Luce Associates Blog Header

Tag: leadership

When working with field leaders, I’m often asked how to sponsor “good” people – ones who aspire to become leaders.  And on occasion, a leader tells me she only talks to people who “prequalify” as a solid prospective consultant. Ouch! I believe, without hesitation, that we can’t tell if someone will be wildly successful. We can have a hunch, for sure. But too many times I’ve worked with new consultants who just needed encouragement and someone who believed in them. What a rush to see them succeed! I would hate to eliminate them from the start. So I always respond by saying, “Sponsor everyone because you never know – you just never know.”

Recently I learned about an informal field test from Shelley Whitmarsh, VP of Sales for SimplyFun. When Shelley was in the field, she and a fellow team leader noticed that Shelley’s team grew proportionately faster so they set out to determine why. Was it personal sponsoring? No – they sponsored about the same number each year. Was it the amount of time they dedicated to building their business? No – that was also roughly the same. Yet when Shelley’s team tripled in size, her friends team doubled.

Here’s what they came up with. When Shelley presented the business opportunity – to everyone – she presented it as just that – a business opportunity. Her friend had a different approach. When she presented the business opportunity – to everyone – she positioned it as a part-time job. That “full-time vs. part-time” mentality worked it’s way through their organization. In Shelley’s team, more aspired to become team leaders, which led to overall team growth. Now, when asked if there is a secret ingredient to sponsoring future leaders, I’ll say, “Sponsor everyone and tell them about the advantages of building a substantial business from the start –because you never know – you just never know.”

.With over 25 years of direct sales experience, Lori develops training packages for start up companies and works with established companies to update sales training and methods.  Lori is an accomplished speaker and specializes in creating presentations tailored to meet each company’s specific needs.

Do I have your attention? Sure hope so.  Because whether you are a sales representative in the field, a corporate sales leader or simply checking out the industry, this tip will serve you well.

While exciting new products, elaborate trip promotions and “raise the roof” conventions can increase performance; the best overall strategy to build sales and recruiting is to focus on finding and nurturing Prospective Team Leaders.

A Prospective Team Leader is one who is working to reach the first level of leadership as outlined in the company’s compensation plan. This typically involves a personal sales, sponsoring and team sales requirement. When these performance minimums are met, the Prospective receives a new title and substantial bonus increase.

Why are Prospective Leaders so important?  Because they need to sell more and recruit more in order to reach their goal. And when they succeed, their increased activity will be reflected in your company’s overall performance.  It’s a simple concept but one that can easily get by us.

Now, how do we find those prospective leaders?  Stay tuned…

Image Credit: pasukara76

With over 25 years of direct sales experience, Lori develops training packages for start up companies and works with established companies to update sales training and methods. Lori is an accomplished speaker and  specializes in creating presentations tailored to meet each company’s specific needs.

This is the time of year when many direct sales companies plan an event for leaders only.  Most often taking place in early/mid January, leadership conferences are a great way to move your sales force out of holiday mode and back into business mode.  But despite their limited attendance, planning a leadership conference requires just about as much thought and work as your national convention.  So here are a few thoughts you might want to keep in mind if a leadership conference is in your company’s plans.

It all comes down to one word: promote!  Treat your leadership conference with the same degree of enthusiasm, anticipation and “you gotta be there” as you’ll give to your national convention. For the most part, promotion=communication.  And the more frequent and specific that communication is the better.  For instance:

Invitations—Whether it’s printed or via email, extend an official invitation to your leaders.  Even if it’s only a “save the date” invitation, it’s important to let everyone know where & when  your leadership conference is happening, and why they’ll want to be there.  And if you’re going to a warm weather location, promote that too! Who won’t be ready for change in the cold weather by January?

Event Recognition—Now is the time most direct sales companies enjoy their best sales.  Leverage that fact by structuring your recognition so that it will include all levels, not just the heavy hitters.   

This also brings up the age-old question: Should we just recognize those in attendance, or include those who don’t come as well?  My personal feeling- event recognition is meant to draw people to your event, so recognition should be reserved for those attend. Nothing else falls flatter than announcing a name for recognition, only to follow it with “(name) couldn’t be with us today.” Non-attendance can turn recognition into a downer.  Instead, consider building promotions that help leaders earn their way to your leader conference through their holiday sales or recruits. 

Training—“Teach me how to make more money” is what gets people to events, and your leadership conference is no exception.  That means now is the time to decide what your training topics are, who’s going to be presenting those topics, and what the specific key points/actions/skills your workshops are going to focus on.  Make sure there is something for everybody, from the newest leader to the oldest old-timer.   Promote that training, including any special guest speakers, in every phone call, email, tweet or other communiqué that goes out to your leaders.

Perhaps most important, promote the exclusivity and prestige of being a leader and being eligible to attend leadership conference in the first place.  Remind your leaders they’re important to your company; their input counts big time.  Encourage senior leaders to carry this message to their downline leaders.  Your January leadership conference is a unique opportunity to foster a heightened sense of pride, professionalism and camaraderie.  Make it count for all you can!

