I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Great leaders are born not made.” I could not disagree with that statement more. Sure, there are particular types of individuals that seem ready to run for office by the time they hit their teenage years, but the truth is that the vast majority of the greatest leaders in the world – ever – have all served their time, learned the ropes, and developed new leadership skills along the way. I myself have been coaching leaders for over twenty years, and I know you can learn to be a great (or better) leader.
So, whether you are just starting out as a direct sales representative, or are already a top leader in your company, there are always new tools to find, learn, and weave into your leadership style. Let’s take a look at seven of the most important qualities that I teach and you will need if you want to lead your direct sales team to success.
1. It’s Never About The Money
I know, I know – ask the vast majority, and they will tell you people get into direct sales and party plan businesses to make a whole bunch of money. While this is certainly a motivator for every leader I’ve ever worked with, I’ve found it’s not the main driver for any of the best leaders in our industry. The most effective leaders are all about the people on their teams and helping them make a difference in their lives by finding success with their companies.
Many direct sales leaders are working moms who just want to make some extra cash to help with the cost of raising their kids. There are the people that want to make a difference and do amazing things for charity. There’s also the person who just loves using the products, starts out as a host, and wants to be a hobbyist so they can get the products at a discount. As a leader, it’s important to understand that not everyone will get into your business to be a full time representative, not everyone will be as driven by money as you might be, and to respect that and mentor them accordingly. The key to great leadership is to find the right incentive for each individual person and treat them as each situation demands.
2. People Skills Are Essential
As I’ve outlined above, you will meet people from all walks of life in your direct sales career. You need to be able to find some common ground with all of them if you want to drive your business forward: everyone from your customers to your team members and managers. Treat everyone with respect and do it with a smile. You’ll be surprised at how something that simple can totally change your interactions with people. Struggling to connect with someone or feel that you aren’t that comfortable with meeting new people? Why not give yourself some practice time in a non-business environment? Take a leaf out of the security service’s training program, which involves sending new recruits out to meet anyone in a bar or restaurant, and just start chatting with them. Try doing something like this with the simple goal of getting to know the other person, not even bringing up your business or asking anything of them beyond, “How many kids to you have?” Even if you are an introvert, you’ll soon pick up some of the small talk skills that can help you break down barriers and warm up a new prospect with ease.
3. Focus on Being Positive
You want your team to be energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate about their businesses, so it’s vitally important to offer the same attitude and outlook to them. There will be times when you feel stressed, tired, and burnt out. But making a choice to have a positive attitude, even in those moments, can make an enormous difference, not just helping to inspire your team, but also to make you feel better. Keep telling yourself why you are in the business, and think of constant, positive reminders of why you love doing what yo do so much. It will help you carry on through tough times, ride through storms, and drive your team on to success.
4. Unlock Potential
As a direct sales professional, you live and die by your results. In this game, those results will largely come down to how well the team you assemble performs. As I mentioned earlier, everyone on your team will have different motivations for being there, but it’s down to you as the leader to ensure you help them unlock their potential. The more successful they become in their businesses, the better results you can expect for your business – it’s that simple.
5. Practice What You Preach
If you want your team to play within the rules, you have to do the same yourself. It’s vital that you understand the rules and regulations of your business and industry. Step outside of them for any reason and you could end up in serious trouble. If you are working for direct sales company, you are an independant consultant and basically “run” your own business. They provide most of the business structure you need, but they also have some specific rules that you agree to live by when you sign your contract (so make sure you read it). They have to protect their brand so could have rules about how and what you can post on social media, how you sell their products, etc.
If you plan to branch your business out and are possibly using employees for support (like an administrative assistant), it’s a little more complicated. When you employ people, you need to be aware of all the terms and conditions, and the more people you have on your books, the more complicated it becomes. An employment law specialist or a third party HR company might be able to help and there is more information about this service here.
6. Communication is Essential
If you have made it to the leadership stage already, there’s every chance you are already a good communicator – in person, at least. In this day of social media and online communication, however, communicating verbally and in person isn’t enough. You need to be relatable in writing via email, a website, and on your marketing materials. A clear and consistent tone of voice across all channels will serve you well here, both in outlining goals and expectations and inspiring people to join you. The actions you take as a leader also communication loudly and clearly to your team. Part of your job as a good leader is to model good leadership behavior for them. It’s not enough to tell people what to do. You have to walk your talk. That means having a balance between your life and business, not working until all hours of the night or letting your business take over your life, keeping your calendar booked, and coaching your hosts. All of the things you expect from your team. Credible leadership involves winning trust and setting an example – two of the most important things to communicate to your team.
7. Keep it Simple Stupid
The Keep It Simple Stupid – or KISS – principle is a method used by technology designers, based on the theory that systems perform best when they are easy to use. But it’s also a handy acronym to remember when you are in the midst of a million and one different tasks. Great leaders know how to prioritize and also how to break things down into manageable chunks. When your business is looking incredibly complicated, it can be easy to lose yourself in the myriad of “to dos” on your plate. If you can take a step back and look at each obstacle with a fresh pair of eyes however, you will find they are a lot easier to overcome. Don’t sweat the small stuff, either. You know, those little issues that often take a long time to sort out but ultimately don’t give you much return.
So, do you think you have what it takes to be a great leader? To be strong, polite, humble, yet bold? If you are hardworking, thoughtful, passionate and fun, there are plenty of opportunities for people like you in the direct sales industry. To make it as a great leader, you’ll need to embrace learning, setting an example, and develop a steely focus to achieve your business aims. You should also be prepared to get involved and get your hands dirty when required – now more than ever, our industry doesn’t have room for desktop managers. Ultimately, you’ll need to be the kind of person you would want to follow, learn from, and be inspired by. If you can get that right, nothing can stop you from achieving plenty of success in the future.
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Julie Anne Jones is a sought after keynote speaker, online trainer, and corporate business consultant. She’s an accredited life and business coach with over fifteen years of experience speaking on stages across the United States and Canada. Known as “the systems specialist,” Julie Anne can break down any concept into simple, step-by-step, action-oriented training. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and communication tools for business success.
To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read more blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.