Direct sales consultants come in a variety of shapes and size, creeds and colors, but there are three core needs that every direct seller needs when it comes to their leaders. In fact, these needs are so vital that if you don’t understand and meet these needs for your consultants, it’s very likely that they won’t stick around, or worse, they’ll be that thorn in your side for years to come. A strong leader focuses in on meeting these needs for their team members, which, in turn, causes a deep, lasting bond between consultants and leaders alike. If you’re struggling with loyalty and consistency on your team, consider how you are meeting these three core needs of every direct sales consultant:
1. They need a leader who “gets them”. Every direct seller chooses to join with a leader because they feel at last some alignment with that leader. In the Internet age, this is more important than ever. If my values are diametrically opposed to those of my potential recruiter, you can be sure that I’ll Google the company, find a different leader that matches my values more closely, and sign up with them. In the industry, we’re not supposed to talk about this kind of behavior. After all, there’s an unwritten rule about staying with the recruiter that introduced you to the opportunity. The reality, however, is that this kind of “leader searching” happens more than we care to admit.
How do we resolve this issue? Take the time to get to know your recruits for who they are, not just what they’ll bring to the team. Is this a recruit who is barely making ends meet, or someone that’s looking to replace a corporate income? Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning, talks about meeting people where they are on their journey. The same holds true for the consultants on your team. Each one has different reasons for being involved in direct sales – reasons that go deeper than their “why” that we spend so much time discussing in our training meetings. The why is important, but “the what under the why” as I call it, is far more important and impactful to your consultants. When you know this, you have a connection that is difficult to break, and loyalty that will last for years.
2. They need a leader who can help them when they get stuck. Not every consultant needs hand-holding. But invariably, there will come a point in time when even your most independent consultants need your assistance. When a consultant is deciding about whether or not to join your team, they are sizing you up, and comparing themselves to you. If they feel you can help them achieve their goals, they’ll sign up. If they have doubts, very often they’ll just say no and refuse to join. Sadly, this is how some leaders regularly lose leads to another team or company. Simply put, your leads don’t believe you can help them if they get stuck.
The first step is to be willing to admit that you don’t know everything. The second step is to get incredibly good at finding the resources your team members need. When you can admit to your team that you don’t know everything, but that you’ll do everything in your power to get them the help they need, you establish trust. When your consultants trust you, and you treat them right, they’ll eat nails for you.
3. They need a leader that makes them feel included. Orphaned consultants are an epidemic in the industry, and the leaders that have left them in the cold are entirely to blame. That may sound harsh, but it’s true. It matters not how big your team is, if you can’t take the time to acknowledge every member of your organization (by name) for their contribution at least once a year, you’re doing something wrong. Especially if you’ve inherited new team members on your front line, you have no idea who they are or what their needs are until you take the time to invest your time with them.
Spread responsibilities around in larger organizations, to encourage would-be leaders to take on leadership roles. Provide regular recognition to team members based on activity, not just performance. Otherwise, you’ll have a handful of consultants who are constantly on the list of “top performers” but your consistent performers will never get the recognition they deserve for the very action every leader wants (consistency in their teams). Make an effort to connect with every consultant in your front line organization at least twice a year to make sure you and they are on the same page in terms of their goals and objectives.
If your desire is to build a stronger team, it pays to understand and find ways to support these three core needs in your organization. Unless and until you do, you’ll never realize the full potential of your sales force.[box type=”info”] If you’re reading this on the blog, or your Kindle, you’re only getting half the story! “Party On!” is designed for direct sales professionals serious about building a real business, not an expensive hobby. Each week we share additional resources and stories beyond what you see here on the blog, including complimentary training courses, downloadables, and more. Learn more and register for your copy of “PartyOn!” today. [/box]