The Changing Face of Party Plan
By Roseann “Ro” Shales
(Originally published by World of Direct Selling)
Party Plan as a business model is constantly evolving. When I started my Tupperware business 25+ years ago, top sellers typically held five in-home parties and talked with five to ten prospective recruits every week. We learned there was a formula for success: Recruit one person a week personally and one for your team, for eight recruits a month compounding to about 100 new recruits per year. Every connection was face to face or by telephone. Invitations were mailed and parties were held in the host’s home. Consultants attended weekly meetings, mostly on Monday mornings, with one each month in the evening. Party orders were delivered to the host who distributed them to her guests. Consultants received commission checks paid monthly by mail.
Today, the business world has changed dramatically and so has the way party plan companies conduct their business.
We still have in-home parties, but the average consultant holds two to four a month (including in-home, online and virtual parties, plus direct orders through customer accounts). Direct shipping to the customer is the norm. We see a wider variety of products sold at parties with added benefits, including consumable products that may be re-ordered by auto-ship.
Training today comes in many forms. While there are still some local team meetings, many companies now live-stream regional and national conferences so more consultants can join in remotely. We utilize group calls, webinars, Skype, Google+, online chat groups and daily training posts on corporate Facebook pages, YouTube channels, Twitter and Pinterest.
We understand far better the benefits of creating a coaching and mentorship culture. We are all connected, all the time, via computer and mobile devices. Companies push e-blasts, releases and announcements on social media daily. Events and incentive trips are seen instantly on Snap Chat, Vine, Instagram and Periscope. These tools have also allowed companies, consultants and leaders to grow their business with virtual parties and expanded virtual training, to reach people across the country and around the world. You can run your entire business on a smart phone or tablet from anywhere you have an Internet connection.
Today companies pay commissions by direct deposit weekly or twice a month on personal sales, with team commissions paid at month-end. Most provide direct deposit to an e-wallet, on a company branded debit card or into a bank account for instant access and maximum convenience.
We still have print materials — catalogs, recruiting and host brochures, business cards and more. And everything is also online. The sales or recruiting process may include a text, email with a link, a call, short video, a verbal close or immediate online direction to a website to order or sign up. The consultant and upline get an email or text, confirming a sale or a new recruit enrollment. It has become cost effective to do business anywhere 24/7.
25 years ago, my Tupperware compensation plan was single level. We had true breakaways (in reality a “takeaway”) and top-performing Leaders could be offered a franchise (which cost significant dollars). That model doesn’t work in our world now.
Today our most successful companies have married party plan selling with MLM compensation strategies sometimes producing $100,000 to $1,000,000 annual earners. A good plan eliminates “takeaways” for promoting leaders by increasing income for the right behaviors. The most powerful plans directly reward personal sales, recruiting and team building, leader development and senior level mentorship. The leaders who work all the available profit centers earn the biggest paychecks.
Consultants used to communicate and follow up with their personal customers (Or did they?). Hosts delivered orders. Companies usually had no idea who their end- users were. They treated the consultants as their customers. Today, successful companies work in the spirit of true partnership with their sales force. They provide technology to generate post-party sales and direct re-orders on behalf of their consultants. This approach builds true residual income for consultants, and increased retention of both customers and consultants, while creating stronger teams and leaders.
Improved technology allows companies to direct-market to customers and alerts them to new products, special offers and business opportunities. We support our sales force’s efforts and we know our end-users well. The asset value of a company is not based on the number of sales consultants you have. Rather the sales volume or net profits tied to a relationship with the end-customer create the company’s true business value — which is significant if you ever intend to become an acquisition candidate or go public. The most important metric for a party plan company today may be the number of customers that buy monthly. This is what defines the company’s book of business.
When companies are proactively marketing directly to their customers, while preserving the integrity of the customer-consultant relationship, they grow faster. Retention increases significantly. Although consultants still come and go, companies can frequently keep a customer far longer by rewarding them with loyalty points, monthly promotions or special discounts. Today’s companies recognize that inactive consultants can still be loyal customers using the product even when they stop doing the business. They are an important part of the overall business base.
If you’re a company owner or corporate executive, the changing face of party plan requires you to implement new ways to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. Keep in mind you don’t only compete for product sales; you compete for your consultants’ and leaders’ time, energy, focus and commitment. When you provide methods of doing business that combine high tech with high touch outreach, along with high product visibility, you leverage your sales force efforts and activities. Then your consultants can truly earn a full-time income with part-time effort. That’s the dream we still sell and the opportunity that will grow the next generation of direct sellers.