Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MLM, Network Marketing Best Practices

Industry Best Practices

We wish all of our subscribers a happy holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year! We especially acknowledge those industry partners who contributed to our success this year by submitting engaging and useful content. We look forward to a very successful 2012!

This month we continue with Network Marketing Best Practices.

Direct Selling Industry Best Practices
Go here to view Part 1 of this article


Support Plan – what non-cash drivers -- incentives, recognition programs, communication, training, and relationships -- are in place to drive a direct selling organization? 

• Are the programs motivating and beneficial financially

• Are there systems in place to build a business

• Are there duplicatable programs

• Are we developing our brand new Consultants and our leadership at the same time

• Do we have an Executive team in place to support the sales field as needed

• Are our communication strategies in place for consistency in what we want to say and what we want the sales field to say

Identity/Brand – are there protected trademarks or is there intellectual property protection in place to keep ahead of the competition? Innovation and creativity are key components of success!

• Can we become a brand that is global and identifiable

• Can our products and system support our brand

• Can our mission and vision support our brand

• Can we remain a “notch” above others

• Can our brand tell a story so people connect to it emotionally

Quality – can we provide the best quality products for the price to match the brand?

• Can we make the brand synonymous with quality

• Can we provide the highest quality available

Customer Service – can we create an environment that supports customer service from all facets of the business?

• Can we provide state-of-the art customer service/customer care (make everyone feel special and that they are valued)

• Can customer service be provided on all levels

• Is customer service part of the mission/vision

• Can 5-star customer service become part of the culture and instilled in the day-to-day business, corporately and in the field

Technology – can we provide cutting-edge technology in all aspects of the business to make the business easy to do while also making the daily “running of the business” easy and effortless?

• Can we provide duplicatable systems and an easy-to-run business

• Can we provide programs that help the success of an independent sales field representative
Training/Education – can we provide training programs and continual education to support the Independent Contractor on a path to success, and to help them duplicate that with others?

• Can we design and deliver all facets of education

(product, building, managing, leadership, personal development, leadership development)

Culture – can we immediately establish a culture of empowerment, creating greatness in all that are connected to it, and a culture that offers integrity in everything they do?

• Can the Executive team create the right kind of culture as the

company grows (as well as the leadership)

• Can all involved live and breathe the Mission/Vision in the sales field and the office

Each area must be defined, with standards established to measure success. In setting standards, remember that externally, everything about the business needs to be simple and perceived easy: easy to understand, and easy to implement. Simply, easy to do it all! 

Ask yourself – as a Direct Selling organization – do I have all of these “BEST PRACTICES” in place to be successful and attract good people?

Ask yourself, as an Entrepreneur – does the company I am looking at have all of these “BEST PRACTICES” in place so I would want to join them?

“Enjoy your Journey” - Michele Lee McDonough


Network Marketing Best Practices

This article looks at network marketing best practices.

The Harvard Business Review simply defines a best practice as straightforward, actionable advice for novice managers, seasoned leaders, and people at all levels in between.

In a practical setting, a best practice is a technique or method that consistently shows results that are superior to those achieved with other means. Importantly, it can evolve to become better as improvements are discovered.

At LaunchSmart, and from our experience working with more than 300 companies, we have found that documenting and charting procedures and practices is often complicated and time-consuming, and therefore many companies do not take measures to document even though they may still practice the proper processes consistently. We have found that one way to help our clients is to offer pre-made templates that standardize business process documentation.

Importantly, a “best practice” is not always applicable or may even be inappropriate for your organization’s need. The important discipline is to understand that best practices play a vital role in launching and expanding an enterprise. The key benefit seems to be that a best practice consistently gets the highest possible results in the most effective manner.

What does a best practice look like?

We have learned that best practices exist for all aspects of business, ranging from distributor awards to picking an order; from answering the phone to announcing major company initiatives to distributors. Here are several examples:

1. BEST PRACTICE: Ship confirmation. Using a bar-code system, scan the shipping label as it crosses the “finish line” on its path through the shipping line. The scan translates into confirmation in your MLM software that the order has progressed to that point in the process, populating the database with a marker that can be used by customer service to know where the order is at all times.
2. BEST PRACTICE: Call center notes. With a standard of 80% of calls answered in 30 seconds or less, a best practice is to always make a notation in the caller’s file, allowing other call center agents to work together to the greatest benefit of the caller. By checking central notes, the call center can be more credible, accurate, efficient, and credible.
3. BEST PRACTICE: Distributor retention. Since poor communication is the number 1 major cause of attrition, the practice of using a company training center as a central point for training and connecting is a best practice since it can result in greater skills and confidence of distributors who feel supported; it’s a vehicle for managing expectations; and it’s an avenue for communicating company information and reinforcing company values.

How do I find best practices?

We have been fortunate to work with more than 300 direct selling companies, some of them the respected global giants. As we walk the halls and work with staff, we observe what works great and we are often hired to fix what’s not working great. Applying a mix of experience, education, and sheer determination, we are able to identify what we believe are truly best practices. 

Our method starts by identifying a standard against which to measure an output or result. For instance, if the standard is to ship today all product orders received by 2:30 p.m., then we build backwards from that, drawing from what we know about shipping operations. If we don’t know much about this area of the business, we engage with people who do. Then we observe, think, and innovate.

You can apply these same disciplines as you strive to learn and apply best practices in your direct selling operation.

Terrel Transtrum is the co-founder of LaunchSmart, a company that supports clients in starting and running successful network marketing and home party companies.