Plan B, for the Morning After You are Out of a Job!

This morning, I received many phone calls from women concerned about recent events at their companies, and their concerns about what they should be doing. Several of them have been looking at other options, and others have not, because they feel like doing so is conceding that their current situation will not be successful. They said that they feel like traitors even talking to anyone else at another company.

Let me ask you all a simple question: When you fly on an airplane, and the flight attendant goes through the pre-flight safety information, do you put your fingers in your ears and say “La la la la la, I can’t hear you”, because listening to them is a concession that you WILL crash and need a back up plan? Of course not! You don’t wait for the plane to crash and then learn how to use your cushion as a flotation device, or where the emergency exits are.  You listen to the information, hoping you don’t need it, but storing it away in your memory in case you do.

Last September 10th, 2013, I was totally blind-sided when the company I worked at was unexpectedly closed. Trust me when I tell you, if there was ANY inkling it would be happening, I would have been one of the first to know. I had FORTY SIX parties booked between September 11th and October 31st. A new catalog had come out TEN DAYS earlier, so to say I was absolutely not expecting it would be an understatement. I had just spent the whole morning/early afternoon finalizing the jewelry line-up for the Spring 2014 catalog.

I was called into a board room and blindsided with the news. I got on a plane to fly home and had NO IDEA what I was going to tell my 46 hostesses. I had no Plan B. It never crossed my mind that I needed one.

You can bet, if I had ANY clue it would happen, I would have had a Plan B in place to transition those 46 hostesses to, instead of having to inform them the company they booked with was closed, I had nothing else lined up, and I was taking a month off to see what I wanted to do with my life.

I was in the fortunate position of having an incredibly supportive husband who saw that I had been working nearly around the clock for the previous 8+ months with this company, not to mention 60+ hour weeks for the past several years at my previous company, and he pretty much insisted I take a month off and not worry about money, hostesses, customers, etc. Nonetheless, if I knew then what I knew now, I would have researched every direct selling company I had a vague interest in, and would have had some back-up plan to go to immediately. I lost several good hostesses by letting that month go by. Had I had something else to transition their party to, instead of asking them to schedule a new one once I landed on my feet somewhere, I have no doubt the majority of the parties would have stuck. As it was, about two thirds of them did, but I still fixate on the one third that got away. Off the top of my head, I can still name three ladies who had parties scheduled with me, who I talk to often, but I can’t get them to “reschedule”.

If you have any warning signs that the company you are with is in some kind of transition, it’s not being negative, it’s not conceding failure and it’s not disloyal to line up a Plan B. It’s smart business. Even if you claim to have tuned out the flight attendants, I know you know where the exits are, you know where the air mask will drop from, and you know to use your seat as a flotation device. And knowing that is not conceding your plane will crash. It’s being prepared. Same thing.

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“Ethics”–Direct Sales vs. Every Other Industry

I am doing something tonight that I have never done before–writing at night, and under the influence of 1/3 of a beer (Sprecher, Hard Ginger Beer…delish!). I like to write this blog first thing in the morning, when I am in a great mood, and as positive as possible–certainly not after a long, draining day, and under the (small) influence. I was getting ready for bed and reflected on the day, as I always do, and came up with what I wanted to write–tomorrow. Then I didn’t trust myself to remember it, or that I would find the time to do so. So here goes. I’ll probably be more blunt than I usually am.

There are some major things brewing lately in the direct sales industry with several companies. Because of this, I get several calls/messages a day from people around the country, asking “my take” on things. I am always VERY CAREFUL on the opinions I give on one situation, as I was involved in litigation with one of the companies involved last year.

Today, I’d like to reflect on a conversation I had with someone. They were approached by another company in the same field they are in now, and offered a “salary” plus bonuses to come join their company. This particular company has a negative perception with many people I know in the industry for doing that. This person asked me if I had ever heard of companies doing that. Let me tell you all something. Not only HAVE I, but I don’t disagree with it.

When I left the company I was at in January of 2013, I got a “salary” from the company I went to. And so many of my former friends said how “unethical” that was. Here’s what I don’t understand… in this direct sales industry, we say we “own our own businesses”–that “we are the CEOs of our own businesses”, yet the majority tends to just go with the flow and parrot back what we are told to say.  True successful entrepreneurs get ahead by NOT marching to the same beat as everyone else. They purposely march to a different beat, think outside of the box and don’t WANT to be part of the same flock.

