In the previous parts, I told about how my direct selling journey had started in 1991 and also how the first network marketing company was established in Turkey. This week’s part will cover the start of sales.
When we moved to our newly-renovated office, the first big event was the first opportunity meeting. Even though the products were at the customs, we still could not get hold of them. Despite this, we decided to hold the first meeting. Oriflame’s highest strategical priority at that time was to expand before Avon did, not only in Turkey but also in all of Eastern Europe.
I have had clients who were just entering the direct selling industry. Almost in all cases, the question they ask me is, “Tell me, how did you find the first members?” Well, we all know the contact list that we have been preaching to the newcomers on the field. I followed the same route! The only difference was that since I was the General Manager, this list should not have composed of who had close ties to myself. And in time, I have witnessed many cases where the corporate managers do the opposite and each case have proved I was right in doing that.
I invited two of my wife’s officemates, my assistant’s aunt, our accountant’s older sister, two people from the Swedish Trade Center in Istanbul. On a Saturday afternoon in April 1992, we held our first opportunity meeting with 18 attendees. For about one and a half hour, I told about the company, the concept and the products. They all were hearing about network marketing for the first time in their lives. At the end of the meeting, these network marketing pioneers of Turkey were offered to get their starter kits for free. I personally entered their application forms to the system one by one and archived their forms. These 18 people would be 100,000 in three years time!
Few days after our first opportunity meeting we received the products from the customs. We were ready to start selling ten weeks after I was hired. We phoned our founding members and told they could now start earning. The same day at noon time, one of our first distributors came to the office with her orders. I and the warehouse supervisor put together her products and I personally handed her parcel to her. That was Oriflame’s first sale in Turkey.
The following weeks and months were all full of success. Towards the end of the summer of 1992, I met with Jonas af Jochnick, one of the founders of Oriflame. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “We did it!” I was surely the happiest person on earth!