In direct sales, when we talk about retention we’re talking about keeping people involved in the business beyond their first order. Retaining both your distributors and customers is paramount to keeping your business alive. But the retention rate of most direct sales companies is incredibly low—most people just don’t stick with it. So how do you do it?
Yesterday, Michael was going to be debt free. He just knew that this opportunity was the right vehicle, and now was the right time. Today, Michael sits at his desk staring out the window, frustrated and depressed. Today, the dream seems so impossible. “Maybe,” he thought, “I just got caught up in the hype; I will never get out of this rut, and really make something of myself.” Tomorrow, Michael will either join the ranks of wishful thinkers, or he will shake off the dream demons, and start fresh at making his dream a reality.
Much of the decision will have to do with his inner resolve and the retaining wall built by his new company. There are six key areas that a company or upline can strengthen to ensure that new associates find the resolve to continue their quest for success. These six areas can be identified with the word, R.E.T.A.I.N.: Relationship, Empowerment, Training, Affiliation, Inspiration, and Nurturing.
Relationship—Building a deep commitment based on need fulfillment.
Relationship begins when two people connect based on mutual need fulfillment. The relationship deepens as the connection is reinforced by people being there for each other. It is imperative that we realize that relationships only deepen with continual connections as simple as just keeping in touch by making a personal phone call. When things get tough or discouragement sets in, without this vital relationship, people often just give up.
Empowerment—Providing the right tools and a system for success.
Dreams rarely come true without the proper tools and a success system. You don’t hire someone to build a skyscraper and then give him a pick and shovel. Tools and systems must match the dream—the greater the dream, the more important the tools and system. Tools and a system are the vehicles for success. One of the reasons so many people give up and quit is they are trying to build dreams with sandcastle tools.
Training—Insuring this vital component is woven into the fabric of success.
The key to any success is the training available to build resolve and skills to reach the dream. Training must be a vital part of any system, getting you to the top, and keeping you there.
Affiliation—Making sure the new associate feels he belongs.
One of man’s deepest drives is to be a part of something where he feels significant and appreciated. This need for intimate community is one of the greatest bonding factors known to man. People are willing to make greater sacrifices to succeed when they have the power of community driving them.
Inspiration/motivation—Keeping the dream alive.
We all run out of fuel during the week and need a strong dose of inspiration to pick us up and get us going again. Inspiration rekindles the fire, and refocuses back to the original dream. The inspiration can come from a meeting or a simple dinner with a few folks who share their dreams.
Nurturing—Providing support and encouragement.
Nurturing is being there for someone on a continual basis. Nurturing is the process of providing the essentials for growth without waiting for someone to ask you. Parents don’t wait until a child comes to them and tells them she is hungry. Rather parents know that part of their responsibility is to make sure their child receives proper nourishment. Nurturing is providing a solid, reliable support system that provides the essentials for success.
Have you ever purchased a product that you knew was the most exciting, most important product you had ever seen—a product you knew you could not live without, only to find it sitting on the shelf, unused, along with a host of other products that you thought you could not live without. The appeal of products wears off soon after they are purchased. Sometimes the products are so useful that people become totally committed to the product. Other times, people question whether or not they need to continue to lay out $30-$50 a month for a product that they are not sure they need. Customer retention requires more than just an initial pitch. It is important to keep a customer focused on the compelling “why” that led them to invest in the product in the first place.
Once again, using the word R.E.T.A.I.N., let’s look at six ways you can insure customer loyalty: Relationship, Education, Trust, Affirmation, Influence, and New Products.
Relationship—Bond with your customer through need fulfillment.
A relationship lasts long after the newness or novelty of the product wears off. Those who continue to develop a relationship after a person purchases a product will find a loyalty that no competitor can penetrate.
Education—You must keep their compelling “why” for purchasing alive.
People buy on impulse based on reasoning at that moment. They buy into the product’s story. This story must be told and retold in fresh ways to keep a customer loyal to a product. Even the most devoted product evangelists can be lured away by a product that promises the same results but is less expensive or more potent.
Trust—You must be someone the customers can trust to be there when the they need you.
To build customer loyalty, you must become a valued resource for customers. When you become their personal consultant by having the answers they need and by keeping your promises, your counsel becomes well worth the few dollars they pay out for product.
Affirmation/Appreciation—You must ensure the customer that you value their relationship.
You must make sure they understand that the value is not related to profits. We all have the basic drive to have our needs fulfilled, but we also have a basic drive to be needed.
Influence—Points of contact—You can’t influence someone you don’t stay in touch with.
Something or someone constantly influences people. Every TV commercial and every newspaper ad is designed to influence you in some manner. The media or company with the greatest ability to influence the decisions of its audience wins the market share. It should be obvious that if you do not contact your customers, you lose your influence over them. Every contact is a potential point of influence and should be used wisely.
New products—You keep customers interested in your company by introducing new products.
One technique to retain customers is to introduce new or improved products. This gives you an opportunity for another point of contact, and gives the customer one additional reason to stay with your company.
Developing a retention strategy
- Work with the new associate to cross the $300-$500 income plateau.
- Make training a priority.
- Develop a caring organization that makes people feel wanted and needed.
- Develop need-sensitivity within your organization.
- Give people a reason to stay with the company or with your organization.
- Practice relationship cultivation.
- Find ways to educate the customer: seminars, workshops, emails, and mail outs.
- Keep in touch.
- Conduct highly motivational, inspirational events.
- Discover new products and new reasons to be a part of your company or organization.
The wise business person understands the value of a customer or distributor. The cost of replacing a person is far greater than retaining those who are already a part of the organization. The priority of retention is second only to recruiting in building a solid, growing residual income.