Sales & Marketing Conference: Focus on the Field

Smart Start Program


Wednesday, December 9 | 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

DSA’s Smart Start Seminar is back and with a format that will enable young and growing companies in the sales channel, and those new to direct selling, to get their questions answered faster and from the most expert voices in the industry: other industry executives.

This one-day seminar, to precede the Focus on the Field Sales & Marketing Conference, will feature roundtable discussions that will provide attendees with direct networking and learning opportunities from those who have been in the trenches.

Participate in a learning experience like no other and gain access to the industry’s best minds, all in the room to help you discover the best practices that will help make your company a success!

$99 with Focus on the Field Conference Registration
$199 to attend only the Smart Start Seminar.

Interested in attending the Smart Start Seminar, but can't attend the full conference? Contact Indira Fuller-Bey for more information!

DSA Smart Start Overview

This full-day seminar provides a thorough understanding of the essentials of direct selling — the all-important “whats” and “hows” that go into a successful direct-selling business. Taught by industry leaders, you will take away important information and answers to your most pressing questions. Come away with proven techniques and practical knowledge that will immediately enhance your understanding of this sales channel!

10:00 – 10:20 a.m.
Direct Selling 101: An Introduction to a Completely Unique Way to Sell Products

Direct selling is the age-old method of conducting sales directly with an individual, away from a fixed-retail location. But there’s more to the story than the simple sale of products, and this sales channel is fundamentally different from other distribution channels. Learn what accounts for those differences and how successful companies structure their operations around the unique philosophies associated with specific direct-selling principles. We’ll also discuss hiring the staff that can understand the differences and act appropriately on them.

10:20 – 11:00 a.m.
What Is a Compensation Plan and How Do I Get One?

  • Bob Hipple, CEO, Damsel in Defense

How your company compensates your salesforce is one of the most critical business decisions you’ll have to make. Whether you are starting your own enterprise or starting your career at an existing one, this session will provide the education you need to understand the basic principles and to refine your direct-selling compensation plan. We’ll cover what parts of a plan will drive different behaviors, the role promotions should play without overriding your plan and the metrics at work in a particular product line that impacts how distributors are paid. Most importantly, you’ll see how one slight adjustment can cause a domino effect within your salesforce.

11:00 – 11:30 a.m.
What Is Your Brand?

  • Patty Pearcy, President & Chief Executive Officer, SimplyFun, LLC

Bringing your product to market and getting it into consumers’ hands is complicated. But the first thing a direct-selling company must focus on is their unique company story and it translates into competitive advantage. The earlier a company can seize on its brand the earlier it will gain traction and grow.

11:30 a.m. – Noon
Developing Your Independent Salesforce

  • Lori Bush, President & Chief Executive Officer, Rodan + Fields

While you’re building your team, you need to know how to train and develop them too, so that your salesforce is geared up to recruit more sellers and is motivated to sell your products for a long, long time. We’ll tackle the basics of creating field-development programs that foster and develop growth, leadership skills and ethical behaviors. We’ll discuss how to move your first-level salesforce into leadership and set performance standards. Included in this discussion will be ways in which your company can implement fun and appealing training methods to get your salesforce excited about their businesses, and why inspiration and recognition are crucial to your company’s long-term success.

Noon - 12:30 p.m.
Networking Lunch

Take a break with your peers and enjoy a casual buffet lunch as you swap stories and share ideas!

12:30 – 1:10 p.m.
Building Your Business — Internal Structure

  • Chuck Thompson, General Manager North America, Scentsy, Inc.

While the success of your business is largely determined by the members of your field, your internal staff plays a major role in the development of your company's culture. During this session, you'll have the unique opportunity to hear how Scentsy, Inc. developed effective operating procedures from the start and consistently attracts team members who have supported the company's vision as it has expanded.

1:10 – 1:40 p.m.
Finance: It’s More Than Just a Budget!

