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HomeTHE HOTTEST TOPICSMulti-level marketingDirect sales: Meet the upliners

Direct sales: Meet the upliners

We profiled different participants in the direct sales industry to find out what retailers can learn from them. Meet Isagenix distributors Adam Nesbitt and Bianca Bathurst.

Adam Nesbitt and his partner Bianca Bathurst became independent distributors for Isagenix in 2014, and are now the number two income earners in New Zealand for the programme, which has been present in the New Zealand market for 10 years.

Nesbitt and Bathurst have a network of around 5030 customers, 80 percent of which is New Zealand-based and the rest across eight other countries. 

They estimate that 80 percent of the work involved with their Isagenix activity is finding new customers through doing presentations and maintaining networks; the other 20 percent is admin such as supporting existing customers and carrying out social media training. They are not involved with shipping or distribution of the products.

Before joining Isagenix, Nesbitt was a helicopter pilot who’d also done a stint working for activewear company Lululemon during 2013, and Bathurst was a lawyer.

“We didn’t just jump ship,” Nesbitt says. “We waited for our income to match.”

The pair says two key benefits over traditional employment are that they can work from anywhere, and they receive passive income from their downliners. They are not interested in starting an independent business.

“All of that organisation that comes with full ownership, we’re not interested in doing any of that,” says Nesbitt. “We get the creativity side of being an entrepreneur, not the stress.”

Like Frost, Nesbitt and Bathurst first encountered Isagenix as customers, only ever holding personal-usage quanities of product. All three consider themselves “walking, talking billboards” and incorporate content relating to their own physical “transformations” into their marketing.

Around 80 percent of Nesbitt and Bathurst’s customers are seeking weight management products.

“We have a genuine, authentic love for the product that is so different to someone that’s working for a business purely for the paycheck,” Bathurst says. “What that looks like is that they’re actively sharing the Isagenix product or products and opportunities with people.”

She says the prevalence of Instagram influencers carrying out paid promotions online has normalised the concept of referrals.

“Three years ago, there was barely anyone that was making an online living,” says Bathurst.

She believes a new generation of network marketers are coming through thanks to the popularity of the format on social media. She says social media has given sellers like herself and her partner a much greater ability to reach strangers in a socially appropriate way.

“It’s all just starting to erupt because of the free platform of online media,” Nesbitt says. “Network marketing is becoming more and more popular, more and more common.”

However, Bathurst says there’s a flip side to this popularity in that more and more people are consciously aware of marketing tricks, gimmicks and exaggerations. She places network marketing outside and in opposition to this trend: “In network marketing our marketing is based on relationships, authenticity and sharing relationships.”

Like Frost, neither Nesbitt nor Bathurst considers themself as a retailer, although both feel part of the business community.

“Out of all the events we’ve been to, nobody’s ever mentioned retail,” Nesbitt says.

He feels that network marketing’s performance-based reward structure offers incentives to work hard and stay engaged that mainstream retail doesn’t.

“My experience in retail [with Lululemon] was, it didn’t matter if I sold an item of clothing or not, I just showed up and worked, and that’s a recipe for disengagement.”

Other stories in this series include:

Direct sales: Meet the business builder

Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

Leveling up: Exploring multi-level marketing in New Zealand

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 760 February/March 2019

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