You’ve got your business started and into a routine, and others are seeing the improvements in your life financially, emotionally, and physically. You have one or two friends creating volume in their spare time. Friends of friends are starting to wonder if they could do what you are doing, and even ask you about the business. You breathe a sigh of relief, thankful the momentum you have been building is starting to pay off. This is what your mentor has been telling you would happen, and visions of a large team (and the financial benefits from a large team) start to dance in your head.
Before you pop the champagne cork, I respectfully have something to say: stop signing up everyone.
Most business builders involved in direct selling know about turnover and have come to expect it. In fact, if you aren’t careful, you can get a discount store attitude that settles for volume over quality. Unfortunately, the additional work required to manage uncommitted people can suck the joy out of helping people—probably the main reason you first started with your company. But what if you started choosing your business partners the way you selectively choose products in a department store?
Yesterday, I was contacted by someone interested in joining the company I’m with. He was a thoughtful, kind person who exhibited the traits I have come to expect from the people I am going to spend my valuable time helping. Let me tell you why I invited him to join my team at the end of our 20-minute phone conversation:
- He was taking his time with this decision. This gentleman told me upfront he was only in the research phase of his decision. He was still deciding between the company I work for and another, and he was even speaking with different representatives to see what sort of mentors he could work with. I loved this, because a person who spends this much time to figure out what he wants to do will be all in when he makes his decision. Too many times, people attend a party in love with the products and on a whim check the “I want to be a consultant” box on their order form, even though they will walk out the door and forget they did. I want to work with people who are passionate about the products I represent, the concepts behind them, and will do the regular, simple things it takes to earn income.
Suggestion: When encountering a quick sign up, encourage them to educate themselves on the products through lots of use and set up a time to train 2 weeks later. Often, this allows them enough time to use the product to see if they have a story they can share and build enthusiasm, and 2 weeks seems to be the magical timeframe to let them bow out gracefully if they realize they signed up on a whim.
- He was honest. As stated above, this prospective team member told me he might not join the company, or he might not join me. I was thrilled that he might not actually join me, because this told me he knew himself well enough to know if our personalities would match to create a healthy working relationship. Such bold honesty also tells me he will likely be honest with me throughout our relationship, telling me if he is uncomfortable with training information or methods I suggest. Most importantly, it shows he will be honest with his customers. In 9 years, only once have I worked with someone who tended to “little white lie” to me a lot. I regretted it later emotionally (and financially) when it pointed to her greater integrity issues.
Suggestion: If you encounter inconsistencies with someone on your team, stay open at first to the possibility you are misunderstanding something. A simple email query of, “Hey Jane, I’m confused. I understood you to say X the last time we talked, but now I’m seeing Y. What did I miss?” However, after my time investment with a team member whom I gave too many second chances to, I now adopt a three-strike rule. After 3 strikes, a simple face-to-face with you saying, “I’m sorry, I believe in you to succeed in this business, but not with me. I have initiated the proper procedures at corporate and they are going to find a new mentor for you. How can I help you transition smoothly?”
- He honored my time. After we set up our 20-minute phone appointment in our first contact, he mentioned it was possible he might have to reschedule close to our appointment time due to work obligations, and asked if I was free on Saturday if that situation arose. In fact, when we did finally talk, he reminded me of his situation and apologized if he had to go. Immediately, that scored points with me because he was telling me he respected I might have other things to do than simply talk with him about the business. Often, someone will contact me from my website and list a specific time they would like me to call, confirm beforehand via email, only to then send me to voice mail with no return explanation call that day (or ever). Do you get that? They initiated the contact. They set up the time to talk. They expected I would call, no matter what. Is that what they do with their doctor appointments? I want to work with people who respect my time as much as I will respect theirs. (And yes, I have gotten up at 4:30 AM to talk with prospects six time zones away, understanding sometimes that’s just the nature of this business.)
Suggestion: When encountering a no show, 1) in your voice mail be sure to say, “Hi [Jane]! This is [me]. I’m sorry, but I had in my calendar we were going to have a quick phone call today about [the business I’m with] so I could answer your questions. Could you return my call today and let me know if I got this wrong?” 2) Email them immediately after you hang up and state, “Hi Jane, I just left you a voice mail. I think I may have gotten the time wrong for our phone appointment about [the business I work for]. Can you contact me so we can reschedule?” 3) Within the next 5 days, follow up at your convenience with one last voice mail (because rarely do they contact you again) saying, “Hi Jane! It’s [me] with [my business] again. I haven’t heard from you and a truly hope everything is okay with you. Whenever you are ready to talk, please call me at [your number], but this will be my last phone message. Thanks, and have a great day!” 4) Add their email to your newsletter list, because you just never know how their personal growth might open them up to working with you in the future.
- He spent most of the call listening and not talking. Before you think I am full of myself and just want to be listened to, let me tell you why this was important. He had prepared a list beforehand of the questions he had for potential problems he might encounter with this business and wanted to see what my approach was to these issues so he could make sure I was qualified to help him grow his business. He was interviewing me as much as I was interviewing him. I have talked to a lot of individuals about my business. I have found down to the last number that people who spend most of our introductory call interrupting me by talking about themselves, their private lives, their pets, and their health “so I can get to know them” will also spend most of their customer prospect appointments talking about themselves as well…and losing sales because of it.
Suggestion when they’re too talkative: After 20 minutes, politely end the call with a simple, “It’s been great talking with you, but I’m afraid I need to go,” no matter how much information you covered. You are not being rude. You are not being unfriendly. You are not being mean. You are valuing your time and the time of your family and those on your team who might need you that day. Do not do a second call until they place an order with you. Not because you’re money-hungry; this is a litmus test to see if they’re really interested in the business, since all home-based businesses require at least a purchase to get started. Trust me, if they contact you again and ask when they can have a second call because “they have more questions about the business” and you respond with a polite, “I’d like our next conversation to be product based, so I need you to buy [the basic package or flagship product] so I can hear your thoughts,” their response to that will tell you whether they deserve more of your time.
You know you are going places in your business. Make sure you enjoy the journey getting to your goals by working with people who are business-minded, love your company, and love the products as much as you do. Being picky will save your emotional life and help you separate the wheat from the chaff to create a dynamic, energetic team who has fun while making the world a better place.
Carolyn Schlicher has worked with over 600 customers and distributors in almost 9 years of direct selling. You can find more tips applicable to any home business at her blog on www.LiquidWholeFood.com, or contact her directly via www.WealthandIntegrity.com or on her Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LiquidWholeFood.com.
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