Keeping Your Company Hot Over the Long Haul
by Michael L. Sheffield
The world in which my grandfather lived and sold his products was much different than our world of selling today. His name was Elvis “Dynamite” Wallace and he was the last of a breed of traveling sales people. His methods then and my methods today are quite different. While Dynamite’s deals were done, cash on the barrel-head, I, as an MLM Consultant, employ the electronic transfer of funds in many of our sales transactions.
Dynamite’s sales route was up and down the rural roads of Arkansas and Missouri. He sold his stock out of the back of his station wagon. Using my laptop computer, I can make my presence felt in a sales situation in Chicago — even though I’m on a plane 33,000 feet over Oklahoma.
Dynamite parleyed with his purchasers eye ball to eye ball — one on one. With a simple conference call, I can connect with several hundred people at the same time without leaving my office.
I don’t need to tell you that from a technological perspective, our world is changing, and changing fast. Not long ago, the U.S. Congress Office of Technology issued this report: “Change is happening faster than we can keep tabs on and threatens to shake the foundations of the most secure American business.”
My purpose in writing this is to make sure the foundation of your business holds up to, and powerfully profits from, the techno-economic changes taking place all over the planet.
As an MLM consultant, I can only assume that you are reading this because your company is in for the long haul. You plan to go the distance. To do that you’ll need more than a great product.
After all, there are many components that combine to form a successful sales company — and product that is in demand is of course, essential. Without a product or service that meets the real needs of your customers, without a service that provides them genuine value, your company could not survive. As Dynamite would say, “You can’t sell from an empty wagon — or one loaded with products nobody needs or wants.”
I want to emphasize that the foundation for success in Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or direct selling company is a commitment to a unique, highly consumable “service-to-mankind” product range. Because you know customer interest in and perception of products can change rapidly, you must stay on top of what products sell and how to find them.
As you probably already know, the consumer can be very fickle. What’s in this year may be out next year or even the next month. The product can stay the same. The need for the product can stay the same. But after a few years on the market, it may not be as “hot” as it was when first introduced.
This rise and fall in customer interest is known as the “product life cycle.” Similarly, there is a “business life cycle.” Both can be greatly enhanced and extended by understanding a few simple rules such as this one: “the right product at the right time.”
Of course you need a good management team. An equitable compensation plan for the distributors is a must.
Professionally designed sales and support literature and an affective corporate and distributor website are imperative. Your distributors demand and deserve bonuses and commissions paid out on time, and checks that don’t bounce. Backoffice software and a full array of distributor friendly support tools is no longer a high-tech option. But the reality is, you can have all the aforementioned in place, but if your product and timing are off, there can be no success.
You Sleep, You Weep. They say good things come to those who wait — but not to those who wait too long. A company may plug its product as the latest and greatest, but the sad fact is, late isn’t always great.
Timing is critical. To gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, you must be wide-awake, and aware of “what’s hot and what’s not” based on current trends. Most any marketing expert will agree that in the fast moving and highly competitive world of buying and selling, last year’s craze may be this year’s snooze.
So before jumping into a new venture with your time and money, you want to make sure your product truly is a unique offering with a competitive edge. Finding out too late that there are one or more “me too” competitors already claiming their market share can put the damper on the most entrepreneur.
Innovate Or Die. Want to become or remain viable as a sales company? Then finding exciting new products should be high on your list of priorities. More and more MLM and direct sales companies are coming to terms with the old adage, “innovate or die.” Successful corporate leaders realize that if they are to gain and maintain momentum, their products must continue to improve their product offering with line enhancements or cutting edge new product or service offerings.
What Is A “New” Product? One definition I’ve read describes a new product as “Something a company is making and offering for the first time.” That definition is okay, but I think the meaning goes a lot farther.
With respect to a direct sales company, I would add this: In selecting a new product as an addition to the company product line, it must be either a new and improved version of the present product, a synergistic product line extension to your already successful brand or a product that is totally new to the world.
In the direct sales space a new product should position the company as the “first to market” or as “dramatically improved” over similar existing products. What’s more, the “new” product should be unique and lend itself to “word of mouth” marketing.
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, author and lecturer once said
“If you don’t have a competitive advantage – don’t compete.”