Jeannie Price is a seasoned direct sales veteran with over 26 years of leadership experience in various companies. In her most recent role as General Manager for Omnilife USA, Jeannie facilitated and guided the planning process in formulating a new vision and strategic direction for expansion into the non-minority market in the US. As an associate of Strategic Choice Partners, Jeannie offers expertise in sales management, marketing, international & multi-cultural expansion and product development.
Guest Post by Jeannie Price
The 3 B’s to Help Your Distributors Survive and Thrive in This Era of Change!
The Gig economy. Competition from Amazon. Changes in legislation. The social media rumor mill. By now we all know times are changing drastically and what direct selling will look like in five years is yet to be determined. In a time of such a game change, organizations can look at the 3 B’s (BELIEF, BELONG and BUILD) to keep them on solid footing as they navigate through innovation and transformation to be the best alternative for a “side hustle”.
Most people join a direct selling company because they like a particular product and they identify with a company’s mission. What keeps people in your company long term is BELIEF, your products and your management. When challenging times come, people are quick to find blame in the company, products, compensation, upline leaders or tools.
So how can companies build belief, or better yet rebuild belief if they have lost it?
- Personal Touch Still # 1
In a time where we have been overrun by texts, emails and social media, the old fashioned “personal touch” is still # 1 to connect with people and build their BELIEF.
- Personal Communication
In the days of emails and texts the heart of communications can be easily lost. Personal calls and personal notes are very effective at connecting with people emotionally. Taking the time to write a personal note and/or make a personal call to your key people and up and comers on a regular basis is still invaluable. I know field Distributors who still keep personal notes from the company Founders and CEOs and because of that, they stay with that company through good times and bad.
3. Face-to-Face Time in Field
Spending real personal time with “key influencers” not just during key corporate events like a seminar, leader conference or incentive trip, but taking time to go out and spend time in their homefield. As I work with organizations, I find that many times management is “out of touch” with the realities that a Distributor is facing and corporate priorities versus Distributor priorities are not in sync. We can take a lesson from the mystery shopper concept to stay connected with how programs and/or services are actually being perceived and utilized by Distributors and consumers. In times of drastic shifts, it is more important than ever to have the pulse of what is really happening in your field so you can adapt the organization accordingly to meet their needs.
- Clear and Succinct Messaging
Companies typically have a lot of information they need to communicate. In this time of information overload, people just don’t have the time, patience or attention span to handle so much information so it is more important than ever for companies to have clearly defined messaging going to their salesforce. The use of video is more effective and more personal and a great way to see the face of the company. Consider having someone in your organization review any and all outbound communications from any department to ensure tone and voice and messaging consistency are in place. If an organization is going through a system and/or compensation plan change, consider developing a specific change management plan that includes regular communications from executive management along with corresponding training to help your salesforce adapt to and embrace the change.
One of the key differentiators in the direct selling space is belonging to something bigger than oneself and doing that together with other individuals who can come together as a community and unite for a cause. The challenge is how to strategically think about how you can build community in your organization. Organizations need to remember that starting a business is a daunting psychological endeavor for individuals so building a supportive community is key.
Many times, building community is left to field leaders robbing a company from the opportunity to connect directly with their Distributors. A company can help people belong by simply offering the forum for community to be built.
Here are some ways you can build community in your organization:
- It’s about the members – content should be very focused on the needs of Distributors balanced with key messages from the company. Many times, I find companies that have Facebook groups for Distributors and the page is a depository for company communications without much engagement or interaction. Remember that the key here is to build community based on the member’s needs. Assign someone in your organization to be “Community Builder”.
- Choose a technology platform – private groups on Facebook or Facebook Workplace are great options in addition to internal message boards or forums.
- Structure and organization – establish some regular and predictable activities so Distributors can plan and be on the lookout for ways to engage with you. If you will have special trainings then try to have them on the same day(s) and time(s) each week.
- Encourage networking – building community is all about being able to learn and share experiences with others. Consider having special field leaders share on a business topic each week along with members of your internal staff as well.
In a time where there are more options than ever to make extra income, it is imperative that organizations look at their new Distributor Onboarding Programs to ensure they are relevant, easy to understand, easy to complete and easy to find. Onboarding helps new Distributors adjust to the social and performance aspects of their business so they can quickly become productive and succeed.
When was the last time you reviewed your Onboarding Program? A company needs to provide their Distributors with the basic steps of how to start their business, manage their business and succeed in their business. Your company’s Onboarding process is your opportunity to make the new Distributor feel welcomed, valued and prepared for success.
SIMPLE is the name of the game. Here are 3 steps to ensuring you have a successful Onboarding Program:
1.Solid Home Base – having a simple easy to navigate “home base” Distributor back office that is ready for a new Distributor is a given however, part of the challenge for companies is they have way too much content that can be overwhelming for a brand-new Distributor. Take time to look at what is in your resource libraries and clean up all content that is not relevant. Consider having a special tab for new Distributors so that only the most essential tools are included. Include videos, social media graphics and training tools that are relevant for their stage of onboarding and have them easily accessible.
2. Friendly and relevant New Distributor communications – review your New Distributor communications regularly to ensure they are updated with your latest information. If possible, a welcome video from the company Founder and/or President/CEO is a great way to help people feel connected with the company and feel important from day 1.
3. Onboarding Program – a effective onboarding program should include the specific activities, actions a Distributor needs to take within her first 24 hours, first 7 days, first 30 days. There should be a clearly spelled out training plan for how to sell your products and services in person and/or virtually. If your company doesn’t have access to an e-learning platform, you can create short training modules and deliver them through simple videos and webinars. When it comes to how to work your system, don’t assume that Distributors will just know or they will figure it out. Take the time to create a memorable experience for your Distributors from the beginning.
Last, any effective Onboarding Program today should include basic social media training including how to take and edit memorable photos and videos, what to say and not to say on posts etc. along with basic marketing tips on how Distributors can build their business online.
Integrating the 3 B’s into your company’s guiding principles will allow you create a sustainable foundation to equip, motivate and retain Distributors to thrive in this era of continuous change.