Processes over Personality: Build Systems to Achieve and Maintain Growth

by Paul Adams

Click here to order the April 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


A company executive tells me they have a “GREAT rep.” He is killing it—making lots of money and bringing lots of people into the organization. Then, in the next sentence, the exec tells me the company just isn’t growing as they would like or have expected, and they can’t figure out why.

OK, I’m no genius, but something doesn’t seem connected between those two things. Almost always, the reason for slow or no growth when there is a top rep who is “doing great” is that the rep is doing something that is not repeatable. Often, from the outside, the example the GREAT rep is setting makes it look way too difficult, and others cannot “see themselves” doing it.

And the problem continues because the executive in charge of the company is catering to this GREAT rep and not creating tools and systems that more people can utilize. I just don’t understand…

If the exec truly believes that more people should be successful in the company, why won’t he explain to the GREAT rep that in order for more people to succeed, things have to change? The reality is that processes, systems and tools are the things that will support true success, not one rep, even a “great” one who is successful—but not duplicable. Sadly, it’s sometimes difficult for the executive to see this reality. Why? The answer is usually pretty simple. The exec is likely fearful of two things:

No. 1: Losing the revenue they already have, even if it’s not at all what they think it should be.

No. 2: Losing the rep who has gotten them to this point—even if the GREAT rep will never take them to the next level of success.

Here’s a cold hard fact of life: Often, the people who helped get your company here are not the people who will help you get where you want or expect to go. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. It happens in your corporate structure. It happens on sports teams. It happens everywhere. Growth requires the right people in the right spots, and the right systems, tools and processes to help individuals maximize their efforts.

In my opinion, the executive has two choices. Either let the GREAT rep keep doing what he is doing and let the overall success of the company remain in his hands, or build a system and provide the tools that allow others to succeed. And, get the GREAT rep on board and building like everyone else is expected to. One of these options is scalable and puts the executive back in control of the company.

Without a doubt, as a business continues to grow, executives are approached over and over by independent business owners (IBOs) who say they want to join the organization and bring their knowledge and their way of growing a business into the company’s world. They want to help “explode” the business and reach entirely new and, up to now, unreachable levels of success. All the executive has to do is let them bring their systems into the business and watch it grow.


Franchises are perhaps the closest cousin to the direct selling business model. Do you think McDonalds, 7-Eleven, Chick-fil-A, or any one of the dozens of other franchise businesses allow their new business owners to do it “their way”? Of course not!

I am very sure that during the selection/interview process at Chick-fil-A, if the prospective owner starts talking about how they have better ideas and a better way to run the business, they are turned down as an owner. It’s too important to Chick-fil-A—they simply don’t want a single owner to fail. It’s bad for everyone—the business owner, the company and the brand.

The secret to the success of the franchise model is that it relies completely on the ability of the business owner to follow the predetermined system that will lead them to succeed in their own business. After that, the owner needs to be good at a few other critical things—hiring, firing, scheduling, basic accounting, and so on.

Almost every day, I talk to a high-level executive at a direct selling company that is leaving the process of succeeding in the hands of the IBO. To me, that sounds like playing Russian roulette with the business.

Like franchises, I am completely convinced that success in direct selling is process-driven and systematic. Without a system to teach your newest IBO, you are allowing your old IBOs to run the business. You are completely reliant on their system, their knowledge, their charisma. That’s scary!

My advice to all new companies and any company that doesn’t have a system to teach: Get one! Now! Create a system that teaches consistent prospecting and recruiting, along with business practices.

If you have an existing organization, get the buy-in of your current IBOs so everyone agrees that the system is one that everyone will endorse. At first, it may feel threatening to the current field leaders. It won’t take long to realize it is good for everyone if the entire organization is focused on a unified system.

Then, in the new distributor kit, “hold their hand” and teach that new person what to do first. You wouldn’t teach someone geometry if they don’t know how to add and subtract. So, start with the basics. Teach them what they need to know now—on Day One! If done properly, they will quickly become better and will want to know how to be more effective. Then, explain step-by-step what to do on Day Seven, then Day 14, then Day 30. It is the systematic progression that will get them and keep them successful.

Take the first step. Take control of the business by designing and building the systems to achieve and maintain growth. The investment will be well worth it!

Paul AdamsPaul Adams is Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing for VideoPlus, which is celebrating 26 years of partnering with direct selling companies.


About Direct Selling News
Direct Selling News Magazine has been serving direct selling and network marketing executives since 2004. Each issue of Direct Selling News offers content on topics that shape the dynamics of our industry.

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