Building a Team that Sticks

If you’re a direct seller focused on growing a sales organization, it can be very tempting to sign up anyone that can fog up a mirror.

After all, they’re grown ups and should be able to understand what they’re getting themselves into, right?

Not really.

In this age of info-overload. So many people skim the fine print, and just trust that you’ll provide all the pertinent details. Then, a few months later, when they’re barely treading water, they either get frustrated and start blaming you, or they silently drop off the face of the earth.

It doesn’t have to be that way for you or for them. Instead of signing up anyone with a pulse, focus instead on building a team that sticks. By that, I mean a team that produces consistently over time with relatively stable levels of business activity.

Wait! I hear you rolling your eyes at me. “It’s easier said than done!” you protest. My team is full of “tire kickers” and would-be “kit-nappers” that just haven’t given this business a fair shake.

Allow me to be curt for just a minute as I remind you that when you point your finger at your team, there are three more fingers pointing back at you:

Finger # 1: Not Setting Realistic Expectations

You’ve no doubt heard me mention this before, but when you fail to set realistic expectations with your team, you will get whatever they choose to produce. Instead of laying down the law at the recruiting interview, reminding your new recruit that they need to attend monthly meetings, and set goals for themselves, and develop a marketing plan, you waffle. You tell them that they don’t HAVE to attend, because after all, you can’t force them to do anything. So they don’t show up. They don’t engage. They continue to do things their way.

How’s that workin’ for ya?

Set a standard of excellence for your team that is above the minimum requirements of your company. Then hold your team accountable to meeting them – or don’t sign them up in the first place. Turning consultants away isn’t a ploy. When you say no, mean it. Don’t let them join your team unless they are willing to meet your minimum performance guidelines. While you are not hiring employees, per se, you ARE committing your time and energy to training your new recruits. Don’t waste your time with dead weight. You’ll have plenty of tire kickers and kit nappers seeking you out by default. There’s no sense in setting up your organization to chase them down and welcome them with open arms.

Finger #2: Lack of Vision

You’ve not gotten clear on how you want your team to operate. You’ve not laid down a clear, compelling vision for your sales organization. Either that, or you haven’t communicated that vision well enough to both your existing team members and your potential recruits. The result is a hodgepodge of clashing personalities that likely are too high-maintenance for your leadership style, or just rub you the wrong way.

Get clear on what your leadership style is. Understand what personalities work well under that style. Communicate the vision for your organization so that your downline understands what will be expected of them when they move into leadership positions. Develop systems and for contact and structures to support the development of your own business as well as the training for your teams. Educate your leaders so that they can cascade information, those systems, and that training to their teams – so you don’t have to!

Finger #3: Lack of Clarity

You’ve heard me mention a Perfect-Fit Customer Profile before. Develop a Perfect-Fit Recruit Profile (PFRP) as well. Draw your profile description from your Vision for your organization and the expectations you’ve set for your team. Realize that not everyone will fit into that profile. Anyone who does not fit your PFRP should not join the team. Either that, or you’ll need to re-think your PFRP to accommodate them.

When you are clear on who is a good fit for the way you do business, your brain’s Reticular Activating System (RAS) will engage. The RAS is the mechanism in the brain that causes you to fall in love with a certain kind of car and then see that car everywhere you turn. In this instance, your RAS will work in your favor, sorting out the folks that don’t fit your PFRP, and giving you a “nudge” when you’re presented with someone that potentially fits your PFRP.

When you’ve got your own business ship-shape, THEN you can start pointing your fingers at your team’s failure to perform. Sound harsh? Perhaps, but chances are good that if that’s the case, then I’m preaching to the choir. Books abound supporting the idea that an organized leader that effectively communicates their organizational vision to their team, and enlists only the best people for the job, have consistently better performing organizations. If that’s you, then I’m definitely preaching to the choir, otherwise, the secret to getting your team to be more productive on a consistent basis lies with you.

© 2010 Lisa Robbin Young



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Lisa Robbin Young offers direct sales training and coaching 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


Maybe I’m missing the boat. What do you think?

What would you add (or subtract) from this list?

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