Impacting Millions Worldwide
Supplier of the Month

Money Maker's Monthly

by Money Maker's Monthly Staff Writers


The many faces of The Sheffield Group:

  • The Compensation Plan Experts
  • Corporate MLM and Party Plan Start-up Specialists
  • New Product Sourcing Agents or Product Line Analysts
  • Distributor Recruiting Systems Gurus
  • Internal Operations Experts
  • Multi-Level Marketing Consultants

I f you are in the direct selling and network marketing industry, the odds are you have heard of The Sheffield Group and its founder Mike Sheffield. After all, the Sheffield firm is the largest and best known direct sales and network marketing consulting firm in the world. But, as emphasized by Sheffield, "Our Company is more than Mike Sheffield, it's a team. It's more than just a team of Multi-Level Marketing Consultants, it's an alliance of the best experts available in the industry."

The Sheffield Group means many things to many different people, depending on you or your company's needs. So, how does the company view itself? As being "extremely diversified", according to Sheffield. "We are known as 'the compensation plan experts by some.' To others, we maybe viewed as 'the corporate MLM and Party Plan startup specialists,' 'new product sourcing agents' or 'product line analysts,' 'distributor recruiting systems gurus' or' internal operations experts.' The truth is, we are all of these things and more."

To readers of this article, the founder of this issue's "Support Company of the Month" needs little introduction. In fact, over the last twelve years, millions of readers have relied on his popular "Product of the Month" column to help evaluate "what's hot" in MLM products and business opportunities. As a product expert, he has focused on the most current and unique product offerings and their accompanying marketing concepts, placing a special emphasis on the technologies that expand independent distributors' business-building capabilities.

While much of Mike Sheffield's acclaim as one of the leading experts on the emerging new MLM and direct selling trends was gained on his own, he attributes the dynamic-growth experienced by his company over the last few years to a team of some of the most experienced professionals in the network marketing industry. He is quick to give them credit as the new power behind The Sheffield Group's continued success in helping hundreds of entrepreneurs start their own MLM companies, including some of today's most successful ones.

New clients range from under-capitalized entrepreneurs with a dream to some of the largest and most well-capitalized companies in existence. Large or small, when new clients meet with the high-energy team based out of Tempe, Arizona, they immediately gain access to the "One Source Resource". This is part of the Sheffield vision: to gather the best in synergistic client-centered benefits and services under one roof. The concept offers companies and entrepreneurs from domestic as well as international markets, a one-stop-shopping approach to fulfilling their company needs. To stay competitive, corporate owners are constantly striving for speed, flexibility and innovation. The "One Source Resource" approach addresses these client needs on a broad scale that has been acclaimed as the system of choice for an impressive number of corporate clients. Sheffield clients benefit from a success and longevity ratio that goes far beyond the industry average, as well as problem-solving capabilities that save clients time and money while reducing risk of failure.

It has been said, "There are few assets in business quite so valuable as scar tissue, although it's generally not very pleasantly acquired." The fact is, only about one in ten network marketing companies that start actually survives for more than two years. So, if you could find someone who's already been down the road you're about to travel, once, twice or even three times, you could scarcely do better than to make that person your partner. But, what if you could find someone who had already traveled that road hundreds of times? What if there was an entire team of experts who had already successfully navigated the route you must follow, and who make a business of serving as guides for expeditions just like yours? Wouldn't it make sense to put them on your team? The Sheffield Group is just such a team.

In addition to this core team, the firm has a substantial network of associate consultants that it calls in for special projects. The combined team has all of the experience required to meet the most challenging client demands.

The Sheffield Group has helped launch and/or consulted with more than 500 MLM companies during its 16-year history, with a success rate several times that of the industry as a whole. Certainly the people who make up this unique firm are a big part of the reason behind the success of its client's. But there's more to it than just the people and their experience. They have created a system that identifies the steps necessary for creating a successful MLM company, and avoiding the fatal traps that ensnare most companies. They've carefully analyzed those companies that made a go of it in our industry, and those that didn't. They've discovered the secrets of success and put them into a straightforward and simple system.

"Even under the best of circumstances," says Sheffield, "creating a successful network marketing company is a tough challenge, and an expensive venture. By giving our clients a step-by-step system for creating and launching their companies, we multiply their prospects for success. By helping them avoid many costly mistakes, we usually save them more than we charge. And when they hit, the payoff for our clients is enormous."

