There’s a very simple reason, really. I was awful at it.
But that’s not very helpful, is it?
The truth is that there are a lot of reasons I failed at direct sales, and maybe you can learn from my mistakes.
I didn’t believe in the products. I liked the products. I even used the products. But I didn’t believe in them. I would listen to heartfelt testimonials and read great reviews and think, “Meh.” I was still skeptical, and my lack of true belief made me a poor saleswoman. My pitches felt forced and that made for awkward conversations.
I didn’t treat my business like a business. When something came up, it was my business that was pushed to the side. I didn’t make time for my business, so I never got anything done. And Sir Isaac Newton was totally right, an object at rest stays at rest. My inaction led to poor results, which led to low motivation, which led to poor results. It’s a vicious cycle.
I never identified as a salesperson. I am a teacher. It’s not just what I do, it’s who I am. I was never able to make the mental leap from teacher to salesperson. I never got comfortable explaining what I sold, and I never perfected my elevator pitch. It never felt natural. What’s funny is that I was very good at explaining to people how the business worked and how to do things within the business, I just wasn’t good at applying my own ideas. Even in a completely different setting, I was still a teacher.
I got into it for the wrong reason. I just wanted to make money. And while that is a part of why everyone gets into direct sales, if it’s the only reason, you won’t be successful. This kind of goes along with the first item on this list. You have to have a better reason to sell than just money.
I underestimated how difficult it would be. Sales isn’t easy. I worked retail in high school and college, one of those jobs was even commission-based, but that did nothing to prepare me for direct sales. When you work in a store, you stay in the store and customers come to you. With direct sales you have to go get customers. You have to introduce your product. You have to convince them to buy.
I didn’t think it through before I joined. I joined my company when we were going through a pretty major life change and, because of that, I didn’t ask myself the 6 questions everyone should ask before joining a network marketing company. I didn’t think about our schedule, or how much time I would actually have to commit. I didn’t take the time to thoroughly understand the business before I signed up.
Were there other factors? Sure.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I suffer from social anxiety, and that played a role in my lack of success. I didn’t feel a strong connection to my “team” within the company, so I often felt like I was doing everything alone. And let’s face it, people are definitely suffering from sales party fatigue. We’re all tired of being invited to a party to listen to a pitch.
But ultimately my failure is mine. In order to learn from it, I have to own it.
Would I do it again? Maybe.
I wouldn’t join the same company I joined before, but I would consider another company. I learned a lot from my experience, even though it didn’t work out. If I find a product I really love and the company philosophy is a good fit for me, I’d consider the opportunity.
Have you ever tried direct sales? Share your experience in the comments.