Luce Associates Blog Header

Tag: sales force

Is your company engaging successfully through social media? Are people responding to your posts on your Facebook Page? Do people comment on your blog posts? When someone mentions your company online, are you aware of it, and respond when necessary?

While a few companies might say “Yes” in our industry, unfortunately the vast majority will probably say “No,” or “I don’t know.”

Why is that? After all, social media has been around for years now. Many best practices have been defined, and consistently applying these techniques has been proven to work.

So what’s the problem?

For many of our companies, resourcing is the issue. We haven’t put someone (or a department) in place to handle online marketing for the company. For others, it’s a desire to tightly control what’s being said about the brand online, which leads us to one-way conversations without any opportunity for people to respond. And yes, there are still companies that just don’t know what to do. They don’t have the expertise internally, and they haven’t brought in a direct sales and social media expert from the industry to educate the executive team and put a comprehensive strategy in place.

The salesforce is going to lose patience with us soon. Because there are direct sales companies that get it. Companies that provide opportunities for the salesforce to develop business online, and who get people excited about the company online through corporate efforts. Those people in the salesforce who understand business will realize where the greatest opportunities lie. It’s a hard truth, but a truth nonetheless.

Let’s make this the year where we do the work that’s needed to develop engaging online presences for direct selling companies. It took a while for us to all get replicated websites, but we eventually understood the need and now it’s SOP. It’s time for the same thing to happen with social media. This is not going away. It’s only going to become more prevalent and necessary.

If your company needs help, contact me. I’ve helped many of the companies in our industry put into place comprehensive social media strategy. But don’t pull the wool over your eyes any longer. It’s going to be damaging to your business to ignore this, or do this poorly, much longer.

Your thoughts?

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 social media 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.

How to Ask for a Decision With Confidence

This is a mighty tall order for many who are new to sales. Actually, it is often a challenge for seasoned people.  But in virtually every sales situation, it is a necessary piece – the sale just won’t happen without it. Why?  Because before you can “close a sale”, you need to know if the person is interested in what you’re offering. You have to ask!

So it’s imperative that you help your sales force feel comfortable about asking for a decision. I’ve taken many a stab at this one throughout the years.  I’ve explained why this step is important. I’ve offered word choices to make it easier.  I’ve tried to minimize the natural fear of being pushy and of hearing the dreaded word, “no”. But then, I happened upon something that consistently brings it home. It speaks to everyone.  And it’s one simple sentence:  “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask.” Let me show you in context.

Jane: “Mary, you really seemed to enjoy the party this evening.  How would you feel about hosting your own?”

Mary: “No, Jane. I really don’t want to do that”.

Jane: “That’s fine, Mary.  I just wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask.”

Now, there’s a chance that Jane could still turn this into a party, but that’s for another time.  Right now, let’s think about why this sentence works. It all goes back to those basic fears – your sales people don’t want to be pushy and they don’t like to hear “no”.  But this gives them an out – a legitimate reason to ask for a decision. They are just trying to do a good job.  Who could think negatively of that?  Who wouldn’t respect that?

So teach your sales force to ask.  Let them know it’s OK to ask.  Help them feel proud to ask. It will bring them that much closer to success.

image credit Horia Varlan

Lori Moser

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@luceandassociates.com

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

What a year 2009 has been so far!  For direct sales party planners this year of recession has been challenging in many respects.  A few companies seem to be blowing right through the economic downturn as though it isn’t there.  Other companies are struggling to keep their businesses on course.  It is a year of anomalies: for many companies the surprise is that the all important retail-sales-per-guest and party average retail sales figures have held steady or dropped just slightly, but the bottom has dropped out of the activity rate.  In these companies the primary obstacles seem to be a lack of confidence among the sales force that hosts will book in this economy and that the hosts will  be able to get guests to attend the party.  Though the statistics from the parties held dispute this belief, once that lack of confidence invades the sales force it is hard to displace.

The best solution that I have seen to the booking and attendance “confidence” problem is to find great “good news” stories and publish them frequently to the sales force.  Do not wait for your traditional communications vehicle schedule.  Create short attractive story templates and tell the stories about great new Consultant first party results, hostess success results where they set a goal to get $100 of free stuff and surpassed their goal.  In addition to publishing these good news stories out to the field weekly, put the same stories with new Consultant, new leader and host testimonials on the company public web site.

We all know that we are working with mostly part-time volunteer sales forces.  But sometimes we forget just how much of their party plan business activity is driven by their “confidence and belief” in the business.  The more that we can give them proof that their peers and colleagues are enjoying success when they choose to work in this economy, the more our sellers will get their sales “mojo” back and our businesses will grow again.

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.