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“Dennis, I am a workers compensation attorney in Louisville, Kentucky and have a likeable, outgoing client who’s work injury requires that finding a different occupation. His grandmother suggested that he look into becoming a Kirby vacuum salesman which is sold door-to-door. I found two very positive articles you wrote about the Kirby Company and would appreciate your opinion.

“What are the pros and cons of becoming a ‘Door to Door’ salesperson? Thanks, “Charlie.”

Direct Selling Offers Unique Opportunities

Charlie is correct. I have a great deal of respect for the Kirby Company. Not only do they make an excellent vacuum cleaner–which they refer to as a home cleaning system that has the best warranties in the business--but they are an ethical company. They believe in protecting the consumer, as I discovered many years ago as a Deputy District Attorney in charge of Consumer Protection in the Kern County D.A.’s Office.

Over the years I have met many Kirby distributors who started out selling Kirbys door-to-door, and as Joseph Mariano, President of Washington D.C. based Direct Selling Association (DSA) recently told me:

“The people who are in direct, person-to-person, sales today--Kirby and the Fuller Brush Man which come to mind almost immediately–have a rich, colorful American history behind them. Yankee peddlers–traveling salesmen--were the original entrepreneurs, a common sight throughout America until the late 1800's. They would go from town to town with carriages filled with everything they had to sell, all sorts of goods, bringing a needed touch of civilization to an expanding country.”

Marino confirmed what I so admired–something which just stood out in a truly admirable way--about these Kirby salespeople who had success written all over their faces. “Success in direct marketing requires:

–Being entrepreneurial-minded;

–You must love to work independently by;

–Establishing a business with low start-up and overhead costs, and;

–Affiliating yourself with a company that markets its products through direct sellers who in turn retain the freedom to run a business on their own terms.”

And who are some of the companies that sell their products this way? Mariano listed a few of the 150 members in the DSA–some of whom I had heard of, while others I had not:

Mary Kay

Avon

The Pampered Chef

Amway

Traveling Vineyard

Tupperware

Shaklee

Jafra Cosmetics

What it Takes to Succeed

Mariano points out that direct selling consultants, “forge strong personal relationships with their customers,” but is quick to stress, “There is nothing easy and if you are looking for a quick buck, you will fail.”

He made it clear that success in direct sales, “Requires putting in the time, the effort and developing the skills to run a business. There is a great variety of people who have been successful, many who initially thought, ‘I can’t be good at selling.’

“Often what gets someone into direct sales is that they or a family member owned a Kirby vacuum cleaner, took Shaklee vitamins, went to a home party for Mary Kay and through that exposure thought, ‘Maybe I can do this. I really love this product–and especially the people selling it--and I can see myself telling others about it.”

He provided a by-the-numbers list of qualities which a successful direct seller needs:

(1) A willingness to share the benefits of the product. You want your friends and family to know about your positive experience.

(2) Selling is not always going to be easy. The old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” applies. By developing exceptional product knowledge and a true love of the product, those feelings will become contagious and will help you to succeed.

(3) Remember that you are a guest in someone’s home and have a legal and ethical obligation. Be truthful. Our member companies agree to follow a strict code of ethics, but there are others out there who do not.

(4) You need a thick skin - selling is not easy. Some people will just not be interested but could very well refer you to someone who is when you are polite and thank them for their time.

(5) When looking for a direct selling opportunity, run the other direction if you are told that you do not have to work a lot and can make money easily. Do not consider any offer that requires you to put a lot of money up front, or purchase large amounts of inventory.

(6) If compensation is promised on merely recruiting other people rather than selling, forget it!

For anyone interested in this field, www.dsa.com is the place to begin - and for regular consumers wanting to learn more about their rights when buying from a door-to-door salesperson.

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Dennis Beaver Practices law in Bakersfield and welcomes comments and questions from readers, which may be faxed to (661) 323-7993, or e-mailed to Lagombeaver1@gmail.com. And be sure to visit dennisbeaver.com.

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