Monday, February 28, 2011

Life! The Soap Opera - Episode 3

There are times when I seriously wonder if I'm borderline insane. We live in a society where striving to be your best is no longer acknowledged, let alone rewarded, yet I still try to push my way forward out of my comfort zone through self-development and personal challenges.

In the past few weeks, my retail activity has slowed and my recruitment activity needs serious TLC. There's a number of factors involved:
  1. Due to rising fuel costs, I'm now car-sharing. Unfortunately, it's adding 6 miles and another 15 minutes to my existing 90 minute round trip each day, and I doubt if either of us would pick each other as anything more than a work-based colleague. Despite a number of efforts on my part, it's very difficult to prolong an in-car conversation past the "do anything last night?" stage. Obviously, my conversational skills need some work.
  2. Office politics is alive and well, which means that I'm getting sucked into various disputes no matter how hard I try to stay neutral. Only those who've worked in this sort of atmosphere for any length of time know how enervating that can be. If I didn't have my Kleeneze business to focus on, I'd be heading for a long stress-induced break from work.
  3. I'm working for a company that has an intriguing approach to personnel matters. My personal development plan, for example, states that I will be rated on, amongst other things, identifying and attending certain training courses. Despite identifying 6 separate courses, and trying to sort out the details for two of them directly when it became obvious that my line manager had no intention of doing anything, I have not received any training and am extremely unlikely to do so before my next review. Plus, despite asking for feedback regarding the team leader position I was unsuccessful in applying for, I have received none. I don't enjoy being set up to fail - it's one of the reasons I want to run my own business.
  4. The workload in the office is so great that our team resource is spread too thinly, leaving all of us trying to fit 80 hours work into every week. Unsurprisingly, this doesn't provide good service, nor does it motivate the team. What it does do is ensure I have very little time during the day to field Kleeneze calls.
  5. My family is going through one of those phases that drains you of both time and vitality. I have a mother whose health is deteriorating rapidly, one son who is trying to avoid school due to various issues (bullying, poor teaching, etc.) and my eldest son and my partner are trying to re-enact elements of a David Attenborough programme on male lions' territorial displays. Again, I'm finding more and more time is taken up in dealing with all of this.
I need to act decisively and I need to act fast, or my initial momentum will be derailed completely.

I'm taking the time out this evening to revise my plans (see my blog post for more details), after which it will be full steam ahead on building a large enough team to allow me to quit the commuter life for good. Of my current salary, I spend 20% on petrol, so I only need to match 80% of my current salary consistently to provide an equivalent standard of living.

Tomorrow will mark the start of a whole new 90 day plan. I intend to stop commuting no later than 1 March 2012. Time to make that happen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Networking Mastery - Don't Poison The Well

It never ceases to amaze me. People join a network marketing organisation and then completely ignore the definitions of both network and marketing.

Network - an association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide mutual assistance, helpful information, etc.

Marketing - the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

What's often forgotten is the hidden network within network marketing - the network of your customers, prospects and prospective customers.
We are all interconnected. John Donne wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself;" and "all mankind is of one author, and is one volume;". Thich Nhat Hanh coined the term interbeing to indicate the same concept. What we do affects others.
This week and last week, my retail results were poor. Part of this was due to my needing to devote a little extra time to Life! (family issues, broken boiler, ill-health, heavy workload in the day-job, etc.). That's not a concern; occasionally we all need to prioritise something other than our business goals.
What is a concern is the conversation I had with a lovely lady who has never ordered from me, and is unlikely to ever order from Kleeneze, Betterware, Avon or any other network marketing company.
The reason? In the 8 weeks before Christmas, she placed 3 orders with Kleeneze distributors (not me!) and 1 order with Betterware. Nobody contacted her to let her know there were delays with the goods; nobody delivered them either. That abysmal customer service has guaranteed that others who would have provided better service are now prevented from doing so - she never wants to see another catalogue through her door. There is nothing anybody can do at the moment to persuade her otherwise.
If I learn nothing else from that conversation, I know this:
Don't poison the well for those who come after you.
If you don't provide good customer service, you destroy a potential customer network, not only for yourself, but for others. That's not a good way to live our lives, personally or professionally.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ten Tips to Survive MLM Partnership Problems

Many who get involved in network marketing start up on their own, with their partner/spouse/significant other on the outside looking in. There's a number of reasons for this, the most common being the partner's resistance to the concept or experience of either self-employment or network marketing.

So how do you cope when your formerly-resistant other half decides that it's a good idea to formalise the odd bit of help they give you by signing up as either a joint distributor or as your downline (depending on your corporate model)?

How do you cope when they insist on doing things their way, due to their superior managerial skills, their brilliant sales pitches or their wonderful networking talent?

How do you cope when their idea of support is to order you about, sidestep your suggestions and ignore all the hard work you've done/are doing to build your business so far?

How do you persuade them to work with you towards a brighter future, yet stop them translating your concerns into "Get the heck out of my life, you control-freak"?

Not easy, is it?

There's probably a need for a "Male network marketers are from Mars...." book. Until I write it (!), all I can do is offer the following tips from my experience:
  1. Ignore the tone of voice, if you are the sort of person who reacts to aural cues. It's highly unlikely your newly-enthused partner realises how they are coming across.
  2. Identify one point of conflict that you want to address. Don't ever consider sorting out more than one issue at a time.
  3. Smile! (It's very difficult to sound angry and bitter with a genuine smile on your face; if you can't conjure up a genuine smile first time, think of something good that the two of you have experienced and then smile).
  4. Acknowledge their passion for the business and let them know how much you appreciate their support.
  5. Explain that you have been working on building the business for x months/years prior to teaming up and that you are accustomed to doing things in a certain way.
  6. Thank them for the flurry of new ideas that they've put forward and accept that there are other ways of working within the business.
  7. Explain that you would like to work together as a team of equals on one small area of the business, so that you can both get used to the other's working style.
  8. Negotiate which area of the business you will work together on first.
  9. Set specific, measureable, achievable, result-oriented and targetted (SMART) goals, such as "We will work together to contact 20 prospects, using the same checklist, script and tracking sheet, with the aim of signing up 1 person each by 1st March 2011. We will review our progress together 48 hours from now and we will continue to review on a weekly basis."
  10. Reward yourselves for working together.
How do you manage these occasional conflicts?