© Suburban.TypePad.Homestead.com. Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/66709638202919459/on May 23, 2017
Direct Sales has never been a business for the faint of heart or weak-kneed. Stella & Dot creator Jessica Herrin succinctly expressed this sentiment in a 2016 Forbes interview where she noted the huge ‘ick’ factor associated with the industry. Direct Sales may get a bad rap because of its potential for people to feel locked-in by high quotas, awkward customer engagement strategies and defined territorial boundaries. However, by adopting a social selling approach that’s creatively coupled with the most visually engaging social media tools, Stella & Dot has positively re-shaped the image of direct sales in the jewelry and accessories realm. Under Herrin’s leadership, Stella & Dot is an indisputably profitable enterprise with $300 million in revenues. The company has also paid some $300 million in commissions to more than 50,000 stylists, who keep up to 35% of the value of sales they make. Herrin’s successful approach is an example of how to lead with product, be customer-obsessed and leverage technology. How has Stella & Dot managed to bring these three elements together so masterfully, and which technologies are incorporated into its social selling approach?
© Jeff Korhan, Social Marketing is a Process. Retrieved from Jeff Korhan New Media and Small Business Marketing on May 22, 2017
Social selling is the process of developing relationships as part of the sales approach. Today this often takes place via social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, but can take place either online or offline. Examples of social selling techniques include sharing relevant content, interacting directly with potential buyers and customers, personal branding, and social listening. Social Selling is gaining popularity in a variety of industries, though it is used primarily for B2B (business-to-business) selling or highly-considered consumer purchases (e.g., financial advisory services, automotive, realty). Data from 2014 show Retailers at the bottom of the list of industries using social selling, with 16.6% of companies in the retail industry using social media to engage with customers, compared with 32.6% of sales professionals in the software/technology field. However, as a trailblazer in the social selling space, it’s a fairly safe bet that Stella & Dot was among this 16.6% cohort of early adopters.
Stella & Dot recognizes the power of social selling to support its stylists in their effort to attract customers, increase business development and drive sales. And this recognition is particularly good for business because Forbes magazine reports that almost 80% of sales people who use social media as part of their sales process outperform their sales peers. Kristi King Perras, Senior Director for Stella & Dot, describes how the company uses social media and social selling in its relationships with customers, but only after noting with a smile that her preferred channel is her personal Facebook profile. “Stella & Dot stylists use Facebook and Instagram as their most successful social networking channels for connecting and promoting their product and lifestyle to their customers.” Perras names the Facebook Live and Facebook Groups functions as instrumental in allowing her to easily connect with the team of stylists she motivates and inspires, as well as with her customers. In particular, the Facebook Live function means she can deliver motivational leadership sessions directly to her team. And, because of its interactive functionality, the Facebook Live technology is attractive to Perras because it allows participants to ask questions and get a response on the spot. Perras notes that Facebook Groups is another highly useful way to engage with her customers because she can customize content — particularly specific sales and promotions — to the individuals best suited to receive that material. For example, she can create a specific Facebook Group for her VIP customers, and develop specialized communications for that particular collection of people. Knowing how to slice-and-dice and segment groups on Facebook means Perras has an opportunity to connect with her team and customers in a more focused, customized way, which ultimately promotes business development.
© Alex Embling, How to Increase Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index. Retrieved from Strategic Internet Consulting on May 23, 2017
The way Perras uses her Facebook profile to engage her team and customers is a classic implementation of the 4 Pillars of Social Selling which are: 1. Create a Professional Brand (Perras does this using her lifestyle images) 2. Find the Right People (she segments using Facebook Groups) 3. Engage with Insights (industry-leading sales approaches and strategic motivational content are shared) 4. Build Strong Relationships (Perras particularly excels in this area through promoting and recognizing her customers and team members).
Lessons for Others
© Andrew Watson, The Impact of Social Networks on Purchase Decisions. Retrieved from Chatterbox Labs Data Science and Monetization on May 23, 2017
Why does the customer engagement part of social media matter so much? While we expect that social media will influence what we buy, the degree to which this is happening is quite surprising: an estimated 46% of global internet users said that social media influenced their purchasing decisions. Also, social media sharing accounts for 54% of information usage for the consumer buying decision.
For Stella & Dot stylists, Instagram is another effective way to share product and lifestyle information with their social networks. And Stella & Dot’s corporate Instagram feed presents an ongoing opportunity for the company to connect with current and future customers by offering fashion and lifestyle content that’s clearly designed to be cheerful and inspiring. A cursory scroll through Stella & Dot’s Instagram account highlights the brand’s ability to successfully incorporate diversity into its social media customer engagement strategy. Women of various ethnic backgrounds spanning a wide variety of ages, representing different shapes and sizes are creatively celebrated throughout the company’s Instagram images.
And yet, measuring customer engagement and social media belongs at the very core of these social selling activities. The Content Marketing Institute notes that measuring engagement needs to be done in the right way because we need to understand how people are really responding to our content. It’s not how many times they click “like” on a Facebook post. It’s not how many people are being driven to a page.
Engagement is about how involved people are with the content you create and promote to them. For Stella & Dot stylists keen on connecting with their customers, the inspirational messages and lifestyle images designed to promote this kind of meaningful engagement will continue to be their keys to the kingdom for social selling success.
Stella & Dot
Industry: Direct Sales
Name of Organization Contact: Kristi King Perras, Senior Director, Stella & Dot
Authored by: Jennifer Deschenes
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
Embling, Alex. “How to Increase Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index.” Strategic Internet Consulting. http://blog.strategic-ic.co.uk/increase-linkedin-social-selling-index/ (May. 2017)
Fidelman, Mark. “Study: 78% of Salespeople Using Social Media Outsell their Peers.” Forbes Magazine. https://www.forbes.com/sites/markfidelman/2013/05/19/study-78-of-salespeople-using-social-media-outsell-their-peers/#a39eccfa39ec (May. 2017)
LinkedIn Sales Solutions. “What is Social Selling?” https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/social-selling/what-is-social-selling (May. 2017)
Nielsen Online. “How Connectivity Influences Global Shopping.” http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2012/how-connectivity-influences-global-shopping.html (May. 2017)
Petouhoff, Natalie. “The Social Selling Index: What’s Your Score?” http://customerthink.com/the-social-selling-index-whats-your-score/ (May. 2017)
Raso, Andrew. “How to Measure Engagement the Right Way.” Content Marketing Institute. http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/03/measure-engagement-right/ (May. 2017)
Savchuk, Katia. “Why Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin Stopped Trying to Do It All.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/katiasavchuk/2016/06/27/jessica-herrin-stella-dot-ceo/#73381b8a7338 (May. 2017)
Wikipedia. “Social Selling.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_selling (May. 2017)