Writer/Events Producer Dick Wilson has been adding creative touches to direct sales meetings for over 20 years.  Learn more how Dick can help you at http://luceandassociates.com/Dick-Wilson.html.

Working for yourself is hard… much, much harder than working for someone else at a job. When we work for someone else as an employee, they tell us what days and hours to work, they define our job and what constitutes success at that job, and they worry about whether there is enough money to pay the bills.  Employees, even senior managers, go to work and do the job that has been defined for them.  Sure there are big, high stress, complicated jobs that many employees do. But at least most of the scheduling, tasks and limits of authority have been defined for them by someone else.

When we are our own boss running our own business we not only have to accomplish the tasks that will bring us financial rewards, we also have to create a work schedule, define the tasks to be done, create a strategy and business plan and take out the trash.  There is no “boss” to help us prioritize our time and work on the “big picture”.  No, the self employed must do it all.  And that is the downfall of many who try to build their own businesses.  This inability to effectively manage ourselves is the single biggest reason that direct sales leaders fail.  In fact, it may be the primary reason why many self employed people are unable to be successful.

Think about it:   If you are unable to create and maintain a productive work schedule each week without the benefit of someone prodding and reminding you to do the work, how can you teach others to do so?  If you are unable to effectively prioritize your tasks into “must do” tasks versus “nice to do” tasks then you will not get the truly important business building things accomplished. You will waste time doing things that don’t really count.

So often over my career when counseling a leader who built a good downline and business and was now watching it fall into decline I have heard:  “I’m just so busy doing my newsletter and recognition and planning my team holiday party that I just don’t have time to do my personal business anymore!”

This is a classic example of not managing one’s self well.  She built her business by doing the fundamental business activities well: strong and consistent personal sales, effective recruiting activities, teaching new sellers to be successful and coaching the most willing and promising to become leaders themselves.   These are the “must do” tasks.  Newsletters, recognition and team celebrations are important, but should never be given priority over the must-do tasks that are fundamental to success.  My advice to leaders is this situation is always “Go back to doing the things that made you successful and hire some part time help to do the important “nice to do” things.  When you concentrate on doing the important stuff, your volunteer sales team members will do the same.  After all, they too want to build their own business and most are not sure how to do that.  So, they look to you and copy what you do.

If you run your own business, now may be good time to review how well you are managing yourself.  Are you concentrating on the “must do” tasks or have you been sliding into spending time on the “nice to do” things?  Are you focusing your most productive hours of the day on your income producing activities?  Do you work consistently at your business on a daily, weekly, monthly schedule?  In other words, take stock:  Are you managing yourself well?

Alan Luce

Few people in the direct sales industry can match the experience, expertise and successes of Alan Luce. With over 25 years in senior management, guiding start-ups and established companies alike, Alan has met virtually every challenge a direct sales executive can face.  Learn more about how Alan can help your company at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Alan-Luce.html.

We as an industry have always been big on barriers to entry.  If someone wants to order something, we want them to do it at a party.  We must preserve the rules of first contact.  Every order must go through a consultant!  And while the reasoning of avoiding even the hint of competition with the sales force makes a lot of sense, and we really would like people to go to parties, there are ways to credit things to consultants and encourage parties without throwing up barriers to entry that are driving away our business.

In this interconnected world we now live in, people expect things immediately.  I decide to join your company at midnight…I want to do so RIGHT NOW.  I don’t want to wait for that email form I submitted to reach someone in your office, and then for you to connect it with the right consultant, and then that person to call me. That could take days! I expect to be able to sign up RIGHT NOW and you can do your backoffice procedures later.  Same goes for ordering.  If I want to order something (especially if I’ve looked at your catalog via a mobile app) and you tell me after I’ve made my choices that now I have to pick up a phone or in some other way interrupt my flow to do something else…well, frankly, you’ve lost me again.

This generation expects immediacy.  If we stay tied to our barriers to entry, we’re going to very quickly find that we are becoming irrelevant and outdated.  I’m not saying we should take recruits or orders away from the sales force.  Goodness, no.  And we should encourage people who want to join or order to identify their consultant at every step in the process.  But if I don’t have someone I’m working with (or, dare I say it, don’t particularly WANT to deal with a particular person in your sales force), don’t make me jump through hoops to connect with you.  It’s completely the opposite to the way the world expects to do business today.

Barriers to entry must become a thing of the past if we hope as an industry to remain a relevant way to do business.  Young companies get this and build those systems from the beginning.  Older companies are finding it a much harder process to change the minds of both our internal and external stakeholders on this issue.  But it must be done.  If we allow outdated ways of doing business, and fear, to guide our decision making, very soon we’re not going to have a business that appeals to a new generation of buyers and recruits.  To build a sustainable, long-term business, we must adapt, and barriers to entry have to be eliminated.

What are your thoughts on this?  What are the challenges to eliminating barriers?  Have you had experiences in attempting their removal?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments.

