This week, Dana Roefer joined us on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast to chat not about being a social seller, but about being an advocate for the channel. She’s seen firsthand how intentionally shopping small benefits both seller and consumer, forms a system of personalized support, and aligns our dollars with our values, and she knows that there’s opportunity across the industry to share those ideals. Building a successful direct sales community starts with the way we shop, and Dana is here to show us how those connections are created!
Time based notes:
- 1:30 Dana Roefer introduction
- 2:37 Shop Socialby Dana Roefer
- 3:51 Shift to social shopping
- 7:11 Be a social shopper and seller
- 11:01 Improve the buying experience
- 15:15 Practice intentional purchasing
- 18:09 Share the social shopping mission
- 20:39 The abundance mindset
Shop and Sell Social with Dana Roefer
Recently, Dana Roefer joined us on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast to chat not about being a social seller, but about being an advocate for the channel—and that starts with how we create connections as consumers. Read on to learn why building a successful direct sales community starts with the way we shop!
For our listeners that have not yet met you and have not become your best friend—like me in the last 25 minutes—tell us a little bit about your background and who you serve.
So, I’m an entrepreneur. And, I’ve grown up around entrepreneurship for quite some time. Early in my career, I worked in the entrepreneurship space, but it was with a lot of people that were starting businesses from nothing, right? So, they were not in direct selling; they were saying, “I want to build something.” And so, I was helping them make connections with IP attorneys and accountants and all of these things, and I quickly went back to what I saw when I was growing up, and that was a lot of direct sellers. And, I was like, “That model makes so much more sense to me for someone that wants to get started in entrepreneurship.” So, I’ve never actually built a direct selling company. I’ve been on the corporate side for as a strategist and in a lot of different roles, but I’m just a huge advocate of the channel as a whole, and how the channel can really serve people and the needs that they’re looking to be filled.
And, you have a brand-new book out that’s all about this. Shop Social is the title. What is the book all about?
The CliffsNotes version is that I saw all of this growing up. My mom shopped from all of her friends and really intentionally bought the things that were going to make her feel great. And, I didn’t do any of that. And then, I got to a turning point in January of 2021 when my mom got sick, and it was totally out of nowhere. She’s doing well now, but when it first happened is when I started thinking, ” What does this mean for me? What am I doing to make sure that I’m healthy, that my family’s healthy, and that I have the right products in my home?” So, I went where we always go: I went to a store. And, I’m in the aisle at Target, and I was like, “Who’s going to help me?” Like, there was no one there.
So, as I began thinking about regular shopping and how much I dislike it, on top of needing people to help me find the products that were going to improve my life and my health, I starting making all of these connections to social shopping, and that’s when I began building a microcommunity of women. I started reaching out to my friends; I have so many friends that are in multiple levels of leadership with lots of different companies. And, I basically just started saying, “Hey, I’m not that familiar with your product. What can you tell me about it? These are the things I’m looking to do. This is what I want for myself. This is what I want for my family.” And, I started building my personal routine, because I was like, “I want to feel my best. I want to be my best.”
My mom’s sickness was such a catalyst for me, and I knew where to turn. And so, then I wanted to tell this story to people that are looking for more options but don’t know what to do first. To them, I’d say that there are a couple of places to start. When you make this shift, you have to decide that you are worthy of investment. We have to shift from just being a consumer to deciding that we’re going to invest in specific things, because we’re worth it, and because we need it.
The second thing is that it takes vulnerability to ask for help. And, vulnerability kind of sucks. For me, when I started reaching out to my friends and started putting this routine together, I was like, “They’ve seen success in their life, and I want to see success in those same things, so they can help me.” And so, this is, like, my mission, is to help consumers to find that microcommunity of women that can help them reach their goals. And, I know that there are so many people out there selling that are saying, “I want to serve people. These things have changed my life.” And they want to help, and they want to serve. And so, I really want to direct the consumers to them.
I love that you’re such an advocate for the channel, yet haven’t actually been in direct sales. You’ve been on the corporate side; you’ve been around it; you’ve supported your friends, your family, as they’ve built their businesses; but I love that unique vantage point that this isn’t a self-serving mission. This is all about supporting others and being really intentional with those purchases.
And, I really like that example about Target as a differentiator, right? In direct sales, people are going to come to your rescue. They are going to give you their best recommendations. They’re going to check in on you. They’re going to see how things are working. I really feel like that’s part of the magic of this industry.
I completely agree. And, I think that we need to harness that, because I think that sometimes we lose sight of this opportunity to just connect with people. And, I don’t care whether that is recruiting somebody or if that’s a customer. Like, I don’t even think we have to make a delineation, actually. Because, people are people, and people have needs, and people need to be served, and they want to be served, and they want to be a part of something.
