Is Direct Selling for You? Five Important Questions

March 12, 2013

this information has been sponsored by Direct Selling Education Foundation

Millions of people have found a way to be their own boss and make money on a flexible schedule through direct selling.  Being successful at direct selling doesn’t require any special education or experience but it isn’t for everyone. Better Business Bureau suggests people ask themselves a few questions when considering a new venture in direct sales.

According to the most recent figures from the Direct Selling Association more than 15 million people in the US sold about $30 billion in products and services through direct selling in 2008. Nearly one-third of the sales were for personal items such as cosmetics, jewelry, skin care; a quarter of the items sold were for home goods including cleaning products and cookware.

“Many families are able to survive tough economic times by getting involved in direct sales,” said Alison Southwick, BBB spokesperson. “Direct  selling can be a great opportunity, but it may not be for everyone. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of the differences between legitimate companies and pyramid schemes.”
BBB recommends asking the following five questions when deciding whether to start a career in direct sales:

Do you have what it takes to be a good salesman?  Some people are born with innate qualities for being a salesperson. They are outgoing, friendly, good public speakers and self-motivated. For those that weren’t born with these traits, they can be acquired. Direct selling offers the opportunity to develop fundamental business and personal skills. But remember, success in direct selling will take time and effort. Before taking the plunge, arrange to shadow a couple of successful direct sellers who can show you what it takes—every day—to be a success.

Is this a product you believe in and can sell?  If you are selling a product you believe in, most of the work is already done for you. Excitement over a product or service is infectious and will grab potential customers.  If you wouldn’t buy the product yourself, you’re going to have a very hard time selling it.

Can you trust the company?  Ask the company plenty of questions and read company literature thoroughly. Familiarize yourself with the Code of Ethics established by the Direct Selling Association so you can identify potential red flags. Find the time to sit down with actual representatives and customers for their insight on both the company and the products. Take your time in choosing the right opportunity and always vet the company with BBB at

Is it just a pyramid scheme? Pyramid schemes will often pretend to be legitimate opportunities.  The biggest red flag for a pyramid scheme is that the money making potential lies predominantly in recruiting other people, like you, to pay to join. Your compensation should come primarily from the sales of products and services to actual users – whether they are your own sales or those of people you have recruited..

Do you risk financial loss by joining the company? Start-up costs for a legitimate direct selling company are generally quite low – often less than $100. Regardless of the fee, however, it’s important to check out a company’s buy-back policy so you’ll know your rights if you decide to quit the business. The Direct Selling Association Code of Ethics requires member companies to buyback inventory and sales aids purchased in the past 12 months for at least 90% of the purchase price if one decides to leave the business.

For more advice on getting into direct sales, visit, or

About Direct Selling Education Foundation (
The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF), created in 1973 by visionary leaders of the Direct Selling Association, serves the public as the industry’s goodwill ambassador. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the international non-profit organization offers comprehensive programs that advance the direct selling industry’s support of consumer rights and protection, education about the industry, ethical leadership, and individual economic empowerment. Thousands of industry and community thought leaders from diverse backgrounds and organizations have come together at DSEF sponsored programs to learn, grow and create a vital and healthy business climate. Our services include conferences, training sessions, publications, university campus visits, teaching and instructional materials, networking opportunities, grants to organizations, consultative assistance and grants for research and case studies. 

As a matter of policy, the CBBB and Better Business Bureaus do not endorse any product, service or company.