Glossary of Direct Selling Terms

Whether you are a new social influencer, brand ambassador, or a successful business builder, we're sure you've had a time when you heard a direct selling term you didn't know the meaning of or weren't sure if you were using the word correctly.

Here is a comprehensive glossary of industry terms used in the direct selling, multi-level marking (MLM), influencer marketing, and networking marketing industries to help you sound like an expert from day one.

If you found we missed a term, please let us know here!


Compression is the term used for bypassing inactive or ineligible distributors when determining rank qualifications or compensation plans as if they aren't a part of genealogy. It can be of two types, standard and dynamic. Standard compression includes bypassing only inactive distributors while determining rank qualification or compensation plans. In contrast, dynamic compression consists of both inactive and active but ineligible distributors.


The definition of corporate is 'to be owned by a group of people'. A corporate business or corporation is any business entity owned by several stakeholders and authorized by the state. In MLM model businesses, the group may also include independent contributors, also known as the distributors.


Crosslines are distributors sponsored by the uplines. For example, if you work as a distributor for an MLM company, you will likely be sponsored by an upline. Just like you, your upline can sponsor other distributors to the team. These other sponsored members are your crosslines. Although they belong to the same upline, they share no business interests.

Customer churn

The meaning of customer churn is the number of customers that stop working with you within a given time frame. For example, if you sell some SaaS product or service, your measurement metric is the number of subscribers at the start and end of a particular year. You can calculate your business churn rate by dividing the number of customers you lost during a specific time frame by the number of customers you had at the beginning.

Direct Sales

Direct sales are simply selling products to consumers without any retail environment. Direct selling occurs in unconventional environments like homes, offices, online websites, and other non-store locations. It is among the most common business models found in MLM companies, where distributors reach out to the target consumers and sell products to them.


A distributor is an independent entity or a person who takes a bulk amount of different products from a specific manufacturer and sells it to consumers directly under a compensation plan. Depending on the type of agreement, a distributor might sell products for only one company or might have the freedom to sell products from different brands and lines.


When an upline or distributor recruits into the network, the newly recruited member of the sales force is known as a downline. A downline represents the total income of the consultant. This means that the upline or consultant will be compensated by their own sales and those by their downlines.


The definition of E-commerce is 'Selling products through the internet.' In the direct selling business, the E-commerce business model is known as D2C or direct-to-consumer, where the company sells products directly to customers through replicated web stores.


Enroll means to register as a member of a particular institution. Thus, if we define that from the perspective of a direct selling business, the definition of enrollment will be 'the process of becoming a distributor for a direct selling company through a sponsor or an upline.'


Field, in multi-level marketing, is the place outside the office or formal team environment where distributors or salespeople sell a product. Field marketing involves selling products at various locations and occasions, from college campuses to public places and anywhere in between. It is one of the most common strategies in direct sales marketing.

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