Click here to order the Direct Selling News issue in which this article appeared.
Just when you thought you had it all figured out, somebody went and introduced a cool new technology and you are absolutely convinced that it’s perfect for your distributors. In your mind, they will love it! This new technology will help you grow your business to unbelievable new heights, and solve all the world’s problems along the way.
But what do you do with all those DVDs or distributor kits that are sitting in your warehouse? Who’s going to use that stuff when you have the coolest thing ever invented to replace them? After all, once people see this cool new gadget, why would they ever want to use a brochure or CD again? Those things are going the way of the 8-track tape—fast! Right?
Well, not so fast. It’s easy to get swept up in the next greatest thing, but pause to consider a few things before you clean out the warehouse inventory. Many of the companies that are growing the fastest today are using great technology, but they first created a great message and developed a system to teach the salesforce how to easily and effectively repeat that message. Only then did they put the message into play, not only in new tech gadgets, but in a variety of media.
The Message Matters Most
When we are surrounded by the “whiz-bang” wonder of technology, it’s critical to remember that the delivery system is just that—a vehicle to carry a message. The message itself, and the system by which it is shared, must be clear and defined long before the technology is even considered.
This list contains a handful of the vehicles still utilized effectively for delivering a great message:
- CDs and DVDs—Yes, they still work and are super affordable.
- Brochures / newspapers / magazines—They’re still a must-have for every company.
- Websites—Of course!
- iPad apps—You have to have the app or you are viewed as “out of touch.”
- Mobile apps—the new “office” is a mobile phone.
- Email—It’s more typing and less talking nowadays.
- Conference calls—They’re still connecting people who are miles apart.
- Events—Of course! Every direct selling company utilizes an event strategy.
- Webinars—They’re getting better and more effective.
- Social media—Remember, it’s more than just Facebook.
To state the obvious, it can be confusing. So, is there such a thing as the “perfect” prospecting or recruiting tool? To get to the point, No! There is no such thing as the perfect tool. In fact, “What’s the perfect tool?” isn’t even the right question.
Technology is definitely changing the way the world works. Remember when you said you would never get a cellphone, but now you’re a power user and asking Siri to help you with dinner reservations? That’s right. You are talking to your cellphone. Technological change eventually comes to all of us.
It can seem that direct sellers, like everyone else, like to push the envelope and, on occasion, have possibly jumped the gun on technology. It’s only a small exaggeration that just weeks after the introduction of the iPad there were recruiting apps from several direct selling companies. But did enough distributors even own an iPad to make the initial investment worthwhile? Probably not, but that’s how easy it is to fall into the perception that technology is passing us by and we’re now “behind the times” in terms of tools. Jumping into brand-new technology without careful thought can create more risk than benefit.
So if “What’s the perfect tool?” is the wrong question, what’s the right question? The right question doesn’t even have anything to do with the technology itself. The right question—in fact, the first question—must be, “What’s my system for sharing my company’s message?” Only after developing a process can you begin to address the vehicles best suited to share your message.
Develop the System
Without a doubt, the development, implementation, teaching and reinforcement of the system you use is far more important than the choice of media you might choose to utilize. If you don’t have an easy and repeatable system for people to properly utilize your tools and messaging, there is a great chance that the tools will not be used at all. This again reinforces the fact that the results don’t reside in the tool itself, but in the core message.
My definition of an effective prospecting system is one that can be taught to a newcomer in the business today, and one that allows that new person to turn around and effectively deliver the same message to someone else and feel successful quickly—preferably within the first three to seven days, regardless of the media used.
For example, if you teach your distributors to hand out two videos every day and follow up within 48 hours, you are establishing a repeatable system. This method is easy to teach, easy to learn, and also maximizes the investment you have made in creating the DVD. New distributors can quickly learn the system, and put it into practice. With little effort or training, it becomes doable and repeatable, and ultimately, successful because of its ease.
Imagine the power of knowing that every new distributor in your organization is being taught how to share the message to achieve success the same way every time. What would that do to your company’s recruiting numbers? When you’ve developed a system, distributors can share with a friend or family member several states away from where they live, and you can be confident that they are being taught the business the way you would teach them if you were at their home. That is powerful!
The Right Tool for the Job
Though we would love to think that we can focus on the latest and greatest technological tool, get everyone on board utilizing it, and send sales and recruiting through the roof, the reality is that people learn and observe in all different ways. Some people learn better by reading, others by watching, some by doing and still others learn by listening. Some people love TV, others don’t watch it. Some are wired and connected to the Internet 24/7, while others still carry a flip phone and barely use email.
Within every category of learner, there are large groups of people who could be interested in your product or service and may be your next big business builders. Would you really want to possibly exclude them by focusing on only one type of tool? Of course not! In fact, different tools have different ideal uses.
Using technology appropriately so that you get the most from each exposure is critical. For example, people will typically watch a 4- to 5-minute DVD, but they generally won’t watch more than about 90 seconds of a promotional video online. The viewing experiences are very different, and when you are deciding which technology to employ, these types of considerations are very important.
It’s important to understand that the latest and greatest technological gadget doesn’t necessarily negate the power of “older” tools such as DVDs. Let’s consider the types of situations that fit best with various messages in your business:
- Prospecting / recruiting—video, audio, print, web, mobile
- Training—video, print, web, events
- Belief-building—events, webinar, video, print
- Recognition—events, conference calls, print
- Relationship-building—events, conference calls, email
Additionally, modern technology has its own set of “rules” and best practices. Below are a few parameters to consider when you are evaluating each tech tool:
- Twitter—By definition, it’s short and sweet and you can link to other pertinent info (such as 90-second videos).
- Facebook / Pinterest—A subtle delivery of powerful messages and relationship-building. Too much selling could alienate some viewers.
- iPad—It works great for one-on-one presentations, but not as a stand-alone prospecting piece for someone to load and then view on their own.
- DVD / CD—As long as cars have CD players and homes have DVD players and computers have DVD drives, these will be valid tools. Make sure the content is suited to your message and timed properly so that you capture and keep someone’s attention throughout.
- Brochures / newspapers / magazines—Many people still love to touch and feel a printed piece, and it’s the only type of tool that someone can interact with immediately.
If your message is isolated into one type of media, you might have created a built-in excuse for someone to not watch, listen or learn about you. People want input on their terms—when, where and how they choose. If you’ve limited the approach of your salesforce, you have likely limited their reach as well.
People want input on their terms—when, where and how they choose.
Creating a compelling message, developing a systematic approach, and then determining the best tools to utilize is not rocket science, but it does take consistent effort and a commitment to do it well. Technology is great and it can change your business—but only if you use it properly.
Paul Adams is Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing for VideoPlus, which is celebrating 25 years of partnering with direct selling companies.