Liann Cayford – Usborne Books
Liann runs a business with Usborne Books and tells us more about her journey so far…
Suzannah (S). Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. If you could start by saying a bit about yourself…
Liann (L). My name is Liann and I am 42 years old. I live in South Wales with my husband, Steve, and our 4 girls aged between 11 and 4.
S. What is the Direct Selling company you represent? Please could you tell us a little bit about their history.
L. I work for Usborne Books at Home and School. They are an award winning children’s publisher for children ages from birth to young adult. They celebrated their 40th anniversary last year.
S. How did you come to join Usborne?
L. I joined in January 2010 whilst on maternity leave, my youngest daughter was 9 months old at the time. Being a manager in an office based job I had intended to stay at home with my baby for as long as I could. One of my close friends contacted me about this great opportunity and I have not looked backed since.
S. Why did you feel that Direct Selling was the best option for you?
L. It was not something I had ever thought about to be honest. It simply happened that I really enjoyed the sales, seeing all the happy children who bought the books. I met loads of different people from all over the UK and started building my team.
S. Did you carry on with your office job?
L. As of yet I have not returned to my office job, I extended my maternity with an extra 5 years unpaid leave.
S. Did you have any previous experience of direct selling or running a business?
L. I have never had any experience with direct selling. I have always worked for other people. I did used to help manage my parents pub before I had children. I had no sales experience but did have people skills due to managing a team at the office. I also have qualifications in business and finance so was able to use this to my advantage.
S. From my experience, people worry that they haven’t got ‘sales’ experience, but if you love the products you represent you don’t necessarily need experience. Would you agree with this?
L. I totally agree with this. My passion for these books have saw me through every step of the way to succeeding in my business. If you believe in the product you are selling then your job becomes that much easier.
S. Tell me a bit more about the products you offer
L. I offer books from birth, such as cloth books, bath books, black and white books. To the cloth bound books that I like to call generation books, bound so they last decades and so can be passed through generations. I offer books that make learning fun, from colouring, stickers and make and do. There is a book for every child, whether it’s the reluctant reader or those who love a good novel. My children love these books, they have taught my youngest 3 to read and they have never been lost for a book to use to research their homework.
S. They are lovely books. My children have quite a few!
S. How many people do you have in your downline and how do you manage your team?
L. I currently have 90 in my downline – I have at one point had over 100. I am a Team Leader myself and I also have 2 Team Leaders with their own teams. One Team leader lives 2 miles from me and the other in Newcastle. We work together to ensure all our organisers have full training and are mentored individually. As there are never any sales targets with Usborne I am there to help to achieve their own goal, whether it’s to achieve the incentives, create a new business, earn a little extra cash, a hobby or simply to get books for their own children.
S. Can you tell me more about how you retail?
L. I have my own website my customers can buy directly online. I also have a Facebook page where I inform my customers where I will be attending. I attend any events, coffee mornings, school fetes, charity events, County shows, home parties and sell at schools at their parent evenings and book fairs. I can also offer schools and nurseries up to 60% off their order placed with myself. I offer free gifts to those who have a party.
S. Do you have a preferred way to retail? What is most profitable for you?
L. I love getting out there and meeting people. Over the 4 years my business has grown with my children. When I started I attended every parent and toddler group there was, my baby always come with me. Now they are all in school I work around them. On weekends, half terms and Summer holidays we attend events as a family. My husband being very supportive always sells a few books for me too. There’s no one way of saying best profit – for events I buy up front and this one of my favourite ways as I like the selling. Party orders give me 24% commission and school orders give me 20% commission. School orders tend to be larger. Plus I earn more as I am a Team Leader.
S. It’s really important to have your husband supporting you. Sadly many women in DS struggle with un-supportive partners.
L. Yes VERY supportive and has encouraged me to build this business up. He knows how happy this makes me. When I speak to ladies wishing to join, they tend to go away, have a think and a chat with their partner and then join.
S. What about support for you? Such as company training and upline support.
L .My upline is very supportive and has helped me get where I am today. That is so important to know someone is there for you. I feel I have followed in her footsteps and am supportive to my group too. We have leaders group where we all support and encourage each other. We have the annual gala and conference held in January, this year was in Wales for the first time. It’s a great chance to get to meet everyone else and sometimes your own team for the first time We have a training officer and our MD is very supportive. We have great office staff too. We have many meetings throughout the year.
S. It’s good that you have those support networks.
L. I have my own Team Leader Facebook group and we have monthly online meetings. I have a lady in Jersey who Skypes.
S. What has been the best and worst moments of being in business so far?
L. I have so many best moments as I have won loads of incentives. My first year I won the new organiser award for my own sales and come runner up as new team leader of the year. I won travel incentives to Rome and Florence and also to New York. Having succeeded in staying as a Team Leader and promoting out ladies on my team to Team Leaders I have attending some very special venues over the years.
S. Wow some great incentives there! Well done on your awards. Has there been a ‘worst’ moment though?
L. I don’t think I have had a worse moment to be honest. I know that sounds a bit untrue! On Friday my worse moment was being asked for 250 copies of a book and having only 64 in stock!!! As Team Leaders I suppose our worse moments come at end month – there’s the “will I, won’t I?” qualify this month.
S. What three words would you use to describe your ‘business’ self?
Passionate, motivated and encouraging!
S. Great qualities Liann.
S. What advice would you give to anyone else wanting to get into DS?
L. Go for it, why not be your own boss. My advice would be go for a product you love already. Don’t be thrown by high earnings, those go to those who work and are self motivated.
S. I think it’s so important to do the research first.
L. Do a bit of research and it’s also important to get on with the person who mentors you.
S. How do you find new people to join your team?
L. I talk to everyone I meet about Usborne books, you just never know when you will find your next team member. I have recruited at schools, parties, County shows and the one I love the most is I recruited my Team Leader whilst she was having a fish pedicure.
S. I agree you have to be confident and proud about running your own business – people are always genuinely interested and you never know you might be talking to them at exactly the right time, even during a fish spa!
S. Do you have a business idol/mentor who you look up to?
L. There are many people who I have thought “I would like to be just like you”. We get this at our gala awards, it’s called our “light bulb” moment. Julie my mentor is very successful and we have shared so many great days out and travel together. What is good is we support and challenge each other (this is how we both won New York there was only one other lady who won) My divisional leader has always been someone who I think of being successful too.
S. How much is it to join your company and what do people have to do if they want to find out more?
It is only £38 to join Usborne and for this you get £152 worth of books and sales aids to get you started. There are no sales targets only fun incentives, so no pressure from anyone. To find out more and join can click on my website or join directly online on this link usbornebooksathome.co.uk/liann/join-my-team I would be there to answer any questions anyone may have.
S. That’s great Liann. Thank you for being interviewed by Work For Mums.
You can find out more about Liann and joining Usborne books below:
Joining Usborne: usbornebooksathome.co.uk/liann/join-my-team
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