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MLM Woman Issue 115
August 2006


From the Desk of the Editor

Welcome to the 115th issue of the MLM Woman Newsletter! This month we bring you 5 more thought provoking articles to help you build your business and keep you inspired.

If you enjoy this month's issue, please be sure to let your friends know about it too and invite them to come and visit us.

Also, if you have comments, questions or something to share after reading this month's issue, please visit our MLMTalk Discussion Forum and join in the lively conversation!

And also be sure to check out our new MLM Marketing Blog for lots of additional tips and resources which are added throughout the month.

Enjoy!

Linda Locke, Editor MLM Woman

What Madonna Has in Common
with Network Marketing
by Cristina Munoz ©2006

Unless you have lived as a hermit these last 30 years no doubt you have heard of Madonna, as she has inspired many of my generation in particular and I want to share a fascinating story about her past that hopefully will help you succeed with your MLM business.

Before I do allow me to share with you all a little bit of background on Madonna. We all know her to be a dancer, impresario, producer, singer, actress, entertainer and artist. For her money comes second and creation comes first. Always has and always will.

What is less well known is the fact she is a successful business woman. So successful she has had senior professors at Harvard Business School beat a path to her door to learn the secret of how she was able to sell 1,500,000 copies of a $50 book in a matter of days.

Madonna is also a successful publisher, music mogul, TV Executive, merchandising magnate and Film Producer. She is one of the richest women on the planet and every inch the self-made tycoon. She's been able to achieve all this and later this year she will celebrate her 49th birthday. Absolutely inspirational considering she started as a girl, barely 17, arriving in New York to study dancing with only a fistful of dollars and some big, massive dreams.

Now let's go back in time to the late 70's. Some of you will remember a big European disco hit called 'Born to be Alive' by Patrick Hernandez. Well that song grossed over 25 million dollars and made Patrick Hernandez a major Disco Star. Well Patrick and also his two managers Belgian TV producers Jean Van Liew and Jean Claude Pellerin arrived in New York looking for dancers who could sing to be back up for Patrick as his voice wasn't that strong.

Madonna attended those auditions and ended up being chosen as the one from 1,500 other hopefuls. Madonna merely 20 years old then found herself in May 1979 moving out of an cockroach invested apartment she shared with another dancer in Greenwich Village onto a plane headed for Paris. She borrowed $15 bucks from a dancer friend and left with big dreams of coming back to New York a huge success.

Well as is the case in most good stories, our heroine had some challenges, as we all do when building our own businesses and things did not turn out as Madonna had hoped. Patrick, Jean and Jean Claude were far more interested in partying and reaping their rewards of their success rather then getting on with their next project.

After only a couple of months it became clear to Madonna that the production was not moving quickly enough for her, so she decided to leave, and decided she wanted to sing and told Patrick before she flew home in July, "Success is yours today, but it will be mine tomorrow."

Now think about that for a moment. What an attitude!

What fascinates me about this story is a few things. The first being that Madonna who was only twenty years old at the time had the guts to leave. The courage to cast her disappointment aside and instead be inspired by Patrick's success.

She could have as most people say, Oh this is too hard, I'm never going to make it, who am I kidding, I'll never be as good as so and so and throw in the towel at the very first hurdle - not Madonna.

Madonna possessed the ability to see time differently from most people. I believe this is key to her success and also key to succeeding with your MLM business. Like Madonna it is key to be able to see beyond your current circumstances and instead see yourself in the future, where you want to be.

Madonna also had an unbreakable sense of her own destiny. She never wanted to be like most people (sound familiar) and even when she was living on popcorn and butterscotch sundaes she would tell people she was going to be somebody one day.

If you add to this the ability she had to be inspired by the successes of others and do the same it will give you the emotional strength, the emotional intelligence to bounce back from countless disappointment and rejection to get where you want to go as well.

Our industry has a lot in common with the Entertainment industry. We have our superstars in our businesses too. Sometimes it can be tough to realise that every successful person started some place less than where they are today. In fact we all started at ground zero and success, especially outstanding financial success takes time, years and years even like it did for Madonna.

So fellow networker when you see someone qualify for the next level in your company or when you see someone breaking records. Be inspired. Be empowered. If they can, you can. Every disappointment, every challenge Madonna faced and over came helped give her the skills she needed to be where she is now. It's no different with us.

So the next time you see excellence in action why not allow that to inspire you too? Why not allow it to empower you to do the same, to carve out your own unique place in this world with your business. Why not embrace the same attitude as Madonna and look your superstars in this business square in the eye and say with conviction and pride, "Success is yours today but it will be mine tomorrow."

