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Build Your Network Marketing Business
Expand Beyond Your Circle
At a certain point in your network marketing career – after a week, a month, or a year or so – you will have exhausted your immediate circle. You’ve hit up all the ladies in your church group; you’ve worked your neighbors, and your kids’ teachers tell you that though they love what you sold them, they really don’t need anything right now – nor do they want to host another party for you. And no, they don't want to join your team. You’re stuck.
Instead of waiting for your current customers to run out of whatever you’ve sold them or suddenly decide that yes, they want to join you, and right now!, you’ve got to break out of your small circle of influence. You need to push through to that next level to reach people you haven’t tapped before. There are two main ways to do this:
- Look for “friends of friends,” or
- Find “strangers.”
Let’s talk about the first method – getting referrals.
You may think that all your friends know the same people, and to a certain extent, that’s true. The ladies at your church all know each other, your neighbors all know each other, the teachers at school all know each other. But I bet you know at least five people they don’t… and vice-versa.
Think of the party game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” If everyone knew only the same people, that game wouldn’t be possible. Either it would only take one degree to reach Mr. Footloose, or it wouldn’t be possible at all. The same goes for the people you know, and the people THEY know. Think about your college roommate, your next-door neighbor’s pet sitter, your spouse’s officemates. These aren’t people in your direct circle, but they’re in that next ring.
So how do you get to these people? You ask. Ask your neighbor to introduce you to their pet sitter; ask your college roommate in the next town over to introduce you to her neighbors, ask your spouse’s workmates to broker an introduction with their spouses and neighbors.
Tools online like Facebook and LinkedIn make this very easy, as you can see who your connections are connected with. On LinkedIn, you can even request an introduction to a particular person. The key is to see each person in your current network as a bridge leading to many more circles. All you have to do is cross that bridge!
Now, let’s talk about strangers.
When you were young, your mother probably warned you, “Never talk to strangers!”
The problem is, many of us are still holding on to that advice, twenty or thirty or forty or more years later! With all due respect to your mom, you need to forget that advice right now. She gave you that advice – and rightly so – when you were too young to protect yourself, or to be able to judge between “nice” strangers and “bad” strangers.
As an adult, you must talk to strangers virtually every day: The teller at the bank, the man holding the door open for you at the grocery store, the customer service person at the cable company… these are all “strangers.” Somehow we think it’s okay to talk to them in one way or setting, but it’s not okay to speak to them about our business. Wrong!
If you want to make more money, you have to sell more. And to sell more, you need to talk to more people about what you sell! It’s as simple – and as easy – as that. If you think you can’t talk to strangers about what you do, then you’re basically giving up on 99.99999 percent of the world. Sure, it can be a little anxiety-producing. Here are some ways to make it easier to talk to strangers:
- Assume the best. It was the great Will Rogers who said, “A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.” How true! If you approach each interaction expecting that the other person will be interested, or at least polite, your anxiety will drop tremendously. Instead of telling yourself, “
- Take the pressure off. You can make any interaction scarier by convincing yourself that if the other person shuts you down, you’ll die. Instead, minimize the encounter. Inviting them to hear more about your products or business isn’t a life or death situation; think of it as offering them a stick of gum. They may want one; they may not. It won’t kill you either way.
- Play the numbers. Most network marketing companies will give you a good sense of how many “no” answers you can expect to receive before you get a “yes.” Each time you approach a new person, remind yourself that it’s a win either way. If they say “yes,” hurray! If they say “no,” you’re just one step closer to your yes.
Expanding outside your limited circle doesn’t take any particular skill or talent; it just takes commitment. Resolve to get introduced to one new person a day, and to discover another new friend on your own. If you do that each and every day, each week you’ll add 14 people to your circle – and over the course of the year, your network will have grown by over 750 individuals! Now that can’t help but have an impact on your bottom line.
The internet is one of the biggest tools you can leverage for your network marketing business success. Where else can you have push-button access to over a billion people – and mostly for free? The internet removes time and geographic boundaries, and allows you to reach individuals you never would have had access to. If you’re not using the internet as a sales and lead generation channel, you’re making a huge mistake.
Many network marketing companies have already realized that the future of their business is online, and they provide tons of resources to enable web-based sales and prospecting. These resources might include:
-Online sales materials such as order forms, digital catalogs, etc.
-A system and platform for conducting online parties or sales events.
-Capture pages to collect information from prospective team members.