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong helps direct sales companies leverage the power of social media marketing to increase sales and recruiting, and manage online brand perception.To learn more about how Jennifer can help your company, visit http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html.  You can also check out her direct sales and social media blog at http://www.jenfongspeaks.com.

image credit: Mark Hillary

Alan Luce

Alan Luce

After nearly 40 years in direct selling, I am a firm believer in what I have come to call the Belief Multiplier Effect.  “What is it?’ you ask.  The Belief Multiplier Effect (BME) is that sudden unexplainable upsurge in your direct sales business that goes well beyond what all your analysis and projections anticipated.   Your plans called for a modest increase but suddenly the business just starts to fly!  Sales are exploding; recruiting is at all time highs and new leaders are coming out of the woodwork.  What in the heck happened?  Or perhaps more accurately, what are we doing right that we didn’t do before?

In my experience, the Belief Multiplier Effect kicks in not because of any one thing, but because the Company has done a number of things right and all of these important separate elements finally coalesce into a firm belief among your sales leaders that anything is truly possible.  When enough members of the sales force begin to really believe, then incredible things begin to happen.

Can you plan for the belief multiplier effect?  No, not really.  But what you can do is set the stage for it to occur.  How? By paying attention to the small things and gaining and maintaining the trust of your sales force.

Here are some of the key elements that must be present before there is any chance of riding the BME Express:

  • Your sales force must use and love the Company products.  They must be on a mission to share the product benefits with everyone they know.
  • Your sales force services must be excellent.  This includes accurate, on time shipments with little breakage.  When errors do occur the sales force must have easy access to report them and quick, cheerful solutions.  Never embarrass the sales force in front of their customers.
  • The training must be effective.  If the company says that this is the way to do something, then most folks who follow the advice had better get the results promised.
  • Heroes and heroines must emerge.  Nothing creates organizational belief faster than some of their own experiencing great success.   Sales force belief is peer driven.
  • The sales force influence leaders must believe without doubt or question that the company will always try to act in their best interests.
  • The experience of belonging to the company must be fun, educational and motivational.

When a company gets all of these various elements in alignment and those heroines and heroes are emerging and inspiring others with their stories, then the atmosphere exists for the Belief Multiplier Effect to kick in.  That’s when the results begin to significantly exceed both forecasts and expectations.  As I said, you can’t predict it, it is almost impossible to measure, and you cannot count on it being there forever.  But what you can do is work very hard to make sure that all of the elements necessary for the Belief Multiplier Effect to kick and thrive are continuously cared for, improved and nurtured. Drift, even slightly, away from the attention to detail and practices that were present when the BME kicked in and you can lose it as quickly and unexpectedly as it first appeared. Once lost, it is hard to get back.  When you’ve got it going, you and your sales force experience the true magic of direct selling.

Few people in the direct sales industry can match the experience, expertise and successes of Alan Luce. With over 25 years in senior management, guiding start-ups and established companies alike, Alan has met virtually every challenge a direct sales executive can face.  Learn more about how Alan can help your company at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Alan-Luce.html.

by Alan Luce

Alan Luce

Alan Luce

Like the rest of the country, many direct selling families are having a tough time.  Jobs are scarce, overtime is almost non-existent and prices for the essentials keep going up.  In a recession largely caused by the failure of our elected and financial sector leaders to act honestly and responsibly, it is hard to know who to trust.

In days gone by we looked to someone’s “character” to gage whether a person was worthy of our trust.  A person’s “character” is almost a forgotten measuring stick in this world where all that seems to matter is how much money one makes or whether he or she won the election.   What they did to make their money or what tactics they used to win their election didn’t seem to matter.

Yet never has there been a time when the old fashioned notion of good character is more needed as a public standard.  A person’s character is not measured by any one talent or accomplishment, no matter how great or noteworthy. A person’s character was based upon measuring their honesty, truthfulness, courtesy, respect for others, kindness, sense of fair play, integrity and honor.  To be deemed a “success” a person had to have good character.  Without good character, a person was simply rich or famous or notorious, but certainly not someone to trust with decisions important to you.

The one area where character and leading by example is still the full measure of success is  direct selling.  Direct sellers are all volunteers.  They work as part of a leader’s team or downline because they want to, not because they have to.  Leaders who never ask their recruits to do work that they are not doing, leaders who teach even the newest all the tasks and methods to be successful, leaders who work to make you successful are the ones who achieve the most, climb the highest , last the longest and have the most respect.  In the transparent world of direct selling, the volunteer sales force soon ferrets out the untruthful, the manipulative, the dishonest and the self serving. Such people lack” character” and do not last as their followers soon figure out that the only success they are interested in is their own.

In tough times like these, the leaders with the best character in the full sense of that word are the ones that will help every recruit find their way, lead by example in all of the necessary work, and play by the rules no matter what the cost.  They succeed where others fail because character still counts!

Few people in the direct sales industry can match the experience, expertise and successes of Alan Luce. With over 25 years in senior management, guiding start-ups and established companies alike, Alan has met virtually every challenge a direct sales executive can face.  Learn more about how Alan can help your company at http://www.luceandassociates.com/Alan-Luce.html.