Why not? The decision is yours.

About the Author
Learn How Cristina Munoz, a Chronic Back Pain Sufferer on Sickness Benefits (turned network marketer) used ‘Real World’ Business Strategies to get off Sickness Benefits and then Build an Organisation of 4517 members in under 11 Months. Visit her site at: http://www.onlinedreamachievers.com

Know Your Product Line
by Audrey Okaneko

This article is for those people representing direct sales companies that manufacture more than a handful of products. When I speak to folks involved in network marketing, representing companies that do indeed manufacture more than a handful of products, I often ask them if they know their product line.

More often than not, I’ll get an answer of “I can’t afford to buy every product”, or “I don’t use every product”. These answers always strike me as odd as I never asked if all products were bought and used. What I did ask was whether they knew their product line.

It is very hard to sell and sponsor if you are not familiar with what you offer. For example, perhaps you sell a line of dietary supplements. Perhaps you only know about the daily multi vitamin product. Great product, you use it every day. However, you’ve just met Susan, a woman in her 50’s and she is looking for a product that truly addresses middle age and menopause. She has no interest in a daily multi vitamin. If you don’t know your product line, if you can’t tell Susan what you sell and why your product is worth buying, you just may lose her as a potential customer or potential distributor.

Perhaps you sell skincare and makeup products. While you wear makeup daily, you personally don’t use mascara. You’ve never worn it. Now I come to you and tell you my daughter is a swimmer and needs a product that will stay on. You tell me “oh we make a waterproof mascara”. When I ask you how chlorine affects the product, you truly don’t know. You’ve probably just lost the potential sale.

These are just two examples of companies that sell more than a handful of products.

So, if you are not using the products, how can you know them? I have several suggestions. As a team collect testimonials. When you work together as a team, there is a great chance that either a teammate or the customer of a teammate has used the product. Keep sheets of testimonials from each product your company sells. Store them in notebooks. When a potential customer asks about a product, you’ll have a full sheet or even 3 sheets of testimonials. And of course, the more you talk about a product, the more familiar you’ll become with it.

Save any and all literature the company puts out on a specific product. Again, should a potential customer ask about a product, you’ll have company generated information that often will answer the questions of a potential customer.

Ask questions yourself. If you do not see the information on the company website, and you don’t have the information from previous write-ups, contact the company and ask your questions. Be prepared when the potential customer comes to you with questions.

If you don’t use the product, find 5 people who want to use the product and sell it to them at your cost. The catch? They need to write you a testimonial. Or, offer to interview them for your next newsletter. What better marketing tool, than a current customer doing an entire interview on a product you yourself don’t use?

These are just a few suggestions on how you can get to know and sell a product you are not using.

Bottom line is you must know your product line in order to sell it.

About the Author
Audrey Okaneko has been in business since 1983. She can be reached at audreyoka@cox.net or visited at http://www.scrapping-made-simple.com

A "Warm Calling" vs.
"Cold Calling" Rant

By Wendy Weiss


Had another conversation with yet another entrepreneur who told me he does not "cold call," he only does "warm calls."

I continue to be baffled by those who cut off possibilities with a semantic twist. "Cold call, warm call," it's simply a state of mind. Your mind. Your prospect does not make those distinctions. Just because you have designated a call to be "warm" doesn't mean that the person you are calling thinks it's "warm." This "warm call/cold call" concept is a smoke screen that covers the real issue.

The real issue is controlling your message. The real issue is being able to communicate with a prospect so that they understand and resonate with what you have to say. The real issue is about having the skill necessary to communicate with a prospect under any circumstance.

Prospecting by phone, introductory calling as I prefer, is a communication skill. Like any communication skill it can be learned and it can be improved upon. The idea when introductory calling is to contact a qualified prospect and entice them with your message. You have a brief amount of time on the telephone to catch and engage your prospect. If you are not able to do that, the call ends without achieving your desired result. If you have the proper skills, however, it is possible to have extremely productive conversations with prospects no matter how you choose to categorize them, "warm" or "cold."

The idea of a "warm call" is that you've had some prior contact with your prospect and that you have somehow "warmed up" the call. The prior contact might be with a letter sent before your call, it might be that you have encountered the prospect elsewhere it could also be that you have a referral.

All too frequently callers who use the "I only warm call" approach do not adequately prepare for their calls. Instead, they rely on the appellation "warm." If you are one of these callers, stop right here and ask yourself these questions:

--> How many "warm" prospects have said "no" to me over the years?

--> Would those calls have been more productive if I had been better prepared and more in control of my message?

