I appreciate, very much, the invitation from Dr. Josephine Gross to participate in Networking Times’ discussion on the value of customers.

Every form of business is based upon the attraction and retention of customers and direct selling/network marketing is no different. Recently, there has been a lot of conversation—some of it publicized—about who is a customer in our business model and how companies distinguish customers from independent business owners.

I believe this conversation will further define the incredible value direct sellers/networkers bring to consumers, many of whom ultimately decide to affiliate with the company whose products or services they purchase.

Direct selling appears to thrive when focused on brand building, exemplary customer service, and the sharing of an extraordinary business opportunity that comes with built-in customer retention incentives.

As product users we become powerful testimonials to the benefits of the product, the basic tool for effective sharing/selling and recruitment of others. When independent business owners build customers and show others how to do the same, a successful, long-term, sustainable business is the result.

I am often asked about the differences between those who choose to identify with the terms direct selling, network marketing, party plan, social selling, social commerce, independent business owner, and which methods for building a business are most effective. I do not see differences, only preferences in how one executes a strategy to acquire customers and new recruits. Regardless of how it might be labeled, the sales process is universal and follows these basic principles:

Here at Direct Selling News we recognize the top 100 direct selling companies in the world annually and compile them in the most credible list in the industry, the DSN Global 100. In doing so, we are not attempting to measure which form of direct selling is faster growing than any other relative to labels being used. We simply assert: Real customer acquisition is the common denominator and the essential ingredient to long-term sustainable success.

Enjoy this issue which is very comprehensive in terms of points of view. Use the information as a checklist for how you are conducting your business. What are your priorities and how do you incorporate them into the way you teach, train, and coach?

Your decisions, principles, and values are not only important to your personal growth and success, but also to the growth and success of our business model.

You have chosen the finest channel of distribution available in free countries around the world. People from all walks of life can participate and be rewarded in proportion to effort and mastery of a few basic skills associated with serving others. Congratulations on your choice to be a part of this force for good!

JOHN FLEMING is the publisher and editor in chief of Direct Selling News,
and a guest contributor to
Networking Times.