Case in point. This “salary” thing. I worked in corporate sales for 19 years prior to doing direct sales exclusively. Have any of you heard of a “draw plus commission”? That is basically what these companies (my previous one included) offer to successful, established direct sellers. Some also offer to have you start at the equivalent level you left your previous company. Many people in this industry sneer at that practice, and say it’s unethical.  To be honest, those are the people who I write off in my head immediately as NOT being true entrepreneurs, NOT understanding how BUSINESS really works, and rather are part of the phoney-baloney “let’s make women feel better about themselves with  fancy titles” direct sales mentality.

Let me ask you this…let’s say you worked for 20+ years in Corporate America, and applied for a Director of This and That position at McDonald’s corporate. In your current  job as Director of This and That at Burger King, you make six-figures. Would you go to McDonald’s and start at minimum wage and flip burgers, and work your way up to Director of This and That at McDonald’s? Is that how they hire and fill those positions? Does everyone start off as burger flippers for minimum wage and work their way up into executive positions? OF COURSE NOT. Once you have proven yourself at a certain position and achieved a certain level of expertise, you make a lateral move–you don’t start all over flipping burgers for minimum wage.

But in direct sales, there is some unwritten (and perhaps in some cases, written) rule that everyone must start all over at the beginning. No lateral moves. You must go from six figures to zero and work your way up again. Ladies (and the rare gentleman), this is NOT CHUTES AND LADDERS, or some board game where if you land on a certain square, the rule says you go back and start all over. That is not how Corporate America works, so how come we expect direct sales to work that way? And we wonder why our husbands, friends and family members don’t take our businesses seriously and treat it as a “real job”. WE DON’T TREAT IT LIKE A REAL BUSINESS. Why should they?

Another thing I do not understand…right now a certain company is getting lambasted for approaching leaders of another company that is known to be having some concerning issues and trying to recruit them. Trust, me, I am intimately familiar with companies accusing other companies of “raiding their sales force”.  I read about it over and over in legal papers.

I think it’s safe to say that Donald Trump is a savvy business man. Let’s use him as an example here. So, Donald Trump hears one of his biggest competitors is having some seriously concerning issues that has its employees looking for Plan B. Does he approach the top people there who have proven track records and have been a thorn in his side as his competition, and try to have them join his company, or does he consider them untouchable, and instead look for people who have never done business in his field, but hires them and trains them from scratch?  What would be the smarter business move? Shoring up your sales force with not only experience, but weakening your competition by having their top people join YOUR TEAM, or starting from scratch and spending time and resources training people who may or may not even be any good or interested in sticking around? Putting it in the context of Donald Trump–the answer is obvious.

But if you ask most experienced direct sellers, they will blather on about stories of how certain companies “steal other companies reps so they are unethical.” And that is what makes some direct selling aspects embarrassing–and shows that many of the so-called “CEOs of their own businesses” just march lock-step with others, and really don’t understand business at all–just do and say what they are told to do and say. No one is “stolen” from another company. They are presented with another option. We work at companies. In any other industry, people change jobs all the time, whether it be for more money, a better product, or just a change of scenery. But in direct sales, it is treated like a freaky cult or sorority, and if you dare to try to walk to a different beat, or worse yet, switch companies (I am talking at the higher levels, not your average advisors), you are blacklisted and accused of being unethical and the people who approached you are unethical.

If you still don’t agree with my point, let me ask you this…if your favorite football team was able to get the Super Bowl MVP quarterback, would you want them to get that quarterback, or would you want them to go get some kid fresh out of college and hope in several years, that this kid is the fluky needle in the haystack who ends up a superstar and takes your team to the Super Bowl? You’d be screaming for the general manager’s head if he didn’t try to get the Super Bowl MVP quarterback. So what’s the difference in direct sales?

The difference is we have some bizarre “rules” that do not fit in with any business sense or conventional wisdom, and hold us back long-term from being “real-businesses”.  This is not Chutes and Ladders. It’s business. If someone from another company calls to tell you about a business opportunity, it’s not unethical, and the people who go around saying that are just trying to protect their own business through fear. They try  to make YOU feel unethical if you analyze other business opportunities and entertain the thought of leaving your current company.

