Direct Sales and MLM

MLM Training and the Importance of Competency

By
Kevin Thompson

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TRAINING...

it's simultaneously the most important AND least talked about aspect in the direct selling industry. The relationships that develop between participants while building their businesses is the most important component that makes our industry special. And those relationships are solidified via training. It's unique to the direct sales industry where sponsors are obligated to train and mentor their recruits about selling and team building. It's through these deep relationships between participants that cultures and brands are built.Some companies allow high level distributors to create training programs for their downlines. These are referred to as "tool companies." I was baptized in the industry representing Orrin Woodward's tool company, Team, when he was affiliated with Amway and subsequently MonaVie. These training programs are designed to offer plug-and-play solutions for new distributors...distributors are given the choice of plugging into the training program and receiving the tools necessary to build profitable businesses.

Standards

When companies allow distributors to create tool companies (not all of them do), there's usually a qualification that needs to be met before they can begin promoting their program. The qualification is one that usually separates the professionals from the amateurs and it ensures that the best networkers, the networkers with real results (not theoretical), are the ones influencing the next generation of leaders. It makes sense to have high standards. When the value of a company's brand lies in the hands of its distributors, they have a significant interest in ensuring their trainers are actually competent.I've beaten up on MonaVie recently. When they led with a hand gun instead of a handshake and threatened a friend with a lawsuit, I was not impressed. Setting it aside, I want to highlight something they do really well: they only let highly qualified networkers run tool companies.When Orrin Woodward transitioned over to MonaVie, we were never allowed to sell a single CD until after he reached the Black Diamond status. The bar was set, it was the same for everyone, and he had to jump over it like everyone else.Lately, I've seen multiple tool companies pop up from distributors with minimal experience and small organizations....and their MLM companies allow it. These tool companies (which I will not reference by name) make the rookie mistakes of promising easy money. The pitch is always the same: "We're going to use more social media....We don't sell products....We just host conference calls....Just enroll three people and your business explodes....We just drive traffic to websites." The end result is predictable: an inactive sales culture where the participants enroll with a lottery mentality and sit and wait for others to lead. True professionals in the space never make this mistake. They're up front with the work requirements and they create duplicatable patterns that can be copied by anyone. When the rookies tell everyone "this is easy," at some point boots need to hit the ground and when it's time, they're shocked that nothing happens.

Message for executives

When the value of your brand rests in the hand of your representatives, I would advise you only pass the megaphone to your most experienced sales reps. Simply because I've seen surgery on TV does not make me qualified to do the real thing. If you allow amateurs to create programs and hold themselves out as ambassadors of your company, you might develop a cancerous sales culture that could, and probably will, lead to hype, inappropriate product and income claims and trouble.

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