Looking for new ways to give back to your customers over the holidays? Tinley Bone, a direct sales leader with ZYIA, joined us this week to chat not only about her successful Friendsgiving strategy, but also what it is like to lead a team at the highest level. Tinley shares the promotions and planning she recommends to keep your customers coming back through this selling season and well into the new year.
Time based notes:
- 1:15 Tinley Bone introduction
- 2:40 Team support vs. personal business
- 6:00 Setting boundaries
- 7:31 Growing towards leadership
- 10:37 The current state of direct sales
- 15:36 Friendsgiving sales strategy
- 19:57 Piggybacking off company promotions
- 24:04 Seasonal strategies
Authentic Leadership with Tinley Bone
Tinley Bone is a ZYIA Elite rep who’s been with her company for four years; leads teams in the United States and Australia; and does it all while balancing her work as a wife and mother. Though “Driving in chaos” is her motto, she recently took some time away from that chaos to join us on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast, where we chatted about what it really means to be a leader and all of the ways that she gives back to her customers and her hardworking teams. Get inspired by her insightful sales strategies to finish your fourth quarter strong and keep your customers coming back through this selling season well into the new year.
I think sometimes, when we’re getting to know direct sales leaders—or those who are maybe not yet in a position of leadership—there’s always this curiosity for the inside scoop. What does your life actually look like? What does your business look like on a day to day? How are you supporting your team and also balancing your personal business?
You know, I have been at this for the last four years, but I think so much has changed just in the last six months. My business looks a lot different now than when I first started. Actually, when I first started, I had a full-time job. I was Director of Sales for a music company, which is hilarious, because I don’t play any instruments, nothing. I just sold it. Honestly, I just know how to talk to people and have good conversations. So, I did that for the first year and a half.
I’m thankful for social media, because that’s how I grew my network during that time. But now, being a leader, and in my teams’ social media, too. I’m in all their Facebook chats. I’m in all the group messages. And I also have a VIP group that I use to take care of my customers on a daily basis. And, up until earlier this year, I haven’t had any help. So, yeah. It’s been a big load. But, I think I’ve always shown up authentically. I haven’t tried to be like anyone else. I haven’t tried to worry about how pretty my graphics are or worry about being all together on my live videos. I think more than anything, people right now just want you to be real with them. They want to be able to trust you, and they want to know that they’re supporting someone that cares about them. It’s true for my customers and for my team, and so I think that’s what we have going for us.
And, when you’re talking about showing up, do you feel like you’re constantly on, or do you have some rules and boundaries around how many messages you’re responding to, or those office hours?
Well, obviously, my team knows how crazy I am, and what a circus life looks like over here. I’m very honest and upfront about that, and half the time I’ve got a baby on my hip while I’m trying to talk to them. And, in all my voice texts, they can hear my kids in the background. Like, I am not trying to hide that I am a working mom, right? So, I have some grace; they give me some grace.
But, one thing that was really great about this last year or two is that there are so many leaders in place on this team now, and I feel 100% trust in what they’re doing. I know that they’re taking good care of their people, so I don’t feel the need to respond all the time in those team chats; one of them is always in there, too. Now, if they have an emergency or something, I’m there to back them up. But this direct sales world is so much about building leaders, and being able to have full trust in them is everything. So, that’s been a huge load off of me the last couple of years.
There are a lot of direct sellers who have their eyes on leadership right now. And, we always hear: “I just want to add one or two people to my team this month. I really want to move into leadership.” What tips do you have for them to make those moves and be really intentional about growing their team?
This is something that I talk about a lot with my teams. Because, especially when there’s a promo involved, right, and they’re trying to add three people to their team this month, and hit a certain sales goal to get a bonus, the mentality behind it can get a little icky. People know when you’re messaging them to get something in return, like you’re only doing it for a bonus, or you’re only doing it because you want to be “a certain title” or a leader. And, that’s why direct sales can get a bad rap, right?
So, the first thing is to take yourself completely out of the equation. If you want to be in leadership because you want a title, and because you want to be seen as a leader, I would maybe have a little heart check. A little gut check. Because, being a leader should be so much more about wanting to see other people thrive and wanting to bless other people. And, when you come from a place of service, like, “Hey, this opportunity has changed my life. I want that for you,” and, when you are really authentic in how you express that, they can tell a difference. And, when you’ve planted seeds, and you’re having conversations with people all the time, all year long, not just when a promo is happening, it changes how you come across. It changes how you communicate to them. And, if you want to be a leader, then you’ve got to make sure that you’re doing it for the other person.
