2017 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling

by Courtney Roush

4 Signs
4 Signs

Click here to order the April 2017 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


“Most people think trust is earned. Here, trust is granted. We wouldn’t have hired you if we didn’t trust you.”

These very words are spoken by Xyngular CEO Russ Fletcher to new hires during the company’s new employee orientation sessions, presented by the four members of its executive team. At Xyngular, one of this year’s Best Places to Work in Direct Selling (see special award supplement included with issue), that statement sets the tone for what’s to come: a culture and a host of perks and benefits that convey an implicit message of trust, a key component of employee engagement. So what kind of impact does it have when an executive not only takes the time to personally welcome a new employee, but also makes a declaration of trust right out of the gate? For starters, a 97.7 percent employee retention rate.

Employee engagement: It’s both a simple concept and a complex dynamic. On the surface, employee engagement refers to satisfaction and happiness, but it is so much more than that. It’s a science that puts hard data around “soft” variables like emotional investment and intent to stay. Examine any high-growth company, and you can count on finding employees who believe their opinions are heard, who know specifically how their jobs contribute to the company’s objectives, who have access to professional development opportunities, and who feel valued by leadership. All too often, a company first learns of an employee’s disengagement with a resignation letter. Earlier intervention through better onboarding, mentoring, professional and personal development, recognition and occasional, but regular, touchpoints with senior leadership could have made a difference.

Engagement is a critical topic because, according to our third-party vendor and research partner Quantum Workplace, which conducted surveys and compiled findings for the 2017 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling contest, those perceptions are directly tied to a company’s bottom line.

For more than 10 years, Quantum Workplace has been conducting in-depth surveys with organizations throughout the world. Along the way, a consistent theme has emerged from their findings: Companies with higher employee engagement see better retention, better productivity, better profits. Based on that knowledge, Quantum, through its in-depth research, has revealed some of the primary drivers of engagement, along with factors that can diminish it.

When we speak of employee engagement within direct selling companies, the contributors and detractors really don’t differ from the business world at large. However, it’s important to note the effect of employee engagement on our ultimate customer: the independent salesforce members we serve. It stands to reason that happier employees mean a happier independent salesforce.

The continued growth of the direct selling channel has created an exciting climate in which talented candidates have …

Click here to read the rest of the article at Direct Selling News.

 

 

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Forces Under 40 2017

by DSN Staff

Click here to order the March 2017 issue in which this article appeared.


DSN is thrilled to showcase the most outstanding young professionals working in direct selling companies today. These honorees represent all aspects of the business—from technology and marketing to finance and field services—and represent the fine talent of tomorrow. We know it is imperative to nurture and encourage the young leaders in our channel in order to secure the brightest future possible for all.

These dynamic young leaders are broadening the scope of the companies they work for as well as our entire channel of distribution. Based upon the enthusiastic nominations of the honorees presented here, the future is bright indeed. The program was open to all full-time professionals working in active direct selling companies who turned 40 years old on or after Jan. 1, 2017. The honorees are presented in alphabetical order with each profile including the thoughts and words of the honoree’s respective company.

We also want to thank our generous sponsors, Avalara and Fossil.


PROFILES:

…. Continue to the Honoree’s profiles.

 

 

DSN Announces the 2017 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling

Building on the positive results from its inaugural year, Direct Selling News has partnered once again with the employee engagement experts at Quantum Workplace to identify the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling. The contest was open to all direct selling companies headquartered in North America and having at least 50 employees.

The 2017 honorees for the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling are listed below in alphabetical order. All of these companies are equal honorees and are recognized collectively as the Best Places to Work within the direct selling channel.

Click here to view the honorees.

 

Tech Investments Help LegalShield Boost Memberships

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LegalShield is moving into 2017 with memberships at an all-time high, thanks in part to a significant investment in new technologies.

Over the course of 2016, more than 500,000 enrolled in the company’s legal plans, which offer unlimited legal advice and what is touted as the industry’s only 24/7 hotline, for members needing emergency assistance. The Oklahoma-based company also offers a subscription-based service for small businesses. As it enters the new year, LegalShield is serving more than 1.6 million member accounts.

The company’s sizable growth over the past year dovetailed with the launch of several new digital products and services, foremost among them the new-and-improved LegalShield App. The tool enables users to contact a law firm, prepare a will or process a parking ticket with all the ease of placing a mobile order at Starbucks. In the words of LegalShield’s CEO, Jeff Bell, “The LegalShield App is a game changer, because it puts your law firm in the palm of your hand.”

