In the first part of this series, I explained how the “executive assistant” to super-mega-author was inviting me (in all the wrong ways) to join this “ground-floor” business opportunity. I wish I could say things improved from there, but that wouldn’t be truthful. What happened after the presentation was even more shameful, and my hope is that by sharing this here, you’ll learn some valuable lessons about what it means to be pushy – and how to avoid being pushy in your own direct sales business.
Third Lesson: Follow-up, don’t stalk
After the conclusion of our less than stellar presentation, I requested some time to reconnect with my partner (aka “the husband”) to decide if this was, in fact, a direction in which we’d like to move. Further, I had questions about “the matrix” that was mentioned in the presentation, and didn’t want to make a decision until I had enough information to make an educated one.
Within a few hours, I got an email that answered only part of my question (and still no details about the matrix). The next morning, there was a message on my IM account with a friendly “hello!” from the executive assistant. I never gave him permission to contact me that way, so I ignored his message and blocked him. I give the guy props for doing some homework to find my alternate contact details, but my private contact details are not for his abuse. PERIOD.
Then, later in the morning, my home phone number rings. I’m still boggling at how he got that number. I’m sure it’s not too terribly difficult, and I didn’t bother to ask, but the fact that he called me in the morning – at my home – without my permission made my face red. When we dove headlong into a pushy conversation about what a great deal I was missing out on, I nearly lost my noodle.
“I just wanted to apologize… blah blah… So tell me why are you missing the boat on this?” and other “you-must-be-mentally-ill-if-you-say-no-to-this” garbage that had me stop him before he dug his hole any deeper. And yes, I even offered up this classic:
“Before you go any further, I think we just need to agree to disagree and part company before this becomes a horrific tale on a blog somewhere.”
Yes. I told him that. See, he approached me, presumably because he knew I had an audience that I could reach. He knew that I was interested in bringing super-mega-author to town to speak, and had the means to fill a room for the person, so I know he was salivating over the prospect of getting me signed up. But his tactics were so far past pushy, I could have painted him yellow and written “Caterpillar” on his forehead. This guy was a bulldozer from hell!
It’s one thing to follow up with someone… but do it appropriately, and for the love of all things holy, be cordial, and follow their preferred methods of contact. Don’t call them at home if they tell you to call their work number, and vice versa. It’s just common courtesy.
[Update: this executive assistant invited me to join his network on Yelp.com. Seriously!]
Fourth Lesson: Be honest and ethical in everything – even the details.
Despite all those tactics, which I knew were more about his ignorance than about being a bad person, I was still interested slightly in working with super-mega-author. But there was one glaring problem that couldn’t be resolved: the matrix. Specifically, during the presentation, I asked who my upline leader would be. I’ve been in so many organizations over the years (and orphaned in most of them), that I know one thing for certain: the person who recruits you has ultimate responsibility for making sure you get trained. Since super-mega-author wasn’t on the call, who exactly would I be “reporting” to?
Some dude named “George”
I kid you not. I had never heard of this guy, and he was not on the presentation conference call with me. When I pressed for details, I got the old saw of how “we help everyone in our organization grow their team.” So of course, I asked the big question: “Will you help me grow my downline like you’re helping George?”
During our “follow-up” call, executive assistant assures me that “it’s no big deal and nothing illegal” but he’s enrolled his brother into the direct sales company because he himself has a 1-year waiting period to join a new team within that company. “He’s working this part time, but I’m working it full-time, so you’ll have my full support in this business…”. I stopped him cold.
“So, basically, you’re telling me that you’ve openly violated the terms and conditions of your distributor agreement so that you can jump ship and join a new team? How do I know that kind of behavior won’t persist once I join your team?”
The silence didn’t last long, as the so-called “executive assistant” prattled on about how he’s not breaking the law, and how I’m missing out on a great opportunity because of something that’s “no big deal” because, of course, he’ll be there to work with me every step of the way.
Because, you know, I just got off the turnip truck yesterday, and I’m all shiny and new, just ripe for pickin’, and every leader in direct sales has their recruits best interests at heart, right?!?!
