Luce Associates Blog Header

Tag: party plan

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.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a lovely sales consultant: “Do you know what my biggest problem is? I have terrible party attendance.”  And before I had a chance to respond, she said, “I just have to get better at host coaching.”  And I agreed.  Host coaching is a very important skill to learn and master.  But it was too much of a pat answer.  There had to be more.  Let’s think about it.

What is the point of host coaching?  What are we trying to accomplish?  The goal is to:

  • Build rapport with the host
  • Demonstrate how dedicated you are to her party success
  • Help her establish a reachable party sales goal
  • Teach her who to invite, how to invite and when to invite
  • Make recommendations about refreshments
  • Discuss delivery details

Oh, and you also talk about outside orders – how to take them, how to calculate the totals, what the current promotions are, when to close her party and more.   And when you do it well, your host will have a fun, well-attended party.  The sales will be high, her rewards, plentiful.

But that seems to be a very large answer to a very specific problem.  How do you get people to the party?  I posed this question to several colleagues and here’s what we have come up with so far.

  1. Ask your host how she’s going to invite her friends – what will really entice them to come.  If you feel you have more to offer, ask if you can make a few suggestions.  My concern is that sometimes, in our effort to help, we barrage our host with do’s and don’ts.  So let’s give her a shot first, and then ask for permission to tell her more.
  2. Explain that you don’t have party invitations.  You just have reminders.  I love this one.  To me, it really demonstrates the importance of personally inviting – once you’ve explained that e-invites just aren’t effective.
  3. When inviting friends, tell them that chocolate will be served.  I think this is my favorite.  It would certainly get my attention.

And then there are the oldies but goodies:

  • Suggest that her friends “bring a friend”.
  • Offer a small gift for a specific number of guests who place an order.
  • Recommend that she tell each friend why she feels they will benefit by attending.
  • Suggest that she carry some reminders in her purse so she can invite people on the spot.

I love the idea of looking at, “How to Build Party Attendance”, as a topic unto itself. And wouldn’t it be great if we all put our heads together and came up with a hefty list of suggestions?  So do you want to play?  If so, leave a comment so we can all learn more!

Lori Moser built a personal sales organization of thousands, and now helps direct selling companies put the salesforce training in place they need to succeed.  Lori can help your organization by both creating and delivering training that brings results!  For more information, contact her at lori@luceandassociates.com.

image credit:NatalieMaynor


Does this sound familiar?

“I did the party, but only a couple people ordered.  The others just started  talking or left.”

Or “No one actually placed an order at the party, so I gave my host another week to collect some orders on her own.”

This can be tough on anyone, but especially discouraging for your new representatives.  Plus, hosts who become order takers will likely think twice before scheduling another party.

So what’s the fix?  It often boils down to setting expectations by telling your host (during host coaching) and the guests (at the party) just what’s going to happen – how the party will flow.

And it’s easy to do – not pushy or presumptuous. Here are some word choices that I’ve found to be quite effective at the party. After introductions, say, “Let me give you an idea of how our party works.  I’m going to just talk a minute or two about why our company is special,take about 15 minutes to show you a few examples from our product lines, and then welcome you to have fun shopping.  So let’s get started…”

After the product demo, you can reiterate by saying, “Well, that’s it!  I welcome you to look through the catalog and take a look at the display.  I’ll be right here to help you choose just what is right for you. “

This is generic, but you get the idea. While this might seem obvious to a seasoned sales person, it doesn’t come naturally to our new people.  But once they understand the rationale and have a few words to say, they’ll be more likely to bring in those orders!

image credit: jb_projects

Lori Moser built a personal sales organization of thousands, and now helps direct selling companies with the salesforce training they need to succeed.  Lori can help your organization by both creating and delivering training that brings results!  For more information, contact her at lori (at) luceandassociates (dot) com.

Direct selling companies are in an interesting position right now.  Many executives who don’t know much about social media are looking to hire people who do, to guide them.  The challenge is finding people who also understand our industry and its specific nature. Just because a program or site someone saw is cool, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for direct selling.

It all comes down to understanding your business objectives before diving into social media.  By establishing a clear goal up front, every new program and site can be weighed against it, to decide if it’s a fit.  For example, let’s say that a social media advisor is in love with a virtual reality site he thought was cool when he worked at his last tech-savvy company.  This, he says, will be the shining star in the company’s social media strategy.

A quick look at the company’s business objective though, reveals that the goal is to increase consultant productivity.  Even though the site may be cool, it’s neither a) a place the company wants its sales force to be spending time (we want them selling and recruiting!) nor b) a tool that will in itself provide any tools to consultants to increase their productivity.  Sure, the site might help with brand recognition, but that has not been identified as the goal for the company’s social media strategy.

