Choosing sales channels

There are many different ways to sell products and services. Consider a multi-channel sales approach.

What is a multi-channel sales approach?

If your business focuses on a single method of selling, such as over-the-counter sales, you might be limiting your potential market.

You might be able to grow your sales and reach new customer groups if you were to adopt a multi-channel sales approach.

Consider these methods:

  • direct selling
  • over-the-counter sales
  • online sales
  • telemarketing

Direct selling

Direct selling is an effective way to build long-lasting customer relationships and grow a flexible, low-cost business. Independent salespeople use direct selling to sell their products and services directly to customers in meeting places such as homes, offices, and markets, rather than through conventional retail shops and outlets.

Direct selling advantages:

  • It helps you to avoid expensive rental overheads.
  • It may allow you to run your businesses more flexibly.
  • It benefits customers through the convenience and personal attention they receive from direct salespeople.

Direct selling disadvantages:

  • Salespeople can find it hard or time-consuming to find new customers and reach out to them.
  • Salespeople can spend a lot of time on customer interactions to make sales.
  • Without the use of a retail outlet, storage, delivery logistics, insurances and security for your products and cash are considerations to be managed.
  • The reputation of direct selling has been harmed in the past by illegal pyramid and network marketing schemes—direct selling businesses need to market themselves purposefully and professionally, and be aware of legal selling practices and obligations.

Direct selling examples

Examples include:

  • Tupperware
  • lingerie
  • various health and beauty products.

Individual appointments with customers to make presentations or product demonstrations.

Examples include:

  • finance brokers
  • insurance brokers
  • high value business-to-business sales.

Cold canvassing, approaching homes and businesses without appointments to leave catalogues or offer product demonstrations.

Examples include:

  • electricity
  • water filtration systems
  • vacuum cleaners
  • knives.

Setting up booths or kiosks at events to generate new leads and promote and sell products.

Recruiting other sellers into a network to 'duplicate' your product sales role, earning a percentage of their sales revenue and expanding your product reach.

Examples include:

  • Usana
  • Herbalife
  • Amway
  • Isagenix.

Retail shop and over-the-counter sales

Over-the-counter sales, also known as retail sales, are one of the oldest and most traditional ways of selling products and services.

This sales channel is dependent on your business having customers regularly walking in and purchasing from you. A quiet day with minimal customers means your sales are low, impacting revenue and the ability to cover operational costs for the day.

In order to make retail sales successful, you need to invest in marketing the products and services of your business to drive foot traffic into the front door. Without marketing, you risk being dependent on existing customers and their buying patterns.

Finding the right business location for your store is critical for new businesses, so you can benefit from high volumes of foot or vehicle traffic to generate the customer and sale volumes you need.

Shopping centres and shopping districts that attract customers are attractive locations for retail and over-the-counter sales.

Retail examples

  • Cafes and coffee shops
  • Clothing and footwear stores
  • Outdoor adventure stores
  • Car parts and accessories stores
  • Furniture stores
  • Bottleshops
  • Convenience stores
  • Pharmacies.

Online sales and ecommerce

Purchasing products and services online is popular as customers can do it any time of day or night, from any device and usually at a cheaper cost than in store.

There are many benefits to adding online selling to your sales channels including reduced staffing costs and a wider audience of customers including national and international.

There are also challenges with online selling. Many business owners invest a lot of money into website development of complex ecommerce sites, but then don't invest in marketing to drive visitation to the site.

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to drive traffic to your site is to use hyperlinks to your website in emails and newsletters you send to customers.

Operating an ecommerce business can be very lucrative if it is set up professionally and correctly.

For tips and advice on ecommerce websites and online shops see how to manage online sales and payments.

Telesales and telemarketing

Telemarketing can be a challenging activity to undertake as some customers may be reluctant to respond to unexpected calls.

Telemarketing can provide advantages to your business especially when you are wanting to introduce a new product or service to customers.

Telemarketing is also very effective for raising sponsorships or donations for not-for-profit and charitable causes.

If you are calling existing customers, ensure you have permission from your customers to use their contact information for the purpose of future promotions and marketing. This is usually done with having a small check box that the customer agrees to when they subscribe or fill in a customer details form.

For telesales and telemarketing, ensure your business complies with the law:

If using a telemarketing company, consider asking them to provide you demonstrated evidence of their success rates with other past programs.

Also consider...