A direct sales agent markets and sells goods to consumers without the benefit of a retail, online or catalog store. She may call on people in their homes with or without phoning ahead. An agent often peddles her products through inviting groups of people into her home for a sales-oriented social gathering.
She also commonly sells her wares to people she works with at a regular job during her lunch hour or before or after her normal job hours. Some agents lease spaces in the middles of malls and shopping centers on short-term bases to market items to passers-by. Others often rent spaces at flea markets or trade fairs to promote sales.
Formerly called door-to-door salesmen or saleswomen, these workers generally work for a single manufacturer and knocked on the doors of people’s homes to sell products. When the profession was in its infancy, cleaning goods, household tools and gadgets and encyclopedias were the most commonly marketed items. Male sales agents normally called on potential female customers who, at that time in history, were typically at home during the day.
The next phase of direct sales focused on cosmetics, clothing and innovative food storage containers. As more females sought income sources that would not interfere with the demands of homemaking and child rearing, many found satisfaction in selling these items to individual customers in their homes and through home selling “parties” that usually included light refreshments. These sales were normally conducted during evening and weekend hours.
Over the next few decades, a direct sales agent could be found selling a wider range of products. Some companies expanded their home cleaning product lines to include personal hygiene products like shampoos and lotions. New companies took root that sold vitamins, food supplements and dietary aids. The latest group of products sold by direct sales agents includes gourmet cookware, bakeware and flatware as well as candles, china, crystal and jewelry. The trend of holding sales parties rather than calling on individuals door-to-door became popular.
To be successful as a direct sales agent takes a positive outlook and an upbeat, engaging personality. Since customers normally buy the most goods from people they like, having a personality that appeals to many different people increases an agent’s chances for success. Having ties with different segments of the local community also helps in selling to a larger demographic sector.
There are no educational requirements necessary for this position. Having good oral and written communication skills is helpful. Since cash and credit card transactions are a large part of a direct sales agent’s responsibilities, proficiency in math is a desirable asset.