Category Taking Care of Biz

Three Skills for Direct Sales Success


Direct-Selling-Skills-Logo-200-Large-PNG_d600One of the appeals of direct sales is that it doesn’t require any specialty skills to get started. You don’t need any technical aptitude. You don’t need a degree. The only real thing you need to succeed at direct sales is motivation. The remainder of the skills can be built over time. However, before you get into direct sales or as you grow your business, some skills will help you succeed. They include:

Sales Skills

Sales are 90% enthusiasm and 10% know-how. If you’re enthusiastic about your products, then you’re most of the way there. The rest may come naturally. You’ll want to be able to position your products to solve your customer’s problems. You’ll also want to be able to demonstrate the benefits of the products you’re representing.

Benefits are different than features. Features are things that the product has. Benefits are what the product does for your customer. For example, if you’re selling a candle then a feature may be that it burns for 100 hours. The benefit is that you don’t have to replace it often. It saves money over time.

If you’re comfortable talking to strangers (and groups of strangers) about your products, then direct sales is perfect. If you love to meet new people, share ideas and help them solve their problems, then direct sales is for you. If you love helping people, laughing, celebrating, and of course making money by promoting your products, then direct sales is for you.

Leadership Skills

As a direct sales consultant you may have the opportunity to build a team. This offers you the chance to earn a lot more money. If you’re building a team you’ll want to be able to not only recruit good team members, you’ll also need to lead them. The more successful they are, the more successful you are.

Business and Organizational Skills

There are a number of support responsibilities you’ll need to manage. They include:

* Maintaining an inventory

* Tracking sales

* Organizing parties

* Taking orders

* Marketing your business and website

* Planning parties

* Managing cash

* Bookkeeping

* Budgeting

* Building and maintaining your website

* Shipping

* Communicating with customers, party hosts, vendors, and direct sales team members

As you grow your business, you may also learn copywriting and website design skills. You may be creating your own advertisements, catalogs, flyers and promotional materials. Some companies provide these materials so you may not need to learn copywriting or website design. However, if they do not, that’s okay. You can learn and master these skills in no time.


Many of these skills are trained or covered by your company. You may also have a mentor to help guide you. The remaining skills you’ll most certainly learn over time. The faster you learn and master them, the faster you reach your goals.

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    The Innovator’s Hypothesis

    The Innovator’s Hypothesis
    By Michael Schrage
    The MIT Press
    Retail Price $21.95
    Amazon Price: $9.95

    Book Description: 

    What is the best way for a company to innovate? That’s exactly the wrong question. The better question: How can organizations get the maximum possible value from their innovation investments? Advice recommending “innovation vacations” and the luxury of failure may be wonderful for organizations with time to spend and money to waste. But this book addresses the innovation priorities of companies that live in the real world of limits. They want fast, frugal, and high impact innovations. They don’t just seek superior innovation, they want superior innovators.In The Innovator’s Hypothesis, innovation expert Michael Schrage advocates a cultural and strategic shift: small teams, collaboratively — and competitively — crafting business experiments that make top management sit up and take notice. Creativity within constraints — clear deadlines and clear deliverables — is what serious innovation cultures do. Schrage introduces the 5X5 framework: giving diverse teams of five people up to five days to come up with portfolios of five business experiments costing no more than $5,000 each and taking no longer than five weeks to run. The book describes multiple portfolios of 5X5 experiments drawn from Schrage’s advisory work and innovation workshops worldwide. These include financial service approaches for improving customer service and addressing security challenges; a pharmaceutical company’s hypotheses for boosting regulatory compliance; and a diaper divisions’ efforts to give babies and parents alike better “diapering experiences” with glow-in-the-dark adhesives, diagnostic capability, and bundled wipes.

    Schrage’s 5X5 is enterprise innovation gone viral: Successful 5X5s make people more effective innovators, and more effective innovators mean more effective innovations.



    This book gives you a different take on innovation that goes against the grain, yet is becoming more popular in large businesses or corporations.  Instead of focusing on one idea at a time, the author suggests generating multiple ideas and working in teams for a limited time to conclude of an idea is feasible and deserves greater attention.  He does a great job presenting his theory and backs up his ideas with concrete examples, showing you where the rubber meets the road.  I found it inspiring.

    ~Reviewed by Dave H.