If your company truly has the best of everything–best commission structure, best product, best hostess plan, best customer special, then let others come and approach your team. Who cares? If what they have to offer is not as good, then you only look BETTER in the end. If you have to put other companies down and name-call and say they are unethical and scare your people to get them to stay, you won’t last long-term. At some point, they will all see it for what it is.

At the end of the day,  if you really are running a business, ask yourself,  “What would Donald Trump do?” Would this thought-process fly in a conversation with him? If not, then you probably are not operating from a business perspective, but rather by the pseudo business perspective most direct sellers engage in because they know no better.

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What is Killing Direct Sales?

I have been wanting to do a post about this for a while, but every time I bring it up, people argue with me and tell me I am wrong.

And…let’s be honest, we are never supposed to admit business is down. With that being said, even when business has been down in direct sales across the board, mine never has been. Nor has it been down for many of my direct selling friends, but we all complain that our TEAM SALES are down.  This has been true for the last three direct sales businesses I have done.

I constantly analyze this business, what works, and what doesn’t work, and why. I look at who is succeeding and growing, and who is treading water or going backwards, and why. And a lot of recent events has finally pushed me to write this today.

What is killing our businesses? ONLINE PARTIES.

Yep, online parties.

I HATE THEM. HATE. I hear the death toll ringing every time someone has one.  I thought it was just ME who thought it was killing our businesses.  Recently a company who shall remain nameless cancelled their national convention, and in a memo to their field, their CEO cited the rise of social media and today’s online environment as one of the challenges facing this industry. I can’t agree with him more.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I think Facebook is my #1 tool for promoting my business. Yet, I despise the Facebook online parties. I personally think they are the lazy way to do direct sales and will kill anyone’s business who relies on them. I understand some businesses do well with them, and it makes sense for them–Jamberry is one I have seen a lot of, although I still think in-home parties for them would be so much more effective. I have bought from several parties, yet, I’d like to be at a party to see the techniques how to put them on, be able to see the designs in person, and MOSTLY, have girlfriend time.

That is the key.

Girlfriend time.

In fact, The Wall Street Journal actually had an article in June about why CAbi parties work well in today’s online-first environment. The article emphasized how women enjoy shopping with girlfriends, and look for reinforcement from them about whether or not they look good in something, and if they should buy it. You don’t get that experience when you shop online.

This works great with businesses like clothing, jewelry, and any business where your girlfriends would tell you, “YOU LOOK GREAT IN THAT!”.  I think online parties for any company that can use that “you look great in that” persuasion is just laziness. Women like to touch, try on and get the encouragement from those around them. You don’t get that in your PJs with a glass of wine when you are also yelling at your kids to shut up and get to bed. I don’t care how you market it–you are not going to get bookings or make personal connections that are vital to a long-term business that way.

Now what about the other businesses like Pampered Chef, Tupperware, etc.? You don’t NEED girlfriends encouraging you that a certain bowl or kitchen gadget is what you NEED. Why are online parties bad for those businesses?

Again, it’s about relationship building. You do not build relationships via online parties. I recently had a hostess stand up at her party during my presentation and say, “I don’t care what crap Joyce is selling, I just have parties with Joyce to have her come over.” (Um, thanks for the product testimonial of “crap”!). But her point struck a chord with me. It’s about creating an EXPERIENCE. My hostesses and customers know that a party with me is going to be a fun night out. I always interject funny stories in my presentation, and view it as an opportunity to entertain as well as sell. I have had people ask me if I ever wanted to do stand up comedy–those are the nights I know I went over and above as far as creating that “experience”.

It’s NOT about the products. I sold jewelry for 10 years. I loved jewelry. LOVED IT. However, when I unexpectedly was forced to look for my next company after mine was abruptly closed down, I intentionally chose the company I knew I could create a totally unique and fun EXPERIENCE. Honestly, I could be selling Ziploc baggies of dog poop, and we’d still have a great time with this new formula I am using for my parties.

It’s all about a girl’s night out and the EXPERIENCE. And if you create a fun environment, people will want to replicate that at their home with their friends. You just can’t accomplish that with online parties. You may sell product, but you are not developing long-term relationships and an excitement.

That hostess who said she’d have a party with me no matter what “crap” I was selling…well, she lived two hours away, and her party went long. She invited me to spend the night and drive home the next day. You don’t build relationships strong enough that your hostess would invite you to spend the night–and leave for work with instructions for you to just lock up when you are leaving, by having online parties. You might make quick money and be able to stay home in your PJs, but you won’t have a long-term business.

