Direct selling has evolved over time, from the original door-to-door salesperson, to multi-level marketing, to online sales. Marketing products and services directly to the consumer requires more effort and operating expenses than some other sales methods, but it can also increase customer demand and profit margins, allowing you to gain a greater market share and scale up your business.

Before you consider adding direct selling to your business model, you'll want to make sure that your business is able to handle a growth spurt. Do you have the resources to fulfill orders and maintain quality without greatly increasing time and cost? Like anything else, you need to have a solid plan in place.

A few reasons to consider direct selling

  • Educate potential buyers by sharing key messages and product knowledge through personal demonstration, instead of costly peripheral marketing.
  • Develop a stronger relationship with customers while testing new products, campaigns, and sales representatives in a controlled environment.
  • Make your brand stand out in the market. Competition is strong; if you're already in the retail space, you may want to try an additional sales channel.

Even in the best of circumstances, you will be faced with certain challenges, such as the effort and expense of hiring sales representatives (including salaries, benefits, and training costs) or developing and maintaining an e-commerce website. If the direct selling you do involves personal demonstrations, you may be limited in the number of people you can reach directly.

If you're already selling in retail locations and decide to add direct sales to the mix, you are presenting those retailers with competition. You can lessen the risk of losing them as a vendor by adjusting the prices you charge (so customers pay the same price no matter who they buy from), or by offering to help promote the retailers. For example, if you sell products online, you could include references to the brick-and-mortar locations, encouraging shoppers to “check out these products in a store near you”.

The needs of your business will evolve over time, as will your methods of attracting and retaining customers. If direct selling helps keep your sales revenue high, you'll know you have a good strategy in place.