If your company offers these tools, set everything else aside (including this report!) and get up and running RIGHT NOW. Each day you are not online is a day a competitor is stealing your potential business. Go claim your slice of the internet immediately, and then come back and finish reading.
If your network marketing company doesn’t offer a complete suite of online sales tools, it’s still possible to make this channel produce for you. Here’s how:
- First, check out your company’s web-based sales and lead-generation policy. You may find that you are not allowed to sell via a website, or that there are other restrictions. It’s better to find those out now instead of building your own website, only to find out you’ve violated your business agreement.
- Start small. You don’t have to take over the whole web in a day! Try creating a simple site where you can take re-orders from existing customers, and let them know they can now email you their orders. You can always build, but if you try to take on too much at once, you can easily become overwhelmed.
- Host a virtual party. Your mom always said she’d hold a party for you, but has never been able to because she lives in Arkansas and you’re in Florida. Ask her to host a virtual party. This can be done via Skype in real time, or via a dedicated website where guests ask questions, place their orders, and interact at their convenience. (If your company doesn’t have an online catalog, ship a box full to Aunt Ellie and ask her to distribute them for you.)
- Keep in contact. A blog where you post regular tips, specials, and other information and resources related to your business is a great way to get people coming back for more. Become an expert in your field, and you’ll be the one they turn to when they need to buy.
- Recruit team members. Provide a brief overview of your company and create a contact form for anyone interested in learning more about your opportunity.
Doing business online isn’t that much different than the way you’ve been working up until now. The same principles of customer service, integrity, and honesty work just as well – if not better – in a virtual world. It’s just a new channel and a new opportunity, one you can’t afford to miss out on.
Never Close The Doors To Your Business
It’s been said that if you want to be a success in network marketing, your business must always be open. That means you’re ready to sell or recruit when you head to the supermarket, coach your son’s T-ball team, or attend a parent-teacher conference. You are your business, so if your eyes are open, your business is open. Here’s what this tip means when it comes to network marketing:
- View each person you meet as a potential customer or team member. That means each person you meet will either buy from you, join your team, or introduce you to someone who will. If you don’t ask, you’re missing out somewhere down the road.
- Find a way to break the time barriers. Having an online presence will allow you to take sales and find prospects (and make money!) even when you’re asleep. Even just giving your existing customers to option to order via email will save you one more phone call.
- Layer your activities. If you’re holding a class or party, invite someone from your downline to attend with you. This allows them to see how you interact with customers as well as lets them hear the product and company information another time – much more interesting than reading about it in the training materials!
- Be a walking advertisement for your business. I don’t mean wearing a t-shirt that proclaims, “I lost 40 lbs. in six weeks. Ask me how!” Although that is an option. Instead, I mean using the products you represent, from top to bottom. The first thing a skeptic will ask you is, “Do you use the products?” You do NOT want to have to answer, “Well… no.”
- Don’t be embarrassed by what you do. Sometimes we feel embarrassed because we’re in direct sales. This usually occurs because we know that some network marketing companies and salespeople give our industry a bad rap. But how are you going to change the public’s perception of this business if you don’t let them know what you do? Never be embarrassed by your profession. If you truly are ashamed, it’s time to find a new company – or a new profession.
Being constantly “on” can be tough and draining. However, you don’t always have to be selling; you just need to be ready to do business. Hopefully, these five suggestions can help you expand your business hours without burning you out.
In the previous paragraphs, we discussed how to find more people to convert to customers or team members. Now, I want to talk about ways to be constantly marketing yourself so the sales and prospects come to you. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll consider marketing your products as separate from the act of actually selling those products.
There are ways that you can promote your business and products without pushing your offerings down other people’s throats. In fact, the “hard sell” is rarely successful; and when it is, more often than not the customer resents being “forced” to buy. For a long-lived network marketing business, you will need happy, repeat customers and a strong, dedicated team. That’s why luring them to you in an ethical and relaxed manner is essential to your business success. Here are five ways to market your business without being pushy:
- Add your business tag line to every email. Most email programs make it easy to add automatic signatures. Just by adding a sentence saying, “Jane Doe, independent sales representative for XYZ Corporation,” may net you extra business. You’ll soon find people saying, “I never knew you sold XYZ!?”
- Distribute business cards prodigiously. Post them to public bulletin boards at libraries, bookstores, Laundromats, and gyms. Leave them with receptionists at the doctor’s office, hair salon, and barber shop. See each business card as a little bird winging its way to the person who needs it most.
