Call it “Pop and Drop”. Call it “the cost of doing business.” Call it whatever you like.
We’re talking about attrition in the direct selling industry. And we call it a huge problem.
It stems from a mentality that has pervaded this business from the start. Everyone knows that very few people stick around in direct selling—and so rather than working to get more of these people to stick around, companies fight this relentless tide by recruiting people.
Oh, it works for a while. After all, at last count, there are 7.442 billion people on this planet—and you have to figure that, despite your team’s best efforts, at least a few thousand of them haven’t heard of your product yet.
So you focus on recruiting. That’s an understatement, so let’s try again: you probably put 99% of your effort into recruiting and 1% into retention.
The bigger you get, the bigger the tide of attrition becomes. You have to recruit more and more just to stay ahead of it. But sooner or later, your recruiting efforts will hit a snag. What happens when 20, 30, or even 40% of your people quit every month and your recruiting engine can no longer stay ahead of it?
We live in an ever-smaller world. Thanks to the internet, it’s relatively easy for direct selling businesses to enter—and then saturate—new markets.
Need a boost for your recruiting numbers? Try going into Canada, Europe, Asia, or LATAM. These new markets will give you those sweet recruiting stats you’ve been craving—for a while.
Go for it! Go and grow. But after a while, you’ll see the numbers start to wane, just as they did in the U.S. The longer you wait to face the tides of attrition, the more dependent you’ll become on unsustainable recruiting numbers.
“No matter,” you may think. “We know we only keep 20% of the people who sign on, so we’ll just keep getting 20% of larger and larger numbers.”
Fair enough. As we mentioned, you have more than 7 billion people to cycle through. But at this point, we have to ask a simple question:
Aren’t you exhausted?
Putting constant effort into recruitment is just flat-out frustrating, demoralizing, and tiring. But attracting new team members is essential to the life of a direct selling firm.
We’re not saying you should take a break from recruiting. By all means, keep that pipeline moving. What we’re saying is that you should stop trying to address the attrition problem with more recruiting. (By the way, promotions and broad loyalty programs won’t do it either.)
Let’s look at attrition for what it is: people who started a relationship with your brand, and for some reason, found that their expectations were not being met.
While many of these reasons are not your fault, you’ll find that it’s much more empowering to take responsibility for the experience of every individual who touches your brand than to resort to tired excuses such as: “They didn’t follow our protocols,” “They’re lazy,” or “They were just looking for easy money.”
Taking responsibility also gives you fresh eyes to ask questions such as, “Who are all these people, really? What types of experiences are they looking for and how can we make those happen for more of them?” Of course, this requires you to abandon the notion that any one “system” or messaging will be the master key to turning everyone into a leader. The real “master key” is more like a set of keys that unlock the varying potentials of many different types of people.
So, yeah, attrition is always going to be high in this business. But it shouldn’t be this high.
Because right now, as you sit reading this article, a team member with great potential is thinking of quitting your business.
If you knew who, when, and which key would fit into her lock, you could take steps to keep her just a little bit longer until she gives your business a fair chance.
Better yet, you could put her in touch with the successful team members who have been there, struggled with it, and come out the other side, realizing their full potential.
It bears repeating: attrition is high in this business. But what if, by identifying and addressing the needs of your best people, you could mobilize your network for more than just recruiting and acquisition, but to be there at just the right moment with the right blend of love and attention needed to meet and exceed more people’s expectations and keep them on board?
And what if, by reducing attrition from 80% to just 79%, you could create a 10% boost in your sales?
That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Do you think the direct selling industry has become complacent about attrition? Leave us a comment below.
Want to read more? Check out the article: How to Increase Customer and Field Retention