When you really need large groups of customers and distributors in your direct selling company to know something as quickly as possible, what means of communication do you use?
It used to be that you would pick up the phone and call them. But then people started screening or ignoring their calls, only returning the messages they really cared about.
Along came email. It seemed like the perfect way to reach even large groups of people in just seconds. And for a long time, people really did respond to emails, even if they were ignoring their phone calls.
But then people reached the saturation point with email. Rather than opening our inbox first thing in the morning with a sense of eager anticipation, I think most of us are just going down the list trying to delete as many messages as we possibly can.
In fact, companies are lucky to get even a 20% open rate for their emails nowadays. I’m not just talking about the direct selling industry—I mean everyone.
Blame the spammers if you want. Or blame the short modern attention span. But people are tuning out email.
Where does that leave us?
Perhaps you’ve tried sending messages to your distributors through your back-office software, in the hopes that they’ll cascade these messages down to customers.
It’s a great idea in theory, but here’s the reality: I’ve never seen a direct selling company that has more than about half of its distributors actually using the back-office software they’ve been given.
You might reach your top couple of tiers that way. But most of the lower-level sales reps aren’t even logging on consistently. They tend to find MLM software complicated and time-consuming to use.
So you clearly need a communication tool that meets your people where they’re at in life and gets your message across without requiring too much of them.
Now, with all the hype about how Millennials are taking over the workforce, you may be tempted to focus on a tool that your youngest people will find appealing. What about launching a cool app that will grab Millennials’ attention right on their iPhones?
There are a couple of problems with this approach. First, according to our analysis of 60 million direct selling distributors, 50 to 60% of your new sales will actually come from people who do not use the tools their company has provided for them.
And second, Baby Boomers and Generation X still account for a huge percentage of the typical direct selling business’ sales reps and customers.
So the question remains: how can you get your message out to your sales reps and customers using technology that everyone (of all ages) is already comfortable with?
The answer isn’t exciting, but it is practical: text messaging.
Text messaging started off as something just the cool kids were doing. It has slowly but steadily become a mainstream mode of communication.
Yeah, the teens are still using it (and ignoring their email). But you’ll also see 92-year-old grandmothers get text message reminders about their doctor appointments, and they have no difficulty in replying “YES” to confirm.
People receive text messages immediately, wherever they happen to be, and they tend to take action rather than letting matters fall off the screen. Texting is a great way to keep your direct selling company informed.
A word of warning, though: you have to be targeted with what you send. If we bombard our people with text messages, they’ll start ignoring them just like they did with email and voicemail.
Many of your sales reps are only selling your products part-time as a way of getting cash in hand. They don’t want or need constant “updates” from your company. So send them alerts only about the most valuable opportunities they should be focusing on, or about the people in their downline who most need their attention right now.
Before you can figure out how to be targeted in your texting, of course, you need to find out more about your sales reps and customers. By developing behavioral profiles and finding out who in their upline has the greatest influence over them, you can create very specific, individualized text messages.