Although you may have sent a letter, you have no guarantee that your prospect has read it. Although you may have met previously, your prospect may not recall that. Although you may have a referral that is no guarantee that your prospect will meet with you or have any interest at all in your products or services.

When you are on the phone with a prospect you must deal with them, where they are, at that particular moment in time. If your prospect hasn't read your letter, doesn't remember the person who referred you, or is simply having a bad day, that's out of your control. What is within your control when prospecting is to have honed your skills so that your message is clear and so that you can respond in any situation.

When you have skills, you know how to catch a prospect's attention, you know how to keep their attention, you know how to respond to questions and objections and you know how to ask for what you want. When you have those skills it's no longer about a "warm" call or a "cold" call, it's about communication, conversation and results.

© 2006 Wendy Weiss

About the Author
Wendy Weiss, "The Queen of Cold Calling," is a sales trainer, author and sales coach. Her recently released program, Cold Calling College, and/or her book, Cold Calling for Women, can be ordered by visiting http://www.wendyweiss.com. Contact her at wendy@wendyweiss.com. Get Wendy's free e-zine at http://www.wendyweiss.com.


Ready for Some Summer Fun?
by Lisa Martin, The Working Mother’s Coach

Children naturally love to play. My son spends most of his waking hours just having fun. Remember how that used to feel? Playing for the joy of it... for pure pleasure.

When you have so many demands on your time, it is easy to forget about finding joy in everyday life. It's easy to get too busy to do the things you enjoy. But it is really important to create the space for fun. Playing restores and reenergizes you. It makes you feel good. When you make having fun a part of your life you can face all other responsibilities with more enthusiasm

When I begin coaching clients I often request that they start doing more things that bring them joy. Unfortunately many clients tell me they can't remember what is joyful for them. When I hear that it always makes my heart sink; but it never surprises me.

In the early '90s I was so busy building my first company I didn't make anytime for fun. All I did was wake up go to work until very late in the evening and then come home and go to bed. My 'Aha' moment came one day while I was waiting for a client to join me for lunch. I overheard the conversation at the table next to me where two women about my age were discussing the great time they had on the weekend. They were reminiscing about a group bike ride and BBQ. I felt empty. I couldn't think of the last time I'd done anything like that. In fact, I couldn't recall the last time I'd done anything fun at all. So, I decided it was about time I started. "Started what?" I thought. The unfortunate reality was I was out of practice. I'd forgotten how to have fun.

One of the best ways to figure out what fun means to you is to think about what you enjoyed doing as a child. For me it was playing in the woods. I grew up in a house situated at the base of a mountain. There was an orchard directly below it and a forest behind. As a child I would spend hours in the woods finding and traversing new trails. When I tapped into that memory I realized that I would really enjoy hiking...a more grown-up version of playing in the trees.

Today I go hiking as often as I can. I just love it. I always feel terrific after getting out and enjoying nature. The wonderful thing is when you start making more time for play you will gain energy, reduce stress, and feel more personal satisfaction.

Pay Attention to the Little Things

Experiencing joy is also about paying attention to the small pleasures in life. If you are aware of the happiness that can be found in each ordinary day, life itself is a celebration. Small, basic things can bring you joy. Notice the smell of fresh coffee, the sound of a child's laughter, and the beauty in a blade of grass. Each day is a great and unique gift.

© Copyright 2006. Lisa Martin. All rights reserved.

About the Author
Lisa Martin is a certified coach who inspires working mothers to achieve success that’s balanced. Author of Briefcase Moms: 10 Proven Practices to Balance Working Mothers’ Lives, Lisa is a sought-after expert and speaker on work-life balance issues. Known for her very personal and practical approach, Lisa coaches working mothers to know what they want and get what they want. A mother herself, Lisa’s powerful presentations and programs have helped thousands of women define success and balance on their own terms. www.briefcasemoms.com

How to Build a Successful
Direct Selling Company

by Jay E. Leisner, Sylvina Consulting

In the United States, almost 2 million new businesses are started each year. People with good ideas and good intentions decide to put their best foot forward. They open their doors for business and hope their businesses stay alive and grow.

There are several hundred direct selling businesses that are launched each year. Some of them are funded well at their birth, others are launched with bridge funding, and many begin with a critical shortage of investment capital at the outset.

It's a rough world out there. Half of new businesses don't make it past their first year and most don't celebrate a 5th anniversary. The odds don't scare many away, so don't let them scare you away, either. A healthy dose of fear, however, can be a good motivator to do the right things to increase your odds of staying in business.

Here are some smart things you can do when building your direct selling company:

Choose a business that is clearly profitable.

