Hide Your Checkbooks – The Direct Marketing Sales Army is Growing

October 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Money and Behavior, Spending

I came a across a news article yesterday that was both interesting and disturbing.  It seems that the declining economy has created more interest among the unemployed and the underemployed in personal direct marketing.  As used in this context, “direct marketing” means that even more scary people are gearing up to knock on your door so that you can be annoyed while they try to sell you some overpriced junk that you don’t need.  

Even worse, it also means that you may be invited by “friends” to a “party” where the overpriced junk will be displayed in front of you by your host or “consultant” in hopes that you will be guilted into buying some of it.  After all, the host fed you punch and cookies – shouldn’t you be grateful enough to plunk down $50 for some space-age plastic container or organic, free-range, save-the-whales makeup? 

Mr. ToughMoneyLove once got duped into attending one of these direct selling “parties” by a co-worker.  I don’t even remember what they tried to sell me.  I do remember that I didn’t buy anything and that I never set foot in that co-worker’s house again.  

The direct selling party hosts never tell you ahead of time what you are in for.  However, I now know that if the person inviting me uses the words “party” and “opportunity” in the same sentence, I definitely have other plans that night. 

I’ve never even heard of most of the companies mentioned in the article.  Jafra beauty products?  Univera nutritional supplements?  Even the names sound cheesy, no doubt matching the quality of the products. 

The most disturbing part of this apparent economic trend is that many of these door-to-door sales people are very good at what they do.  And what they do is break down your natural resistance to purchasing stuff you don’t need.  (You do have that resistance, don’t you?)  One of my good friends is a sales trainer for a prominent door-to-door sales organization.  I’ve seen their sales training materials and watched him in action.  He is really good.  He has to be.  The students that learn his doorway sales techniques are quite effective in pushing stuff across that threshold into the hands of mesmerized homeowners.  

The hard truth is that we do not need more broke Americans spending what little surplus cash they have on stuff they don’t need.  So Mr. ToughMoneyLove is sounding the warning.  Mentally prepare yourself for the march of a larger direct selling army.  When someone is standing at your door in the hot sun telling you that he/she is selling X so that he/she can go to college, you want to help.  But in this economy, you need to look out for yourself and your family first.  If you find yourself in someone’s home and the party downshifts to a sales pitch, suppress your guilt and keep your wallet secure.  You don’t want to buy it and you don’t need to buy it.  

If it makes you feel any better, just say you are allergic to what they are selling.  I can attest to the fact that I have severe allergies to all products that are overpriced or that have a primary use of merely taking up space in my house.

Anyone have any interesting direct marketing experiences they care to share?

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9 Responses to “Hide Your Checkbooks – The Direct Marketing Sales Army is Growing”
  1. goldenrail says:

    “Anyone have any interesting direct marketing experiences they care to share?”
    – Sure. I’m an Independent Beauty Consultant. And I’m terrible at it because I feel guilty taking money from people. However, I also know that women wear make-up, and if they don’t buy it from me in their home, they will buy it from somewhere else. At least what I have is good quality, decently priced, and I can help them pick the proper products for their skin-type and -tone.
    Also, I always donate part of my proceeds to a selected cause, and the buyers help choose how much.

  2. Goldenrail – What you describe makes sense to me. If it’s stuff they are going to purchase anyway and is reasonably priced, your way is certainly convenient. I have to confess that I used to purchase business clothes from a sales organization that came to my office. I paid a little more for it because it was custom fitted but the convenience and time savings were significant.

  3. RetiredAt47 says:

    OK, you almost made me LOL with this:
    ‘However, I now know that if the person inviting me uses the words “party” and “opportunity” in the same sentence, I definitely have other plans that night.’

    When I was young and naive, my (now ex-)husband and I were very friendly with another couple. We knew they had their own side-business but they were very secretive about what they did. The guy used to tell me that he was in business to help people, and someday he’d explain. Eventually we were invited to a small “party” at their house and found out the big secret: Amway. Because we liked them so much, we signed up but never really got involved. I couldn’t believe the pressure, though, to get more and more sucked into that business scheme. It was cult-like.

    Anyway, it was a good life lesson for me. Although I may appear to be a cynic now, I am usually the first to sound the warning bells when an “opportunity” looks questionable. And anytime there is an air of secrecy, I am doubly suspicious.

  4. JEM says:

    I sell shaklee. I don’t have parties or try to push people into buying from me. I have been at it for over 10 years. The products truly are awesome and they work. They have sold themselves. I don’t make a ton of money at it. (400-800 a month.) But since I take the products myself and LOVE them and I don’t have to keep any stock in house I think it is great.

    There are a lot of fly by night, low quality, bad ethics direct marketing companies that have given them a bad name. A couple of them are good.

    But I agree, most of them aren’t.

  5. JEM says:

    By the way…I may only make a little money but honestly I put in only 15-30 mins a week into the business. Thats 200 bucks an hour even if I only have a 400 buck month.

  6. JEM – Well I am getting an education here. Maybe I am being a little harsh on direct marketers. I hvaen’t had any experience with Shaklee but I have heard of their products and don’t know anything negative about them. If you can make that much money for that little work, there must be something good about their products. Thanks for the info.

  7. poor boomer says:

    What then is the ToughMoneyLove solution for someone who is unemployed or underemployed?

  8. Poor boomer – That is an excellent question and I am not sure if I have a great answer. I will say that I have learned from other comments that there are direct sales opportunities that involve selling products that people need and use. So, if you have excellent sales skills, go for those opportunities. My concern is people selling and buying stuff that is overpriced or that they simply don’t need. I also dislike the multi-level marketing schemes that are often associated with these direct selling programs.

  9. Bobbie Prince says:

    I have been in direct sales through the years with several different companies and what I know is that most, yes, I said most companies are honest, reliable and take pride in what they sell and take excellent care of the consultants. Usually the amount of money you make is in direct proportion to the amount of work you do and how well you take care of your customers. Direct sales got a bad rap years ago and hasn’t completely been able to change the reputation that it no longer deserves overall. Just as there are brick and mortar businesses that should not have their doors open, so are there direct sales companies and they usually don’t last very long. People are people. As far as not opening you door or mind to a direct sales company because they do business at times, and not all the time, in a party, gathering or girls night/day out situation, I’ve never seen a woman that didn’t benefit from getting away from everyday STUFF for a few minutes with friends. It’s also a misconception, for the most part, that this is a pressure situation. Yes, a consultant hopes to make sales, but so does the auto repair place when you break down and are at his mercy. Just because you attend a presentation doesn’t mean that you will be held hostage to purchase. A consultant expects no’s, they are just the stepping stone you must walk to get to the next yes. Thank God for Stanley, Mary Kay and Tupperware and others for leading women into knowing they can own their own businesses in, by comparison, an affordable way. I know all of these other post are extremely old, but maybe someone looking for answers will be able to know that there are those of us who are very positive about direct sales! I am now 64 and retired and going back into direct sales because I am bored. It’s a good thing!

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