In addition to start-ups, The Sheffield Group also works with established businesses. "We often have people come to us who are trying to regain control of their companies," says Sheffield Executive Consultant Jeff Jordan. "They may have lost their momentum and need something new to recharge their business, such as a new compensation plan, marketing strategy, distributor recruiting system or sizzle product. We take a systematic approach, assess what needs to be done, and help them do it. We're committed to making their business work."

The Sheffield System for Success
Over the last few years, the Sheffield team has developed a "system for success" that can be customized to fit each client's needs. The system includes many things, but for this discussion, we'll concentrate on three of their most requested service — compensation plan design, strategic planning with their Business Plan Blueprint, and new distributor recruiting system development.

Compensation Plan Development
The support services that accompany the comprehensive compensation plan development have been developed over a period of years to help assure compensation plan success.

Components of the compensation plan include:

  • A detailed explanation of the plan for use in the company distributor manual.
  • Glossary of terms and definitions to help corporate management and distributors understand the plan.
  • Work with selected MLM legal counsel to assure the plan meets necessary legal standards.
  • Develop detailed documentation for use by the selected computer software company.
  • Create compensation plan marketing strategies and tactics to properly promote and excite potential company distributors.

The Business Plan Blueprint
Every Sheffield client seeking to start a new MLM business is encouraged to participate in an intensive two-day planning session that results in a day-by-day, task-by-task "blue print" on how that company can achieve its goals.

The purpose of this session is to prepare a "road map" for the client company's pre-launch, launch or even re-launch activities. During this meeting The Sheffield Group gains additional insight and understanding of the anticipated corporate culture, profit centers, marketing strategies, and overall mission and business philosophies of the company executive team. This face-to-face interaction enables the Sheffield team to determine creative ways to prepare the most appropriate business plan concept, marketing systems, compensation plan structure and recruiting campaign for the client.

The session begins with an analysis of the values around which the company must be built — customer values, distributor values, employee values and owner values. A one-to-one correlation is established between these sets of values and the areas of the plan. For instance, the product plan most appropriately addresses customer values. Distributor values are considered for the marketing plan. The operations plan is built around employee values, and the owners' values determine the financial plan.

To create each plan, the Sheffield team and the company begin with a mission, and establish specific goals. Then, a set of four or five strategies is decided upon by which those goals will be accomplished. For each strategy, the team and the company define the tactical steps to be taken. Ultimately, each tactic will be broken down into specific tasks, which will then be charted, along with the assignment of authority and responsibility for that task. Finally, a project calendar will be established.

Topics typically covered in the Product Plan include the following:

  • Definition of the company's centerpiece product or service as well as current and future product line extensions.
  • Discussion of product sourcing, costs, pricing and margins.
  • Examination of production lead times and inventory requirements.
  • Review of competitive products and determination of how the company's products are to be positioned in the marketplace.

A key exercise is the development of the product story, which will serve as the foundation of product presentations.

The Marketing Plan discussions include the following:

  • Definition of the target market.
  • Development of an appeal, or core marketing message.
  • Creation of a simple and duplicable selling system for distributors to follow.
  • Discussion of an appropriate type of compensation plan, and preliminary conceptual design of the compensation plan.
  • Development of a plan for recruiting front-line distributors and launching the marketing program.
  • Creation of an advertising and promotion strategy.
  • Discussion of an awards, incentives and recognition program and event strategy.

The Operations Plan discussions include the following:

  • Creation of an ideal organizational chart based on pre-launch or launch phase as well as in the company's future growth.
  • Definition of job descriptions, skills required, and industry standards of compensation.
  • Examination of computer system (MIS) needs and costs
  • Appropriate standard operating procedures (systems)
  • Development of transaction flow chart.

The Financial Plan discussions include the following:

  • Help establish realistic revenue and expense projections.
  • Cash flow analysis and budgets.
  • Examine owner-exit strategies.

Finally, all of the plans are tied together in a critical path, including an analysis of potential bottlenecks, definition of methods for assuring proper communication among members of the team and fallback positions in case things don't go as planned.

Key Distributor Recruiting System
The Sheffield Group has developed a powerful system for attracting experienced MLM leaders who may become vested with the title and special benefits of a presidential founder upon meeting certain production requirements during the company's pre-launch phase. This is the key element in the Sheffield recruiting system development plan designed to build quick recruiting momentum and cash flow during the pre-launch phase of the business.

Product Sourcing
How often do you see a valuable service being offered for free in any industry? Usually, there's at least some sort of catch that you'll encounter sooner or later. When The Sheffield Group announced to direct sales and network marketing executives in the United States and abroad that they would scan the market for the most attractive products, and new product trends, and relay this information to anyone that wanted it — for free — some executives were looking for the catch. They found none. Product sourcing continues to be a free service offered by Sheffield.

