It’s easy to get into direct selling. It’s easy to get out.
Too many do. This is what you can do about it.
I have a friend named Charles. Charles is a talented, hard-working and ambitious guy. Over a period of several years Charles joined and quit four different network marketing organizations. Each time he joined he got excited, declared “this was it” for him, and then proceeded to tell everyone he knew about it. Invariably, each time, after several months, Charles quit.
Later Charles was presented with an opportunity to buy into a franchise-like business. It required a $500,000 investment in cash and construction guarantees. Charles didn’t have $500,000 lying around so he mortgaged his family’s “dream home” to the hilt. That wasn’t enough, so he liquidated his daughter Emma’s college fund that he and his wife had set up and been saving toward for more than 10 years. That still wasn’t enough, so he had the gumption to borrow money from his mother-in-law, mortgaging the equity in the home that she and her deceased husband had built after 40 years of sacrifice.
Today, Charles’ business is relatively successful. He now has four stores, but recently admitted to me that he hates his life. He has dozens of unreliable part-time high-school and college kids for employees. He is constantly dealing with workers’ compensation, healthcare issues, employee theft, shipping and spoilage debacles, as well as constant cash-flow crises and ceaseless legal liabilities. He confessed that if he had only been as committed to any one of the network marketing businesses as he has had to be with his current business, he would not only be a half-million dollars richer and have his mother-in-law off his back, but he also would have the lifestyle freedom he now desperately envies.
Since you can’t require each of your representatives to put up a half-million dollars to secure their dedication to your business, how do you get them to forge a deep enough commitment to withstand the inevitable emotional roller coaster that will ensue so they don’t quit too soon?
The only motivation stronger than one’s wallet is one’s heart. Without the use of their purse strings, you have to bind them with their heartstrings. This is getting them to see your business opportunity as the means to their innermost passionate, deep-seated and heartfelt desires in life. Why do they want to do this business, really? It can’t be just to make some extra money, pay off debts, buy some new clothes or afford a fancy vacation. They have to see this as the path to finally obtaining their innermost dreams—those ambitions that are deeply personal and intensely important.
There is a story about two warring tribes that not-so-peacefully co-existed—one that lived in the lowlands, and the other, high in the Andes Mountains of South America. One day, the highlanders invaded the lowlanders, plundering their village and kidnapping a baby boy. They vanished back up into the mountains with the child.
The lowlanders, pushed to action at the disappearance of one of their own, gathered a group of their best fighting men to recover the child. The problem was they didn’t know how to climb the mountain. They didn’t know the trails that the mountain people used or how to track them in the high bush and steep terrain. Even so, they ventured out to climb the mountain and bring the baby home.
The men first tried one method of climbing and then another. They tried one trail and then another. After several days of effort, however, they had climbed only a few hundred feet. Feeling hopeless and helpless, the lowlanders decided the cause was lost and prepared to return to their village below.
As they were packing their gear for the descent, they saw the baby’s mother walking down the mountain that they hadn’t figured out how to climb. As she got closer they saw that she had the baby boy strapped to her back. How could that be? One man greeted her and asked, “How did you climb this mountain? How did you do this when we, the strongest and most able men in the village, couldn’t do it?” The mother looked intently in the eyes of the man and simply said, “It wasn’t your baby.”
The behavioral research team led by Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Harvard University, identifies that the most significant impact on human commitment is to have the situation connect to one’s “sense of purpose.” When humans are emboldened by a sense of purpose that is passionately personal and profoundly important, we rise to a level of commitment and performance that is sometimes superhuman, even seemingly impossible. Yet if we do not have our heart (or wallet) on the line, we can easily be distracted by the next shiny object or be blown onto the rocks with the slightest breeze of rejection or defeat.
What process do you have in place to engage new representatives in associating their “why” with your opportunity? How can you get them to see your opportunity as “their baby”—one they will fight for, defend and all but die for? As the research of human science suggests, it’s about connecting their involvement in your business with their personal sense of purpose.
I have found that commitment to goals is generated through one of three motivations:
- Your “Why”—what you want. This has to be tangible and intensely personal and important: the dream home in the neighborhood you have fantasized about, time and freedom to pursue hobby passions, travel to locations you have great affinity for, and so forth.
- Your Fight—what you don’t want. A mission or cause you are passionate about: fighting obesity, reforming education, eradicating hunger, conquering cancer, overcoming inequity in opportunities for women, and other causes.
- For Others—what you want for someone else. I have found this is the most powerful human motivation of all. While we might easily quit on ourselves and our personal wants, we are less likely to quit on what we want to give to other people: financial peace of mind for our spouse, a college fund to send our kids to the best universities possible, a home for our parents to secure their financial future, a contribution to our church or charity.
As soon as someone makes the mental decision to join your company and get started, it is crucial that you have a “getting started” system that engages the new representative to immediately connect their heart, personal goals and greater ambitions to their involvement in your opportunity.
To use a quote often used by billionaire Warren Buffett, to engender human commitment one needs to have some “skin in the game.” Since the barrier of entry is so small for direct selling, there is very little financial “skin” at risk. It won’t take much emotional pain—which is inevitable—to send new representatives running right out the back door. If it isn’t from the skin of their wallet, then it must be from the skin of their heart, dreams and sense of personal purpose. Attach those to your opportunity and you will engender the commitment necessary to get them through the early stages of emotional turmoil, so the compound effect of their efforts can begin to materialize and the momentum of their successes can carry them the rest of the way to the top.
Darren Hardy is the Publisher and Editorial Director of SUCCESS magazine, best-selling author of The Compound Effect and Living Your Best Year Ever, a highly sought-after keynote speaker, and the author of the new audio program Making the Shift—Your First 7 Days: Developing the Entrepreneur Mindset.