MT Expert's Ten Top Tips: How to sell like the experts

Want to start a business in sales? It's easy, says Paul Southworth

by Paul Southworth
Last Updated: 03 Jun 2011

This week, the Office for National Statistics published unemployment figures showing a less-than-ideal unemployment rate of 7.7%. Meanwhile, one industry has seen a clear trend in the opposite direction. Direct selling companies (which include the likes of Avon and Kleeneze) have seen significant increases in recruits from markets hit by redundancies. As an employment option, it offers flexibility – you can even work part-time around your family.

We asked the Direct Selling Association’s Paul Southworth for his top tips on getting started in sales.

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Remember that what you put in will equal what you get out – no responsible business will promise millions can be earned for just a couple of hours a week.

2. Use your skill sets
Think about what you are good at and how you can use that to help your sales. People often forget about the obvious skills they have. Did you previously work in a marketing role and could you apply some of those skills to your new career, or have you been involved in business network groups which could prove useful?

3. Network
Whether in the playground or in the pub, you are always likely to be in the company of potential customers. Use this to your advantage and have a think about all the chances you have to network; you may not have realised just how many there are!

4. Be professional
Just because your office may be your lounge or front room doesn’t mean you can’t apply the same degree of professionalism as if you were in a large office. Process orders in a timely manner and run your business like you mean business.

5. Personal touch
Professionalism is important, but so too is the personal touch – get the balance right and you will succeed. You are likely to be invited into people’s homes and meet their circle of friends, so relax, be yourself – people like to buy from ‘people like them’.

6. Persistence pays off
This is true of any walk of life, but never more so than when you are in a direct sales role. It may take several visits to catch someone at home, but keep at it.

7. Show and tell
It’s a tried and tested method – show people what you’re selling, talk about your own experiences of using the product and let people see what they’re getting.

8. Recommendation
Keep in touch with regular customers and ask them if they’d be willing to make provide a comment or testimonial. People love hearing about others’ experiences of using a product and it can be even more helpful if that person is someone they know.

9. Share knowledge
Most direct selling companies offer great support and training. Take advantage of this and learn as much as you can from others doing a similar job to you. People are normally very happy to share ideas, best practice and trouble-shooting suggestions.

10. Reputation is everything
All responsible direct selling companies have signed up to an industry Code of Practice. Make sure you know the details and stick to them – after all, your reputation is the key to your future success.

- For more information, please visit:

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Leadership lessons from Jürgen Klopp

The Liverpool manager exemplifies ‘the long win’, based not on results but on clarity of...

How to get a grip on stress

Once a zebra escapes the lion's jaws, it goes back to grazing peacefully. There's a...

A leadership thought: Treat your colleagues like customers

One minute briefing: Create a platform where others can see their success, says AVEVA CEO...

The ignominious death of Gordon Gekko

Profit at all costs is a defunct philosophy, and purpose a corporate superpower, argues this...

Gender bias is kept alive by those who think it is dead

Research: Greater representation of women does not automatically lead to equal treatment.

What I learned leading a Syrian bank through a civil war

Louai Al Roumani was CFO of Syria's largest private retail bank when the conflict broke...