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      Fairness is Overrated

      Product DetailsFairness is Overrated
      by Tim Stevens
      Thomas Nelson
      Retail Price $14.99
      Amazon Price: $11.43

      Book Description: 

      Profitable organizations require a healthy culture, and Pastor Tim Stevens knows the secret sauce for a vibrant and successful workplace. Drawn from his experience working at Granger Community Church in Indiana, where he leads a team of more than 130 people, and from growing a worldwide ministry—5,000 people in three locations in Granger and 1,800 churches in India—Fairness Is Overrated lays out a practical blueprint for success. Short, digestible chapters—fueled by practical bullet-points, discussion questions, and real-life examples—give lessons and practical advice few leadership manuals teach, such as how resumes are worthless and Facebook and Twitter shouldn’t be prohibited at work. Whether it’s the power of switching off the iPhone in a meeting, balancing the visions of artists and leaders, or how to fire people with grace, Fairness Is Overrated is packed with practical tips for real leadership, every single day.


      If I had to recommend only one book on leadership for someone to read, this would be it.  All leaders, born or made, should read this.  The book is small and organized in small, bite-sized chapters.  The author’s insights are succinct and highly useful and he supports his advice with real business stories and leadership anecdotes, then he shows you how to apply his suggestions to your own situation.  If you are looking for principals that will work in your office culture to make it successful, look no further.  While the book is short and sweet it is packed full of good information.

      ~Reviewed by David H.

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        Mylan: 50 Years of Unconventional Success
        By John Seaman and John T. Landry
        Mylan Publishing
        Retail Price $29.95
        Amazon Price: $22.31

        Book Description: 

        Founded in 1961 by two entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity to expand access to high-quality, affordable medicine, Mylan went on to help shape an entire industry. Countless barriers stood in the way, but Mylan’s attention to quality—and its willingness to choose paths less traveled, even after its early successes—enabled the company to overcome these obstacles.

        As the industry globalized, so did Mylan. An American success story with deep roots in Morgantown, West Virginia, the company made two bold acquisitions that transformed it almost overnight into a manufacturing powerhouse with global reach and purpose.

        Published in Mylan’s 50th anniversary year, this book explains how one unconventional company learned to survive and thrive in the highly regulated, hyper-competitive world of generic pharmaceuticals—and to make high-quality, affordable medicine available to people around the world.

        This book will appeal to everyone interested in how the generic drug industry developed in the United States and abroad. Entrepreneurs will appreciate this case study in following the market wherever it leads, even to a place quite different from the one intended. West Virginians will be fascinated by the development of Mylan, whose Morgantown plant remains one of the largest pharmaceutical plants in the world. At a time of concern about U.S. manufacturing, here is a striking American success story


        Just so you have some background information, Mylan Inc. is a global generic and specialty pharmaceuticals company headquartered in Cecil Township, Pennsylvania. In 2007, Mylan acquired a controlling interest in two global laboratories that helped it has grow from the third-largest generic and pharmaceuticals company in the United States to the second-largest generic and specialty pharmaceuticals company in the world.  This book is a history of the company including it’s humble beginnings in West Virginaia and case study on how it not only survived but thrived.

        ~Reviewed by David H.

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          Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder

          Entrepreneurial Strengths Finder
          by Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Bhardwaj Badal
          Gallup Pres
          Retail Price $29.95
          Amazon Price: $18.86

          Book Description: 

          Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder delves into the psychology of the entrepreneur. Gallup research shows that decisions and actions, influenced by the personality of the entrepreneur, affect the survival and growth of the venture.

          Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder is about understanding what drives entrepreneurs to start, sustain, and grow a successful company. What are the personality characteristics and behaviors that lead to venture creation and success? Can one learn to be an entrepreneur, or is it a quality a person is born with? The book attempts to answer these questions with the hope that if you are planning to start a business or are managing one, you can discover your entrepreneurial talents and in the process, increase your potential to start or grow your venture.

          Written in an engaging, conversational style, Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder includes strategies and action items for building successful ventures. It also features an online test that measures readers’ entrepreneurial potential.

          Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder is meant for several audiences — from those who are planning to start or grow a business to investors and coaches who can help identify talent and then foster and support that talent to start or grow a business.


          This  book is very informative for prospective entrepreneurs.  It helps you take a look at yourself and determine if you have what it takes to start your own business.  Successful entrepreneurs are neither unique nor especially gifted but they are special. They are special because they have made themselves special. They have worked on their skills. I believe that all of the core skills as exhibited by entrepreneurs are learned disciplines.  This book will give you strategies to help you be successful.  And there is plenty of food for thought.  It was an interesting and enlightening read.


          ~Reviewed by Dave H

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            Ulitmate Guide to Facebook Advertising

            Ulitmate Guide to Facebook Advertising
            by Perry Marshall, Keith Krance and Thomas Meloche
            Entrepreneur Press
            Retail Price $21.95
            Amazon Price: $17.50

            Book Description: 

            Perry Marshall, author of the #1 selling book on Google AdWords, joined by Facebook Advertising specialists Keith Krance and Thomas Meloche, lift the curtain to the more than a billion potential customers on Facebook. You’ll discover how to pinpoint your most profitable audiences–then, how to reach them, convert them, and keep them as your fan, friend, and customer for life.

