Party plan is a very successful
system of network marketing. It involves organising events at
the homes of customers (the hostesses) who then invite their friends
and acquaintances to attend. The events are informal social
gatherings but include opportunities to make a sales presentation.
Famous brand names that recommend party plan include: Tupperware and
Traditionally, party plan has been
most used for products bought by women (eg. cosmetics, lingerie,
cookware) so the terminology tends to be feminine (hostess rather than
host). There are plenty of products aimed at both men and women
(eg. books, CDs) so don't exclude male customers from your thinking.
Although many network marketers
achieve great results using party plan it is not without hard work and
careful preparation. This section runs through the steps in a
party plan - and includes suggestions and questions to consider when
designing your particular approach.
Orders & Collecting Payment
To build up a business of reasonable
size you will need a steady supply of hostesses - customers who will
be willing to invite their friends and acquaintances to a
"party" event and allow you to make a sales presentation.
Many network marketers start with
their own circle of friends. Make a list of people you know who
might be interested in your products. Then ask them what they
think of the idea. Don't push them - this is a good way of
losing your friends!
Even the most sociable people only
have a limited number of friends so eventually everyone has to widen
their search for potential hostesses.
Local schools have been fertile
ground in the past. Parent Teacher Associations usually hold
regular fundraising and social events for parents. They are
always looking for extra attractions and people to help out. For
a share in the profits they will often allow you to run a stall or
make a presentation.
Contact the organiser. Check
whether they already have someone offering your kind of products.
For example, you will probably find that most schools have already
done deals on books. Be flexible! If they don't want a
presentation then offer to run one of their stalls if they will let
you hand out leaflets.
Another cunning wheeze is to contact
social and special interest clubs in your area. They are often
struggling to find interesting speakers at their meetings. For
example: Women's Institute, Mothers Union, Round Table, Rotary,
football or rugby clubs, chess or camera clubs, amateur dramatic
clubs, vegetarian or dieting clubs. Let your brain run free.
Any organisation that holds regular meetings. Especially clubs
whose members are likely to be interested in your products.
Look them up at your local library
(or ask your friends). Contact the organiser. Ask if they
would be interested in you making a short presentation at one of their
meetings. Be flexible! If they don't want a presentation
then ask if you can hand out leaflets, or write something for their
Finally, don't forget the customers
you found through previous parties. They will have their own
circle of friends. Why not ask them to be hostesses at their own
This is vital if the
event is to go well. A well organised party makes the products
seem more attractive - and therefore easier to sell. Conversely,
a shambles will discredit a good product.
Plan the event with your
hostess. She knows the people invited much better than you.
So listen carefully when she tells you what they prefer. Be
flexible! Make sure she is comfortable with the plan.
Ignore her gut feelings at your peril.
Who is to be invited?
Write down the list of names and addresses/phone numbers.
How will they be
invited? By letter or phone call? This is best done by the
hostess but make sure you have coached her enough so she makes the
invitation attractive. Invitations must state that it's a
selling party and give the name of the company. Offer to draft
the letter or list the key points for the phone calls.
When will the event be
held? Morning? Afternoon? Evening? Some clubs
might prefer a breakfast, lunch or dinner event. When will it
start? How long will it last? When will it finish?
Be flexible! Remember your audience may have other commitments
before or after this event, eg. collecting kids from school, family
mealtimes. Think about any problems they might have traveling to
and from the meeting, eg. rush hour, last buses.
How much time will be
allocated to your presentation? What are you going to say and do
in that time? Write a list of the key steps and key points.
Make sure you cover the products, how to use them, their benefits, how
to order them and delivery arrangements. Don't forget to allow
time for questions.
How are you going to
make your presentation interesting - even entertaining? What
jokes will you tell? What visual aids will you use? What
products will you show? What leaflets will you hand out?
At what stage will you produce them?
Practice what you are
going to say. Get someone to listen to you and suggest
improvements. Beware of using your spouse for this unless you
are already considering divorce.
Where will the event be
held? In the hostess's home? If so, which room (or rooms)?
In a meeting room? Will it hold the number of people expected?
In comfort? How is it laid out? Will everyone be able to
see you without twisting round?
Get to the venue half an
hour before the guests. It gives you time to set up and stops
the hostess getting worried that you aren't going to show up. If
it's in a meeting room it's not unknown for the room to be untidy or
the chairs to still be stacked in a corner. Be prepared for some
light furniture shifting!
Set out any materials
before the customers start to arrive. It looks really bad if
you're not prepared.
Get your hostess to
check the list of people invited so you know who actually turned up.
Leave her to sort out any gatecrashers. If she is happy to
accept uninvited guests, eg friends of friends, then fine - but ask
her to get their names and contact details.
Expect to be nervous!
