April 01, 2013
by Bob Henry
Today, with the focus on quarterly financial performance and the need to deliver positive numbers quarter over quarter, taking shortcuts to produce “quick fix” results at times may seem the right choice to make. Taking shortcuts to achieve short-term gains, however, often leads to long-term difficulties. Building a successful business in the direct selling industry requires the vision and the fortitude “to get it right,” in order to enjoy a lasting legacy.
Over the last 12 months, a few of our industry’s leading companies have been challenged in terms of how their direct selling business model actually works. These occurrences challenge the model of the industry as a whole, perpetuating false ideas about illegitimate practices. Those who may be looking for short-term gains by taking shortcuts could end up faltering, and even contributing to the misrepresentations that linger in some sectors of the public mind.
We must continue to focus upon and define those qualities and standards that show our integrity and our commitment to long-term legacies. Today, let us reflect upon the components of what makes a successful, innovative and reputable company in the direct selling industry.
- Products and Services: The product and service offering must be of the highest quality and standards. The offer must deliver on valid, legal claims backed by facts and research.
Products and services must be able to stand on their own merit, with no “smoke and mirrors.” It does not matter how talented your marketing team is; if your products or services cannot stand the test of time, the business will falter and, in the end, it will fail. Quick-to-market launches, without the proper testing and research, are not the way to ensure longevity.
It is also important to have a return policy that is straightforward for the distributors to explain and easily execute. Transparency when explaining the efficacy of products and services will build trust, belief and loyalty.
- Compensation: The compensation plan must be fair, generous and ethical to those distributors willing to invest their time and effort, all the while sustaining the long-term health of the business.
We must continue to focus upon and define those qualities and standards that show our integrity and our commitment to long-term legacies.
The compensation plan must allow distributors an opportunity to build a business at an affordable entry point, and to earn a steady and recurring income, directly based on their level of involvement and performance. The plan must be innovative, dynamic and robust. It should emphasize product sales rather than gimmicks. It should emphasize getting products and services into the hands of consumers as well as helping new distributors do the same.
If the plan is overly “generous” to its distributors, it runs the risk of driving the organization into financial ruin; therefore, the need to design a plan aligned with the organization’s margins, products and services and desired salesforce behavior is vital.
Opportunity: The business opportunity must be presented honestly and openly, not as a “get-rich-quick scheme” but rather as an opportunity to succeed if you are willing to make the required effort.
As we know, people come to direct selling for many reasons. Some come in order to supplement their present income, others because they want to start a home-based business, and others come to grab the full potential of the opportunity and maximize its benefits. It is important to paint a clear and accurate picture of the time and effort that is required to achieve one’s goal in order to build strong, reputable relations with the distributors.
Infrastructure: It is vital that sufficient resources are allocated to build and maintain a strong infrastructure that will provide the distributors appropriate reporting, training and tools required to succeed.
Making entry into the business straightforward and easy is the first step toward building a credible relationship with new distributors. In order to cultivate this relationship and build trust and ultimately success, the organization must invest in training and tools that can be accessed by the distributors easily and at minimal cost to them. Investing in ongoing training and tools that evolve with market demands will keep both the organization and distributors current and even ahead of the curve.
Caring Culture: The culture must show that the company cares through motivation, ongoing support, frequent follow-up training, recognition, and above all, communication.
A caring culture starts from inside the organization and grows out. The organization’s corporate team must be just that—a team of individuals with like-values, dedicated to nurturing the success of the distributors. To maintain a caring culture and a dedicated team, hiring practices must be clearly defined and adhered to. At times, finding the best candidate can be a lengthy process and the urge to stop the search and fill the position quickly can be great, but it is often to the detriment of the culture.
Technology: The willingness on behalf of the company to demonstrate that they are able to grow and adapt to new technologies in order to support the field through dynamic websites, mobile applications, social media, videos, viral marketing, webinars and more is essential.
Staying current with technology and having the ability to project the benefits of new emerging technology when applied to one’s organization is important when making decisions that will affect future growth.
DSA Code of Ethics: Adhering strictly to the commitment of ethical business practices and consumer service and abiding by and supporting the DSA Code of Ethics, is paramount.
The DSA Code of Ethics lays out values and principles that each associate member benefits from as it guides their decisions and strategies that will help sustain their longevity. It allows distributors to confidently rely on their leaders that they are upholding the highest levels of honesty, integrity, responsibility and accountability.
Mission Statement: Industry leaders require a clearly defined mission statement that represents their values, vision and objectives and is supported by the entire organization.
The foundation for this mission statement is based on the company’s core values that are the principles and standards at the very center of the organization’s character.
Putting the above components into practice, maintaining a strong and ethical leadership team and applying the company’s core values on a daily basis takes effort, commitment, dedication and time. In sum—no shortcuts!
Bob Henry is Chairman and CEO of Immunotec Inc.