            Introducing game-changing strategies, valuable tools and reports, Marshall and team breakdown the magic of Facebook Paid Advertising, including mobile and local. You’ll see how to gain dramatically on your investment–in clicks, customers, and profits.

            Discover how to:

            -Create a campaign and find new customers in minutes
            -Get local customers to visit your store or event
            -Profile your audience using Facebook Graph Search and Ad Manager
            -Create the perfect bidding strategy for your objectives and budget
            -Hyper-target your audience with segment-specific ads
            -Track and follow leads and customers
            -Achieve measurable profits while you inform and entertain your fans
            -Avoid ad fatigue with the perfect Newsfeed Ad



            This is a really good introduction to Facebook advertising.  Though it is quite large and overwhelming at first look, this book is well organized and nicely arranged and the content is easy to understand and apply.  The authors get right to it and don’t load you down with a lot of unnecessary side information. The techniques are well explained and I will definitely try some of them.  They also offer online support via their website to stay current in the industry.  If Facebook is part of your marketing strategy, then you should have a copy of this book.

            ~Reviewed by  David H.


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              Ultimate Guide To Google Adwords

              Ultimate Guide To Google AdWords
              by Perry Marshall And Mike Rhodes
              Entrepreneur Press
              Retail Price $24.95
              Amazon Price: $18.66

              Book Description: 

              Google AdWords experts Perry Marshall and Bryan Todd, joined by AdWords and analytics specialist Mike Rhodes, present the fundamentals, techniques, tools, and tricks that Google should teach you, but doesn’t.
              This latest edition introduces revised, expanded, and new chapters covering Enhanced Campaigns, Google AdWords Express, and Google’s Product Listing Ads, as well as an introduction to Google’s Universal Analytics.

              You’ll learn how to:
              Master Enhanced Campaigns, Google Shopping Campaigns, and Google Analytics
              Implement flexible bid strategies that keep you on budget
              Triple traffic with Google’s Display Network
              Profit using local advertising
              Corner the second largest search engine with YouTube ads
              Avoid costly mistakes made by most Google advertisers
              Chisel your way into tough markets
              Write killer advertising and website copy that gets clicks
              Determine what is and isn’t working with Google’s AdWords


              In simple terms, AdWords are the online advertising arm of Google; here advertisers bid to appear on the top and right side of search results when users search for keywords relevant to their product/service. Google AdWords bridges the gap between online users and businesses, with the help of placed text advertisements.  If you are new ad Google AdWords then you will want to get started by reading this book.  It teaches you all about Google Ad Words from the ground up. You will learn what Google Adwords is, why you should use it, and how to get started gaining traffic for the smallest amount of money possible.  This is a great book for entrepreneurs.

              ~Reviewed by Dave H.


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                The Innovator’s Method

                The Innovator’s Method
                by Nathan Furr, Jeff Dyer and Clayton M. Christensen
                Harvard Business Review
                Retail Price $30.00
                Amazon Price: $18.98

                Book Description: 

                Have you ever come up with an idea for a new product or service but didn’t take any action because you thought it would be too risky? Or at work, have you had what you thought could be a big idea for your company—perhaps changing the way you develop or distribute a product, provide customer service, or hire and train your employees? If you have, but you haven’t known how to take the next step, you need to understand what the authors call the innovator’s method—a set of tools emerging from lean start-up, design thinking, and agile software development that are revolutionizing how new ideas are created, refined, and brought to market.

                To date these tools have helped entrepreneurs, designers, and software developers manage uncertainty—through cheap and rapid experiments that systematically lower failure rates and risk. But many managers and leaders struggle to apply these powerful tools within their organizations, as they often run counter to traditional managerial thinking and practice.

                Authors Nathan Furr and Jeff Dyer wrote this book to address that very problem. Following the breakout success of The Innovator’s DNA—which Dyer wrote with Hal Gregersen and bestselling author Clay Christensen to provide a framework for generating ideas—this book shows how to make those ideas actually happen, to commercialize them for success.

                Based on their research inside corporations and successful start-ups, Furr and Dyer developed the innovator’s method, an end-to-end process for creating, refining, and bringing ideas to market. They show when and how to apply the tools of their method, how to adapt them to your business, and how to answer commonly asked questions about the method itself, including: How do we know if this idea is worth pursuing? Have we found the right solution? What is the best business model for this new offering? This book focuses on the “how”—how to test, how to validate, and how to commercialize ideas with the lean, design, and agile techniques successful start-ups use.

