BREAKING NEWS: Nobody wants to watch the movie about the billionaire who bought a lotto ticket and won another $40 million. But the slumdog who becomes a millionaire – we’ll buy a ticket for that every time…
So you earned a free bonus car. You’re delirious with excitement and your mom is really proud of you. Truth is, the rest of us don’t really care.
Because it’s not really about your car. It’s what your car can mean to the rest of your team. And the same is true for that luxury cruise you won, the big bonus checks you’re cashing, and the $50,000 watch you’re wearing.
Contrary to popular belief, nobody on your team is going to build better or bigger because you got a snazzy new Philippe Patek “timepiece.” In fact, a lot of times, all the check waving and frenzy are a turn-off and un-inspires people.
No one wants to hear how rich, sexy, marvelous, and happy you are. Or at least they don’t until after they’ve heard how poor, unattractive, mediocre, and miserable you used to be.
It seems everyone is trained to tell their “story” in Direct Selling. And they think their story is all the bling, bonuses, and big bucks they made. But that doesn’t inspire people. Here’s the most important thing you should know when you’re sharing your story or a testimonial…
The only reason you tell your story is for the lesson or inspiration it holds for the audience. Anything else is just beating your chest.
Your story is inspiring only if it teaches that you have faced some of the challenges, obstacles, and adversity the people who are listening to you are facing. The fact that you persevered inspires them to know that they too can persevere.
It shows you are qualified to teach them.
Like great authors or motivational speakers, we don’t tell our story because people are interested in our story. We tell our story because of the impact it can have on the audience.
And when you understand this, you are on your way to becoming a visionary leader in our profession. Because then you realize that it is never about you. True leadership is always about the results for the people you lead.
A couple decades ago, I was asked to give my definition of leadership for a book on that subject. I defined it then as the ability to cause people to willingly take actions they wouldn’t normally want to do. (E.g.: In a war, someone charges a machine gun nest to protect their unit. In our business, it may be as simple as someone buying their first suit or making their first speech in front of a group.)
That definition suited me for more than 20 years. But no longer. My thoughts have evolved, and here is how I would define leadership today:
Inspiring people to become the highest possible version of themselves – and building the environment that facilitates this process.
To elaborate more, this defines positive leadership. (Because we know all leadership is not always constructive and encouraging.) I believe my new definition best defines how leadership should look in our space – and is the model you should aspire to.
You can see there are two very distinct parts of that equation above. The first part is inspiring people to want to take the action and do the work of becoming the highest possible version of themselves. That’s difficult enough, even for world-class leaders.
But next you’ve got to go one step further and create a structure that allows your team to do that. (By the culture you set, the system you develop, the resources available for people to implement, etc.)
Stepping Into the Rare Air of Leadership Greatness…
Let’s say you have reached the point where you have a large network, you’re producing high volume, and people are looking to you for guidance. How do you become a superlative leader for your team? How do you create group action and a shared purpose, inspiring your team into action?
A big component of this is influence. If you really do want to inspire people to become more and create a safe space for them to do that, you must become a powerful influencer yourself. Let me share with you the tools and actions I have found to be the most successful for influencing a large team…
Build a Dream Bigger Than the Team
Too many people who want to be leaders are trying to push people when they should be pulling. To create buy-in, it’s important that you articulate a bold, valiant, and compelling outcome that speaks to the aspirations of your people.
Everyone everywhere possesses an innate desire to become part of something bigger than themselves. Nothing else in our lives provides such a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and belonging as being intrinsically connected to a force, project, or movement for good.
Your team will get excited about the contests and promotions and chase after the free trips, bonus cars, and other rewards. But if you can pair that pursuit of profit with a plan for higher good – they’ll certainly become yet more energized. Sometimes this is moving toward a positive result, such as building an orphanage. Other times it may be fighting a common foe that your product line addresses (Big Pharma, the insurance companies that are ripping off people, etc.).
Demonstrate Your Commitment
We all know people who talk a good talk, but it’s all eyewash. Nothing will delight your team more than seeing evidence that you aren’t practicing empty talk. Show that you have an unyielding, unwavering force toward the vision, and you’re doing everything possible to get there yourself.
Maintain Laser Focus
You’re dealing with people, so there is always going to be gossip, petty jealousies, and people who want to hijack the agenda for their own attention or ends. Kill distractions immediately.
As part of leading a sales team, you’ll probably have to be forceful to hold people accountable and take action where necessary. (In particular, the next three items will be quite helpful in this regard.)
Creating a benchmark activity to qualify for rewards can become a powerful inducement to produce desired behavior. These can be anything – minor perks, like preferred seating at events, to major opportunities, such as trips and retreats.
