By Daryl Wurzbacher
Originally published in The World of Direct Selling
Many of the most important things I have learned about success have come from clients. Today, I will be sharing 5 of the most important lessons that I have learned over the past two decades and how you can benefit from the hindsight, wisdom, and experience of hundreds of great companies.
1. The Grass Isn’t Always Greener.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence is an English proverb, which means that a different situation or circumstance always seems better than one’s own. When it comes to direct selling tools, technology, and back-office software, 90% of your current system may be excellent and working perfectly. But, the 10% that isn’t perfect can overshadow your perception of that product or vendor. You decide to look for a new vendor and find one who says all the right things, has a perfect way to solve all the items in your 10% list. Your company goes through a significant expense to migrate to the new vendor. Shortly after the launch, you realize that while the 10% items are, in fact, now great, the 90% that was perfect is now full of new issues and creating a lot of frustration for corporate and the field. You realize that your prior vendor was superior and make plans to migrate back to them.
To avoid this syndrome:
- Recognize that no one is perfect, no software is perfect, and no company is perfect. But they are each capable of improvement.
- Instead of changing vendors as a first step, focus on trying to resolve the issues. Collaborate with your technology providers and allow them the opportunity and time to correct things.
- Ask them how other companies have solved the problems you are experiencing, and for alternatives that you may not have considered.
Switching vendors is never an easy process, and there is always some level of pain involved in a move; it should be the last choice after you have done all you can to make things work in your current situation.
2. Experience Matters – Wisdom Prevents Mistakes.
Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” This is especially true when working with consultants or vendors that do not have a lot of Direct Selling experience as their value in many cases is limited due to having to learn through trial and error at a clients’ expense. Inexperienced people make more mistakes, and when they transfer their experience from other industries to direct selling, they can send your business down the wrong path.
To avoid this dilemma:
- Work with consultants or vendors with decades of Direct Selling, MLM, and Party Plan experience.
- Check for online reviews and case studies to learn more about the results other companies have had working with them.
- Pick partners that are experts in our industry and know where things are going — so they can help you get there faster.
Work with seasoned experts to benefit from the wisdom they have gained from each of their clients and avoid the mistakes they have seen other make over many years.
3. Stay Current with the Technology That Runs Your Representatives’ Business.
Before the pandemic, it was not uncommon for companies to get some pushback from the field regarding new tools or technology. A few leaders and representatives may believe that new technology will disrupt their business, and they may provide several alternative areas that must be fixed, such as the products, the comp plan, and shipping — diverting the efforts of corporate to areas that don’t require them to change. Companies that held back on launching new technologies found themselves scrambling to catch up when COVID-19 hit.
To avoid this situation:
- Give the field what they need, not what they want.
- Regularly assess your technology and take action before a crisis forces the change.
- When you find mediocre to poor experiences in any business area, look for ways that technology can be leveraged to enhance that experience.
When representatives worldwide were forced to rely on new technology to run their business this year, they realized the benefits of innovation. Staying current on your technology allows you to continually deliver that level of service to the field.
4. Momentum Becomes Possible When You Overcome the Trap of Inertia.
A company’s mindset has the same effect on its culture that an individual’s perspective has on their life. When there is a cultural belief that “we do things this way because it’s the way we’ve always done them,” it creates an aversion to new ideas, change, or risk-taking. This trap of inertia fosters organizational stagnation. The staff can become so comfortable that they are imperceptibly just going through the motions and relying on past achievements to carry the company into a successful future that never comes. The habit of rigid thinking binds a company to the status quo, halting growth, and ultimately leading to a loss of relevancy in the market.
To avoid this trap:
- Challenge every assumption.
- Encourage risk-taking and give your team permission to fail.
- Embrace a culture of change that creates a learning/growth mindset — personally, professionally and organizationally.
Staying relevant is the natural outcome of a corporate culture focused on learning and growing.
5. Always Have a Backup Plan When Doing a Tech Demo “Live” at Convention/Events.
For weeks you’ve been talking about the reveal of new technology at the convention. The day is finally here! The representatives are anxiously awaiting and enthusiastically cheer as you begin your presentation. You announce an incredible new tool and introduce your technology partner to do a live demo. Things are off to a great start and your reps are thrilled! Then, in a flash, the demo freezes, the spinning wheel appears, and then the internet connection fails. Several minutes go by as the team tries to get the internet working and the demo back on track.
Despite every effort to regain the excitement, the moment is lost.
To avoid this event mishap:
- Plan for both the perfect live demo and an excellent off-line demo as a plan “B.”
- Prepare a presentation that sets the context and provides the benefits of the new solution. Capture screenshots or short videos of the tool in action that can walk representatives through the screens and showcase the new features.
- f the technology has a mobile app, provide instructions on downloading it, and encourage reps to take a test drive. This allows them to see the tools in their business context and starts the adoption/training right away.
A live demo is always the best option, and having a plan B ready ahead of time will ensure a successful introduction.
The value of learning from the people around us cannot be overestimated. I hope that these 5 essential lessons that I have learned over the past 20 years will provide insights and inspiration for your company.