Everything You Need to Successfully Take a Direct Sales Event Virtual. 

A decade ago, I heard a speaker at a DSA event say something that changed my thinking forever. He said, “To be a successful direct selling company, you must first be a technology company.” Subsequently, I had little idea how much that would apply to Direct Sales Events in the future.

At the time, I was working on the corporate side of an established network marketing company. However, we were not prepared to accept this as our reality. In order to become a technology company, we would have to make some big shifts in the way we operated our companies. It felt like the great unknown, how do you operate as a technology company?

Fast forward to today. Now, having a memorable digital experience is not a “nice to have,” it is a “must-have.”

If 2020 did anything for our companies, it forced us to prioritize the way our technology works for us. Suddenly, improving technology jumped the top of everyone’s priority list.

Let’s start first with acknowledgement of loss. We miss being in-person too! So, we get it. We feel the pain of the representatives who miss the annual meetings. We hear you influencers. You rely on in-home events, like party plan, to generate revenue.
However, because of the change we all experienced this year, we needed a technology that allowed us to connect virtually. To move in-person events to a virtual events with impact. And it needed to happen fast.

Thankfully, three years ago, we began to solve this challenge for our MLM customers. And it wasn’t because we were facing a pandemic.

A while back, many party plan companies started to recognize that their salesforce needed mobility. That’s because reps, distributors, and influencers were operating their entire business from the palm of their hand. The gig economy was growing and our clients needed to be a part of it—their distributors needed it most.

That’s when we made a strategic decision to solve a big problem for one of our clients. In particular, we needed to turn in-home events into virtual experiences with impact! The result? Big success for one client. And that allowed us to increase the opportunity for our other clients on our platform.

We saw three things we needed to achieve for our clients:

  1. Create technology opportunities to supplement in-person events.
  2. Increase change management process development.
  3. Strategic communication plan for early adapters (leaders).

Steps Taken and Questions Asked

STEP 1: What tools do you need to move direct sales events from in-person to virtual?

When it came time to develop virtual event technology, we started with a conversation. We painstakingly reviewed every detail:

  • What is required from the technology?
  • What features and benefits support and motivate the salesforce?
  • How do you create a Mobile Commerce Experience that matches the conversion rates of in-person and party plan events?

In the beginning, we knew we wanted to keep the bigger picture at the heart of every question. In other words, how can we create an intuitive technology experience customers will enjoy? How can we deploy a virtual event or party module to drive a more effective e-commerce experience?

Consequently, we came up with the following plan for the technology improvements:

  • Implement the virtual event module.
  • Create a customer gathering paradigm shift.
  • Increase behavior-driven incentives.

Already, our client’s volunteer salesforce was constantly on their phone. That meant they needed a way to operate in real-time and on-time.

After all, we rely on real-time information on our phones. We’re constantly swiping down to refresh a page. That’s why your virtual event technology should give up-to-date data.

STEP 2: What does the process feel like for the customer and salesforce?

Our client’s salesforce needed a seamless process. In order to ensure repeat and referral business, our changes needed to be fluid. We needed to provide participants with a great experience at every level.

We took a customer-centric approach with the change. That’s when we asked ourselves, how can this change make our customer’s lives better?

Here are the 9 experiences we considered in development:

  • Easy Online Scheduling for Direct Sales Hosts and Consultants

That moment when…
As soon as a host opened their portal to create their first invitation for a direct sales event, we had to nail it. That meant we had to include all the tools a host would need to succeed. And after that, the entire experience had to be user-friendly.

  • Organizer Access to Guest Lists, Invitations, and Reminders

Your salesforce performs better when they can see what’s happening, as it happens. Therefore, we provided real-time information so your salesforce can change tactics as things move forward. In other words, they can see what’s coming and how their outreach is working. That’s why we kept guest lists, invitations, and reminders at their fingertips.

  • Attendee Reminders via Email or SMS Texts

Automated reminders help the host ensure attendance. First, they set up the emails and SMS texts. Then, they never have to do it again. Consequently, attendees receive automatic follow up communication.