Create an in-person experience that leave the guests saying, “this is the most fun I have ever had at a party”, and your business will thrive. I highly doubt anyone will ever say that after an on-line party. Laughter and fun is contagious, and you have to be around other people to have that. Suck it up, get dressed, and GO OUT and do your parties. Don’t take the lazy way out — you will be out of business shortly if you don’t relationship build IN PERSON. Use Facebook to promote your business, use it to SHOW the FUN you have AT the parties, and use it to post testimonials from happy guests and hostesses.  And to post cute cat pictures….

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Are you a DOG or a CAT?

Rocco b-day

 

What?

People in my “real life” know I am basically a crazy cat lady. I stopped and thought about this the other day, and discovered it was true, on several levels.

How does this pertain to business, besides just giving me an excuse to post  picture on “the cutest cat ever in the history of the world”–who coincidentally, is MINE? Let me explain.

This past weekend, as I was looking at the RSVPs to my party coming up on Monday, I saw a former teammate of mine RSVPed she was coming. This teammate caused me a lot of heart-ache. Let me re-phrase that–SHE did not. Circumstances around her did. She always was wonderful.

So, many years ago, this gal joined my team.  And she sold, but did not excel, and faded off and dropped out of the business. Nothing new–you know the rule of thumb–a third is coming in, a third is going out, and a third is staying.

Well, a couple of years ago, I was competing for one of the top spots in the company, and the honor of being represented in the catalog and having a namesake piece of jewelry. Anyone who had been to any of my parties in the 10 years I was doing direct sales knew that was my #1 goal, period, end of discussion. And I would be in the running many years, but always ended up “always a bridesmaid, never the bride”. Well, in 2012, I had the best year ever in my career, and I lead that category for ELEVEN MONTHS. My worse nightmare, and trust me, I cried about it often, as I was OBSESSED with this goal, would be to lead it for 11 months and lose it in the final month. I even said if that happened, there was NO WAY I would go to the national conference (despite being #1 in recruiting and #5 in sales) –I would be THAT humiliated.

Well, a couple months before the deadline, I was at a monthly zone meeting, and this nice gal, who was on my team years ago, shockingly was at the meeting. Not only was she at the meeting, but she finished as one of the top three advisors in the zone in sales and was at the front of the room being recognized. I looked at whose table she was sitting at (everyone was cliquey and sat within their groups) and quickly realized–she was on the team of the gal who was in second place, on my heels going into the final months of this marathon to get into the catalog.

I messaged her on Facebook later that night, and found out she signed back up and was directly under the gal who was the only serious contender to beat me in that final month–who ironically at the time, I considered one of my best friends.

This honor was calculated on your personal sales combined with your NEW START SALES. I kept cursing up a blue streak that I would kill myself if I lost in the final month because of a difference in sales that a former teammate of mine added to my competitor’s numbers.

Well, guess what? She beat me. I knew it happened before I found out on stage in front of thousands–no way was I going on stage and finding that out. My friend and I compared numbers a month before conference. In several lengthy phone conversations about it, I conceded that she was just better at rallying the troops and motivating them. Her professional background prior to direct sales was in mental health–she was damned good at it and I have no problem saying that.

So, this past weekend, when I saw this gal had RSVPed to my upcoming party, I started thinking about her and why she “failed” under me, and excelled under someone else.

Right then, one of my dogs started acting like a jerk, and my cat went over and headbutted him. I kind of laughed in my head and thought, “I can’t even train a damned dog, but I have some really cool cats.”

And then it hit me.

We are all either cat-like or dog-like. And as leaders, we have to assess who is what personality and adjust how we work with those people to maximize their results. I always make the mistake of treating everyone how I want to be treated, and I finally realize (TEN YEARS INTO IT) that I am setting my teammates up for failure by making that assumption.

When I first started selling jewelry, my manager would call me every night after every party, and it would go like this:

Manager, “Oh my God, how was your party? What were the sales? Did you get any bookings? Do you have any recruit leads? Isn’t this just awesome?”

And literally 7.3 seconds into it, I tuned her out and made a point to promise myself that caller ID is my new best friend, and NOT ANSWER the phone on my drives home if it was her. And then it elapsed into not answering the phone any time she called–except maybe once a month, out of courtesy.