I love what you said about a “gut check” or it “feeling icky.” Because, those are totally things that I would say. It’s just that check to say, “Is this coming from the right place?” Or, “Does this feel a little gross,” or like a copy-and-paste message? But I think you’re so right that, if you’re having those conversations on the regular, and you’re having conversations year-round with your followers, with your customers, that those teammates are going to come. That’s the reality of it.
Okay, so let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about this fall. Let’s talk about the current state of direct sales. So, we know this year looks a little different than last year, right? We’ve had a little bit of an up-and-down rollercoaster, where we’ve had some really big highs and really big lows over the last year or two. How does your business look this year compared to last year? What has changed in your business, but also, what’s remained the same?
Well, luckily for me, people have to wear clothes, right? They need their leggings; they need their sports bras. People need to fill their closets with something to wear for the fall. So, that’s going for us. And, our products are still great and wonderful. None of that has changed. But, I do feel like we have to work harder now versus, you know, a year or two ago, when everyone was at home, watching Netflix and shopping online as much as possible, because they couldn’t go anywhere. I mean, people were flocking to us. And, I feel like that’s probably the same across the board for all direct sales. It was booming.
So, now people are out and about, and they’re busy, and they have things going on. Even just for me, I think about my direct sales friends who I’m like, “Remind me to order before the end of the month, because I know that this is important to you.” They still have to remind me. And, I’m in that world with them. So, when I come from that place of like, “Okay, I know that I am a crazy person on the daily,” like, I know all my customers are probably in the same boat. So, how can I do more to take off their plate?
I know their sizes more now than I did a year ago. I know what colors they’re going to go for more now than I did a year ago. When items launch on a Wednesday, boom, I have a list of 10 people in mind that I think would love these. So, for me, it’s very much of a, ” I’ve got to roll my sleeves up a little bit and get to know these customers on a really down-to-earth, friendship level if I want to continue being their go-to ZYIA rep.” Because, they’re busy. They have stuff going on. Ordering from me is not at the top of their mind, and I should never take that for granted. I have to work for their business a little bit more this time, this year, this fall.
And, I’m trying to think of new ways to appreciate them, trying to find new ways to make them feel important, and make them feel appreciated, and make them feel valued to me, just as a business person. So, that might be a live video here and there expressing to them how much I love and appreciate them. It might be sending them a $5 Starbucks gift card for their birthday instead of just saying “Happy Birthday” in a message. I’m trying to go that extra-extra step to make sure that, when they do need a pair of leggings, or when they do need a pair of joggers, it’s no question to them where they’re going to go.
And, I would imagine that you have a lot of personal messages and conversations happening on the back end, and that’s what, on the outside, we don’t see. We see, “Tinley posted in her group. Oh, Tinley posted a Reel. Oh, she’s here. She’s there.” But, all of those one-on-one conversations that you’re having with your customers is really truly where the magic happens.
I completely agree. And, if I could get on a soapbox, I would talk about that all day long. The magic happens in the messenger. The magic happens in that one-on-one communication, because not only does that person knows that I’m not just doing something for fluff on social and tagging them; I’m taking time out of my busy circus life to make sure that they know, “Hey, I ordered this for you. I grabbed this size.” There are some days where I’m like, “I grabbed both sizes, because I’m not sure which one you’re going to like. And we’ll return the other one.” Or, “I’ll have you send it to me, and I’ll take care of the return.” I mean, you have to go above and beyond right now, more than any time before.
So, speaking of above and beyond—apart from your Friendsgiving strategy, which readers can hear more about on the podcast—is there any advice around seasonal sales strategies, holiday promotions, and juggling family plans that you’ve done in the past that’s really worked?
Well, if there’s anything that I can say, it’s consistency beats talent, beats pretty graphics, beats pretty anything. If you’re just showing up every day, that’s the most important part. And then, now’s the time to do your non-negotiables. If your non-negotiables are, “I’m going to go live once a week. I’m going to post in my Stories every day. I’m going to post in my VIP group every day.” That’s your baseline, and the only person that’s going to be hurt if you don’t do those is yourself. So, set those non-negotiables every day, every week, and then plan ahead.
In addition, you’ve got to keep being consistent. Do it every day, even when you think people are too busy to pay attention. As nerdy as it sounds: those Facebook algorithms, right? You’ve got to make sure people are seeing you every day. And, when you disappear for a week, and you take a week off for Thanksgiving, you’re going to have to work ten times harder just to have them see something from you when you come back. So, don’t not post just because you’re eating Thanksgiving turkey. I would have it planned in advance.
Or, post a picture with the turkey, or with your kids.
There you go!
Everyone wants to see, like, kids and pets and realness. And, I always say, I feel like you get a good little lift on the algorithm when you throw a kid in a picture or a fluffy puppy dog.
Get ready for January today at ModernDirectSeller.com/2023Plan.
Take Action: What is one way that you could give back to your customers this holiday season?