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August 02, 2010

Top Desk

Keep It Simple

by Angela Loehr Chrysler, President, CEO, Team National

Keep it simpleTeam National sells a membership that allows people to save money on a wide array of items in a variety of industries. I could list the 20 different industries. I could explain how we provide businesses and families value and factory direct pricing in home furnishings and more. I could explain how we reduce the costs of products and services for our customers and members. Yet, the simple answer to what we do is we help people save money and make money. We believe in providing value and inspiring dreams.

Rebecca Larson, Managing Editor of Direct Selling News, heard me speak recently about keeping it simple and heard the Barbie story. She asked me to share my thoughts on this important and timely topic in a “Top Desk” article. As I prepared the information to share, I thought maybe I should leave out the Barbie story, since it might be better with a live audience versus written. Yet, it really does make the point of keeping it simple. So, humor me for a moment as I share the Barbie story.

My daughter is 6 years old and loves imagination play. Recently, we were spending time together playing Barbies. We usually start by determining the story and deciding who knows who, etc. She said her Barbie was an actress in a high-school musical and in Team National. My Barbie then asked her Barbie what Team National was. (I couldn’t wait to hear the answer!) My daughter said, “Aren’t you in Team National?” (which I loved). I said, “No, what is it?” (I was so curious what a 6-year-old would say about Team National.) She said, “I have one spot left.” (She didn’t hear that from me! She had to have heard that from one of our sales reps—too funny.) I said “OK, but what is Team National?” (I still couldn’t wait to hear this answer.) She said “In Team National, I make money, have choices and save money.” Wow! My Barbie bought a membership and became an independent marketing director! I loved her answer. It was simple and true.

Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” I had no idea what my 6-year-old would say about Team National until that day. Yet, I loved how simple it was. She got me thinking about keeping it simple. I am going to share our story, and hopefully it will help you as you grow and prosper in direct sales.

Planned Simplicity

At Team National, what we do isn’t always communicated simply. One of the reasons for this is that our company has evolved since 1997. We offer savings in many ways. In 1997, it was easy to explain our membership savings because we had only three areas in which we helped people save money, and all of them had to do with the automotive industry. As we have expanded our membership savings and evolved over the last 13 years, we haven’t always kept it simple. I am the first to admit that I have been the one leading the path at times for more, more, more or different, different, different. Yet today I realize the importance of keeping it simple. I believe at times, as executives, we try to reinvent the wheel when the fundamentals got us where we are.

At Team National, “keeping it simple,” for us, means calculated changes, planning our business with a thriving attitude and utilizing partners to assist us in areas they know well. We look to partner with DSA supplier members because they often know direct sales and can share knowledge from helping another company. The DSA events are great for connecting with supplier members to help you keep it simple. We also keep it simple by engaging our sales field in the process to advise us. We have committee calls and meetings to hear their thoughts and use their experience to help us with decision making. More minds are better than one type of philosophy. We also keep it simple by looking at the big picture.

For example, when we have made changes to our marketing tools, we try to roll out one new tool at a time, looking at the entire effect and year. Why?

  1. This allows us to focus on our marketing efforts.
  2. It allows us to use our sales field committees without taking too much of their time.
  3. One tool at a time gives us new things to talk about and promote throughout the year.
  4. It allows us time and ability to utilize all forms of communication about the new tool—for example, social media, newsletters, conference calls and printed material.

Simple Business

We have complicated our business at times. I can share from experience that when we do too much at once, we don’t do one thing well. Simple has been better for us. In January 2010, we launched a new marketing tool, our Game Plan Training Book. We worked with DSA supplier member VideoPlus to assist us with creating a professional yet simplified manual of our system and message with an audio CD inside it. Simplifying our system has helped us increase the duplication process in the field. In our experience, keeping it simple, and staying true to the fundamentals, has allowed our sales field to get started quicker, and therefore, have quicker results and success.

In the last two years, our philosophy of planning our business with a thriving attitude has helped us succeed during a struggling economy. It also kept us thinking of how to simplify our message to reach more people.

My suggestions are keep it simple, use partners that care and know our industry, plan your business with a thriving attitude—not  a surviving attitude—and utilize your sales field to help you do it all. We have evolved over the years, but our fundamentals are the same. Sometimes we forget that and need a reminder, but it’s true. Learn from us, and skip the hard lesson of trying it all: Simplify. We are in the greatest industry in the United States. We have super entrepreneurs and great partners who care. We give people terrific opportunities to enhance their lives and to grow and prosper. I believe it’s our responsibility to help our salesforce and our companies thrive in direct sales. Keeping it simple has worked for us.

Angela Loehr-ChryslerAngela Loehr Chrysler is President and CEO of Team National.