For a direct selling business to be profitable, it must have healthy gross margins. With a few exceptions (clothing and food are two of them), the retail price of your products should be at least 5 times the cost of goods sold. Operating a direct selling business with lower margins is possible, but difficult. Companies with smaller margins typically pay out a smaller percentage of sales in commissions and bonuses. With low margins, the income opportunity is less attractive and the company isn't as profitable.

Create a business plan.

Many people think that the sole purpose of a business plan is to secure outside investment capital. This is one of the two purposes. A business plan helps demonstrate that you have thought through the business in detail and can show convincingly that you have a viable, profitable model.

The other purposes are less obvious.

Writing a business plan forces you to think about the seemingly endless collection of details about the business you plan to launch. The exercise of writing the business plan is key to the process of working through the plan as you write it. The pain is worth the gain. You'll see what you know already, and you'll also see what you have yet to learn.

Having a business plan gives you a concise document to share with the consultants you'll contact as resources to help launch your business.

If you have your business model reviewed by a qualified attorney, he or she may ask to see your business plan (and any other documents you've written about your business, such as your compensation plan).

If you choose to engage a business consultant to help you fine tune your business model, having a business plan will save you money in reducing the amount of time the consultant will need to understand and to help you refine your business model.

When the time arrives to make decisions with respect to software, your software company will appreciate reading your business plan for it will help to identify unique requirements that may need to be addressed with software.

Don't view your business plan as a static document, once written, that shouldn't be changed. On the contrary, your business plan should change as you adjust your business model prior to and after the launch of the business.

Secure dependable sources of cash for the business.

Most businesses fail due to undercapitalization. Direct selling businesses are no different. Not having enough cash to address the expenses incurred prior to and after launch is the cause of many business failures.

You should prepare a sales forecast and a budget. These documents, like the business plan, will be prepared initially based on best guesses. Once you've launched the business you'll have real numbers to look back upon, and with these real numbers, your ability to prepare a good forecast and a good budget will be significantly improved.

Before you begin spending big money, you'll need to decide how to fund the business. Will you supply the cash personally, locate multiple outside business partners or investors, or find an "angel investor"? These are tough decisions for many entrepreneurs as their limited cash often accompanies a strong desire to own most or all of the company.

Most product-based businesses become profitable within 18 months to 3 years from launch. Yes, I've seen companies that have been started on a shoestring budget with the plan to be profitable within 90 days. While this is possible (as some companies have achieved this goal), the odds that you will be one of the lucky few are small.

Don't take a lottery approach when starting your business. Yours should be a serious business, not monkey business.

Choose your software carefully.

Making a decision on the purchase or use of software for a direct selling or network marketing company can be a difficult process. Each business is unique with specific requirements that should be considered when evaluating software vendors and their products. Don't assume that you don't have any unique requirements.

On the surface, vendors can look alike, but each has its strengths and weaknesses that are not readily apparent. Take the time to compare vendors and their products. Don't be "wowed" by the bells and whistles. Instead focus on basic functionality and insist upon a track record of successful projects with references you can speak with.

Some companies choose a vendor based on how quickly they can implement a system, assuming all vendors offer the same service and the same product. These are incorrect assumptions.

Selecting a software vendor is much like selecting a spouse. Just as you shouldn't select a mate based on how quickly he or she will marry you, timeliness is not the primary factor to be considered when purchasing software. It is definitely better to choose a software vendor carefully than to make the wrong choice quickly, for the wrong reasons.

Using a consultant to assist with the purchase of software gives companies many strategic advantages. A consultant familiar with software vendors and their products and services can help not only to explain the differences among them, but also to help identify what is most important to the purchaser and to communicate these requirements to the prospective vendors.

For a marriage to work well and last, both parties need to understand how each other thinks. The same goes for the client/vendor relationship. An experienced consultant can help teach the purchaser how to be a good client and can help present the client's needs clearly to the vendor. He or she can provide guidance to both parties and can serve as an intermediary to help negotiate the terms and deliverables in contracts or to resolve disputes.Endeavor to understand your sales force and its retail customers.

Who do you anticipate will be attracted to your business opportunity and who will buy your products? What are their needs and how will you meet them? What will you do to keep them coming back for more?

Understanding the personal goals of those that will become your consultants will help you in building your marketing plan and your commission rules. Identifying and promoting the reasons consumers are attracted to your specific products will help your products to be viewed as even more attractive and needed.

Don't wait for the company's launch to find out what's good and what's not. Before you open your doors, take the time through focus groups to demonstrate the infant versions of your marketing and commission plans. Present the products and obtain feedback through carefully crafted surveys to learn what is liked (and not liked) about them. Then, adjust your business model and your products as needed to make each more attractive.

