Direct Sales Leadership: Setting Expectations

In direct sales leadership mindset is one of the critical factors to success. The right mindset can move you quickly through the ranks toward upper-level leadership. Developing the proper mindset takes work. And most often we as leaders fall short in teh critical area of setting boundaries and expectations.

In previous articles, I’ve talked about the power of setting expectations with your hosts. As a direct sales leader, it is equally important to set expectations with your personal recruits as well as other team members. Failing to set healthy boundaries in your business can often result in being pushed to do too much hand-holding, and is often at the expense of your own personal book of direct sales business.

Here are “the don’ts” – five of my top ten tips for setting clear expectations with your direct sales team:

  1. Don’t waffle. As leaders, we want to help our teams be successful. In as much as we need to be firm with expectations when communicating with our hosts, so too must we be firm with the expectations we set with our teams. Adhere to your call-in hours, and when someone tries to violate them, be firm, and clear. Respect their time, and they will learn to respect yours.
  2. Don’t coddle. Hand-holding is not doing your consultants any favors. You are actually enabling them, and they will come to you for everything – including the resources they could easily find on their own. Quality leadership means training your team to know where to go to get their questions answered. You should only be the last resort resource and the go-to for new training, tools and advice. Require your team to understand the consultant manual, order entry, presentation basics and how to hold a recruiting interview. While it’s a nice ego boost to be asked to assist on a recruiting call, it’s hardly the best use of your time if you could be holding your own appointments in that time slot.
  3. Don’t give up your own book of business. See number two above. If you’re spending all your time working with consultants, when do you have time to work your own book of business? Make your own business a priority and lead by example. A healthy calendar full of appointments that serve your own business is just as important as coaching and training time with your team.
  4. Don’t give up your life. The only thing perhaps more important than number three above is to make time for your personal needs and your personal life. Direct Sales is a vehicle to make your dreams come true, but if you’re bogged down in the grunt work of your business, you’ll never have time to live that dream. Delegate the non-essentials to your team or an assistant (see number 5).
  5. Don’t do it alone. Whether you have family support, team support or a personal assistant for your business, know your limits, and find qualified help to handle the rest. A true leader focuses on what I call IPA – Important Personal Activies or Income Producing Activities. When you step into a leadership role, it’s silly to try to keep all the plates spinning by yourself. You’ve earned the right to have help. Ask for it!

These five tips are foundational to a healthy set of boundaries as a direct sales leader. Without them, you’ll spend too much time not making money. That’s a sure fire way to go out of business fast.

© 2010 Lisa Robbin Young.



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Lisa Robbin Young offers direct sales coaching and training to direct sales professionals looking to grow their business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Sign up for her free weekly ezine at


If you’re ready to step up to leadership, consider Direct Sales 103, a comprehensive training program that teaches recruiting techniques and foundational leadership skills to help consultants promote quickly into first-level leadership.