It’s critically important to ensure that companies start with business objectives, and not the “oooh! shiny” tools that try to sway our attention.  Focus is key.  The latest and greatest is not always the best solution for your particular needs.  Your best bet is to focus on tools that have the greatest concentration of your target market.  And then focus on ways to increase productivity by using those tools.  This is what will bring success with social media.

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.  She provides strategic planning consulting to companies, as well as conference speaking and training. 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, and her Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/jenfongspeaks.

image credit: jurvetson

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.

Most people are still worried about the economy, hunkered in, saving more than they have in years….. just not spending.  Even though most economists and business leaders think the worst has passed, that growth will start again in the 4th quarter, if it has not already, many consumers remain in the “bunker” mentality they have been in for the past year or more.  And that folks is the perfect time for you to really step up your direct selling business!!!!.

Sound crazy?  Believe me it’s not.  I have been a direct seller through the last three recessions, 4 including this blockbuster and I know the signs and what works for us.   We are entering the “jobless recovery” phase which means that the folks with jobs (9 out of 10) will soon begin to feel better about things because the pundits are saying that the worst is over, the stock market is doing better and housing prices are stabilizing.  However, the unemployment rate will continue at or near 10% for months to come perhaps well into the second half of next year.

But those 9 out of 10 with jobs haven’t been spending for a year or so.  When they feel better they will start spending again.  For direct sellers this means hosts will be more willing to book, more guests will be willing to come to a party and spend more than they have and more folks will be open to a one-on-one sales pitch.  But what about those 10% without jobs or who can only get part time work.  Well with the job market still slow, more and more of them are willing to think about starting their own businesses, perhaps as part of your team.  Have you asked?

Right now… right as the economic tide is starting to turn, is exactly the right time for direct sellers to dig in and do their thing: showing – selling and sharing the opportunity.  Get folks just as they want to come up and out of their bunkers and spend again.  Grab folks who can’t find a JOB and give them an opportunity to make $100 a night as many good party planners do.  Some of your colleagues are already hard at it and experiencing great results. Don’t get left behind.

Now is the time!  WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Alan Luce

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.

Jennifer Fong, Social Media Associate, recently sat down with Luce & Associates President Alan Luce to answer the most common questions direct selling executives have about social media.  The result is an article in this month’s issue of Direct Selling News.  We invite you to read the entire article here: http://www.directsellingnews.com/index.php/site/entries_archive_display/when_party_plan_and_social_media_collide

Alan Luce

Alan Luce

Jennifer Fong

Jennifer Fong

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.

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.

momchildcomputerWith the advent of social media tools, there can be the temptation to think that the party element of a direct sales business is a thing of the past.  Now that social media has arrived on the scene, do direct sellers really need to continue doing parties, and running the business the “old fashioned way?”  Can’t we just point everybody to our website, and call it a day?  And wouldn’t it make recruiting easier, if those people who don’t want to do parties could now be told they don’t have to?

For people who are serious about building and growing a direct sales business, the answer is a resounding “NO.”  Social media tools are fantastic for finding new prospects for a direct sales business, for providing superior customer service, for participating in the conversation that is defining your brand, and for positioning yourself as an expert that people turn to for advice and products.  However it is my very strong opinion that it is NOT a substitute for booking, selling, and recruiting.

First of all, parties are where the immediate income for a direct sales business comes from, at least in the party plan model.  All party plan companies should have party averages, and when a consultant does a party, she can pretty much count on making a certain amount of money.  Parties also give people a chance to interact with a consultant in real life, see and touch the products, and enjoy the experience of being with friends while making informed purchasing decisions.  In short, nothing replaces the party.  (There are online party options, but in my experience they are not as profitable.  This is a conversation for another post.)

Social media marketing also has a longer cycle.  It takes time to build relationships online, develop content for a blog, and build up enough know, like, and trust factor to get someone to make a purchase from you.  You have to connect with someone 7-15 times online, typically, before they’ll make a purchase from you.  There are online tools that help you do this, but you do need to invest time into building those relationships.

Jennifer Fong, Social Media Associate

Jennifer Fong, Social Media Associate

Social media marketing is an additional tool to help build a party plan direct sales business.  It can enable a consultant to connect with people they couldn’t have met otherwise (cast a wider net), find people that are business minded and specifically looking for an opportunity, and provide superior customer service and customer contact through community-building online groups and events.  Once those initial contacts are made at live parties, customers can get better service and follow-up which can result in a thriving reorder business when they are plugged into that consultant through social media.

In short, social media complements a traditional party plan model in many ways, and can enhance what you already do.  But nothing replaces the core business activities of booking parties, selling products, and recruiting new consultants.

Learn more about how we can help you with your direct sales company’s social media strategy at http://luceandassociates.com/Jennifer-Fong.html

What are your thoughts on this?  Have you had experiences that prove or disprove this?  Would love to hear your comments!