There’s nothing like the fresh enthusiasm and energy new distributors bring to the business. Besides the fact that their sales and recruiting efforts create growth, their mere presence inspires and re-energizes those around them to do more as well. Needless to say, new people are truly the lifeblood of the business.
Having said that, those who are highly productive and who actually stay around are what makes a direct selling business really thrive. Anytime there’s a way to improve how we get them started and support their continuing success, the better everyone—from their upline to the home office staff person who develops marketing programs—will ultimately be.
Nearly every direct selling company has some sort of fast-start program for new distributors—and that’s a good thing. Experience has proven time and time again that getting new people off to a quick start, and having them make money right away, underscores their decision to join in the first place. When they know what it feels like to succeed, they usually want to have that feeling again. So, as the saying goes, success breeds more success.
What may not always be as well thought out is the entire new distributor experience with the company. Every single contact, touch point and communication that the new distributor receives from anyone and everyone—including upline as well as the home office team—plays a role in how welcome she feels, how confident she is and how deep her belief is in the company and opportunity. At the end of the day, it is all those feelings that shape her commitment to stay and determination to succeed.
In order to tap into her feelings, it may be helpful to consider things from her perspective, always making decisions based on her needs and point of view. We know what results we want. Do they always mirror her concept of success, which is based on how she thinks and her unique emotional response to the business, as well as her motivation for joining?
Let’s take a walk in the shoes of a new distributor. We will call her Sara. Sara attended a home party while on maternity leave from her full-time corporate job. She and her husband had recently purchased a new home, committing a portion of her salary to making the mortgage payment each month. She was dreading going back to work when the leave was up but had promised to pick back up that income responsibility. While enjoying the demo, she suddenly realizes this direct selling opportunity could be her salvation. Just maybe, if she can match that other income, she can stay home during the day with her precious new son. So, when approached by the demonstrator, she enthusiastically signs up, even though she has no experience in sales and has had very little exposure to the home party environment.
Now she’s yours… everything that happens to her in the next several weeks will play a huge role in determining her success and her staying power. What is she feeling right now? What might happen to her when she tells her husband and others her decision? How will she learn your system and the skills necessary to succeed? And perhaps, most important, where will she go to get answers?
She may be slightly confident but scared. She may not have experience in speaking to groups and is worried about it. She knows of a few good friends who will support her, and she has already shared her excitement about the product. However, her husband reacted to her decision with a smirk, suggesting this was not the brightest decision ever made. So she begins to worry about how she will actually stay in business and build it enough to match the mortgage payment amount.
In those few days before her kit arrives, she allows her fears to take over and wonders if this was such a good decision after all. She goes directly to her BFF—Google—to see what she can find. First she looks for ‘direct sales’ and discovers www.dsa.org and www.directselling411.com. Then she runs across some horror stories about those who didn’t succeed or perhaps left with a bad taste in their mouths. If you are lucky, she will get enough positive input to offset all the negatives. Chances are she asks her Facebook friends what they know about the company and the industry. Reponses are likely mixed.
In any case, it’s absolutely critical that you are communicating with her. And that communication must take a variety of forms to make sure you capture her where she is!
No one will argue against the notion that it’s the responsibility of the field leaders to lead the way on connecting with new folks. After all, that’s what they earn bonuses for, right? However, it’s one thing to recommend they do it and quite another to be confident it always gets done—or that they actually know what to do and say… and when!
So part of the strategic exercise you’ll want to do will include ‘who does what, when’ and will be based on the most impactful as well as the most logical approach. It will likely be a combination of leader-led and company-led connecting.
From a company and brand perspective, there are certain things in which you’ll want to ensure consistency of both the message and how it gets delivered. There’s also some merit in having the new distributor hear from the senior company executives in a way that makes them feel the company cares about them, and their success. Chances are that person is also a charismatic leader who will make a strongly favorable impression on the new distributor and reinforce the fact that they joined the right team for them.
