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Research Report: Personal and Professional Benefits of Direct Selling and Implications for Training

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Direct Selling Report Results

In a Direct Selling Education Foundation recent report, Peterson identifies the personal and professional attributes gained by participating in direct selling. The insights lead to important information on training by both corporate and top distributors. He surveyed 495 current direct sellers and 465 former direct sellers. The research had participants agree or disagree on 14 business and 13 personal skills. The majority of the current direct sellers (above 75%) stated that being a direct seller improved both their personal and professional lives.

Perhaps the most important finding to state right up front here is that those that self-perceived level skills and self-perceptions of success in direct selling. This is not surprising. However, I always like to see it in the numbers. Those who believe they improved in both personal and professional skills saw more success. When we believe we can accomplish goals, we are more successful.

Show Me the Numbers

The first set of questions was on why they joined their direct selling company. The most frequent reason listed for current women distributors was “purchase the product at a discount”, 81% (61% for men) and for men was “enhance personal development” 72% (53% for women). Listed in the survey are 12 reasons for joining. The average number of reasons distributors listed was seven. One reason that we are interested in this report is how did distributors see that being a direct seller enhanced their personal development.

Personal benefits

More than 75% of current direct sellers agreed that by engaging in direct selling both their personal and professional benefitted from direct selling. Both men and women stated that their personal skills improved. In addition, 84% of current direct sellers who also had a non-direct selling position found that direct selling skills helped them perform better in their non-direct selling employment.

On eight personal benefit skills men stated significantly higher percent agreement on critical thinking m = 88%, w = 74%), stress management (m = 85%, w = 69%), problem solving (m = 90%, w = 76%), public speaking (m = 84% w = 71%), time management (m = 87% w = 77%), entrepreneurship (m = 90% w = 78%), decision making (m = 87% w = 78%) and finance management (m = 83% w = 73%).

Peterson suggests that companies may want to develop “different recruiting, training, and retention programs for men and women” (p. 4). It may be that women need more feedback on these skills. It may that because men were more likely to choose direct selling as a full-time career (m = 54% w = 31%) that they saw more personal benefit.

Peterson also grouped the responses by millennials and non-millennials. Millennials agreed more with direct selling improving their lives in the areas of “decision making” (millennials 86% non 78%), “interpersonal relationships” (millennials 87% non 75%) and “stress management” (millennials 81% non 70%).

Need for Different Training on Personal Benefits

Because so many direct sellers see these benefits, more trainings in these areas will be seen favorably. I have seen companies do trainings on public speaking, time management, entrepreneurship, and financial management. I think trainings on stress management could be easy to develop and deploy.

One group that I know that does training for any direct selling is the Direct Selling Worldwide Alliance (DSWA). Nicki Keohohou has been on our podcasts several times. In our most recent podcast, she talks about the need for training and strong communication with the field.

Another group that does training is Penny. In a recent podcast, Maria Osipova and I discussed the need for training on social media. This type of training is a transferable skill to other areas of a distributor’s personal life.

Companies can benefit from understanding their own distributor force and how they see themselves benefiting from direct selling. Companies could survey their own distributors to see what benefits they see. Other benefits could then be addressed in addition to further training on the areas successful distributors see. Top distributors are often conducting trainings. Companies can work with those top distributors to better train the field.

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