Why have direct sellers missed out on the digital revolution?

Digital brands like Amazon have dominated the e-commerce landscape. Bigbox retailers closed many of their flagship brick-and-mortar stores, while investing in their online presence. According to IBM’s recent US Retail Index, the global Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the industry’s migration to online shopping by five years. Smartphones, social media, and high-speed internet service enabled consumers to shop online whenever the mood struck. The game had changed. The goal to deliver a data-driven, personalized, targeted, and engaging customer experience no longer appeared on the wish list of any thoughtful retailer. It was no longer an option, a get-to. It had become a have-to, a requisite for modern business. However, traditional e-commerce platform providers only offered horizontal applications that were intended to serve all markets, not just retail. None were envisioned with direct sellers in mind.

Direct selling (DS) enterprises have operated in the unique market model of business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C), whereby the middle “B” was comprised of independent micro-business owners known as direct sellers. Both the company’s headquarter professionals and its field of independent direct sellers have long collaborated to ensure the brand’s intendedconsumer experience. Since the classic CRM and marketing solutions served B2B and B2C go-to-market models, DS companies were caught in the middle without alternatives. Despite the dearth of vertical solutions, directselling companies still had to embrace the rudiments of e-commerce, since replicated websites and shopping carts had become critical to order fulfillment and commission payouts. Yet, without a fit-for-purpose vertical solution, the DS sector remainedfor the most part an unaddressed market. Transactional data, contact records, and buyer profile information had yet to be harvested for proactive, targeted customer engagement. DS limped along, a laggard in the fast-moving world of digital transformation.

During the early days of the global pandemic, many retail outlets either closed altogether or eliminated in-store services. DS companies had to suspend in-person events and face-to-faceinteractions, the very high-touch encounters upon which their brands were built. Covid-19 hadhighlighted the necessity of a digital marketing approach that would safeguard the independentdirect seller’s micro-business, thus protecting the corporate brand at the same time.

Today, direct selling enterprises recognize that there’s much more to digital transformation than having a consumer complete an order online. Engagement through preferred communication channels with prospects, current customers, and downline team membersat the right time, with the right message—is paramount. Accessing customer data from modern digital services,running through multiple communications channels, is a requisite for the enablement ofmarketing automation; automation which unleashes heretofore unrealizable revenue growth.

As a cautionary tale, the history of information systems projects in DS is littered with disappointment. Without vertical DS solutions, the damage and wasteful spending werepredictable. The sad trend continued as DS companies yearned to join the fast-moving digital revolution. Many DS companies rationalized their adoption of ill-fitting and expensive horizontal platforms. Such desperate steps led to repeating the historical cycle of promise-to-disappoint-to-abandonment. The tools were too expensive and didn’t get the DS job done. In the aftermath, disillusioned DS professionals wondered if some enterprising entrepreneur would one day break the code for DS before it’s too late. As a result, marGo was imagined and created for direct sellers—full stop.

To set the record straight, there are no best-kept secrets to successful direct selling. There are consultants aplenty who had been profitable direct sellers and now teach the DS basics. There are books and websites that provide encouragement to practice what has been proven to work. The professional independent direct seller knows what to do to grow their micro-business. Their traditional consternation has been around the lack of time and affordable tools. There simply wasn’t enough time to do what the experts taught, and the available tools that might have helpedwere cost prohibitive.

Salesforce has spent billions of dollars creating world-class CRM and marketing platforms. marGo has partnered with Salesforce to create a fit-for-purpose, affordable solution for DS. The marGo graphical user interface (GUI) is intuitive. Training is straight forward and can be completed online in minutes at the convenience of the independent direct seller. marGo’s ease of use leads up a fast ramp to improved field productivity. Easy to learn, easy to usetogether, the combination drives adoption. Happy users spread the word throughout the field, who will embrace marGo’s call to action for every direct seller.

Change your business, change your life.

Change the field and you’ll change headquarters, too. Garnering the full positive impact from implementing marGo requires alignment of the DS company’s entire sales and marketing community around a corporate strategy to modernize and grow. Corporate marketing professionals will cheer the intelligent audience segmentation and how easy marGo makes the development of corporate marketing content. The unified view of all customer interactions will yield a robust data ecosystem for use at headquarters. Many campaigns will be envisioned and launched from corporate, while others will be suggested to, and then sent by the direct sellers themselves. Headquarters’ staff, working hand in glove with their field of independent direct sellers, will lead a true win-win across the company’s entire go-to-market community.

The revolution advances. marGo has been built on Salesforce to help DS move forward in lock step with the latest technological contributions, rather than continue to be left behind. The digital transformation of direct selling has now begun in earnest.

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