I know that sounds harsh, but I am not one to be micromanaged. I do my own thing, I don’t like to discuss everything in great detail and I don’t want to be approached every day. When I need help, I’ll call.

And…to tie it all into that adorable cat at the top of the page–that is exactly how cats are. You do not pick them up, you do not call them and they come, you do not force yourself or your attention on them. When THEY WANT YOU, they will let you know. Go ahead and keep petting one of my cats when he is not in the mood, he’ll bite and scratch. He’s a CAT.

But when your cat wants attention, he wants it NOW, and damned straight better get it now, or that is when he will be destructive by scratching up the furniture, etc. Drop everything and give your cat what he wants. And then he’ll be happy and move along.

Cats are simple. You can actually leave town for several days and not have to worry about them–just leave them some food and water, and a clean litter box, and they won’t even notice you are gone.

Well, some people on your team are cats. I am one of them. I am self-sufficient. Give me my tools and let me run with them. I’ll come to you when I need something, and I want help NOW. Cats live on their terms, on their timeline. They come and go–you might not even see them for days in your own house.

And then there are the DOGS. (Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, have two, adore them).

But dogs are much needier. You can’t just leave food and water out for them and leave town for three days. You need to be on a fairly rigid schedule with dogs. You feed them, and then immediately take them outside. You have to walk them. You have to constantly be engaged with them in some form.

I have two dogs who don’t listen. Why? Because I sucked at training them. When I first got them (they joined my “family team”), I didn’t put the time in being repetitive with the “sit”, “stay”, “come”, etc. training. I treated them like cats. “Here’s your food bowl, here’s your water bowl, there is a bell on the door–ring it when you need to go outside” (not kidding).

One of my dogs got the “ring the bell” training. And one didn’t. And if I don’t read her mind and figure out that she needs to go outside, I’ll be shampooing the rugs.

We all have teammates who are “dogs”. You can’t just say, “The training is on the website, read your new advisor manual, call me if you have questions.” You have to literally call them and walk them through everything daily at first, until they are “trained” and until they have their routine.

If you treat a dog like a cat, and expect them to be self-sufficient, you are setting them up to fail.

Conversely, if you treat a cat like a dog, they are going to get really mad and not react positively.

As a leader, you need to read each person and figure out which one they are. It took me over ten years to finally realize, not everyone is a cat like me. And, lest anyone think I am being disparaging by referring to a certain style as a “dog”…in the long run, dogs are more loyal, obedient, and more likely to listen and march to your beat. I am not sure a team of cats would be very enjoyable.

 

Coakies square

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My Party for Friday Cancelled….

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My party for Friday cancelled.

And I am sitting at my desk bawling.

My hostess DIED last night.

I met this wonderful lady at a party three months ago. She had to schedule the party when she’d be between rounds of chemo. She had lost one lung to cancer, and from what I understood, was still fighting cancer. I didn’t want to pry. She had a head wrap on, and told me she was still undergoing chemo. She said that he bosses at her job were not being very cool about her missing any more work, and her co-workers had all pooled their sick time together and donated it to her to use. That spoke volumes to me about what kind of person she was. It also spoke volumes about what kind of people her co-workers were as well.

I asked her why she didn’t just quit her job, and she told me she couldn’t–she had cancer and needed insurance.

I was happy when she booked her party. Normally, she’d be the last person I would ask to have a party–she clearly had a very full plate. In fact, I didn’t even ask her, she volunteered. She said the party was really fun, and she liked that the products were natural, that was important to her (obviously), and she just needed a girl’s night out for herself.

She was the model hostess. She got me a guest list immediately, even though her party was months away. It had over 75 names on it. She and I would email or message through Facebook and she’d say how excited she was about her upcoming party. She was always very upbeat, positive and occasionally when *I* was having a bad bad, she’d be encouraging to *ME*.

Two weeks ago, she started posting on Facebook about hospital visits. She was always upbeat. On Saturday, she posted that she was being moved to the ICU and for the first time ever, she posted that she was scared.

Her former sister-in-law contacted me Monday and told me the party would most likely not be happening, and filled me in. It never crossed my mind that she would not bounce back from this–her positive attitude and aura never allowed me to think otherwise.

