December 13, 2016

Multilevel Marketing Software: Tools for Direct Sales

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If you’ve ever bought Mary Kay makeup, Herbalife supplements, or Cutco knives, you’ve engaged with a multilevel marketing company. These businesses are also known as direct sales or network marketing and rely heavily on distributors selling products to friends and families.

Despite the recent payouts some companies were legally required to give their distributors, multilevel marketing companies make big money in the U.S. and abroad. Whether the distributors at the bottom of the pile (pyramid?) keep any of that money is up for debate. Businesses of this sort toe a fine line, which may be why there’s an entire sub-industry of legal coverage for MLMs.

ALSO READ: GetResponse vs. AWeber: Email Marketing for the Every Marketer

Whether you agree with the tactics or not, MLMs aren’t going away anytime soon. How do you make sure your MLM business profits from sales of product, and not through recruiting? Find a good software platform that will help you handle your sales and marketing needs.

What is MLM software?

Multilevel marketing software (sometimes referred to as “mutilevel management software”)helps you run your direct sales operation like a business. That means contact lists, spreadsheets of sales, and paper receipts go away, replaced by dynamic contact systems, accounting and invoicing software, and marketing automation. Many MLM software programs will give you all of these things alongside customer and contact tracking software — similar to what you might find in a CRM

MLM businesses have specific needs: specialized business plans, funds allocations, and commission structures. You won’t find these built into normal accounting software without extensive customization. 

You’ll also probably want some of the features you’d normally find in a content management system (CMS) or marketing automation platform:

  • Website building
  • Blog capabilities
  • Sales lead capture pages
  • Popup ads

These features help you capture leads even when you aren’t on the clock, in the form of newsletter signups and automated sales call scheduling.

Why Buy MLM Software?

Direct sales companies rely on their distributors to run their own small businesses. Their success depends on the same tools that competitive small businesses use to build their brands. These include sales, marketing, distribution, e-commerce, CRM, and marketing automation tools, among others. 

Sales and Order Management Tools

Sales and order management includes everything from invoicing and billing through tracking and inventory management. You can find these tools in many accounting, shipping, or logistics solutions, but an MLM platform will bring many of these capabilities together, because they are integral to product distribution for a direct sales company. Specialized multilevel marketing software should give you full branding capabilities for your sales documents, like custom icons and letterhead. You’ll save time with templates that can be used over and over, instead of building invoices from scratch each time.

Marketing Tools

Like any business, direct sales depends on marketing to attract new customers, but also to build a distributor network. Building the brand image that inspires new product evangelists to join takes a dedicated marketing plan. Some of the features you should look for in your multilevel marketing tools include:

  • Social sharing: the ability to post and monitor social accounts directly in the product
  • Website management: add blog posts, build landing pages, on-site SEO management
  • Email marketing: on-site lead capture forms, contact forms, newsletter design, spam avoidance
  • Marketing automation: drip campaigns, automatic email responses for subscriptions and on-site triggers

Customer Relationship Tools

MLM software with built-in customer relationship management (CRM) tools will help you keep track of sales contacts, distributors, customers, and vendors. A CRM will store your contact lists in one place and let you share those contacts with your network. Good CRMs act as more than an address book, however, as they often include task and notification features, so you can follow-up with your contacts in a timely manner.

Another advantage of integrated CRM and marketing/sales tools is that you can send follow-up reminders automatically for time-based events like reordering. What if you didn’t have to email or call each of your distributors individually, but instead could send out a monthly or quarterly reorder reminder? The time you save there could be put directly back into building your business.

Advantages Over Standard Marketing Automation Software

Good MLM software will provide all of the above features in a single interface, so you don’t have to switch between systems. You can find this in many marketing automation platforms, but you won’t get funds allocation features or tools for building sales and commission structures.

Direct sales businesses handle sales and commissions in hopes of providing compensation and building a network of distributors. This makes tracking recruiting and distributor networks vitally important to the business plan. MLM software tracks both the distributor structure and the often complicated reward structure involved with recruitment compensation. It’s illegal to pay for the recruitment of other distributors, but compensation through in-kind gifts or trips (think the Mary Kay pink Cadillac) requires adherence to strict sales calculations. MLM software is designed to handle these complicated sales and compensation structures.

MLM Software Options

These are just a few of the many options out there. These MLM providers include at least two of the sales, marketing, and CRM options:

Building a business requires tools, and multilevel marketing is no exception. MLM software may help you navigate the perilous business landscape of direct sales. Understanding the needs of your customers and distributors is the first step; then you can find the right technology to support your needs.

Have questions about which software to buy? Use our Product Selection Tool to browse and compare products, or call us for a free consultation. 

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