Reprinted from August 1998
|Distributor Education Bridges the Gap Between Aspirations and Abilities|
Richard CollinsKeith Laggos made a startling
statement in a recent editorial in Money Makers Monthly (April, 1998). He
said: "Most new distributors dont have a clue where to begin." Mr. Laggos
further asserts that traditional approaches that emphasize recruiting before sales
contribute to the 100% turnover in distributors each year. One possible solution to this
problem, he suggests, would be for MLM companies (or up-lines) to encourage new
distributors to focus on sales before recruiting. Successful retailing will then provide
the income and momentum necessary for building a sales organization. Enlightened companies
could provide new recruits with a business plan and a marketing co-op plan that would help
them generate immediate profits. Then new distributors could use that impetus to begin
serious recruiting efforts.
Demographics are on Mr. Laggos side. Though the real money is in recruiting and having effective down-line sales people, its not so easy to do. To make $15,000 a year a distributor must have 70 down-line sales people each selling $200 per month. Only one in a hundred does this well.
So Mr. Laggos advice is well heeded. The average distributor does about $90 per month in retail business. It may well be more effective in the long run for MLM companies to help the new distributor get a retail based foothold first. We agree. However, we would add one more essential ingredient for the nutritional multi level marketer: basic nutrition education. We propose that by empowering distributors with basic nutritional knowledge companies will create a distributor force with better sales and recruiting abilities.
Enhancing traditional training with a learning program that ties closely to real business goals will also sustain better retention. What are the benefits, for example, for a nutritional MLM company with 100,000 distributors (and a 100,000 turnover each year) if that company could cut its turnover rate one percentage point to 99%? This would mean 1,000 new distributors in the first year alone that wouldnt have to be recruited simply to maintain status quo. It would mean larger sales organizations and higher override commissions. That this can be done easily (and profitably) makes an investment in distributor basic nutritional education no less compelling than a course in microbiology is for a lab technician.
Testimonials are good as far as they go.
New distributors for nutritional supplements are normally trained to sell their product through the testimonial method: "Here, take this supplement. I did and I feel great! And my uncle lost 17 pounds in less than a month." There is nothing wrong with this approach. It focuses attention on the product, it promises benefits and, perhaps most important of all, it is neither diagnostic nor treatment oriented. With 32% of the adult population in the United States seeking a natural alternative to drugs (and with their doctors seeking to accommodate them as a way to get rid of HMO/government earnings shackles) testimonials work. But ask the typical nutritional supplement distributor how or why her product works, or what supplement in her product line will help chronic aching joints and you will likely receive a blank "I dont know" stare.
A recent study commissioned by Sears found that most customers want knowledgeable salespeople who can immediately answer specific questions about Sears products. A distributor armed with simple knowledge of nutrition can do a reasonable job of accomplishing this. Consider the following exchange between a nutritionally knowledgeable distributor and her customer:
"So youre not interested in our ABC product. OK. Let me ask you this: Do you have any ailments any aches or pains?" Response: "Well I do have problems with my knees. After years of jogging, bicycling and racquet sports they ache miserably after, say, a game of squash."
The distributor now has an opening. "It just so happens our product XYZ is based on cetyl myristoleate. This natural ingredient has amassed a considerable amount of research and testimony describing its success in helping achy, arthritic joints. Ill be glad to show you some literature on it."
A new approach: educating the customer.
Wesley Kikuchi is a Body Wise affiliate who believes deeply that educating his customers is an effective way to help people make intelligent decisions on how to purchase their nutritional supplements. Wesley, an electrical engineer whose passion turned from asynchronous transfer modes to health and nutrition, has taken the anecdotal testimonial of product results one step further educating his customers about nutrition.
His method is exceptional and his earnings prove it. Working only part time Wesley made enough in three years to retire from the electronics industry. Wesley understands that the consumer today is much more savvy and educated and that people want to feel they are receiving great value when they buy something. He achieves this by providing his potential customers with a compelling educational seminar on why nutritional supplements are important to optimal health and why not all vitamins are created equal. In so doing Wesley has adroitly fulfilled a 50-year-old Dale Carnegie mantra make it easy for the customer to say yes.To accomplish this goal Wesley offers free wellness seminars at local Silicon Valley corporations as part of a new employee benefits health care program focusing on prevention. His knowledge in nutrition and his portfolio of excellent presentations allow him to offer informal meetings on a wide variety of nutritional subjects. The company he is working with provides the forum and Wesley provides interesting nutritional information on high profile subjects like weight management and sports performance and the audience loves it.At the end of his presentation Wesley links good nutrition to a soft but effective close featuring how his products relate to optimal nutrition and wellness. When finished, he not only has the sponsoring companys endorsement but the audience has a warm feeling about his products and feel secure they are making intelligent purchases. Wesley is proving that once someone is educated on optimal nutrition and what it can do, they will buy because they want to take action with their new knowledge.