Just about everyone gets stage fright to some degree. The
adrenaline actually helps your performance. Some people swear it
helps defuse the tension if you imagine the audience with no clothes
Talk as normally as you
can. Use ordinary every day words. No grand phrases.
Don't say anything you don't believe. Unless you're a politician
the audience will detect the insincerity. If you genuinely
believe in your products they will soon pick up on your enthusiasm.
Check your speed of
speaking. When you're nervous, the adrenaline can make you talk
faster than usual - often without realising - and the audience will
have trouble keeping up with you. Keep checking your speed as
it's easy to start galloping towards the end.
Check how loud you are
speaking. Even in the hostess's home you will need to speak a
bit louder than usual so everyone one in the room can hear you.
In a meeting room you may have to raise your voice quite a lot.
Keep checking your loudness as it's easy to taper off towards the end.
Try to involve the
audience. Ask them questions. Get some of them to come and
try the products as you speak. Ask them for their questions.
Anything to maintain their interest.
At the end, remind them
about your brochures and order forms (or where to get them if you
haven't handed them out). Encourage them to fill in the order
forms there and then. If they take them home they may get
distracted and never get round to it. Give a spare order form to
anyone who buys - so it is easy for them to order again.
Ask if any of the
audience would be interested in holding their own parties. Talk
afterwards to anyone who shows interest.
Finish by thanking the
hostess publicly for inviting you, and thank the audience for
listening. If she is entitled to a gift from the company,
present it to her in front of her guests - so they will want the same!
Serve refreshments at
the end so they don't distract from your presentation - or get spilled
on your stock!
Stay after your
presentation. Many people are reluctant to ask questions in
public but will approach you for a private word later. So be
there for them. You also want to collect any immediate orders
there and then.
Make sure you have
contact details for everyone who came to the party. If anyone is
interested in holding their own event then follow up with them
Help the hostess to tidy
up. After all, you do want her to do this again - don't you?
It also gives you a chance to ask how it went from her viewpoint.
Listen carefully to what she says. Don't be offended if she
seems a bit critical. Treat this feedback as free consultancy
and use it to improve your approach next time.
Ask the hostess to set a
date for another event. If it will be the same set people
invited then it's probably best to arrange the next one in 3-6 months
time. Trust her judgement on this. If she seems reluctant
don't push. Call her after a few months.
Before you leave, thank
the hostess again for all her help.
Orders & Collecting Payment
With some schemes,
orders are delivered direct from the company to the customer.
With others the network marketer is a crucial link in the delivery
chain. Usually you will have to deliver to the hostess (who then
delivers to the end customer). Sometimes you have to deliver to
the end customer. If your scheme involves you in delivery then
here are a few points to remember.
Don't delay! As
soon as you receive the goods, check the contents against the
customer's order. Chase the company immediately if there is
anything wrong or missing. Contact the hostess or customer and
arrange a convenient time for delivery. Your customers will be
more inclined to buy again if you get the goods to them promptly.
If you're expected to
collect payment on delivery don't take chances. One bad debt can
wipe out the profit on a whole series of orders. Don't release
the goods without payment in full. Don't be caught by promises
of future payment. Only accept payments in the forms acceptable
to your company.
If you're offered cash,
make sure you have the right amount. Count it in front of the
hostess/customer - even if it does seem a bit embarrassing. You
can't go back later to claim the money was short.
If you're offered a
cheque, make sure it is completed correctly. The right date.
The right payee (the company or you depending on the scheme).
The right amount (in words and in figures). Signed (with the
right name). Make sure you see the cheque guarantee card (if
required) and make sure you write its number on the back of the
If you're offered a
credit card or debit card (and your company accepts them) make sure
the details are recorded accurately. The cardholder name (as
stamped on the card). The card number (as stamped on the card).
The card expiry date (as stamped on the card). The issue number
(for Switch cards only). The right amount to be charged to the
account. Ask the customer for the cardholder's address (as
recorded by the card company) if it isn't the same as the delivery
address. Finally, make sure the cardholder has signed the
When you're happy with
the paperwork hand over the goods and get the customer's signature (if
required). Leave another order form so it's easy for the
customer to buy again.
Finally, make sure you
thank the customer for their business.
Make sure you keep
accurate records of hostesses and parties. With contact details
for people who attended and customers who bought.
Once you've captured a
customer, follow up every few weeks/months. Send them the latest
brochure when it's updated. Or phone them for a brief chat (but
back off if they don't seem keen to be called). Your aim is to
encourage them to buy again - as it's much easier to get repeat orders
than to find new customers.
If you didn't arrange it
at the time, contact previous hostesses every few months to organise a
repeat event. If the previous party was a success - socially
rather than sales achieved - it shouldn't be too difficult to persuade
her to do another one.
For Success - Joy Healey - Issue 1 - 3rd March 2000