  • Melissa Brown, Founder/CEO, Radiantly You

The first rule of financing is to hire an expert; but that doesn’t get you off the hook for knowing the inner workings of your company’s budget or the key operating indicators at work in this sales channel. This session will cover the metrics you need to be mindful of in order to place your company on the right track for success instead of headed over the financial cliff.

1:40 – 3:00 p.m.
New Company Case Study

  • Gretchen Huijskens, Founder, Trades of Hope

Make the most of this opportunity to learn as a successful new direct-selling executive shares:

  • Critical learning opportunities experienced in the past two years
  • Lessons learned putting theory into action
  • Operations and inspirational moments that have served as motivators to future success

3:00 – 3:15 p.m.
Refreshment Break

3:15 – 4:00 p.m.
Implementing Operational Systems

  • Nancy Bogart, Chief Executive Officer, Jordan Essentials

Gone are the days of scheduling books, manual lists, calculators and hand-written letters. Your 21st century business cannot run without technology, but that doesn’t mean you need every bell and whistle before you launch. Our expert will walk you through the must-haves and can-waits to ensure your company is fully operational while taking practical considerations into account.

4:00 – 4:40 p.m.
Social Media for Start-Ups

  • Jennifer Fong, President, U.S., Philipiak Milano 1967 Corporation

Building a successful social media presence takes time, and time comes at a premium for a newly launched enterprise. We’ll explore the social media musts to get you on the right track to an authentic, word-of-mouth campaign, including:

  • Which platforms are nice, but which are necessary
  • Online conversation monitoring you’ll be sad if you skip
  • Dos and don’ts of social media
  • Usage policies to keep your distributors from going rogue and taking your company name with them

4:40 – 5:15 p.m.
A Crash Course in Direct-Selling Law

  • Spencer Reese, Partner, Reese Poyfair Richards, PLLC

Similar to finance, the way to make sure your company has the legal support it needs is to retain a knowledgeable attorney who knows the ins and outs of direct-selling law. But you still need to know the basics, and that’s exactly what this session will provide. We’ll specifically dig in to:

  • The impact of the independent-contractor status in your field
  • Promotion dos and don’ts
  • What federal regulation says about product and opportunity claims

5:15 – 5:30 p.m.
Direct Selling: State of the Industry

  • Joseph Mariano, President, Direct Selling Association

The direct-selling channel in the United States reached $34.47 billion in estimated retail sales in 2014, an increase of 5.5% over 2013, and the highest in recorded history. This is the fifth year of growth in sales since the 2009 recession. This past year’s direct-selling annual growth rate of 5.5% outpaced both the U.S. retail sales growth rate of 3.7% and the GDP growth rate of 3.9%. Starting from these impressive statistics and then delving into where direct selling has been and where it is headed, this session will examine the most current trends, opportunities and challenges in our industry. We’ll also discuss the kind of person most likely to become a direct seller, and why it is important for you to understand their mindset when building your business.

5:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Smart Start Reception  

Conclude your Smart Start experience with this social opportunity to discuss lessons learned with your fellow attendees.

6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Marquee Session: The Rise of the Gig Economy

  • Lori Bush, President and Chief Executive Officer, Rodan + Fields
  • Will Rinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy, American Action Forum
  • Elizabeth Davis Ph.D., Dean, School of Management, University of San Francisco

What edge do the hottest new companies in the on-demand economy have over your business? There is a growing trend of new start-up companies contracting with independent, flexible workers that bring a specific skill set to their sales. Growing numbers of Americans no longer hold a regular “job” with a long-term connection to a particular business. Instead, they work “gigs” where they are employed on a particular task or for a defined time, with little more connection to their employer than a consumer has with a particular brand of chips. Borrowed from the music industry, the word “gig” has been applied to all sorts of flexible employment. What can direct sellers learn from this emerging gig economy? Listen in as our panelists explore this subject.

7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Sales & Marketing Conference Reception

Maximize the value of your attendance as you mingle with fellow attendees at our solution-filled expo! And get acquainted with select supplier partners who can connect you with the solutions you need.