Whether you’re dipping your toe into direct sales or you’re neck deep in the industry, you should have questions. Questions like: Is the industry riddled with scammers? How can I tell if a company is ethical? Who keeps independent sellers and consumers safe? Even with government regulations, who enforces the ethics? What is the future of the direct sales industry? Does it even positively contribute to the economy?
Your success in the direct sales industry hinges on good research—and the answers are out there. Organizations do exist to help you stay safe and succeed. And credible companies have a vested interest in fine-tuning the ethics and reputation of the direct sales industry. Both are vital to how direct selling richly contributes to the United States’ economy, and beyond.
Direct Selling Association (DSA)
The Direct Selling Association (DSA) exists to support and protect direct sellers. It’s a national trade association for companies that market products and services directly to consumers through an independent, entrepreneurial sales force. DSA serves to promote, protect, and police the direct selling industry while helping direct selling companies and their independent sales force become more successful.
Companies that are members of the DSA apply and recommit annually to its Code of Ethics. So, when considering buying from or joining a direct selling organization, first click here to find out if they are a DSA member.
DSA members and independent sellers are provided these services:
Resources. For direct sellers, the DSA offers career resources for filing taxes, navigating health insurance, and filing a code complaint. Access to industry research, government relations, direct selling advocacy, and press releases are just a click away. Study these resources to make smart decisions about building your business.
Advocacy. The ethics enforcement process protects consumers and independent salespeople in the direct sales industry. Ethics is a big part of the DSA’s mission. Through Code of Ethics policies, members are held to the highest ethical business standards. Enforcement procedures back up these policies, allowing anyone to file a written complaint to be investigated by an Administrator.
Education. Conferences, seminars, webinars, and networking keep direct selling executives and members up to date on best practices in the industry’s ever-changing landscape. The DSA has also created the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) to bring direct selling education to the public and students.
Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF)
The Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) partners with the academic community to expand the knowledge and understanding of fundamental direct selling principles. Their vision is to educate the public on the value of the direct selling industry and its role in strengthening economies worldwide.
The Foundation works with professors in a variety of disciplines—including entrepreneurship, marketing, ethics, consumer studies, business, and economics—to commission academic research, develop content, and host direct selling education programs on university campuses across the country.
The DSEF empowers educators with useful classroom content to enhance any curriculum—it’s constantly adding new resources. Watch a few sample modules here.
Analytics to Drive Sales. At Elon University, in partnership with the DSEF, Dr. Haya Ajjan organized a panel to discuss how using analytics can enhance productive sales operations at the business consultant level and across sales teams, with a particular emphasis on direct selling firms.
In the Compassionate Entrepreneurship video case study, Trades of Hope co-founder Chelsie Antos highlights this fair-trade direct selling company, created by two mother-daughter teams, as a sustainable business model to empower women out of poverty.
The DSEF also publishes free articles and blogs, holds campus events, and awards grants to aspiring sales-focused students.
Ethics Are Key
Maintaining ethics for a large sales force requires checks and balances. Because the DSA and the DSEF require ethical conduct, they highlight organizations who stand out for the systems they put in place. USANA Health Sciences holds itself to the highest standards of integrity. When asked how his organization maintained the highest standard of ethics, USANA Founder, Dr. Myron Wentz said the following.
“We have systems in place that allow for employees to report incidences of misconduct anonymously, so they can be honest without any fear of being reprimanded or creating any type of backlash from managers or others who may be involved. Our compliance and regulatory departments make sure that everything we say in any of our publications, videos, and even on stage is both factual and within all lawful regulations.
As for our Associates, we hold them to high standards as well. We regularly inform our Associates regarding what they can and cannot say about our products and how they can lawfully run their businesses. Any Associate found to be acting outside the rules may be subject to a business termination.”
Direct Selling Police
Direct selling plays an important role in the economy—and protecting consumers and sellers are top priorities for organizations like the DSA and DSEF. When exploring the world of direct sales, they can be relied on to research the companies you interact with to make sure they put ethics first.
By aligning yourself with direct sales companies that are members of the DSA, you can sleep better knowing someone is watching your back, and the future of an ethical direct sales industry will thrive.
If you’re interested, get involved by donating time or funds to the DSEF—help protect direct selling ethics for years to come.