(This article, second in a series, is also an open letter to Direct Sales Industry Trainers)
I was on a call the other day that just blew my mind. I wish I would say it was a one-time deal, but as I spend more and more time “behind the scenes” in the direct sales training industry, I get more and more disenchanted with the prevailing attitude of fear, competition, and territorialism.
I take pride in the fact that I’m pretty clear on who I want to work with in my business. And I am also proud of the fact that, despite what many are calling the worst economic meltdown in the last century, in less than six months, I’ve already made more money than I did in all of last year.
Yet, I look at many of the other trainers, coaches and speakers in the industry right now and they’re “rolling back prices to 1994!” in an effort to drum up business and keep “market share” as the direct sales training industry starts fracturing with the onslaught of new faces in the crowd – myself being one of them.
In fact, a quick look at Alexa.com revealed that my own website with online marketing training for direct sellers was rising in popularity – even more popular than several of the more well-known direct sales trainers on the web – while theirs were declining. And while Alexa isn’t the most reliable source for web statistics, it gives you a quick glance at the trends online.
One of the reasons I created the Direct Sales Super Summit was so that we could bring together the thought leaders in direct sales training and share best practices to help consultants and leaders (at all levels) to grow their businesses even in a poopy economy – without bending them over for their last thin dime to do it.
But after talking with countless trainers in the industry, I’m a little fed up with what I’m hearing.
The way they talk about clients and customers in closed door sessions turns my stomach. This is just part of how one conversation went:
They want it all for free!
The only people who are spending any money right now are leaders.
I don’t think they’ll get it. I mean, I get it, but I don’t think they do.
They don’t understand the business side of things, and there’s no point trying to teach them. They aren’t that smart to begin with.
In essence, they think you are stupid and cheap.
The first time I heard this, I thought, “Well, gee, maybe I DON’T want to work with you if your customers are like that. That’s not my target market.”
But in the past four months, I’ve heard that same song and dance time after time from countless industry trainers in one way or another.
That tells me we have an epidemic on our hands – either the direct sales community at large is a bunch of bumbling tightwads, or the trainers in our industry haven’t figured out that the gravy train reached the end of the line a decade ago. They can’t rest on their laurels anymore and rely on their reputation to keep the income flowing.
Companies are tightening their belts, paying less for keynote speakers at conferences and conventions. Does that mean the companies are a bunch of dense penny pinchers, too?
Now, if they had said to me “Lisa, your content just doesn’t fit my target market.” then, I probably wouldn’t be writing this today.
If they had said, “Sorry, Lisa! My promotional calendar is full, and I can’t squeeze you in right now.” I wouldn’t be fuming like this.
But they didn’t. So I am.
Are my customers and clients more intelligent than the average direct seller? Maybe. As much as I’d like to think so, I won’t begin to speculate.
My Alexa.com profile shows that more of my website visitors have college degrees, so maybe I do draw a more educated clientele – which is part of my target marketing in the first place. But I’ve said before that it’s not the paper that makes the person, it’s the person that makes the paper.
Are my clients and customers more extravagant than the average direct seller? Doubtful. I charge (and get) upwards of $300 for an hour of my coaching time. My upper level coaching clients pay thousands to work with me in a one-on-one capacity every month.
They are not multi-jillionaires, they are hard-working people that have invested in themselves and see the value in what I have to offer to help them grow their business. I offer specific, results oriented information that is tailored to their specific situation. They see value in that, and are willing to pay for it.
But you know what? I give away a lot of FREE information as well. At this time, I am the only certified direct sales marketing coach in the world – and I could probably charge big bucks because of it. But because my passion is in helping consultants become successful, I also have a free online community, with complimentary resources, including a training program that teaches target marketing for direct sellers – in addition to my weekly ezine that goes out to consultants around the world.
My clients are not cheap, nor are they stupid. I would be willing to bet that the average direct seller isn’t cheap or stupid either.
In truth, I think the real problem lies with trainers that haven’t taken the time to target market effectively. In the good old days, there were 3 or 4 trainers and they shared the national conferences and leader retreats amongst themselves. Those days are long gone. Now, there are more people with a story to share, and audiences want to hear fresh, new content, not regurgitated material they’ve heard twenty times before.
They’re not cheap, they’re looking for real value.
Heck yeah, if I can find it for free, why should I pay you for it? If I’ve already heard you give the same talk 15 times, why would I pay to go hear it again? Some messages bear repeating, but there’s a law of diminishing returns that says after I’ve bought the CD, seen the seminar, and own the video, I don’t need to buy it again.
What do you have to offer that they percieve as vauable? If you find your distinctive value, people will gladly open their wallets and shop with you – even in a poopy economy. I’m living proof of that.
Real value lies in how you share and what you do that’s unique. There are countless trainers that teach booking, selling, and recruiting – that’s why I train on marketing methods – including online marketing strategies. I’m the only certified direct sales marketing coach in the world at the moment. There’s value in being the first or the only. Problem is, so many of today’s trainers haven’t continued to innovate – instead, they’ve let the world pass them by. Now, they’re competing on price, instead of asserting their unique value in the marketplace.
They’re no longer unique – they’re a commodity – bought and sold almost entirely on price.
People want to be valued – and they all believe their situation is unique.
In the medical profession, specialists command a premium for their time and services. They are so good at what they do that people are willing to pay more because they know the specialist will deliver the promised results.
The days of the generalist in direct sales training are fast coming to an end. Trainers and speakers need to face it, get over it, and figure out what they’re going to do to re-establish their expertise in the marketplace.
There are trainers who tout that they’re an expert on everything – booking, selling, recruiting, leadership, organizational management, time management, and now social media. PLEASE.
You can’t be everything to everyone, so stop trying. It’s smarter to partner with specialists that KNOW the content exceptionally well – plus it makes you look like a hero with your customers.
I firmly believe that any company that doesn’t do target marketing will not be successful in the long run. You must know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who your perfect fit customer is, and how to attract them, or you will not reach them.
Maybe these trainers are content with the customers they serve. It didn’t sound like it to me.
I’m VERY happy to be working with my clients and customers. They are NOT cheap or stupid.
And if they’re smarter than the average direct seller, so much the better!
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Lisa Robbin Young is the founder of HomePartySolution.com, a free online community for direct sellers. Lisa is a certified direct sales marketing coach helping consultants and leaders use the Internet to grow their direct sales business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Register today for her free target marketing program for direct sellers at http://www.homepartysolution.com/