As I sit here in tears, I am reminded once again, why I do this business. I don’t care about the money, and to be honest, I really don’t care about the product. For me, it’s 100% meeting the people I do from the parties I do. I have met the most interesting and inspirational people along this journey. Some have stuck with me for over 10 years now, and some, like Carolyn, have been a quick spark in and out, but touched my heart and makes me think twice about things. She and I were the exact same age. We both had high school-aged sons named Andy. She carried herself with such grace, you would not have known the extent of her “problems.”

We all do what we do for our own reasons. I do direct sales, and will continue to do direct sales to keep crossing paths with all the interesting treasures I meet along the way. Sure, we meet our fair share of fools gold, and get frustrated, but I have met some real diamonds along the way as well, and they will stay with me forever, one way or another.

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I Miss the “Old Days”

 

WW2

 

No, this is not what many of you will think it’s about. :)

I miss the days before social media has so pervaded the way we do business. It can be our biggest asset and also our biggest downfall.

Today I am going to focus on how it affects “leading”…whether you are leading a team, a company, or just your own personal business.

As I was in line at Starbucks yesterday, I saw a post on my company’s leader Facebook page that just rubbed me the wrong way. It said, “Being positive in a negative situation does not make you naive, it makes you a good leader.”  My snarky self replied, silently, in my head, “Posting recycled graphics you find on Pinterest does not make you a good leader, it just makes you a good time waster instead of working on important things that actually might make a difference.”

Was that snarky? Yep. And I own it. I am very old school. I believe in rolling up your sleeves and working on problems, instead of just “sunshining and rosing them” away. I have noticed in today’s society, with Facebook, you can tell how so many people’s lives are going by what cutesy little Pinterest graphic they share on their page. Come on, we all have that friend who posts 27 passive-aggressive signs a day with cryptic little notes, begging for the attention of everyone to ask what is up. We also have the friend who, when things go bad, posts the cutesy graphics about “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain,” also backhandedly begging for everyone to ask what is up, and offer support.  And if people want to do that on their personal pages, that is 100% their business. But to post those things on a business page, ad nauseum, is just not professional, and NOT being a good leader.

To me, a good leader leads by example. So, first and foremost, a good leader is WORKING. You want your team to work? Set the example and work yourself. No one respects anyone giving party advice when they don’t do parties themselves, and have not done them for a while. That is why I am a firm believer that a lot of these sales trainers out there are not worth hiring–they have not done parties themselves in years, and don’t have their fingers on the pulse of what is REALLY happening in the field.

I remember sitting through a training several years ago of a lady who said to bring a squirt gun to your parties, and if someone is being a “Debbie Downer”, SQUIRT THEM. SQUIRT THEM! I tuned her out right then and there–because no one in their right mind would do that at a party these days. I know if anyone did that to me at a party, I’d be one step short of “Ramona on Real Housewives of New York when her blow outs get wet”–and it’s not pretty.  Needless to say, I would not buy, I would not book, and I certainly would not be recruited.

You can’t lead if you don’t have your finger on the current pulse, and you won’t have your finger on that pulse if you are not WORKING.  You have to be IN THE TRENCHES. Being in the trenches involves something that I think is lost in the electronic age–LISTENING. Listen to what your people need. Listen, listen, listen. Then acknowledge what they are saying. Validate that they are people, with feelings and needs, and you understand that, and let them know that you are going to roll up your sleeves and work with them to get something done.

None of this happens by just sitting in front of a computer screen, trolling for cutesy, inspirational sayings to post to your team.  That won’t get things DONE, and in the long run, won’t make you, your team or your company money. If your teammates don’t earn money, they won’t stay in the business, and if your company doesn’t make money, they will close the doors.

Posting Maya Angelou quotes (before she died) on your business page might be cute, but did it generate any sales? Posting it on your team page, did it solve any problems, get any bookings, or any new teammates? No. It just wasted time.

If you want to show that you are actually a good leader, skip posting graphics about dancing in the rain, and address the problems that are the actual “rain”. Roll up your sleeves, admit it is raining, tell your team that you know the rain is not very fun right now, however, this is what we can do to make it more tolerable until it stops raining, and stand alongside them in the rain–don’t run for cover and leave them alone to dance like a fool by them self in the rain. Dance with them–if THEY HAVE TO, then have the class to join them, not run and hide so you don’t have to hear about it. THAT is what a GOOD leader does. They get wet with their team, they don’t run and post cutesy graphics all day long under the guise of “lifting their spirits”.

