We’re coming up on a new year, and with that, tens of thousands of people associated with Direct Selling companies will recommit to their businesses and jump into activity. These Distributors will recruit hundreds of thousands of new recruits to join them in their businesses. If history is any indication, however, more than 90% of those new recruits will not be successful in their new business venture.
Our research has found that new Distributors at the vast majority of U.S. direct selling companies have an “activation” period of 90-120 days. During this period, the activities of new recruits and the outcomes from those activities will either set the foundation for their success or pave the path for their exit from their new business.
Most companies have a number of programs and incentives designed to help the new recruit succeed. As you enter the new year, consider what such programs look like at your company. Here are some tips from our research to help support new Distributors through a successful activation period:
- Resist the temptation to drive to too much early activity. Our research and experience has shown that activation periods can vary significantly from company to company. Depending on your product, business methods, and compensation, it can take anywhere between three and six months to learn the business, become articulate about the product, and become comfortable sharing the opportunity with others. Expecting too much from an Activation program participant too soon can overwhelm distributors and ultimately undermine the intent of the program.
- Reward more people than just the new registrant. This typically means involving at least one upline level of distributor in the Activation program. We’ve found that programs that incentivize “replication,” or rewarding upline distributors for their new recruits’ success can increase Activation rates by between 4 and 17%.
- Avoid spreading rewards like peanut butter. You’ll be more successful if a narrower group of highly-motivated recruits achieve the top goals of your program. By concentrating rewards on those who excel, the company can provide much more motivational bonus payouts and benefits. This, in turn, helps build more firmly established habits with your most productive recruits.
- Simplify and streamline the information provided to new distributors. While there’s some inherent complexity in a compensation plan or a broad product portfolio, these complexities are only exacerbated when sales, product marketing, and training provide materials to new recruits. It’s critical to take the new distributor’s perspective, and to prioritize what must be communicated, unifying around a single, focused message in the early months. Less is more.
- Use technology to break down goals into finite tasks that link action to result. The basic concepts that underlie any motivation program are Action –> Results –> Rewards. It’s all too common that programs focus too narrowly on results and rewards. Suggesting a set of discrete, simple actions that build up toward an end result has been proven to be an effective means of training or changing behavior. For example, signing up a first recruit (the result) is difficult for many people, but walking a distributor through the actions required to recruit, like building a target list, prioritizing it, tailoring a “pitch,” and learning the aspects of the opportunity necessary for a conversation makes it seem achievable.
Mobile technology has given direct sellers a powerful tool to help new recruits manage their way through their new business. New mobile apps have helped accelerate habit-building, the real focus of all Fast Start programs. Mobile is ubiquitous, and more than 85% of U.S. direct sellers transact using an Apple device. Mobile is particularly well suited to breaking down the Activation period into digestible actions and goals, enabling immediate recognition and rewards.
Virtually all our clients have mobile apps that support basic direct selling transactions, including order processing, new customer/consultant registration, etc. But a mobile presence also can place the full business opportunity front and center for new distributors. It can provide for real time reminders, progress updates, and rewards.
How we can help
A well-designed Activation program helps new Distributors get what they want from their new business. It provides structure to pace their activities, offers rewards in a planned and strategic way, and uses tools to bridge Action to Result to Reward cycle. We’ve worked with companies to understand their unique businesses, innovate truly original and effective activation programs, and implement them with proven success. We’re particularly excited about using mobile tools to enable more consistent habit-building during the activation period. Our relationships with key technology partners enables us to design, develop, and implement enabling technology in less than 90 days. Without the headaches associated with typical systems integration challenges. We can show you how to make 25-50% of your new recruits more successful by using mobile tools to improve habit-building during their first three months.