A powerful driver of behavior can be an inner circle that people want to be a part of. People want access to the leadership team, and they will be willing to work hard to gain this admittance. It’s very important that there is no element of politics or favoritism. This must be a meritocracy, not a teacher’s pet scenario.
Practice Exclusion When Appropriate
Create a healthy desire in people that motivates them to reach goals the next time. Leave them hungry to get into the next level. Let me give you a specific example of where this has worked exceptionally for me.
We would include a “Brilliance Banquet” at our major events, with invitation limited to only those who qualified at certain ranks. We would take them by stretch limo to a fabulous nightclub for dinner. They would meet in front of the hotel in tuxes and gowns, taking pictures with the limo. We encouraged the people who did not qualify to come down and watch, to “feel the burn” and make the commitment that they would qualify for the next event.
It’s important to use discernment in how this is handled. You don’t want it to feel like, “You’re a loser; you didn’t qualify.” You want to create the vibe, “You’ve got to be with us next time!”
Place Expectations on People
You need to see people’s greatness and potential even before they do themselves.
Let them know you expect exceptional results from them. Many of them will borrow this belief you have in them until they are able to develop it for themselves. This is possibly the greatest gift you can bestow on the people who follow you.
Repeat Core Messages
Never lose sight of foundational principles. The message is never old to new people, and old people need to be kept on track.
You’re going to need to repeat training segments on core competencies like recruiting, meeting people, and inviting every time you do a major event. Every. Single. Time. Forever.
The real work here is making sure to keep the message fresh and relevant, even though the primary information pretty much remains the same.
Be bold, be passionate, and be intense. Foster a culture of action, urgency, and passion.
Provide Game Plans
Some people will know the path to follow to achieve what they want. Others will need more assistance. So outline a structured, attainable game plan to follow. Teach people how to create campaigns to advance their game plan. (Building to the next major event for example.)
Offer Recognition and Rewards
Be generous with public praise for activities well done, projects completed, and rank advancements achieved. Utilize contests and other incentive programs where appropriate.
Recognize. Praise. Celebrate.
Use Group Dynamics and Social Proof
Most people today are afraid to speak up, stand out, or make an independent decision. Social proof can be a forceful resource to entice them to step out of their shell. People take actions more readily if they see others taking that action.
Simply using examples and case studies of strategies that other leaders in the team have employed successfully will provoke many more to take the leap. This is why testimonials are so effective in recruiting, sales, and marketing – and getting people to reach higher.
As a leader you must help people grow and prod them to increase the pace of that growth. Use people’s insecurities against them in a positive way – a way that inspires them to transform those limitations into strengths. When you see “sibling rivalry” between teams, utilize that to stimulate them to do better.
Practice Two-Category Coaching
I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that some people like to whine a lot. And others are always looking for distractions and excuses. These people are the ones that want to suck up all your time and energy.
Here’s how you deal with this in an exquisite way to remain productive and provide the best support for your entire team.
Mentally divide your team into two categories: Those you work with personally, and those you work with through group interaction. When you get someone who has true leadership potential, is coachable, and willing to work – give them all the personal attention they need.
When you’re being hounded by someone complaining about variables that can’t be changed, wants to gossip about someone else, or just likes to hear themselves talk – direct them to a group resource.
Them: “Why did the company make the label on the energy bar red? The people in my area like the color blue a lot more…”
You: “Hey, why don’t you come early to the training event on Saturday, and we can talk it over then?” (Don’t worry – they won’t show up anyway.)
Them: “I have a friend and they only eat plastic and gravel, because they believe it’s morally wrong to kill plants. They refuse to buy our protein powder because it includes murdered rice. I think there’s a huge market of gravel eaters that we’re missing out on. I’m afraid to contact any more candidates until this important issue is resolved. Can we schedule an emergency meeting with the CEO, advisory board, marketing department, and me to get this handled?”
You: “That’s an interesting question. Be sure and watch the online training on Tuesday, and I’ll try to deal with the issue of marketing to different subsets of the market.”
If someone has a legitimate concern, of course you should always address it. But you’ll quickly learn which people are just looking for excuses to avoid doing any actual work. Direct them to the group interactions and limit your personal interactions and time with them.
One of the issues you’ll encounter frequently when counseling with your people is their refusal to take personal responsibility for their team.
They may say their team is too timid, too lazy, too stupid, or too fill-in-the-blank…
They will tell you that if they just had a better team, they would be more successful. You can easily fall into making these kinds of excuses yourself. Don’t. Because excuses like these are ignoring a fundamental truth…
There can be only one cause for a bad team. And that is a bad leader.
The cause usually comes down to someone who thinks they are not accountable, that they somehow get special rules applied to them. The truth is exactly the opposite.
You have to model the behavior you want people to repeat. Be accountable for yourself and always deliver what you promise.