Again, I am old school. And I just have visions of literally being in the trenches at war. If you were going to team up with someone, do you want to be teamed up with someone who is in the trenches with you, fighting WITH you, WINNING WITH YOU, or teamed up with someone who sits at a desk hundreds of miles away, who sends you telegrams when you are being shot at, telling you it’s all roses and sunshine? Who are you going to respect? Who are you going to be loyal to?

Lead by example. Not by little Pinterest graphics.

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How Do You Treat Your Customers?

Most of us think we treat our customers very well. We thank them when they place an order, some of us (I admit, I don’t ) send handwritten thank you notes to every customer or make follow up phone calls to each one. Those are excellent touches (I am a HUGE fan of the handwritten thank you note in this electronic era).

However, some people smother their customers. And when you do so, you repel them, because you make it totally clear that they are a dollar sign to you.

I have always been very low-key about my business, and more interested in making friends. My friends know what I sell–if they want what I sell, they’ll let me know. I have made thousands of friends through my direct sales businesses, and learned the past year that many of them are very loyal to ME, not the product I sell. I literally had a hostess tell everyone at her party a couple weeks ago that she’d still have a party with me no matter what I sell. In fact, the actual quote (which I recorded, since it made me laugh) was, “I don’t care what crap she’s selling, I just want Joyce to come to my house to sell it.” The same hostess was gracious enough to see I was exhausted and had a two hour drive home and volunteered her spare bedroom for me to use.  That’s not just a hostess…that’s a great friend as well, who I met through a party several years ago.

You build loyalty by NOT treating people like a dollar sign, but instead by actually caring about them and building friendships. You will naturally gravitate to some people, and they will gravitate to you. Build friendships. Friendships are so much more important than a one-time sale, and I guarantee you, your friends will spread the word about your business. Friends are a “team” of two with you. Even if they are not having parties with you right now, or buying from you right now, when they hear someone asking if anyone knows someone who sells what you sell, your name will be the one they pass on. Don’t be so quick to go for the immediate dollar and smother people with constant reminders about what you sell–show people that you care about them for THEM, not for their wallet.

I see examples of this on Facebook all the time. In fact, one exchange inspired this post. A former hostess/customer of mine posted a beautiful picture of herself out at a festival. I posted that she looked great,  that I had sent her a message, and had some hilarious gossip for her the next time we talked. The next post was from another direct seller, who right away had to make reference to the necklace she was wearing, naming the brand (she sells that brand). Ironically, I sold the gal the necklace. I have to admit, I grimaced when I read her post, and just shook my head. Why not compliment her on her great hair color, beautiful smile, or how much fun she looked like she was having? You look like a total business vulture when the only thing you post to her is about the product that you sell. It just looks desperate and makes her like like a dollar sign to you.

It would be the same if a mom posted a picture of her kid crossing the plate scoring the winning run at his baseball game, and the 31 Gifts lady only commenting on one of her companies bags in the bleachers in the background. Tacky, right? Or if someone posted a Pinterest-perfect picture of a cake they just baked/decorated and the Tupperware lady only commenting on how great the storage container she has the cake in is. Everyone else reading it would be instantly turned off by both those reps, and possible their products as a result.

I always tell the gals on my team to not be like the obnoxious uncle in the family who sells insurance and bugs everyone at family holiday gatherings to buy insurance from him. Everyone KNOWS, what he does. If they want his insurance, they’ll come to him. By him constantly shoving it in their faces, they avoid him.

It’s the same with direct sellers and our customers. Remind them every so often what you do, but don’t make your relationship with them ALL about you and your business, or you will have NO relationship. I have people who had parties with me seven years ago who have not bought from me in years, but we are still friends. They know what I do.  And the LAST thing I am going to do is go up to them, smell them and say, “Oh, you need some custom-scented body butter.” Can you IMAGINE? UGH.  When they want some, they’ll let me know. In the meantime, I will keep showing them indirectly how fun my business is, and they are welcome to join in the fun any time they want to.

I guarantee you, if you treat people well, care about THEM, and not their wallets, you will have a lot more friends, and eventually be in a situation where most of the time, when you go to “work”, you are just spending several hours with good friends. Not many people can say that, so count your blessings when you can, and lay the foundation by treating everyone like a friend, not a dollar sign.

 

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