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Getting Started

If you’re interested in becoming a direct selling consultant, here are the basic steps involved in getting started:

Company Research

The first step is to identify a company and product or service that appeals to you. There’s no right or wrong answer, because the choice is different for every person. But, a good place to start is choosing a product or service that you use yourself.

Most established direct selling companies have Web sites that you can visit. You should also check with the local Better Business Bureau and state consumer protection agencies to see if a company in which you’re interested has had any complaints filed against it. If so, what was the nature of those complaints and how were they handled? If you know anyone who works (or has worked) as a direct sales representative for the company, talk to them about his or her experiences. If possible, try to talk with someone who has similar goals and objectives so experiences and lessons will be comparable.

Be sure to ask as many questions as you need to get a good feel for the company, its products and its policies and procedures. If the person recruiting you can’t answer all of your questions call the company directly. Any reputable company will be happy and available to talk with you. Ask for copies of any company literature (and read it!) and check out the company’s web site.

You might also want to check out what others have to say about the company. You’re sure to find a great deal of negative information about many companies online. Be sure to consider this information in the context of your research, but be careful about being swayed by biased information from unreputable sources. At the same time that the Internet has become a resource for gathering information, it also tends to be a breeding ground for negativity and information taken out of context.

Questions You Should Ask

Before you sign up, be sure to ask questions about the following:

  • Start up costs. The start up costs in direct selling companies are generally modest – usually the cost of a sales kit – and are often less than $100. Legitimate companies want to make it easy and inexpensive for you to start. On the contrary, pyramid schemes make their money through fees paid by new recruits or by loading inventory and/or training aids on them. High entry fees should be a warning sign.
  • Unsold inventory. Be sure to ask how much inventory (if any) you will be required to purchase and what the terms of return are if you decide to leave the business. DSA member companies, for example, are required to buy back unsold marketable inventory and sales aids purchased within the prior 12 months if you decide to quit the business, for at least 90 percent of the price you paid for them. Beware of opportunities that encourage “front end loading,” or buying large inventories of unreturnable products to reach achievement levels or receive a “special” or larger “discounted” price.
  • Compensation. Is the money you’ll earn based on the sale of products or services? The answer should be “absolutely.” This is a key element of a legitimate business. Direct selling, like other methods of retailing, depends on selling to customers who use and/or consume the product. This requires quality products and services sold at competitive prices in quantities that can reasonably be used and/or resold. Beware of any business that claims you can get rich by solely using their products or by recruiting new people into the business.
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