For the full video of McKinley’s conversation with Jake Spencer, click here:
As an avid sports enthusiast, I’m a big fan of sports rivalries. Celtics vs. Lakers, Ohio St vs. Michigan, Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders (that feels weird), and my all-time favorite: University of Utah vs. BYU. Within direct sales, an often-unintended “rivalry” has been Corporate vs The Field. You often hear distributors say they wish corporate would listen to them. And, on the flip side, you often hear corporate say they wish the field could understand their unique challenges.
This Masterclass addresses that very issue. My conversation with Jake Spencer, President of Q Sciences touched on key ways that corporate and the field can better relate to one another. Jake has a very interesting perspective as he spent numerous years in the field building international teams. Upon taking a corporate position, his perspective changed dramatically. There are key lessons that can be applied to remove the rivalry aspect and create a business partnership between the field and corporate that can lead to dramatic growth, momentum, and long-term loyalty.
Lessons Learned Going from Field Leader to Corporate
For Jake making the transition from top distributor to corporate has been the hardest thing he has ever done. He quickly realized that he didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes at corporate. And, on the flip side he realized that the corporate team didn’t have a full understanding of what was happening in the field. Field leaders can tend to judge corporate claiming they don’t understand and the same can be said on the corporate side.
A lot of times it comes down to communication. The field wants to not only be listened to; but also to be heard. Learning to communicate things to the field can help them understand. By giving them a view to what is behind the curtain, you can create massive amounts of good will. And, you don’t need to show them everything. Getting their buy-in on small things like promotions, expansion timeline, and even their use of the app can help them to have a greater sense of ownership. Communication tends to be the first step into creating a long-term partnership between corporate and the field.
How Do You More Effectively Involve Leaders in the Business?
This question has been asked by every corporate team within the direct sales industry. How do you open up the curtain enough to create buy-in, but also retain the independence that corporate needs to run an effective business?
The answer is simple: Treat your leaders like business partners and owners in your business. Give them the chance to learn about the decisions that you are making. This can be everything from product COGs and distribution to promos and compensation plan. Allow the field to learn about the why behind the decisions.
A good example of this process has been how QSciences has handled international expansion. Early on, they went in as Jake termed, “guns blazing.” Lots of products, tons of promos, and minimal leader involvement. And, it didn’t go well. Then the strategy changed. They began to involve the leaders, they let them know the challenges they were approaching, and had them buy in to a more streamlined and simple approach.
“When we get the key leaders involved and they know the challenges we are going to encounter—when we give them buy in—we own the bad decisions together and we own the good ones together. It has served us well.”
– Jake Spencer
Some people would argue this is a risky approach, that it isn’t smart. But, if you can put the ego aside and get the field to buy-in, this type of a partnership can pay massive dividends in the long run. If you let them know the possible challenges and the upside, they will buy in. Setting metrics to hit, and additional ways to invest in the market when they are achieved, can help motivate the field. They will celebrate the victories with you and be supportive in the challenges.
Help Your Leaders Treat It Like a Business
One of the key benefits to this type of a partnership is that it can help your distributors treat it like a business. There is a new demographic in network marketing that is looking for a true side hustle—a real way to create an additional income stream or to replace their income. When a leader understands how the company treats it like a business, they in turn will treat their own business like the business that it is.
“Would you act like this if your business was a McDonald’s franchise?” – Jake Spencer
When you walk into the QSciences offices you immediately see a conference room with a picture of dozens of leaders on stage holding signs talking about how their QSciences business has helped them get debt-free, pay off their home, or get six-figures of savings. Rather than doing a car program, QSciences has their leaders submit a debt that they want corporate to make payments towards as part of their commission plan. This type of culture has attracted leaders who buy into the culture and embrace the reality of owning their own business. As they’ve done this, the leaders have understood the challenges corporate has on their side and that they are partners in achieving the long-term goal of winning together in the business.
Allow Your Field to Partner in Your Technology
Times have changed. When Jake started building his own direct sales business the enrollment system was a tearoff pad and a fax machine. 48 hours later you’d see the individual added to your team. Fast forward and very few people remember this process or have even used a fax machine. Finding the right partner to create technology AND involving your distributors in the process can help you create a tools culture to succeed. The right technology combined with the best practices and principles of the industry can help you succeed.
How the Verb App Can Help You Partner with Your Leaders
- Team Access Code: Allow your leaders to add team-specific tools that will be available to their team members in addition to the corporate offering
- Interactive Video: Provide technology that lets your leaders create personal video messages and add interactive links
- Verb LIVE: COMING SOON—let you leaders present live webinars, add interactive links, and give their team the opportunity to invite people to their meetings AND get personal credit/attribution when someone purchases
QSciences gave their leaders the opportunity to be involved in content that goes into the app. In addition, they took advantage of a feature that allows team leaders to add team specific content that their team can access. Creating this kind of a technology partnership can ensure that your leaders will promote the tools and get their team using the duplication system from day one.
Replace the Rivalry with a Partnership
It may feel like you are opening Pandora’s box by inviting your field leaders to partner with you. Sure, it can present a set of challenges. But, as we learned with QSciences, it can also create some amazing wins. This type of partnership can create loyalty, understanding, and long-term success for your company.