Determine multiple sources for your products.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you can't purchase enough of your products quickly enough to satisfy demand, your business model will break, your sales reps will flee, and your end consumers will go with them.

To ensure the product leg of your business is strong, whenever possible identify multiple vendors for each product. Explain to your vendors that you anticipate your purchases will increase significantly over time and that you require your suppliers to keep up with you. Locate suppliers who have a track record of keeping up with fast growing companies. If possible, provide incentives to your vendors for meeting your requirements for product quality and quantity and disincentives for failing to do so.

Price your products and services right.

It is almost impossible to make the point that you have the lowest prices and the best quality. Most direct selling companies emphasize quality over price. You should probably do the same.

Products and services sold through direct selling can cost more than similar products sold through other marketing channels, but not that much more. If similar products exist, determine the price ranges of those products (from discount warehouse clubs to the corner store). I recommend that if your products are very similar to those available in traditional shopping venues, your prices should not be more than 25% more than other prices.

If your products today are sold by other direct selling companies, I would be careful not to overprice them.

If your products are unusual and can't be found anywhere else, clearly you have more room in pricing these products.

Ideally, your products should be unique and not readily available anywhere else. Products that require a story or an explanation to understand their use typically do well in direct selling.

Through your focus groups, you can experiment with different price points to see how purchase decisions are affected. Then, you can set your prices at the right price points.

Develop strategies for recruiting.

Companies that wish to grow quicker at launch time typically have a strategy to identify and recruit experienced direct sellers, giving them special roles in exchange for their commitment to heavily promote the business opportunity (and to recruit others) during a pre-launch period and after the official launch of the company.

The definition of "special roles" varies by company. Some will offer to grandfather "exceptional" people at higher than entry level positions in the sales force. Others will offer a monthly stipend as an incentive to join this elite group at the "ground floor" of the company. Some companies will offer both types of incentives.

If you choose to offer special deals, do so only if you require specific performance in order to continue to be paid at the higher level or to receive the monthly stipend. "Pay for performance" should be a clear requirement.

Some companies feel strongly that no special deals should be offered and that each consultant should earn her title and that the compensation program itself is reward enough for the effort put forth.

How will you recruit your initial consultants? Before your official launch, will you seek to build a core team of experienced direct sellers who wish to promote your business opportunity at the outset, or will you build your sales force more gradually?

Plan for change to your business.

Don't view your business as an island. Keep aware of your competition's moves. When I say competition I mean both other direct selling companies (that offer similar business opportunities) and companies that sell similar or identical products.

While looking sideways at your competition, you should also be looking forward to offer innovative products and business opportunity advantages to help differentiate you from others.

Professional consultants can offer you suggestions that you can fine tune for your business model.

Introduce changes to your business infrequently.

While you may have a long list of "cool things" you wish to release to your sales force, temper your enthusiasm with controls that limit the frequency of new announcements and changes that you introduce each year. If you can, announce changes on a quarterly basis as any change to your business (whether good or bad) deflects the focus of your sales force and its end customers from recruiting, selling, and purchasing your products.

Limit your focus.

Decide what kind of business you want to be and then build that business. Keep to your core mission - running a profitable company. Whenever possible, don't introduce new product lines with inferior margins compared to your existing product lines, because your new product line may cannibalize an existing one. If this happens, your sales will stay the same, but your profits will decline.

Before you introduce a new product line, use focus groups to determine the impact of new product introductions on existing product purchases.

Know your limits.

Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of not admitting what they don't know. Their self-confidence can be their own internal enemy. To avoid this trap, surround yourself with people who have skills that you don't have, whether they are business partners, employees, or professional consultants. Let others make recommendations and decisions. View your business as run by a team.

Require performance.

Just as the entrepreneur sets high standards for himself or herself, so should standards be set for performance of business partners, employees, and your sales representatives.

Accountability and rewards for achieving goals should be a key ingredient in all of your agreements with employees (and sales reps, too). Your compensation plan should reward consistent attainment of specific goals.

Conclusion

Your business is a result of your drive to create something significant. Building a business is an exciting but complex endeavor. Pay attention to the details and seek assistance when needed to help you through the rough spots.

About the Author
Jay Leisner is President of Sylvina Consulting, a business and software consulting firm with 20 years of experience working with more than 200 direct selling and network marketing companies. Sylvina Consulting provides a wide range of services to both new companies and established firms. For more information on Sylvina Consulting, please contact Jay at 503.244.8787 or visit www.sylvina.com.

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