Ever wish you could set your GPS to give you a direct route to multi-level marketing (MLM) success? Better yet, it would re-direct you around obstacles that might slow you down, putting you on the fast track to sales, representative recruitment, and growth. An MLM GPS would help you anticipate changing market and business conditions and recommend the best detour, ensuring there are no dead-ends along your journey.
While there’s no set path to MLM growth, we’ve compiled five essential best practices you can adapt and apply to your business. And even if you’ve already addressed some of them, the insights provided here may help you give your operations a tune-up. Ready? Start your engines, read on, and put your company on the road to direct sales success.
Milestone 1: Give your product offering a quality-check.
First stop, high-quality products. MLMs succeed based on the quality of the products and services they offer and the value their customers perceive. Yes, value applies to price. But it also applies to the “extras” that MLM representatives deliver. Buyers must feel like they’re getting value that’s worth the price they’re paying. For MLMs, that means starting with high-quality products and services that are worthy of a premium price – delivered via a model that is a level above traditional retail sales.
In other words, successful MLM brands base their customer relationships on higher-quality products combined with an elevated customer experience. In fact, a recent study showed that 66 percent of consumers prioritize experience over price when making a purchase. The connection between MLM representatives and the community of customers they develop is the intangible element that justifies a higher price point that consumers are more than willing to pay. The powerful personal brand stories and product testimonials that connect MLM companies to their representatives, and then to their customers, make purchase decisions more emotion-based rather than transactional.
Selling high-quality products at premium pricing requires trust. Financial leaders describe the strong link between consumer trust and purchase decisions as “the trust economy.” Marketing experts have long understood that brands with higher-quality products have more repeat sales, far fewer returns, and more loyal customers. All of those benefits add up to increased trust. As sales expert and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
Are you delivering high-quality products – and high-end, memorable customer experiences? Do an end-to-end quality assessment. Identify the areas where you can up your quality game and put action plans in place. Trust, loyalty, and repeat sales will follow.
Milestone 2: Test drive your supply chain’s resiliency.
Meeting – and exceeding – customer expectations requires efficient supply chain management. This behind-the-scenes capability has stepped into the spotlight, for better or worse, during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s one thing to manage suppliers when it’s business as usual. However, when you throw in a global health crisis, natural disasters, plant shutdowns, or unexpected quality issues, your supply chain’s resiliency gets put to the test.
How well are you expecting the unexpected? Creating a supply chain that can flex as situations change is more than just smart business; it’s business-critical. Taking a strategic approach to supply chain management is an often-underutilized best practice for maximizing profits.
Get ahead of the challenges by taking these steps:
- Do regular end-to-end supply chain risk assessments – and engage your suppliers to help you identify potential gaps and game plan around the “what ifs.”
- Diversify your supplier network, and create back-ups and redundancies, so you’re able to respond to fluctuations in supply and demand.
- Explore options to automate and digitize your supply chain management to gain efficiencies and ensure you have easy access to the information you need.
Milestone 3: Rev up your technology.
Technology is the engine that keeps MLM business models running. In today’s dynamic environment, your investment in technology is vital for success. Your MLM software affects every part of your business, especially your customer experience.
Evaluating your software – and exploring provider options – is an essential best practice. A complete software solution should include genealogy management, a commissions engine, consultant and customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities, support tickets, API access, and selling tools for representatives. It should also support your company’s growth with capabilities you may not need immediately, such as a client-configurable promotions engine, international countries and currency tools, and a branded mobile app. Most importantly, your MLM software should help you stay current and innovative, so you’re able to give your field representatives a competitive advantage.
As you evaluate options, look at software providers with the ability to provide a complete solution. Having multiple vendors can introduce unnecessary complexity to your processes and dramatically extend the time it takes to troubleshoot and resolve unexpected issues. Not to mention, the more vendors you have, the more money you’re likely to spend.
Milestone 4: Think big, and map out a rapid-scaling path.
Growth is great unless your company isn’t prepared to handle it. Having a business plan and executing against it to achieve objectives and growth goals is key. Calibrate your business goals so they’re lined up with what’s realistic given the stage of your business, the size of your team, and other market factors. Build in plans to add new products and services over time to expand your target market. Then, once you have a realistic plan with a step-by-step plan for success and growth, take a step back and ask, what will happen if every single thing goes better than anticipated?
Mapping out a plan for how you would rapidly scale your business if your product turns out to be the next big thing or your marketing campaign goes viral is an important best practice. Don’t leave it to chance. You won’t have much if any, advance notice, and you won’t have a lot of time to adapt. If you’re unable to respond to a surge in demand, the market will quickly move on.
Plan for unexpected growth surges.
- Analyze how your manufacturing and logistics needs would change if your company experienced exponential growth of 10x, 100x, or even 1,000x.
- Evaluate your suppliers so you know which ones would be able to scale with you and which ones you would quickly outgrow.
- Identify processes that can be automated to increase efficiencies.
- Look for tasks and responsibilities that can be delegated to others.
Thinking about these types of scenarios ahead of time is never a wasted effort. Even if your company doesn’t experience a 1,000x growth rate, having a plan for rapid scaling helps you identify and prioritize incremental improvements along the way that both support and enable growth.
Milestone 5: Give yourself the freedom to fail. Then, keep moving forward.
Just as you plan for your company’s success, plan for failures along the way. Planning for failures isn’t about being pessimistic or negative. There’s a big difference between preparing for failures and thinking you’re going to fail. Planning for failure means thinking through how you’ll react and adapt to stumbling blocks and unforeseen issues. When you prepare for failure, you give yourself the freedom to fail, and you gain confidence that you’re ready to handle it.
For example, plan for worst-case scenarios. What if you lost one of your highest producing representatives? How would that impact your business revenues and team morale? As you think through the repercussions, you may find that you identify some opportunities for changes that ultimately can help you prevent the worst-case from happening.
The truth is failure is a crucial component of business success. As Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” All great MLM success stories include lessons learned from mistakes. Success comes from applying what you learn from your own experiences and from others. One way to focus on continuous learning is by attending the Direct Selling Edge Conference. This annual event is solely focused on education provided by some of the MLM industry’s top experts, and it provides a chance to both benefit from the insights of others and share your own.
When you give yourself – and your team – permission to fail, you also unlock creativity. The fear of failure can keep you stuck in a comfort zone where you avoid risks and your company defaults to the status quo. In the end, preparing for potential failures helps prevent you from standing still. Whatever you do, keep moving forward. In fact, if you’re not failing in some of your results, take a closer look. You may not be taking enough risks to reach your company’s full potential.
The common threads across these five MLM best practices are anticipating, planning, and executing on the things that matter most in your business. When you do, you can avoid costly mistakes and capitalize on the opportunities that come your way.
By definition, best practices come from companies that have navigated through similar challenges. No matter what your company faces, chances are someone else in the MLM industry has tackled it before. ByDesign specializes in providing MLM companies with a complete ecosystem of solutions and trusted partners. Our solutions have been designed based on the best practices and lessons learned from helping to launch nearly 1,000 clients. We can help you chart your company’s course to success.