Direct Sales – Are You Really in Business “For Yourself and By Yourself”?

When I joined my first direct sales company five years ago, I fell in love with the marketing catch-phrase the companies often use. “Be in Business for Yourself, and by Yourself”.

As a “newbie” consultant, the sales pitch was on-target. I never felt like I had a boss, or that I was accountable to everyone. As someone who thrives on flexibility and freedom, I was instantly hooked.

As my business and team began to grow, I received a call one day. “Hi, this is ‘Judy’, I will be your Sales Manager from this point forward.”

“My manager?” My stomach did a flip-flop. “Whatever happened to ‘for yourself-by yourself’?” I thought.

That was the last day I was ever “by myself”. “My job is to help you build your business”, she said. While I was hesitant at first, I was smart enough to realize that I needed the help and support.

At first, the “suggestions” she gave me were pretty simplistic. We worked on goal-setting together and she offered me advice on how to motivate my team. I certainly needed encouragement in those areas.

As my team (and my paycheck) continued to grow, suddenly the “helpful advice” seemed a bit more formal. “Here is a training packet that we need you to cover at your monthly meeting”. “We expect you to hold at least one team meeting a month”. “It would be a good idea to send your team members a monthly newsletter – here is what it should look like”.

Don’t get me wrong. My leader guide and business application covered many of the ‘expectations’ from the start. I am not suggesting that the companies I represented were “beating around the bush” or being dishonest in any way. I simply made the mistake of assuming that I would be completely independent as a direct seller. Had I read the agreement when my recruiter mailed it to me, I probably would have been more inclined to accept the assistance they were offering me.

As a simple suggestion from someone who has “been there – done that”, the best advice I could offer someone considering joining a direct sales company is to read the company policies and guidelines beyond the initial application. Chances are, you may not be entirely in business “for yourself – and by yourself.”

Related Reading:
A Lesson from “Jane” – What Not to Do as a Direct Salesperson

MLM and Direct Sales – The Challenges of Leading a Volunteer Team