Of course this is not an approach for all distributors in nutritional network marketing. For one thing you have to present in front of people as a public speaker. Second you have to support what you say with current research. (Wesleys presentations are footnoted with peer reviewed studies and he always adds the disclaimer that nutritional supplementation is not for cure, mitigation or prevention of disease.) But Wesleys approach graphically illustrates how simply knowing basic nutrition can take any distributor leagues beyond the traditional testimonial. Last year Wesley did over $100,000 in personal sales, not including his down-line. And we contend that the majority of nutrition MLMers, those who are simply trying to earn a few extra dollars each month, can benefit from a small but earnest application of basic nutrition education. You dont need a +2 handicap to be good at teaching golf. All you need is a grasp of the fundamentals and a reasonable ability to communicate it to others. Similarly, one neednt be an orthomolecular nutritionist to convince others of the benefits of nutritional supplements; but a grasp of the fundamentals can help dramatically.
Distance learning as an investment.
Have we begun to persuade you, the nutritional MLM company, that providing your distributors an avenue to acquire basic nutritional knowledge will give them a leg up in the dog-eat-dog nutritional MLM marketplace? Lester Thurow of MIT, commenting at the recent world forum held at the International Center for Education and Development poignantly underscores this point: "Well educated human resources constitute the only sustainable competitive advantage." If you are becoming convinced, the next logical question is: how can the right amount of learning best be delivered to your distributors?
As a company, ask three questions: 1) Do we have a large number of distributors spread over a vast geographical area? 2) Would it be expensive to bring them to a central location? 3) Do their responsibilities make it difficult for them to take full advantage of multiple day training sessions? If the answers are yes, and of course they are, then consider doing what banks are doing for their tellers and automobile companies are doing for their dealers use distance learning.
Most MLMers are constrained by where they live. They also have family and job responsibilities that further inhibit their discretionary mobility. Distance learning, whether it be on demand through the internet or more traditional home study, allows the network marketing company an ability to offer its distributors basic nutrition education and flexibility and convenience. Moreover, by augmenting traditional training with basic nutritional education delivered by some method of distance learning, MLM companies can create a long lasting competitive edge.
Some people think corporate sponsored education is becoming crucial for the success of any company. Jeanne Meister contends in her new book Corporate Universities-Lessons in Building a World Class Workforce that: "Companies steering their resources into creating corporate universities fervently believe that the key to their success and competitive advantage in the marketplace will be giving employees greater access to updating their knowledge and skills".
A marketing alliance.
Network marketing companies have as one of their key competencies the ability to communicate with and distribute goods to people who are dispersed over a wide geographical area. The difficult part of establishing a corporate sponsored basic nutrition learning program is already done. What remains for companies to accomplish is to collaborate with an enabler company that has a proven, licensed course who can take care of matriculation, administration and certification of learning for distributors. A revenue sharing arrangement can defer cost or even generate a profit for such an endeavor.
The agreement can be succinctly stated: MLM company agrees to endorse and promote the course in basic nutrition for its distributors. XYZ company agrees to handle all student administration, maintain a licensed, up to date course in basic nutritional education with follow-on courses for continual learning, grade and certify each participating distributor.
To say that nutritional network marketing is competitive is akin to observing that water will likely flow downhill. Yet companies continue to offer only traditional approaches to training and sales. Many, like the pyramid schemes state attorneys general say they are, sustain themselves for a while and then lose their vitality and peter out. A recent Coopers & Lybrand survey of fast growing companies found that over half have launched new training initiatives in the past two years-36% of them using outside courses. Basic nutrition education delivered by a qualified third party using distance learning methods is an investment MLM companies can make that will create a distributor force capable of operating in a highly competitive environment and that will help distributors bridge the gap between their aspirations and abilities.
Contact International Nutrition Consultants NOW to put provide your distributors with an opportunity for sound nutritional education. Call 1-800-249-4554 or send an email to email@example.com