I love my job. I truly do. From meeting with amazing distributors all over the world, to collaborating with the talented folks at our corporate office, I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything.
I also get the occasional opportunity to meet with my board members – many of whom work for some of the most well-respected, fastest-growing companies on earth. Over the years, I’ve had many opportunities to pick their brains about our industry on a range of topics, from how they perceive us, to what challenges they see on the horizon, to how we can better compete in a business landscape where change seems to be the only constant.
Competition Comes Down to Technology
At first glance, our industry appears night-and-day different from those our board members work for. And that’s why some of their insights may surprise you. When asked whether companies like Uber, Amazon, and others like theirs view direct sales companies like mine and yours as head-to-head competition, the answer was a resounding yes, in short, because we’re all in the business of creating entrepreneurs. Our ability to simplify and minimize the barriers to entering the world of entrepreneurism will ultimately decide our fates.
And that comes down to technology. Or in the words of one board member, “we’re all in the business of algorithms.”
It might be worth taking a moment here to discuss the importance of algorithms. These are incredibly complex calculations that end up taking the cognitive load off of humanity’s shoulders. They’re the reason the simple technology you use every day is, well, simple. Companies like Uber and Lyft are embedding algorithms into artificial intelligence and machine learning to make getting a ride effortless. They’re using them to understand when, where, how, and what you like to purchase. And it’s making all of our lives a lot easier by making the way humans interact with technology seamless.
Another board member in the consumer-packaged goods (CPG) industry – a decidedly different industry than ours on many levels – believes that the biggest threat companies face today is the rapidly changing customer landscape. How, where, and when customers shop is constantly shifting. They used to form their purchasing decisions based on commercials and traditional advertising. Today, it’s reviews. That’s why companies in the CPG industry are increasingly bypassing brick and mortar locations to go directly to customers – placing them squarely within our realm of competition.
Standing Up to the Competition
So if this is true – if we’re actually competing against the Ubers and Amazons and giant CPG companies in a completely new marketing environment – how do we both survive against such rapidly scaling companies today while building a framework that will allow us to thrive tomorrow? The recipe is simple: we must find an area where we can stand out and then create the best experience possible within that area.
At LifeVantage we have a mantra that, I believe, encapsulates that statement: we want to make building a business at LifeVantage as easy to do as it is to request an Uber. It should be effortless. It should be simple. And it should be enjoyable. And how are we doing that? Technology.
Using Technology to Stand Out
Let’s face it, when it comes to technology, we’re all dinosaurs. In fact, sometimes I’m surprised our industry hasn’t gone extinct yet. It’s because we’re so set in our ways that we often fail to see the opportunities – and pitfalls – right in front of us.
If you don’t believe me, take inventory of your current distributor enrollment process or your customer purchasing flow. Collectively as an industry, we’ve made working for our individual companies incredibly complex while simultaneously ignoring technology that would make the entire process much easier and drastically lower the barrier to entry for potential entrepreneurs.
Here are a few ways we’re beginning to look at and use technology to our advantage where I work – and it goes far beyond social media. We’re using algorithms to identify people who are at risk of churning out of our company early on.
We’re using artificial intelligence to understand why, when, and how customers stop ordering so we can develop systems to intercede. We’re also using thousands of parameters to measure and predict someone’s future success within the organization so we can identify leaders early on.
In May, we introduced a new app in the U.S., with subsequent releases in several international markets. It’s part of our ongoing effort and commitment to incorporate machine learning across the company to optimize the journey and – a la Uber – make the path simpler for our distributors. The more it’s used, the smarter it becomes.
It hasn’t been easy, but our efforts are starting to pay off. One thing we’ve learned is that when new distributors earn their first dollar faster, they’re more likely to become leaders and purchase more. Based on what we are seeing thus far, distributors who are using our new technology are earning that first dollar 4x faster. Early indications also show that those actively using the new app are enrolling new distributors at more than double the rate than those not actively using the technology and bringing in exponentially more customers. In short, technology is good for business.
If we want to survive, we need to give our distributors better tools.
Those tools must be robust and easy to learn. If we couple the ability to learn quickly and easily with the best products available, we’ll create an experience that will draw the best entrepreneurs in the world to our industry. And that’s how we’ll stand out from the competitors and turn technology into a competitive advantage.
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