Keeping Your MLM Company Hot
Over the Long Haul

Direct Sales Journal

by Michael L. Sheffield
CEO The Sheffield Group

The world in which my grandfather lived and sold his products was much different than our world of selling today. His name was Elvis "Dynamite" Wallace and he was the last of a breed of traveling sales people. His methods then and my methods today are quite different. While Dynamite's deals were done, cash on the barrel-head, I, as an MLM Consultant, employ the electronic transfer of funds in many of our sales transactions.

Dynamite's sales route was up and down the rural roads of Arkansas and Missouri. He sold his stock out of the back of his station wagon. Using my laptop computer, I can make my presence felt in a sales situation in Chicago — even though I'm on a plane 33,000 feet over Oklahoma.

Dynamite parleyed with his purchasers eye ball to eye ball — one on one. With a simple conference call, I can connect with several hundred people at the same time without leaving my office.

I don't need to tell you that from a technological perspective, our world is changing, and changing fast. Not long ago, the U.S. Congress Office of Technology issued this report: "Change is happening faster than we can keep tabs on and threatens to shake the foundations of the most secure American business."

My purpose in writing this is to make sure the foundation of your business holds up to, and powerfully profits from, the techno-economic changes taking place all over the planet.

As an MLM consultant, I can only assume that you are reading this because your company is in for the long haul. You plan to go the distance. To do that you'll need more than a great product.

After all, there are many components that combine to form a successful sales company — and product is of course, essential. Without a product or service that meets the real needs of your customers, without a service that provides them genuine value, your company could not survive. As Dynamite would say, "You can't sell from an empty wagon — or one loaded with products nobody needs or wants."

The foundation for success in Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or direct selling is a commitment to a unique, highly consumable "service-to-mankind" product range. You're reading this because of your interest in what products sell (and how to find them) and because you know customer interest in and perception of products can change.

As you probably already know, the consumer can be very fickle. What's in this year, may be out next year. The product can stay the same. The need for the product can stay the same. But after a few years on the market, it may not be as "hot" as it was when first introduced.

This rise and fall in customer interest is known as the "product life cycle." Similarly, there is a "business life cycle." Both can be greatly enhanced and extended by understanding a few simple rules such as this one: "the right product at the right time."

Of course you need a good management team. An equitable compensation plan for the distributors is a must (preferably written by a competent MLM Consultant with experience in this area).

Professionally designed sales and support literature and aids are imperative. Your distributors demand and deserve bonuses, commissions, payouts that are on time, and checks that don't bounce. Computerized record keeping is no longer a high-tech option. But the reality is, you can have all the aforementioned in place, but if your product and timing are off, there can be no success.

You Sleep, You Weep. They say good things come to those who wait — but not to those who wait too long. A company may plug its product as the latest and greatest, but the sad fact is, late isn't always great.

Timing is critical. To gain the advantage in the marketplace, you have got to be wide-awake and on the spot and aware of "what's hot and what's not." In the fast moving and highly competitive world of buying and selling, last year's craze may be this year's snooze.

So before jumping into a new venture with your time and money, you may want to make sure your product truly is one of a kind. Finding out too late means you can have a lot of "me too" competitors to take all the fun out of introducing it to your customers and distributors.

Innovate Or Die. Want to become or remain viable as a sales company? Then finding exciting new products should be high on your list of priorities. More and more MLM and direct sales companies are coming to terms with the old adage, "innovate or die." Corporate leadership realizes that to gain and maintain momentum, and retaining the interest of their distributors and customers relies on continually introduce new products.

What Is A "New" Product? One definition I've read describes a new product as "Something a company is making and offering for the first time." That definition is okay, but I think the meaning goes a lot farther.

With respect to a direct sales company, I would add this: A new product is an addition to the company product line. It is either totally new to the world, or a new extension of an existing brand.

A new product should position the company as the "first to market" or as "dramatically improved" over similar existing products. What's more, the "new" product should be unique and lend itself to "word of mouth" marketing.

The key to success in sales is not only identifying new products, it's hooking those hot new products to a dynamic marketing strategy.

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About the Author:

Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of The Sheffield Group, a full-service direct sales and multi level marketing (MLM) consulting firm. He is a Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Multi Level Marketing International Association and in 2001 he was inducted into the MLMIA Hall of Fame. He and the Sheffield team have assisted in hundreds of national and international MLM corporate start-ups as well as offered a full line of services for established direct sales companies including consultation on MLM Website development. As the most noted expert on compensation plans, he has been a guest lecturer on the subject for the DSA, University of Illinois, University of Texas, Berkeley and Harvard Alumni Association. He has helped launch over 200 new products marketed by direct selling companies around the globe. He can be contacted at 480-968-6199, The Sheffield Group, 2239 N. Hayden Road, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ. 85257, website address: www.sheffieldnet.com.

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