What is Direct Selling?

Jessica Hobby

Direct selling, which is also called network marketing, is a form of sales where a product or service is sold face to face. Companies that participate in direct selling hire people that are given the title of independent contractor, representative, distributor, consultant or other similar terms. People that are very outgoing and social make the best direct sellers. Many times, direct selling occurs in the home by hosting parties where an independent sales representative performs a product demonstration.

Street vendors employ direct selling by selling their wares directly to consumers on the street.
Street vendors employ direct selling by selling their wares directly to consumers on the street.

Sales is one of the world’s oldest professions. There has always been a basic need to exchange goods and prior to today’s conveniences, direct selling was practiced by merchants that traveled along caravan routes and many other cultures throughout history. Merchants, peddlers, gypsies and others have all benefited from selling their products to consumers without a middle man. Today, direct sellers have multiple vehicles to sell their products or services. Most direct sellers depend on home shows or product demonstrations, while others prefer to only work online.

Direct selling may be done for a larger company as a home based business.
Direct selling may be done for a larger company as a home based business.

Today’s direct selling is heavily influenced by the invention of the home party which happened in the 1950’s. Home parties or home shows are not exclusive to women; however, more often than not the types of direct sales companies that sell their products through the aid of a home show are products geared towards women. Therefore, it is primarily women who are holding parties in their home. There are direct selling companies for make-up, skin care, spa products, home décor, children’s books and a variety of other things.

Beauty care products are popular in the direct selling industry.
Beauty care products are popular in the direct selling industry.

Direct selling has become more popular over the years because of the benefits that are received by those who participate. Not only is direct selling a great way to meet new people, but the schedule is extremely flexible. Additionally, direct sellers can benefit from owning their own business and earn extra income in proportion to the amount of effort they put into their enterprise. The benefits of direct selling have been especially popular with stay-at-home moms because of the potential for extra income and flexibility.

Direct sellers may create e-commerce sites to reach a variety of customers.
Direct sellers may create e-commerce sites to reach a variety of customers.

Most direct sales companies participate in some kind of multi-level marketing. The term multilevel marketing is indicative of the compensation that an independent sales representative receives from a country. In addition to being compensated commission for product sales, representatives are awarded commissions or bonuses on the sales of their downline people. Direct sales representative are also compensated for recruiting new representatives and bringing them into the business.

Individuals interested in becoming a direct sales representative may be required to complete a product and sales training program.
Individuals interested in becoming a direct sales representative may be required to complete a product and sales training program.
Direct selling has been especially popular for stay-at-home moms because it allows more time with the children.
Direct selling has been especially popular for stay-at-home moms because it allows more time with the children.

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Discussion Comments

morelock

The "means" by which you sell your product would define whether it is "direct sales." I wrote this article based on what direct selling means today.

It could definitely be argued on a rudimentary level that direct selling = any sales that occur face to face outside of a retail establishment.

Prostitution is the world's oldest profession. Pimps may be the pioneers of direct selling. I, of course, was not going to go there in this article. :)

anon80025

Does developing your own product and finding a means of selling it, if you do not hire anyone else or promote your product through multilevel marketing qualify as "direct sales?"

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