To be able to share a product in seconds with hundreds of Facebook friends or tweet to hundreds of prospective customers instantaneously is something none of us imagined a few years ago.
With the explosion of social networking and more smart phone applications appearing daily, this is an exciting time for direct sellers to embrace new technologies and the multitude of offerings for communicating so fast, so easy, so NOW!
The underpinning that enables all of this to work incorporates powerful communications networks, an array of mobile devices and ease of access to a broad range of information. A term most everyone has heard (sometimes misunderstood) is “cloud computing.” Simply defined, cloud computing is the ability to access software and information from anywhere in the world over a browser – a virtual computing environment allowing people freedom and mobility.
If you have been Facebooking, you have been using cloud computing, but it’s much more than just cloud computing meets social media; it’s businesses utilizing their entire enterprise—from warehousing and distribution to business management, marketing and, of course, sales. The goal is to increase the sales and efficiency of a company’s distribution system. This strategy embraces a variety of computing devices, including smart phones, desktops, tablets and laptops, giving people access to their business with multiple devices at the touch of a finger.
If you look at core direct selling business behaviors, you will see a direct association between getting into the cloud and positive impact for the business and the salesforce, in arenas such as:
- Economical – Perhaps the greatest benefit of cloud computing is economics. Moving into the cloud means less capital and less infrastructure investment, allowing companies to focus dollars where they want—growing revenue! Along with this comes agility, scalability and flexibility … pay as you grow!Cloud computing equates cash flow to system benefits more appropriately. The old model of making large investments into software and hardware early in the project, before the actual development and implementation occurs, is eliminated. Cloud computing offers businesses the ability to move and grow quickly, while sharing reliable and scalable infrastructure, equipment and software, while moving internal IT expenses off their balance sheets.
- (Direct Sales) Business ebb and flow—As businesses experience upticks, they often have to rely on securing additional hardware to accommodate that growth. On the flip side, if the business faces a down turn, the hardware inventoried is often times overkill. With a high percentage of sales activity occurring in the last week of a calendar month direct sellers’ utilization of equipment when aggregated for the month is commonly a low percentage—more horsepower than what is needed to accommodate high ordering volume for only a few days. In addition, direct sellers run incentives, flash sales and special promotions that may result in spikes in ordering and recruiting. With cloud computing, companies realize all the capacity planning they need; businesses can shrink and grow and only use and pay for what is necessary.
- Internal Resources—Minimize and free up IT resources so they can focus on more company-specific, business-critical issues or projects. Your outsourced service provider should be a skilled practitioner specializing in addressing numerous IT issues typically serviced by costly in-house IT staffs. This can include hardware and infrastructure maintenance, database management, e-mail spam management working with ISP’s, compliance management, operating system upgrades, high availability, bandwidth management, browser compatibility and network infrastructure.
- Increased Data Reliability—A computer crashing in the cloud will have less impact on your data, as most service providers offer redundant data management and hardware infrastructure, with hot swappable systems that are transparent to businesses. There are major benefits relying on the cloud to always have access to data. This removes the burden of an internal IT group scrambling in the event of a network outage.
- Group collaboration— A big benefit to direct sellers is being able to share and exchange information, documents, policies and procedures to collaborate in the field. Sponsors network with down lines, and down lines with up lines. Sales reps get instant feedback from customers on products or connect with someone considering the business opportunity, providing a forum for immediate action. The only thing the sales force needs to collaborate is a computer with an Internet connection.
Cloud computing works in conjunction with business so it keeps up when business is good and reduces costs when business is down. Cloud computing is proving very quickly that this virtual platform is able to serve all of its masters—corporate, Sales Reps and consumers—efficiently and effectively in the NOW world we live in today.