~ by Stephanie Harbison ~
I can’t believe it’s already mid-February, and more so that it is 2017! I had a nice reminder that my 15-year high school reunion is coming up this summer, which makes me think back to the days when I was singing along to N’Sync as I cruised around town in my little red Nissan Maxima. Those were the days!
Actually, it really makes me think of how different my life is than it was 15 years ago, or even 5 years ago! And that’s not a bad thing. I actually get really excited for the New Year to roll in so I can have that feeling of a fresh start and start drafting an ideal plan of what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months.
This year I decided to start on a new adventure in a side business, aka “side hustle” with Stella & Dot. If you’ve never heard of it, just think super cute, trendy, versatile jewelry and accessories. I never saw myself entering the world of direct sales, but then again, I have to eat my words pretty frequently.
But really, I realized I could make it about so much more than selling something or even about jewelry. I could use this as an opportunity to connect with other women and offer them something that makes us all feel beautiful! I was a little nervous as I started because it was a new industry for me, and I didn’t know how my professional skills would translate into this kind of business.
However, there are several main skills that have crossed over perfectly from the work I have done as a financial rep and as a recruiter! And I believe they transfer from any industry really.
The first one is prospecting. Any time you have a product to sell or a service to offer, prospecting for potential customers is going to be one of the most important things you do. Just as I work to identify my ideal candidate to recruit in my role at Northwestern Mutual, in my work with Stella & Dot I identify my ideal customer, then aim to locate as many of them as possible. This might be through personal connections I already have, friends of friends, or people in the community I want to meet.
A great way to start prospecting is to list all the different networks you have (work, school, church, sports teams, family, your volunteer network, etc.) then start writing down as many names as possible. You will be surprised you know many more people than you thought!
So how do you get introduced to people who you want to meet, or potential customers you don’t know yet? That is where networking comes in. The Business Dictionary defines networking as “Creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. Networking is based on the question ‘How can I help?’ and not with ‘What can I get?’”
In other words, this is something that takes time and is going to be based upon building mutually beneficial relationships. However, it also can be as simple as being willing to introduce one of your personal connections to someone who is able to do the same for you.
You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s all about who you know,” right? Well the more people you know, the more resources you have to help you, especially when you are willing to do the same.
The next part of building a direct sales business, that I have learned so far, is to make contact with all of the people on that big list you developed. That really can be the hardest part. We all start thinking of the objections we are going to hear, so we might make excuses for why we shouldn’t reach out. I am so guilty of this!
The fact is, you are going to hear “NO” in sales … A LOT. But for every “no” you hear, you are one call (or text, or email, etc.) closer to a “yes.” It is the same way working in the financial industry, recruiting or trying to schedule a jewelry party. Objections are a part of selling a product or service, but you’ll never hear “yes” unless you muster up the courage to make that call!
For anyone who ever has thought about entering the world of direct sales, you may be surprised to find out you are joining 20 million other Americans as well. You can see why! It allows people to work from home, on their own schedules, and experience a virtually unlimited income.
However, it also doesn’t come without its challenges. While it’s been a great way for me to transfer my skills from other industries and experiences, it’s also hard work. But I’m super excited for the challenge, I love meeting and connecting with new people. Plus, I have so much fun every time I get to share Stella & Dot’s amazing style with someone new. Cheers to the side hustle!