Hardly. I’ve been in enough companies to smell deception a mile away. I was part of one of the largest organizations in The Body Shop at Home when the whole thing fell apart. One leader took umbrage with the company and jumped ship with about half her downline. It CRIPPLED the company, and they closed their doors in the US. I vowed then that I’d never knowingly be party to that kind of behavior.
Lesson Six: Give a damn about your team or get the hell out
When that leader took her organization to a competitor, there were law suits, confusion, and above all, a lot of broken hearts and homes. Women who had been working hard, relying on direct sales as their sole source of financial support for their family were given a cold phone call early Monday morning that they had 30 days to close up shop and figure something out, because the company wasn’t going to be offering an at home division anymore in the US.
I don’t talk about this lightly. There are a LOT of fantastic leaders in the industry. I’ve worked with plenty of them as a coach. But this leader only cared about herself – and it showed in her behavior. There were rumors about her vowing to “bring the company to their knees” and within a few months, we were all looking for new opportunities, while this leader was finally making the “half a mil a year” she’d been dreaming of with her new company.
The leader that I rolled up to at TBSAH had a strong organization, but many of them were so heartbroken that they left the industry. This was her sole source of household income – and she was scrambling to figure out how to replace her income quickly. Even if she could step into a management role in a new direct selling company it would take at least two months to replace her income – and that’s if she really hustled. I still don’t know what happened to her, as we parted company when the doors closed to TBSAH.
If you see every potential recruit as your ticket to the next incentive trip, or another zero in your paycheck, you are in the wrong business. Those results are a by-product of helping people improve their lives. I tell my clients the more money you want to make, the more people you’ve got to help.
It starts by helping. You can’t help anyone if you don’t give a damn about them.
Mr. “Executive Assistant” clearly only cared about furthering his position in the org chart under super-mega-author. No thanks. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
It’s a really sad state of affairs, and I know that there will always be jerks and “users” in any industry. But don’t be that guy! Here are my suggestions on how you can learn from this fiasco and never repeat his mistakes:
1. Get clear on why you’re really in this business. Direct sales is something ANYONE can do, but not everyone will, and not everyone should. If you’re only in it for your personal gain, you’ve got the wrong industry, and you’ll never really see success. When I talk to the top leaders in any company, the number one thing they all have in common is their joy at watching their teams become better people and live better lives because of what direct sales has done for them. Yes, they make great money, and they put a lot of time and attention into their teams to EARN that money. Like I say in my book “the best gift you can give is attention… and time”. Where is your focus? What really matters to you? If you’re not sure, take a look at my essential why workbook and give yourself the clarity you deserve!
2. Be ethical. What more needs to be said? If you’re behaving in a way that you know isn’t 100% legit, what the hell are you doing? This is a business, folks. Fraud is a costly and slippery slope. Run your business as an ethical one, or don’t be in business in the first place. Sooner or later you WILL get found out. Plus, this industry is all about being “duplicatable”. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable having your team replicate. When someone in your organization is successful, you WANT them to say “I learned everything I do from my leader. She’s been an awesome inspiration,” not “Well, my leader told me to do it like this. I didn’t know it was wrong!”
3. Have a system and stick to it. Doing your homework on a person is admirable, and being prepared for your meetings is a requirement, but if you’re ethical, don’t be trying to hunt them down when they’re taking their kids to swim class, or calling them on a private line and abusing the access you’ve got to them. Have a follow-up system that’s in place for making quality connections and building lasting relationships. Then, let the system do the work, while you enjoy the benefits – without the stress.
4. Know when to call it quits. When someone says “no thanks” and you have clarity that they truly are no longer interested, be willing to let them go and cut ties. They are NOT your perfect-fit customer, and chasing after them is a waste of energy. It might even border on criminal if you continue stalking them. Nobody needs a restraining order issued because you wouldn’t stop hounding them about joining your business. Besides, you could be plowing all that energy into meeting new people who ARE interested in your opportunity – or maybe taking a sales training class so that you learn how to not be so pushy in the first place!