The Sample First Company

Revital U
Founded: 2017
Headquarters: Plano, Texas and cloud based
Top Executive: Andy McWilliams, CEO
Products: Health and wellness

Revital U takes a customer-centric approach to direct sales.

After more than 25 years of experience in direct sales, including 10 years at Excel and three years at ACN as a distributor, plus his time at Momentis, first as a field leader, then as CEO, Andy McWilliams decided to do things differently as CEO of Revital U. He’s put aside the traditional strategies he now considers “old school” and, instead, is reimagining social selling and direct selling at Revital U.

“We shut down a thriving company in order to start Revital U,” says McWilliams of himself and his wife, Amy. “I wanted to break out of the norm. We had to find a way for people to focus on customer acquisition and not on rep recruitment and pack sales. The way I wanted to do that is through the sample-first idea. I knew we would need help, and we were lucky that Pat Johnston shared the same passion for changing how direct sales is talked about.”

Revital U sells health and wellness products, including those that help people with their energy, weight management and focus, as well as a product that’s designed to help people sleep. The company offers fast-acting products that are designed to be sampled first.

“…how we do sampling—where it is the primary way we engage a customer—makes a difference.”
—Andy McWilliams, Revital U, CEO

The Sample First Strategy

Revital U trains its Brand Influencers to focus on sampling product, not selling it. A Brand Influencer simply sends a product sample to a potential customer and asks them to try it and experience the many benefits. The Brand Influencer is instructed not to tell their product story until the sample recipient tries the product and comes back to the Brand Influencer with their own story.

“The sample idea is not original to us,” McWilliams says. “People have sampled before and will for decades later. But how we do sampling—where it is the primary way we engage a customer—makes a difference.”

Trademarked as “The Sample First Company,” Revital U believes so much in sampling that it makes distributing samples easy. When a new Brand Influencer enrolls at no cost, they receive 15 digital samples in their first 90 days. Using their Revital U phone app, Brand Influencers then assign the digital samples to the people they want to receive them. Revital U takes care of mailing them out and tracking the delivery status—thus tapping into the power of direct mail as part of their business strategy.

Although Revital U initially charged a $99 enrollment fee, the company has since launched a new strategy where a Brand Influencer enrolls at no charge. “Now it’s free to get started,” McWilliams says. “Why would we charge someone money to help us acquire a customer base? We invest more in a new person who is just starting than they do.”

“…Now it’s free to get started. Why would we charge someone money to help us acquire a customer base?”
—Andy McWilliams, Revital U, CEO

Getting to Know U

Revital U pre-launched in April 2017 and launched in September of that year, so the company has been in business for almost three years. Although Revital U is cloud-based, it has a small office in Plano, Texas, with ten employees.

McWilliams is forthright when it comes to sharing Revital U’s sales numbers. “When we pre-launched, in April 2017, we had $88,000 in total revenue,” he says. “Then we made $110,000 in May 2017, $169,000 in June 2017, $273,000 in July 2017, $610,000 in August 2017, and $1.4 million in September 2017, the month we launched. Many companies don’t do $90 million in their first two years. We have been very profitable, which is incredible.”

At press time, Revital U has 31,500 Brand Influencers and 370,000 customers, McWilliams says.

“Our average customer-to-Brand-Influencer ratio is 12 to 1,” he adds. “We do not count a Brand Influencer as a customer.”

With an average sale of $51, according to McWilliams, Revital U is working hard to build a business model where customers are at the center of what they do. It hasn’t always been easy, McWilliams admits. “We’re in unchartered territory a little bit,” he says. “We’re by ourselves.”

Ninety-two percent of the company’s Brand Influencers are women—a number that is higher than the Direct Selling Association’s industry average of 75 percent women to 25 percent men—which may have something to do with women’s emphasis on relationship-building through sharing of experiences. The distributor base also includes many first-timers. “Hardly anyone we have in our company has ever done network marketing before,” McWilliams adds. “Nearly every one of them is a newbie.”

Training, Tools and Tasks

To get started with their business, a Brand Influencer subscribes to Revital U’s Virtual Office, the platform from which they work, sample, enroll new customers and collaborate with others. Brand Influencers subscribe to the Virtual Office for $1 a day or $30 a month, and the service is month-to-month so they can cancel anytime.

Training is done online and in person by McWilliams, who travels to training sites in the field personally. “Since my experience is in the field, one of the areas I’m focused on is getting people to understand that why you do it is way more important than how or what you do,” he says. “What’s very much a part of our culture is that we are with you every step of the way.”

During the trainings, one of the topics Revital U focuses on is when and how a Brand Influencer should tell their own story about the products when discussing them with a potential customer.

They are taught to use restraint when telling their story, to let the customer have their own experience with the product first.

“When you focus on the customer first, it changes the dynamic of the conversation,” McWilliams says. “When you create the right product and give the right kind of customer service, then it makes the Brand Influencer’s job easier.”

“When you focus on customers first, it changes the dynamic of the conversation.”
—Andy McWilliams, Revital U, CEO

Leveraging Vendor Partnerships

One of the ways Revital U maintains excellence in its execution of time-intensive business functions is to delegate them to highly skilled suppliers or “vendor partners,” as the company refers to them. McWilliams’ decision to outsource functions like shipping and technology to vendor partners who specialize in these areas gives the company’s corporate staff the time to focus on what they do best.

“We knew we would spend more money by adding another layer of cost into the execution of our business model,” McWilliams says. “This is way more advantageous and profitable in the long run than having to be good at all those other things.”

Plus, the approach opens the door to devising more creative ways to focus on customers first.

“It truly is just about customers,” McWilliams says. “Every promotion, every paycheck, everything is customer-based. We know who we are—that we are The Sample First Company—that we are customer centric.”