- Talk about what you do – in a positive manner. No one wants to hear about your work troubles. Complaining is especially destructive if in the next sentence you turn around and say, “Would you ever be interested in doing what I do?” Someone would have to be crazy to say yes!
- Put it on your car. Mary Kay reps who are lucky enough to drive the coveted pink Cadillac almost all have a tale of someone flagging them down on the highway or following them into a parking lot to find out if they have their favorite lipstick in stock. If it works for them, it can work for you! Add a bumper sticker or window cling advertising your business.
- Get online. In an earlier post we talked in more detail about creating a website to sell your goods; now, I want to encourage you to find ways to promote yourself and your business online. Write articles for sites like ezinearticles.com, blog about your area of expertise, create videos, and post regularly to Facebook and other social media sites. Each one of these efforts is a trail of breadcrumbs leading back to you.
You may think that your parent company does plenty of advertising and marketing, and that may be true. While you can’t match their million-dollar budgets, you don’t need to. There are dozens of low- or no-cost options that will bring hungry customers and business opportunity seekers right to you.
Learn Your Products
The only thing less inspiring than a ho-hum salesperson is one who doesn’t know the first thing about their products. If you want your customers to exchange their money for the products you sell, then you had better know everything there is to know about what you’re selling. Customers have individual concerns, and if you are touting yourself as their personal “consultant,” you’d better know what you’re talking about!
-Is it allergen-free?
-Will it rust?
-Will it work with X product that you sell?
-How does it compare to (Insert leading brand here)?
You need to know the answers to these questions and more. Why? Because the more you know, the more you can tailor your responses to the customer’s needs, and the better you’re able to recommend something that will actually work for that customer.
Here’s how to begin your product education:
- Ask your upline or trainer what the most common questions are. Then research answers and practice them.
- Keep track of the questions you get. Keep a running list of the questions your customers ask, and write out questions. Not only is this a great cheat sheet, it’s also wonderful training information for your downline.
- Read everything the company gives you. Then read it again. And again. It takes a while for information to sink in, and you will pick up on nuances as you re-read and your bottom-line knowledge level grows.
- Say “I’ll find out for you” instead of “I don’t know.” Then follow through!
- Educate others. Sometimes the best way to cement information in your mind is through teaching others. When you learn a new fact, use it.
- Never stop learning. Product ingredients and formulations change, and new products are released. You never “know it all,” so keep learning.
- Put your knowledge to work. Explain why you’re recommending a particular product to a particular customer. For example, “I recommend you opt for the medical plastic model rather than the stainless steel. You said this would be used by your children, and if they are going to use it, the plastic allows them to squeeze the bottle, making it easier to drink.” Your customers will appreciate how you make the link between the product information and their situation.
Knowing your products inside and out doesn’t mean boring customers with tons of facts and details in your presentation. It does mean pulling out the knowledge you need, when you need it – and that’s usually to make your customer’s life better in some way.
Maximize Your Existing CustomersSales experts know that selling to repeat customers is much more time- and effort-efficient than is getting new customers. And experienced network marketers know this, too. After all, what takes more effort: Scheduling and holding a product class or party, or taking reorders from existing customers?
For some reason, though, many network marketers overlook existing customers as a source of sales. Sure, they’ll take any repeat orders that come in, but they don’t actively mine this list for additional opportunities. Maybe it’s because booking a new party or class seems more exciting, or maybe because they think they’d be bugging people if they called. Whatever the reason, not looking to your existing customer base for sales is like not picking up a twenty-dollar bill on your front steps.Here are some ways you can maximize your profits from your existing customers:
- Ask for referrals. If you have a customer who orders from you again and again, ask for referrals. They obviously like your products and wouldn’t mind sharing their great find with their friends. Even if you have asked before, ask again. People are constantly getting introduced to new social circles, meeting new individuals, or realizing that someone they thought wouldn’t be interested now might be ready to give it a shot.
- Ask for feedback. If you have a loyal customer, leverage the relationship by asking for their opinion on your presentation, products, or competitors. You might want to offer a small discount or free product for their assistance.
- Tell them about the new stuff. Instead of just letting them put in their order every quarter for the same six items, introduce them to new products they may not have been aware of. Customers can fall into ruts, and it’s up to you to give them a jolt. Let them know what’s new, different, or better.
- Offer preferred customer status. Many network marketing companies offer programs specifically for their “preferred” or high dollar-value customers. If your company offers such a program, take advantage of it! If there is no structured program, create your own. You can send long-time customers special promotions, product announcements, and news and tips particularly for them. It will make them feel special and give you another reason to contact them every month.
