let’s get real here. Do we not value stay-at-home moms enough to give them permission to JUST stay home? Aren’t we fully aware by now that staying home, raising kids and running a household IS a full-time job, or even more? Why are we not empowering and inspiring women to be wonderful moms where they are at, instead of laying extra pressure on them to “do it all”??? Why are direct sales companies targeting moms to sell for them and buy from them … essentially telling both groups, consultants and customers, that the way they are or the season they’re in at the moment isn’t good enough? CAN WE JUST STOP THAT?!

Don’t even get me started on direct sales moms guilt-buying from other direct sales moms. You bought from me so now I need to buy from you even if I couldn’t care less about leggings or handbags or jewelry or freezer cooking. How is that helping your family? Please. (ok but freezer cooking would help you … I’m just saying.)

Direct sales companies don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. I know plenty of direct sales girls who use social media “responsibly” and have still built a successful business.

Don’t be a coward, hiding behind your computer or phone screen. It’s much easier to just post something than to have a personal conversation – whether it’s in direct sales or in life in general. We don’t need a REASON to have a party. And there’s our problem, in a nutshell.

Just call some friends. Have a party, serve some food & wine and have a great time, for crying out loud. IRL.


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