On the other hand, it’s critical that the upline takes responsibility for the parts best done by her. She’ll know party dates and activities planned by the new person, and can quickly pick up the phone to do some coaching, and send a personal note or email at just the right time. She is the one to connect her to team meetings and other local events.
There are so many things to consider when mapping out the total new distributor experience, yet digging into it is time so well worth investing. After all, recruiting is the lifeblood of your business. It just makes sense to hold onto as many of those new folks as possible.
Whether you are still developing the right experience for new distributors or you have simply layered too much and need to revamp it, you may find you sleep better at night—and your sales results are stronger and more reliable—when you are more strategic about that new distributor experience and its execution than perhaps you have been.
That may mean you gather your home office staff around a conference table for a day, find a way to include field input and establish, bit by bit, exactly what the ideal experience should be. Then the team will figure out who does and says what to new distributors through what media. It’s useful to look at the experience in three distinct phases:
- Get acquainted—(First 3-7 days)
- Get ready—(Days 4-14)
- Get going—(Weeks 2-4)
Using a chart to map out the details, it might start something like this:
Each phase of the new distributor experience can be charted this way to ensure every detail of training and communication is covered, leaving nothing to chance. Let’s take a brief look at each phase:
In these initial critical hours following her decision to join your team, she may have some feelings of remorse, perhaps caused by reactions of her friends or family. How timely and effective your communication is can go a long way toward offsetting those emotions. You may want her to receive a variety of welcome phone calls and emails as well as links to videos or podcasts and to important documents and training.
Some messages can be automated and sent electronically; others may be more personal. You might include an automatic link to a video message from that senior executive, affirming their decision to join, giving them a brief overview of the company history, encouraging them to begin contacting people and letting them know how important they are.
The new distributor needs guidance as to what activities to focus on in those early days, so including specific recommendations is a good idea. She also appreciates simplicity, e.g., having a single button on your company’s home page for new distributors to click and find everything she needs.
Chances are the new distributor has made a few calls or sent a few emails by midweek following signing up. She is ‘warming up’ and getting ready to take bigger steps toward launching the business. The kit will arrive and designated communications can focus on the products it contains and how to prepare for the first presentation. Maybe she needs to learn all about host coaching, so training can be part of the ‘Get Ready’ plan. In any case, the important thing is to carefully consider what will be happening to her, what you want her to be doing and what support she is likely to need. Of course, when it comes to communications and training, there are different styles for different people. So you may also want to consider delivering each message in a variety of ways, so as to reach the maximum number of new people in the way that works best for them.
Now she has her kit, a little knowledge and a load of enthusiasm for product and opportunity. This is when you’d love to see the selling begin in earnest. An observation party or a CD to listen to on the way to her first party might be just right to get her through the first selling experience with confidence. A quick call from her upline is sure to reinforce what went right as she debriefs that initial experience and prepares for the next. Again, charting those details will help ensure nothing is forgotten.
As you consider the best support going forward, helping the new distributor feel part of the team is key. Her upline can get her to a team meeting as soon as possible and connect her with other new folks so she can find a buddy to pace herself with. A company email with ‘Connecting with your team’ in the subject line can support that effort. By mapping the timing of communications, they will appear well coordinated to the new distributor. Those are the sorts of things that make her think: ‘Wow. Good decision to join.’
While some of this may sound tough to execute, it’s amazing what can be done when the entire team is involved in brainstorming the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what.’ Leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the experience of new distributors can bring rich rewards for both of you!
Bottomline: Having an extraordinary new distributor experience may simply be a matter of agreeing on a strategy and mapping out the specifics to include every connection. As you do that exercise, keep in mind the importance of her motivation, i.e., her ‘why.’ Work to find ways to identify that and help her succeed for her reasons. Then make sure she receives the support she needs, when she needs it, in the way it is most likely to stick.
Paula Antonini is a party plan professional with over 40 years in the industry. Paula is noted for her inspirational style and deep passion for developing people. Her strategic, leadership and sales management skills have helped her launch a successful consulting business as Antonini and Associates, LLC.