Your existing customers are the backbone of your business. Spend time finding ways to let them know they matter to you, and you’ll find that your efforts pay off handsomely.
Know Your Customers
One of the benefits that small businesses – including direct salespeople – have over large, big-box retailers, is the ability to get to know your customers on a more intimate level. But to really use that relationship to maximize your profits, you need to go beyond first-name basis. You need to know them as a friend, and that takes work. Here’s how you can establish a relationship that pays big dividends:
- Make it authentic. It’s obvious when someone is being nice to you or expressing interest only to make a sale. That’s the last thing you want your customers to think, so your interest in them has to come from a place of true service. Yes, you’re hoping you’ll make money, but your real motivation needs to be one of service. Keep your eyes on their hearts, not on their wallets.
- Start a customer information file. Whether it’s a box of index cards you jot notes on, a computer program, or a binder, have a way to track your customers, what they order, and other pertinent information. At a minimum you should know their family members’ names, their birthday, and their contact information, as well as their preferred means of contact (mail, email, phone, etc.).
- Contact them regularly. Your customers should hear from you at a minimum of once a month. Any less, and they will forget about you. Depending on your business, you may find that a once-a-week schedule is preferable. That doesn’t mean you need to call all your customers every week! Your schedule might look like this:
Week One – Phone call
Week Two – Emailed newsletter with tips
Week Three – Postcard reminder
Week Four – Email announcement of special sale or product
Many of these can be done in bulk, making it just as easy to send 100 as one. To make sure the information you send is welcome, make it useful. Tips, resources, savings, ways to use the products they already have… these are all wonderful options.
- Use product delivery to increase connection. If your business is one where you actually deliver product to your customer, you have one more opportunity to further your relationship. When your customer comes to pick up his or her order, or you swing by to drop it off, this is a great unstructured chance to get to know them better. There’s no stress because you’re not in the middle of a sales presentation, and you already know your customer likes you because they purchased from you! Use this opportunity to find out how the customer plans on using their purchases, what additional questions they have, and how your business fits into their overall life. If you visit their home, you may have the opportunity to meet their family and get a glimpse of their life. Take advantage of it!
Your customers are better than gold. Treat them that way, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a positive relationship, both personally and professionally.
One of the biggest mistakes network marketers make is failing to follow up – with leads, with new customers, with past customers, and with inactive customers. Treating transactions as isolated events rather than a chain of interactions means you see your customers as commodities, and they will view you the same way. In this post, I’m going to address why you need to follow up with each of these categories:
- Following up with leads. You’ve got an inbox full of contact information from a promotion you posted on your website. You send out a generic informational email and ask them to contact you if interested. Now what? Well, if you’re like most network marketers, you’ll do nothing. That’s right – nothing! Most people seem to think their job is done when they have collected the names and sent out an email, but that one contact by itself may mean nothing. You need to actually continue to contact the names collected to try to convert them from a lead to a customer or business partner. Studies show it takes an average of 7 contacts before a person makes up their mind. Don't be too aggressive. But do stay in touch and continue to share the benefits of your business and your products.
- Following up with new customers. The time when a little extra effort can make the biggest impact is right after a new customer has purchased with you. They may be feeling a little unsure of their purchase and hearing from you at this vulnerable time will definitely reassure them that they made the right decision. It’s also a perfect time to head off any problems or answer questions – and to see if they regret NOT purchasing something they were thinking about!
- Following up with past customers. Don’t assume that your customer will contact you directly when they run out of something or want to make another purchase. Most people are lazy and will just as easily buy from a competitor or from the mall or other retail shop if you don’t make the effort to contact them. More than one direct sales rep has lost a customer to the mall because they weren’t in front of the customer when a re-order or replacement was needed!
- Following up with inactive customers. If you haven’t heard from a previous customer for a while, don’t assume everything is okay, or that they would contact you if they needed something. Make the effort to phone them to see where they are. Do they need a new item? Are they unhappy with a previous purchase? Did they lose your number? Whatever the situation, you’re better off hearing from them directly than letting them die a slow death because you couldn’t be bothered to get back in touch.
Following up – and following up when you say you will – is a critical part of good direct sales. Many experts recommend the three days – three weeks – three months approach, following up at each of those intervals after the initial contact. While that’s a good rule of thumb, even better is working with your customers and your unique business to do what’s right for them and for you.