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What Does a Direct Sales Representative Do?

By Jeremy Laukkonen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Direct sales is one way that a company can offer its products to the consumer without using retail or other methods. A direct sales representative is the individual that actually sells the products. His or her duties can vary somewhat between companies, though they typically include finding and following up on leads, qualifying potential customers, and using a number of different sales techniques to convince people to buy certain products. In some cases, these representatives can also be responsible for delivering products to the consumers, though that is often accomplished through mail or shipping companies instead.

Many companies that employ direct sales representatives do so to the exclusion of other channels, such as retail. These businesses are often known as direct sales companies due to the unique way that they do business. Rather than sending product to retail stores or inviting potential customers to come to the business location, representatives are sent out to meet with people at their own homes or places of business. This can place a great deal of focus on these representatives, as they can be responsible for everything from initial customer contacts to selling products and maintaining long term client relationships.

The way that a direct sales representative operates on a day to day basis can vary between companies, though each salesperson will often have a distinct territory. Within this geographical area, he or she can attempt to locate potential customers. Various techniques can be used to find new clients, including cold calling, canvassing, and customer referrals. In some cases, the representative may also be provided with leads that were generated by canvassers employed by the company.

Actual sales can take place one on one or via a method known as the party plan. One on one sales typically involve the direct sales representative making initial contact, qualifying the lead over the phone, and then making an appointment. The representative may then meet with the potential customer anywhere that is convenient in order to show or demonstrate the available products.

The party plan method typically involves selling to a large number of people at once. This method usually begins with the sales representative approaching a friend, acquaintance, or business contact about hosting a party. That social event can then be used to demonstrate the available products to a large group of people, potentially generating sales or new business contacts. In some cases, the direct sales representative may have items in stock for immediate sale, though orders are often placed to have the products shipped.

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Discussion Comments

By subway11 — On Apr 21, 2011

@Sunny27 - Wow that seems like a lot of work. I had a friend that worked for one of the direct sales companies in the cosmetics field and she became a director in a short time period. She earn a great salary and was able to stay home with her daughter.

She also loved her job and could not imagine doing anything else. What she loved most were the motivational meetings that she and her team attended. It was really a great experience for her.

She had prior experience as an executive for a cosmetics company before going into direct sales but she liked the direct sales job more because she felt there was more interaction with her team as well as her customers. She also loved the product discount that they gave her as well as the trips and car that she was given.

By Sunny27 — On Apr 20, 2011

@GreenWeaver - I know what you mean. You really have to be a people person and have initiative in order to be successful. Many in the direct sales business receive a suggested number of parties in order to make their sales goals.

Some direct sales companies have quotas and others don’t, but usually the ones that pay better have sales quotas. Some direct sales consultants set up a table inside a store or some participate in business conventions and Chamber of Commerce networking meetings to get the word out about their business.

A lot of direct sales consultants also publish print ads in neighborhood newspapers as well. The more avenues that are used to promote a business the more opportunities will come of it. Sales jobs like this are all about relationshships which will develop based on all of this marketing efforts.

By GreenWeaver — On Apr 18, 2011

I think that direct sales opportunities are great ways for people to earn an income that need something flexible. I think that the idea of having a friend host a party is really fun and it gives you a chance to talk to multiple people at one time.

I also think that if you become involved with some of the best direct sales companies your products will sell themselves because the brands are so recognizable that people know what they are getting.

I have thought about looking into a direct sales business because as an at home mom I would like a little more interaction with adults every now and then.

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