Help Your Direct Sales Team Succeed: SWOT Them!

Direct sales leaders often struggle with what they call “dead weight” on their teams.

These are the consultants that aren’t producing consistently, and may have serious areas of improvement that need help – if the consultant wants long-term success. Often, these recruits want to be more effective and run a successful direct sales business, but they struggle with knowing exactly what to do to fix the problem.

What’s worse, sometimes they’re not even aware they have a problem. Frustrated leaders, who are unable to diagnose the problem often neglect these consultants. We call them “orphans” in the industry because they haven’t heard from their recruiter in several months (or years). Despite their best efforts to grow a business, something is in the way, and they need help to pinpoint the issue.

Often, these orphans are doing something right, or they wouldn’t still be in business. They have strengths or skills that they have struggled to build on their own, and are finally at a point where success is possible – but there’s no one around to help them get the ball rolling. If that’s you, or someone on your team, consider using a SWOT analysis to help you bridge the gap.

SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

In business, tools like a SWOT analysis are helpful in determining what an organization has going for it – as well as going against it. Simply put, it helps you see on one sheet of paper where your best advantages and biggest disadvantages are, so that you can make a plan to improve your current business situation. Many companies use SWOT analyses when looking for new markets, finding “weak links” in the communication chain, etc. Individuals are also using the SWOT analysis as a career planning tool. So too, direct sales professionals can implement a SWOT analysis to plot a course for your own success in the industry.

How A SWOT Analysis Works in Direct Sales

Similar to a list of “pros and cons”, a SWOT analysis looks at both the internal and external factors that contribute to or hinder the success of a consultant. Internal factors are issues that are most likely under the control or influence of the consultant: punctuality, product knowledge, host coaching skills, etc. If a consultant is good in those areas, they are Strengths, otherwise, they are Weaknesses. External factors are invariably issues that are beyond the direct control of the consultant: industry or economic trends, competition, new product releases, deliverability issues with the home office, etc. When these factors are helpful to the consultant, they are Opportunities, otherwise, they are Threats.

Why A SWOT Analysis Is Effective in Direct Sales

When consultants can map out their issues, they have a clearer picture of what really is beyond their control. For example, a consultant that suffers from chronic tardiness may be blaming external factors, when in fact, it’s a lack of planning or vehicle maintenance that’s contributing to the problem. Likewise, sales may be depressed in their local market and doing the same amount of work they did last year is not likely to improve their stats this year.

Being armed with this knowledge, a direct seller can take a proactive approach to effectively building their business in ways that are enhanced by their strengths. If this consultant is great at booking shows, she’ll know that it’s important to schedule more shows to meet the same income goals as last year. If booking shows is a weakness, she knows she’ll need to invest in training in that area (sooner rather than later).

Building a solid direct sales business means being willing to address the facts of your business: good and bad. A SWOT Analysis gives you an at-a-glance look at areas you can quickly take action on to improve your situation.

© 2011 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


Action Step: Looking for additional help? Visit the Direct Sales Classroom Store and get your copy of “Know Your Strengths, Build Your Business“. This training audio, designed to give your direct sales business a jump start for the year, includes a downloadable SWOT analysis worksheet and instructions designed for the direct sales industry.

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