Additionally, reminders help your salesforce stay top of mind to their attendees.

  • Salesforce Real-time Order and Booking insights 

Sales people are goals people. And nothing gives your salesforce more drive than watching orders come in, real-time! For that reason, the platform changes needed a dashboard so the distributor could celebrate EVERY success!

Read about how to build the best MLM Compensation Plans – including incentives – right here!
  • Event Credits and Incentives With Dynamic Updates 

Motivation moves people forward. And for your sales team you know that means event credits and incentives! As a result, we keep these metrics up-to-date on the distributors dashboard.

  • Purchases Accepted on Multiple Devices With Various Payment Methods

We removed any purchase barriers for the customers. That meant allowing check out on any device with numerous ways to pay. In other words, no customer should feel restricted in getting the products they want to buy.

  • A Quick, User-friendly Experience

Challenge one: customer and distributor need for mobility during events. With everyone stuck at home, sitting in front of a computer screen was a no-go. Our customer-centric approach allowed developers to create unique ways for everyone to stay mobile!

  • Product Orders Shipped and Tracked Anywhere at Anytime

In our experience, consumers expect updates and tracking on their orders. Thus, we ensured order transparency for all orders placed for the customer.

  • Transaction Details Available Immediately to Distributors

Our salesforce needed access to every order placed through their efforts. For example, when was it placed? What did it ship? When would it arrive?

STEP 3: How do we introduce a new way of doing business to an established salesforce? And how do we do it without creating confusion or analysis paralysis?

Obviously, we knew a clear communication strategy was key. Otherwise, the volunteer salesforce could lose their confidence in our client’s direction.

Any change, without clear communication, breeds mistrust.

As a result, we supported the design of a communication strategy. And designed our strategy to align with our clients’ business strategy. Additionally, our communication plan included analysis and statistics. Which led to the salesforce seeing the benefits of moving in-person events to virtual.

The communication piece was critical to success. This salesforce had been doing business one way: in-person. After that, learning a completely new way of doing business takes time. And we needed to do everything we could to help them succeed!

We encouraged three underlying themes within the communication strategy:

  1. Keep customers’ and salesforce experience central.
  2. Focus on the data and the metrics.
  3. Honor the company’s culture and heritage. We never dismissed the in-person events. But we did celebrate how the company was growing and evolving.

STEP 4: Celebration

It’s all about results. Results for moving from in-person to virtual were essential to company growth. But the triple-digit growth for the enterprise was phenomenal. And it happened in all performance areas of the company in 2019-2020.

No one could have predicted what 2020 would bring for our companies. But, thankfully, we had already created the right technology to support the changes.

Customers no longer had to rely on in-person direct sales events to get the products they loved. They could order them directly from their phone. And finally, going mobile also helped the salesforce continue to build their businesses. Meanwhile, this was all happening in the midst of a pandemic.

The Case Study numbers speak for themselves:

Monthly Virtual Events +393% Increase
Monthly Orders +274% Increase
Gross Sales +398% Increase
New Customers +197% Increase
New Distributors +365% Increase
Active Distributors +365% Increase
Rank Advancements +1,028% Increase

Jenkon has over 40 years of experience and thousands of successful deployments. Most importantly, we are committed to continue listening and serving our clients. And we’ll do that while staying well ahead of the curve.

In this instance, our client was ready for a change. They also had the internal buy-in to move forward with the project. All of these factors led to their success.

Moreover, we deployed changes before the pandemic hit. Which allowed our client the time to ensure a smooth transition for their distributors without distraction.

Questions for Your Success

Now it’s time to evaluate how you move forward. If you, like our client, need to move from in-person events to virtual events, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What tools do we need to move our direct sales events from in-person to virtual?
  • What does the current process feel like for our customers and salesforce?
  • How do we introduce a new way of doing business without alienating our base?

These are important questions for any direct sales or MLM company to ask as they start thinking differently about how to do business.

In short, you must first become a technology company. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of keeping your eyes open to new opportunities. And certainly, having the right technology in place helps make the most of the moments when they happen.