Customer 360 Part 2: Defining Data for Direct Sales

In this second installment of our three-part blog series, we focus on the role data plays in achieving a 360-view of your customers.

In today’s society, people are inundated with marketing promotions, ads, data, news, and notifications. So how do you decide what’s important to digest and use versus what’s just noise? Businesses especially are facing this challenge with data. They have more of it than they know what to do with. In order to truly thrive in a competitive marketplace, direct sales organizations—like many businesses—must balance data, with the brand, and the human connection…something that has been lost in recent years with the growth of technology and Big Data.

Two types of important data exist in the direct sales business: Corporate information and the data distributors use. Here, we’re going to focus on data for distributors, which we’ll break down into:

  1. The “basics” or fundamental data that most companies already utilize; and
  2. Next-generation innovative data that empowers distributors to act in a more human way, deepening connections and building more solid relationships.

A Deeper Dive into the Basics

Giving your distributors access to data is crucial. But, are you showing them the right data? Too much, and they’ll be overwhelmed. Not enough, and it’s not useful. Focus on the wrong data, and it won’t drive productivity. The right data motivates and empowers your distributors to stay focused—ultimately helping them to sell more.

What is the right data though? Let’s take a look at the data that helps make distributors successful:

  • Money: Few things get people more excited than money, so naturally commissions are extremely important. Showing people how much they’ve made as well as their potential to earn more represent the biggest drivers for distributors.
  • Acknowledgement: People are also typically driven by acknowledgement, so displaying their progress to achieving the next rank can be equally important.
  • New customers: Monitoring the number of new customers is essential because you want to ensure they have a great first-time experience with your brand. It can make or break the relationship, impacting their decision to buy in the future and talk positively (or negatively) about the company going forward.
  • Order history: Order history provides insight into how distributors may (or may not) be properly servicing their customers. Knowing what they have and haven’t ordered, as well as when they’ve been ordering helps to create a more comprehensive view of customers. Whether or not most distributors want to admit it, they are “customer service.”
  • Team activity: Once a distributor has been successful enough to put together his or her own team, it becomes important to monitor that team’s activity and growth. Enrollment, orders, and rank all come into play here. Ideally, distributors need to be able to look at data for their team and know who is producing, who’s close to breaking through, who is coasting, and who’s struggling.

Next-Gen Innovative Data Adds a Human Touch

Now that we covered the basics, let’s go a little deeper. Because of the emergence of Big Data, we are able to understand more and more about consumers as well as the direct sales industry as a whole. Individual data points just won’t suffice anymore. You need data that tells a story. The trick is pulling the right data together so you can tell the actual story, not one that just looks good on paper. That’s where next-gen data comes in.

Next-gen data helps you build your Customer-360 view and show areas of opportunity in your business. The direct sales industry has been successful over time because it was personal: Distributors sell directly to people that know and trust them. Technology has given brands the power to now reach out to these customers, but it’s often very impersonal. It’s not effective to apply broad strokes in digital marketing. Campaigns must be targeted and personal.

Here are some metrics you should be monitoring to build your next-gen data story, enabling you to interact with your customers on a more personal level:

  • Replenishment insights: Order history isn’t enough to know about customers, you need to know what products they have and when they are getting close to running out of those products. Proactively reaching consumers is key, as well as making it easy for them to reorder. That’s why Amazon invented its “Dash” buttons. Even though they didn’t gain traction in the market, the concept was there—just not the execution.
  • Cross-selling analytics: At least two things are needed here… products that corporate recommends work well together and general customer-buying habits (think Amazon’s “Frequently Bought With” section). With these insights, you can suggest great complimentary products to your customer. To take it one step further, you could suggest products based on that specific customer’s concerns along with his or her order history. Now that is next-level customization!
  • Event ROI: Knowing the impact of events—both on the distributor and corporate level—is crucial to maximizing business efficiency and effectiveness. Being able to track and understand the types of events that are most successful includes information such as: (1) Knowing who was at the event; (2) Activities/content for the event; (3) The host; and (4) New customers and sales made at or as a result of the event. 
  • Communication effectiveness: Knowing what channel of communication is most effective overall is important, but knowing what channel of communication is best for each customer is even better. Having the ability to intelligently communicate with each customer on his or her preferred platform/method is truly game changing. Reaching customers where it matters most ensures they will hear you and you aren’t imposing upon them… playing a huge part in improving the customer experience.

You’re Only as Good as Your Data


Regardless of the type of direct selling company you are or the product/service you offer, you need to find the right balance between your brand, the customer experience, and your data in order to succeed. There are three types of data that every company and distributor can look at: the unimportant, basic, and next-generation metrics. Your company will struggle to survive by relying on the wrong data. Utilizing basic metrics will only get your direct sales organization so far. However, to truly grow and thrive, your data needs to incorporate the human element that only next-generation data offers.

In Part III of our series, we’ll examine the intersection of digital technology and marketing and how they can work in tandem to achieve Customer 360. Miss Part I of the series? You can catch up here.

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