Developing Loyalty “Ask Uncle Russ” by Russ DeVan

Russ DeVan

Dear Uncle Russ:

Why do so many companies make you buy a minimum auto-ship order to qualify for commissions?

“Backed up” ____Springfield, MO.   

Dear “Backed up,”

The concept of auto-ship, “subscribe and save,” or what businesses refer to as a “loyalty” or continuity program, became popular in MLM about three decades ago.

 “Stair-step break-away” compensation plans were the standard, and many companies clandestinely encouraged front-loading, enticing distributors to “buy” or work their tails off to attain a position with a bigger override percentage of commissions. The problem was that volume would drop significantly the following month, as distributors had more than enough products to work with. Often, big organizations experience high attrition because distributors can still earn their overrides with only a minimum order or effort.

As compensation plans evolved, companies quickly learned that less was more. By setting low personal ordering marks, distributors could often qualify for their commissions purely through personal consumption.

So for “convenience”, auto-order programs were born. This way, companies could literally ensure consistent volume, with distributors fearing that if they didn’t subscribe, they might forget to order a minimum and miss out on a commission. Contrary to popular belief, however, companies cannot “make you” get on auto-ship. That would be illegal. Today, there are customer acquisition programs, consumer direct, and discount incentives that make it more appealing. Personally, I have never been in favor of ordering products I won’t consume or promote in order to qualify for commissions that may not be there yet. And I strongly suggest you don’t either.


Dear Uncle Russ:

What is the best way to “lead” an organization so others will follow and decrease attrition in your downline?

“Strong but Coachable” ___Harrisburg, PA

Dear “Coachable,”

Many still think that leadership in this business is about winning awards, motivational oratory, or the quickest way to a 5 figure monthly income. At the risk of oversimplifying, I say we have three responsibilities to our organization and team, and two of them do NOT include motivating them into blind allegiance or guaranteeing their success. Here are the three most important objectives incumbent on a leader to provide and duplicate: Example, Direction, and Support.

Example: We need to be an example of the benefit of the products we are promoting. We need to DEMONSTRATE how the product is moved or sold. A leader will show what an enrollment conversation sounds like! A leader who does these things inspires loyalty and confidence because they are operating from integrity, not “fake it ’til you make it!”

Direction: Distributors look to their sponsor or upline for the answer to three simple questions: “Where do I go?” “What do I do?” and “How do I do it?”

Now, the first question goes to the Holy Grail of network marketing: Where do prospects come from? Those who are familiar with my “un-training” already can guess that asking someone to make a names list of a hundred people they know is NOT doing them or yourself a service. A good sponsor can help their enrollee find more prospects than they can say grace over WITHOUT burning their closest friends and family or sending them to the cold market wolves. And if they can’t, I can. Subscribe to TNMM, and let’s talk! https://thenetworkmarketingmagazine.com/?bonus=5267 and receive a special bonus.

The Last responsibility is Support. Support is NOT hand-holding, babysitting, coddling, chasing, or begging. Support is learning what someone is committed to and creating a time-based plan or project to get there.

 So “Coachable”….Does what I am suggesting sound like leading by “partnership?”

You are right on the money!! You get the gold star!!


Dear Uncle Russ:

Is it better to sponsor a whole lot of people and follow the “Some will, Some won’t, So what?” Philosophy, or to be more selective and work with a few?

“Sponsor Monster” ____ Rockford, IL

Dear “Monster,”

I must say, opinions vary widely on this question. I will give you mine. I’ve played this game both ways. When I started in this business for the first time…circa 1980, I was told to talk to anyone that got within’ three feet…anyone who could fog a mirror…anyone with a heartbeat! I didn’t know any better, so that’s precisely what I did! I sponsored 30 people in 30 days! I was en FUEGO!!! By the end of another 30 days, all but one had quit…and he was my brother! And HE quit three days later!

But I survived….and I persisted.

Then something amazing happened. Someone I wasn’t even prospecting started “pumping” me for information about my new business!

THEN he drove an hour and a half in the middle of the week to find out about it! Soon, he was bringing in more people like him, and THAT was the beginning!

In my opinion, surrounding yourself with people you care about and can make a difference for is MUCH easier and more fulfilling than herding cats or “throwing it up against the wall to see what sticks!

Think of it like a deck of cards. With 52 cards in a deck, how many would you need to turn over to find a Queen or an Ace? You don’t know, right? But you DO KNOW there are 4 of each in the deck, and you also know what they look like!

In 1992, my partner and I sponsored five people in an exciting nutritional company. Virtually none of them had ever succeeded in network marketing before. With that “team” and the help of their teams, within two years, we built the fourth largest organization in the company and were splitting an income close to $65,000 a month! And do you know what the best part was? Two of our leaders earned more a month than we did!!

Following this lesson, just four years later, and applying this same strategy in a different company, I “cherry-picked” eight strong leaders and pledged that if they would follow my example, I would immerse myself in THEIR organization and all my direct sponsoring efforts would go beneath them. In just nine months, we built an organization of more than 28,000 people and $3.5 M in volume. 

Personally, I like knowing and loving who I’m in business with. I am a firm believer that done properly and diligently, “less IS more,” and slow and steady wins the race every time!

Love, Uncle Russ…


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Russ DeVan
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