                Whether you’re launching a start-up, leading an established one, or simply working to get a new product off the ground in an existing company, this book is for you.


                I have a number of other business books, but for life lessons on on launching your business, product, or idea, this one comes up the winner, hands down.  You will find many helpful tips and strategies for implementing innovation in your ventures so you can take your business to the next level. The authors  take you from understanding how innovation is important to you as a business owner to seeing how it will help you scale past your competition by broadening your reach and generating significant profits in the process. The book is well-researched, yet shares many success stories that make it very reader-friendly. If you want to move your business forward, read this book!

                ~Reviewed by Rich W.


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                  What Do You Want to Create Today

                  What Do You Want to Create Today
                  by Bob Tobin
                  Retail Price $19.95
                  Amazon Price: $15.45

                  Book Description: 

                  Forget what you think you know about success and make your own happiness.

                  Dr. Bob Tobin lived what looked like a great life in Southern California: he had a house by the beach, a good consulting practice, and a BMW. But he wasn’t truly happy. Work didn’t really work for him.

                  After losing a job, going on a life-changing trip, and gaining a major change in perspective, Bob relocated to Japan, where his career path changed in ways he had never predicted and he finally found personal satisfaction, success, and happiness.

                  But how did he do it? And how can you do it?

                  Many of us are dissatisfied with our lives but don’t make happiness a priority. It’s time to forget everything you think you know about success, and stop trying to fit the mold. Traditional models of “success” don’t work—not in a way that is right for you. Start learning more about yourself and your passions—and start realizing your creative and professional dreams—today.

                  What Do You Want to Create Today?: Build the Life You Want at Work shows you how to develop your career in a way that uniquely suits you. Tobin has spent 25 years using the strategies outlined in this book to inspire hundreds of executives and thousands of students to create the kind of lives they want at work.

                  Offering a mix of inspiring advice, practical suggestions, questions for reflection, and uplifting stories, What Do You Want to Create Today? is an essential guide in finding happiness and fulfillment via your work.

                  You’ll gain a new perspective as you learn:
                  Why focusing on objectives is holding you back
                  How to “read the air” and act on what people don’t say
                  How to develop courage and confidence
                  How best to handle difficult coworkers

                  It’s time to embrace your dreams, surround yourself with positive people, summon your courage, have fun working, and never stop learning.



                  My father worked at the same job for 50 years and hated his job for most of his adult life. Growing up seeing how unhappy he was made me determined that I would do life differently.  I never could stand being unhappy in my work, so I gravitate toward books that help you find work that you love.  That is exactly what this book does.

                  The author confronts the reader to determine if the work they are doing is just a way to pay the bills or is it something that is enjoyed.  He will show you how to believe in yourself and find the courage to make the necessary changes to help you find happiness in your work.

                  This book was well-written and thought-provoking.  It really made me think about whether I am still happy with my current employment and what changes I should make.

                  ~Reviewed by Adam B.


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                    The One week Marketing plan

                    The One Week Marketing Plan
                    By Mark Satterfield
                    Retail Price $24.95
                    Amazon Price: $16.69

                    Book Description: 

                    We’re told marketing is hard. That it requires months of analysis, weeks of brainstorming, and years of consistent implementation. To succeed in marketing, you need the fortitude of General Patton, the genius of Don Draper, and the cash reserves of Warren Buffet. WRONG.

                    One week. That’s all it takes for most small and medium-sized businesses to dramatically improve their marketing. And let’s face it, most business owners do very little marketing, and what they do is not particularly effective.

                    Business owners often don’t know how to best market their company, or are too busy working to make time to promote it. What they don’t realize is that effective marketing doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.

                    Mark Satterfield’s The One-Week Marketing Plan lays out a step-by-step system entrepreneurs can put in place in just five business days. This “set it and forget it” strategy works all day, every day to bring in new business. Tailored to each company’s niche market, this innovative plan can generate a consistent stream of customers for an out-of-pocket expense of as little as $300.

                    Satterfield, founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing, Inc., has more than two decades of experience helping clients in more than 75 niche industries grow their businesses without cold calling or hard selling. Now, in The One-Week Marketing Plan, his strategies and wisdom are accessible and realistic for entrepreneurs, self-employed professionals, and business owners looking to move in a new direction.

                    One week. That’s all it takes. So let’s get started.



                    This is a great foundational book by well-respected marketing and brand-building expert Mark Satterfield. It is a great read and easy to use, allowing you to put ideas into action quickly, in a disciplined and strategic way. It’s the first book you should buy and read when thinking about formalizing or enhancing your marketing activity. It has solid as the advice to implement your marketing plan quickly.

                    ~Reviewed by Lisa B.


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