On Thursday evenings from 8 to 9pm ET, Indie Business hosts #HandmadeChat, a weekly Twitter talk show to educate, train and inspire handmade and creative entrepreneurs to be successful as business owners. While the show is aimed mainly at business owners who make and sell handmade consumer products, the topics and discussions can empower and encourage the growth of any small business.
This week's chat was sponsored by Essential Wholesale, the world’s largest selection of natural and organic unscented cosmetics bases.
Our guest this week was Torrian Denise of DorNee Shea Body Souffle in Twinsburg, Ohio. Torrian has built a successful business selling handmade bath and body products using a direct sales business model, with a bit of a twist. Here's how she does it!
Q1 HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO USE AN INDEPENDENT SALES REP BUSINESS MODEL?
I am a licensed nail technician, and I've previously owned three nail salons. I have also served as a sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. A direct sales business model was a logical choice for me.
I understand how to manage and motivate consultants, and I know the salon industry. It's a very good match for my products and my background.
Q2 HOW DID YOU BEGIN TO BUILD YOUR SALES REPRESENTATIVE BASE?
I focused on Salon owners and previous clients that I had from my salon ownership days. Many of my consultants are stylists in salons that they also own, so the salon buys the products and the stylists (including the owner) uses them on clients. Allowing stylists to use the products on clients in the salon not only facilitates sales, but it also gives me valuable feedback about the products — directly from the end user and the stylist. This feedback helps me tweak our products lines and add new ones that we already know people will buy. It just grows from word of mouth, because stylists are talking to each other all the time, and all of them are looking for ways to supplement their salon income.
The twist in my business is that I also sell to stores using a traditional wholesale methodology. So, I have four income streams — one from stylists who own salons and sell the products in-store, one from stylists who sell products at home parties, one from my online sales, and one from traditional wholesale to stores who sell products to their customers straight off the shelf.
Q3 WHAT CHARACTERISTICS DO YOU LOOK FOR IN INDEPENDENT SALES CONSULTANTS?
I look for people who are confident, driven, and have great customer service skills. I seek people who believe not only in my Dornee' proucts, but also in my mission to empower women to live healthier lives. I look for women who are interested in helping me grow as they grow.
I avoid people who seem like they are focused on making a quick buck.
Q4 HOW DO YOU TRAIN INDEPENDENT SALES CONSULTANTS?
MY highly detailed Doree' manual includes everything my consultants need to know about my products (including ingredinets), my business structure, do's and don'ts, their responsibilities and more. One section is called, “The More You Know,” and it really gives an overview of how to be successful as a Dornee' consultant.
Q5 WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT DO YOU GIVE CONSULTANTS SO THEY CAN BE PROFITABLE AND ORGANIZED?
My manual is really detailed and covers all kinds of topics so my consultants know they are supported at all times.
I visit locations all the time, so the salon owners see my face and see my support first-hand. I encourage salon owners to have “Testing Stations,” so customers can test the products and buy them on the spot after a treatment.
When I'm at a salon, I often introduce myself to clients in the waiting area. They are always delighted to meet the person behind the brand. They ask me questions, and I provide answers. My salon owners feel supported through this, and I get awesome feedback to help me tweak my products and create new ones.
I also use social media as a tool to direct traffic to the salons where my products are sold. Salon owners love that. I have conference calls with my consultants too, so they hear my voice supporting them when I cannot see them in person.
Q6 WHAT KINDS OF EVENTS DO YOUR SALES REPS HOST TO SELL YOUR PRODUCTS?
Salon owners can host pampering parties, plus sell the products in their salons. I try to attend when I can. At a home party, the salon owner can sell only those products that are also carried in her store. Along with my team, I do a lot of local trade shows and exhibits where salon owners come to find new products.
Q7 CAN YOUR CONSULTANTS SELL YOUR PRODUCTS ONLINE FROM THEIR OWN WEBSITES?
No.The DorNee' line can only be sold online at my website. Salons can use their websites to inform their customers that our products can be purchased at the salon, but they cannot sell the products through an online shopping cart.
Q8 WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WITH USING INDEPENDENT SALES REPS TO SELL YOUR PRODUCTS?
By far, the biggest challenge is keeping my salons stocked. My products sell so fast at salons, and I have had to make the difficult decision to terminate retail partnerships from time to time because they don't stock up fast enough. I have them listed at my website and customers rely on that to go to salons, and they expect the products to be there. If they are not, I get phone call and email complaints. It's difficult to end those business relationships, but I want the public to be able to rely on my site to tell them where they can go to buy my products in their community.
Q9 WHAT SORTS OF BACK OFFICE SYSTEMS DO YOU USE TO TRACK SALES REP SALES AND COMMISSIONS?
I use my wholesale online sales module to track sales. I have tweaked an out-of-the-box e-commerce platform for my particular needs.
Q10 DO YOUR SALES REPS USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE THE PRODUCTS THEY SELL FOR YOU?
Yes they do, more than I initially realized they would — and it's a good thing. I have found that their social media followers find our Donree' branded social media outlets naturally, and everyone spreads the word together. These end user customers also come out to shows to meet me. I am so grateful! I love meeting our customers, and wish I could do it more often.
Q11WHAT ARE THE BEST PARTS ABOUT USING INDEPENDENT SALES CONSULTANTS TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
The direct sales business model opens more doors and windows of opportunity for me to grow the DorNee' brand. Consultants are enthusiastic sellers and they reach so many more people than I could reach on my own. We help each other grow.
Q12 WHAT OTHER THINGS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT USING INDEPENDENT SALES REPS TO GROW A BUSINESS?
It is not an easy route, because it requires me to manage people. This gives me many more responsibilities than I would otherwise have. However, it has been successful and it sparks requests from salon after salon for my products. It's a lot of work, but it pays off and I can only see growth into the future.
Q13 PLEASE SHARE WHAT YOU ENJOY ABOUT BEING A MEMBER OF #INDIEBUSINESS IBN?
Everything! IBN provides any serious Indie every tool needed to really build their business from the ground up. Great support, lots of encouragement and lots of Indie Love! I could not be more grateful to have found dM and Indie Business!
More About Torrian Denise
Torrian has been an IBN member since 2008.
DorNee' is the premiere natural body luxuries line that caters to the seekers of lush, natural moisture. Our products are made of the finest of natural ingredients, paraben and phthalate free.
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When Is The Next #HandmadeChat?
The next #HandmadeChat will be Thursday, April 28, 2013, at 8pm ET, with Joan Morais of Joan Morais Naturals in Fairfield, CA, shares tips to help you refine your natural body, hair and skin care lines.
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