The Global Challenge and Opportunity
"The industry is changing," says Sheffield. "The state of the economy is driving people from big corporations to the unemployment line. People within those ranks who are visualizing the entrepreneurial opportunities, are swarming to home-based business opportunities. And, constantly evolving high-tech tools such as the Internet are making it possible for a person to build a nationwide and worldwide business simultaneously."

Direct selling and network marketing are booming internationally. Many corporate owners in the United States have realized that the domestic market, even though it is still huge, has matured considerably compared to the opportunities offered in overseas territories. The successful leaders in their distributor organizations also demand that their MLM-home offers a strategic plan and rollout program for a true global expansion. Domestic success alone often does not satisfy the serious network marketers in America. Distributors are looking for a real global presence, and they expect to prosper both at home and abroad.

The Sheffield Group has already made an impact on millions in many nations — Canada, Mexico, South America, China, Japan, Russia, and most of the European countries. The global entrepreneurial explosion and staggering innovation in new technology has led the company to develop systems and alliances that can address the new opportunities and challenges in an efficient manner.

The reputation of The Sheffield Group's President Michael Sheffield in international circles is strong. In 2,000, in his role as chairman of the Multi-Level Marketing International Association (MLMIA), he was invited to a private meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, to discuss entrepreneurship and free enterprise for the Russian people. Then, in a presentation near Moscow's Red Square, they shared the platform to address over 4,000 independent MLM distributors in attendance from around the world along with government officials from Russia and China. According to Sheffield, "I felt I had been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was critical that I said the right thing. I was not only representing the MLMIA and our entire industry but I was representing our country. I selected my words carefully." The words spoken by Sheffield at this historic event were obviously popular since he received a standing ovation. You can see details of this meeting in Russia at the company web site at www.sheffieldnet.com.

Again in 2,000 Sheffield made history in Beijing China by meeting with government officials and the ambassadors to China from 38 countries including many where the concept of free enterprise is just beginning to blossom. This opportunity was made possible by one of Sheffield's largest clients based in China where he had been invited to address several thousand of their key distributors. His message on the long- and short-term benefits of Multi-Level Marketing was received with great enthusiasm.

Transforming Minds and Opinions
As you may know, Sheffield has been acclaimed as a writer, lecturer, opinion maker and problem solver in the industry for years. His articles have been published both domestically and abroad. By engaging in these efforts, The Sheffield Group's business philosophy is being shared with millions of independent distributors, as well as thousands of the corporate executives that take part in shaping the future of the industry. It is this expertise that has made him one of the most sought-after people to serve as an expert witness in industry related legal cases.

Over the past few years the company has also teamed up with The Institute For Strategic Forecasting (IFSF), a private-public partnership between California State University San Marcos and California Lutheran University as well as the University of Texas El Paso. The Sheffield Group has extended significant funding to support academic studies on direct selling and network marketing.

Says Dr. Harry A. Domicone, director of IFSF, "Though we have known for some time that small and entrepreneurial enterprises provide a significant economic impact, many traditional institutions of higher learning have only recently begun to redesign their curriculums to reflect this reality. It is imperative that colleges and universities continue to put into place academic and professional programs that are designed to better equip current and future entrepreneurs with the skills and tools they will need for success. These are the men and women upon whom we will increasingly depend to face the growing global competition and other challenges confronting businesses in the new millennium. The Sheffield Group's support of the development of these professional programs is an invaluable encouragement. It enables us to transform the minds of the academic community, as well as public opinion, to realize the impact direct sellers and network marketers will have on our economy in the future."

Conclusion
In each industry, there are individuals and their companies who define and shape that industry. Mike Sheffield has accomplished much the same thing in the network marketing and direct sales arenas. The Sheffield name is synonymous with the highest standards of the industry. And, he is respected by his peers. In their new book, Network Marketing for Dummies, co-authors Zig Ziglar and John P. Hayes, Ph.D., speak of Sheffield, "All the consultants quoted throughout this book are excellent resources about network marketing, or they wouldn't be in the book! Perhaps the best known of these consultants is Michael Sheffield. His agency helps as many as 40 companies get started in network marketing every year, so if you want to know what's new, he's the man to contact."

Perhaps most importantly, for the industry as a whole, is the fact that Sheffield has built a system and a team that will allow The Sheffield Group to continue to impact millions of people worldwide in years to come.

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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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