This type of integrity will greatly impact the culture of your team. Model the desired behaviors in areas like:
If you’re not willing to do this, you’re in the wrong business.
Hold your people responsible as well. In a loving way, call them on their sh…stuff.
Operate with Integrity
This is related to the last item but deserves its own mention. People are seldom influenced by those they don’t trust. (At least not influenced consciously.) Whenever I enroll someone into my business, I make two pledges to them:I will never knowingly lie to them.
I will never knowingly tell them anything that isn’t in the best interest of their business.
I suggest you adopt the same approach.
If people don’t trust you, you’re going to have a difficult time influencing them in a positive way.
Be a Facilitator
Don’t do everything yourself. Involve the team and get everyone participating.
One of the philosophies I follow for my business is to never do anything for people they are capable of doing themselves. Otherwise, you’re weakening them, not helping them.
Don’t Threaten People’s Financial Security
There are way too many people being encouraged to quit their jobs too early. Many people are eager to leave their job as soon as they are making a few thousand dollars or euros a month. This is a bad idea and creates a great deal of unnecessary and damaging stress.
Your people will be much better served if, instead of trying to live out of that new income, they keep their job and reinvest their commissions in building additional lines.
Remember that most people are broke now. So if they trade their $40,000-a-year job for their $40,000-a-year Leveraged Sales business, they’re still broke.
Encourage them to start paying down their credit cards, pay off their car loan, and have some investments building their net worth.
After they are debt-free, except perhaps for their mortgage, and earning more than they ever did in their job – only then is the time you can encourage them to quit their job and go full-time with the business.
No matter the platform – local training seminar, major event, webcast, or the annual convention – one of the most powerful growth strategies is to give people homework to complete. The more these are specific action steps, the better. (Examples: Invite 15 people to view the next live-streaming presentation, find an accountability partner before they leave the event, plan their campaign for the next major event, etc.)
Lead the People – Manage their Conflicts
I hate to even type these words. But I would be remiss if I did not. To become a strong leader in Leveraged Sales, you’re going to need to become a conflict resolution expert. The biggest challenges you’ll ever face are the people issues.
I remember doing a leadership symposium at the Mastermind Event one year. Someone asked me what a typical day of work was like for me. Here’s what I said:
“Right now I have one top leader who isn’t speaking to me because I didn’t put him on the platform for the last event, since he hasn’t rank advanced in three years and his volume is decreasing, not increasing. Another leader is furious with me, because I gave her only 20 minutes of stage time at the last event while another leader got 25. One of my top distributorships is going through a divorce right now and they’re battling over who is going to keep the business. And I have another leader I have to remove from all team responsibilities because he’s having an affair with the wife of someone on his third level. Other than that, everything’s peachy!”
I wasn’t doing a comedy set. Everything I said was happening at that moment. Did I mention that the biggest challenges you’ll ever face are the people issues?
A big part of your job will be making people dial down their emotions, check their egos, and handle differences like an adult.
When someone calls you with a personality conflict, this is how you need to handle the situation:
Them: “I have a big problem with Steve. Don’t tell him I called you, but…”
You: “Sorry to interrupt. If you have a problem with Steve, we need to get him on the call right now. Hang on while I see if he’s available.”
Them: “No, no, no! I don’t want him to know that I’m the one who complained.”
You: “Sorry, I never talk about someone else when they’re not present. If we really want to solve this problem, we are going to have to handle this like adults. We need to get the three of us on the phone together and discuss the issues openly.”
When you handle situations like that, your team understands that you don’t play games or deal in gossip. Your deliberate action kills the organizational politics, thus creating an environment where issues can be resolved.
Way too many leaders and influencers are pandering to their people – patronizing them for playing small and safe.
Don’t let yourself take that path.
Destroy complacency. Blow up comfort zones. Create a culture where people must increase their pace and be a little breathless to keep up.
Act as a catalyst to inspire them to become the highest possible version of themselves. There can be no greater gift and no greater honor than this.
About the Author…
If you want to reach success in Direct Selling, there is probably no one on earth better qualified to help you than Randy Gage. An icon of the profession, Randy helped launch the business in many developing countries and has trained the top income-earners in dozens of companies. He has arguably mentored more million-dollar producers than anyone alive today.
Most importantly, Randy teaches from real-world experience, having earned millions of dollars as a distributor and built a team of more than 200,000 people. In 2014, Randy was the first person inducted into the Direct Selling Hall of Fame.
Randy is the author of 14 books translated into 25 languages. He has spoken to more than two million people across more than 50 countries and has also been inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame. When he is not prowling the platform or locked in his lonely writer’s garret, you’ll probably find him playing third base for a softball team somewhere. This article was excerpted from his recent book, Direct Selling Success.
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