And so, my encouragement is for us to do it ourselves. We are consumers, so what choices are we making every day in order to be our best? Because, that’s not only what other people are seeing, but it means we’re supporting our friends, right? I believe in that saying, that “rising tides raise all ships,” so I really believe that we have the opportunity to continue connect to each other. Because listen: Most of these companies that have products on the shelves? They don’t know you. They don’t care about you. But, my friends that I buy things from? They live up the street from me. Their kids are in classes with my kids. They are in my community. They value and care about the same things that I care about. Those are the ones that I want to support. So, imagine if we could shift our dollars by shopping local and shopping social? The power that would be in that, to really shift our dollars behind our values and where that could take us. I think it could be so impactful and make a difference in so many people’s lives.
So how, as consumers, can we be more intentional with our purchases? What does that look like?
Okay. So, I am a little extreme, but honestly, to me, it comes down to a daily routine. And obviously, not every product is the daily product. Like, cleaning products are not a daily product for me; they’re more frequent for other people. But, I have a daily routine. And so, when it comes to product consumption, I think, “What does my morning look like?” Well, for me, it looks like supplementation. It looks like skincare. It looks like haircare. In the shower, it’s body wash. It’s body lotion. It’s all of these things that I’m using in my routine.
And so, am I saying to people, “You have to change everything”? No. You don’t have to change everything. But you need to start with one thing. I have my morning routine, and then I have my workout routine—so all of my sports nutrition products. And I’ve got clothes. And I’ve got my nighttime routine. It’s a whole thing. So, while you don’t have to change every product in each of your routines, just get started with one thing. Think about that one thing that someone can offer to you, or that one of your friends already has and that you’ve been curious about. Allow yourself to reach out to them.
Because, if I’m being totally honest, I think there is a piece in consumers when it comes to direct sales that, “Oh, man, if I show interest, they’re never going to leave me alone, and they’re going to want me to build a business. They’re going to want me to talk to people and sell things for them.” So, we’ve got to get over that myth as consumers and say, “I really want to connect with these people,” while also being very clear about our expectations, what we’re looking for, and what we’re not. So, I have had these conversations where people are like, “Oh, you should build a business!” And we can just take ownership of that and say, “I love your product. I’m going to keep buying your product. But I’m not interested in that.”
So, how can direct sellers play a role in educating their followers and their customers with this knowledge? Like, they don’t always want to be like, “Hey, everyone, buy my things! Buy from me instead of Amazon!” But, how can they do a better job of sharing this mission around social shopping?
I think it starts, very specifically, with sellers looking at what they’re buying. Because, no one has every single product that they need from their own business. There are companies that have massive product portfolios, but they do not have everything, right? And so, I think it starts with those of us that are in the channel saying, “We are going to make this shift first. And, we are going to share other people, and we’re going to connect people with other people, because they might be looking for something that I don’t have.” And so, we start becoming these connectors for other people, and we all start to rise together.
So, I think there’s a message that we can go out with together of, “Hey, I’ve seen people do this a lot!” And, you plan a girls’ night out, and you’ve got, like, six different companies represented, and you each have different networks. And, it gives you a really good opportunity to bring all those different companies together and allow people to shop. I think those are really good ideas. I think they’re really fun. I’ve seen it done really well virtually, as well. So, there’s a lot of ways to do it, but we need to take that intentionality first and say, “How am I supporting my other girlfriends that are also representing these companies?” And then, the outside world will start to have more respect, and they’ll recognize that we’re doing what we say we’re doing.
I also think that when you’re connecting with people, you need to remember that not everybody is going to be your customer. That’s okay. You just need to focus on who is, right? Who are those people that you can connect with so authentically, because it’s just who you are? Those are the ones that you want to connect with for a long time.
It’s so important to have that abundance mindset and remember that just because you’re sharing somebody else’s product with your followers and your network, it’s not taking away from your customer base. I see some really cool things, even just within our Modern Direct Seller Academy, where two people from totally different companies will cross-promote, and they’ll pop into each other’s group and do a Live, and it works really beautifully to say, “Hey, let me tell you about my friend. This is what she has going on. This is what she’s all about,” and giving her that platform to share her message and her mission. And, if she gets some new customers from it, that’s fantastic! It’s not going to take away from your own sales.
I think sometimes we guard our network so closely that we don’t want to put other people in front of it—especially if you’re a seller. But, I think back to when I used to do vendor events. And, I always made a little bit of money, but I always shopped really well from my neighbors at vendor events, too. So, why not go Live in your group, or share in your Stories about a product that you purchased from someone else that you think is really great, so there’s enough to go around for everyone?
You watch influencers do this all day every day. They are not just focused on one thing. Granted, they’re getting paid for all those different products that they’re sharing if people are buying, so it’s a different model, but it’s an idea that people are used to. Customers are used to people talking about what products they use, and it’s such an easy conversation. And so, I think that the more you can continue to do that, and just be open about it, like you said, it’s not going to take away from what you have. I actually think it shows people that you are invested in others, and you’re somebody that wants to build up others, and you want to support them, and you want to connect them, and I think it only looks better for you.
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