Two additional apps introduced in 2016 are helping the company reach new audiences. The Shake by LegalShield app allows users to create—at no cost—legal forms tailored to their specific U.S. state or Canadian province. The in-house team behind Shake also created Ask by LegalShield, which provides answers to more than 1,500 common legal questions.

The company’s focus on digital initiatives was reinforced by the November promotion of David Coffey to Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer. Coffey, formerly LegalShield’s Chief Media Director, has been tasked with leading a continued expansion of online marketing.

Q&A: CEO Jeff Bell on LegalShield’s Latest Offerings

In the first quarter of 2016, LegalShield recorded its strongest quarterly performance since Jeff Bell stepped into the role of CEO two years ago.

That was one of many achievements celebrated at LegalShield’s annual convention this week in Oklahoma City, where it hosted 10,000 independent Associates from across North America. During the event, the legal services provider also recognized 13 new lifetime million-dollar income earners, introduced a new ring recognition program and awarded nearly $1.5 million in bonuses. DSN recently spoke to Bell, a sales and marketing veteran whose career has included stints at Microsoft and Chrysler, about LegalShield’s recent growth and the slate of new tools and services coming in 2016.

DSN: LegalShield is rolling out several new technology-based products and plans this year. Entering 2017, will this look like a different kind of company?

JB: I think the answer is yes, and I want to take a step back because in one way we’re unique in the direct selling and network marketing arena. I learned just this year that for the longest time the model was summarized by the slogan, “Wear the button, share the sample, show the plan.” I think one of the reasons we struggled to fit in is because we didn’t have a sample. … If you think about, for instance, skincare or food supplements like nutrition bars or powders, those things can be handed out. … What we’ve created is almost an ethereal concept. We tell people, “Hey, don’t pay a lawyer by the hour. Join our community, and with a monthly membership you can talk to a lawyer on any issue, and the meter’s not running. You’re not paying by the hour.” People find it interesting, but still kind of theoretical.

Now, we have the LegalShield App. Our Associates can pull out their phone, tap the app, and there it is—a press of the button will call your law firm. It knows who you are. This last week we added the Snap by LegalShield feature, which handles parking tickets by automatically sending a photo on to the law firm for processing. So now we suddenly have our sample. That’s a huge breakthrough. … That’s probably been the biggest change for us, but in many ways it’s back to the future—we’re becoming more like the direct selling and network marketing industry.

DSN: This evolution dates back at least to LegalShield’s acquisition of tech startup Shake Inc. in April 2015. What was the strategy there, and how has it enhanced the business thus far?

JB: Our first LegalShield App came out in fall 2014, and it was very simple. It made a phone call. It knew who you were as a member and it knew your law firm. Start simple, start small. With the acquisition of Shake Law, we added a really powerful functionality, which is the ability to create forms on your mobile phone or on the web, for free. We have added one significant benefit to what they originally envisioned, in that all the forms are prepared by the law firms in each of our U.S. states or Canadian provinces. Shake by LegalShield first asks you what state or province you’re in, and then the forms presented are specific to those jurisdictions. Additionally, we understand a do-it-yourself approach is taken by many because they think they can’t afford to pay a lawyer by the hour. We let them know the benefit of consulting a lawyer in preparing that form and some of the downside risks of going it alone, and then introduce the concept that they can join our community for as little as $17.95. …

The other thing the Shake team—located in Manhattan’s Little Italy—has done for us is launch an all-new app called Ask by LegalShield, which provides answers to more than 1,500 common legal questions. That app has already generated a lot of memberships for us. … Both Shake and Ask are prospecting tools for our Associates. Whenever they send an invitation to download those apps, they are deep linked. If someone decides to become a member after trying the app, that commission is attributed back to the referring Associate. We feel really good about the potential for these tools to raise awareness and close membership sales. We’ve had more than 200,000 downloads of the app, which in the app business is an awful lot.

Read more from our conversation with Bell in the August issue of DSN.

LegalShield Adds Two to Board of Directors

LegalShield on Tuesday announced two new board appointments, including company CEO Jeff Bell and Pete Jarvis, Vice President of technology solutions firm TidalScale.

The new additions to the board will replace outgoing directors Gil Anderson, CEO of Allant, and Frank Sowinski of LegalShield investor MidOcean Partners.

Prior to joining the legal services provider in 2014, Bell was a partner at venture capital firm NCT Ventures. He also has extensive experience in marketing and corporate leadership, having served—and earned numerous accolades—as Vice President of Global Marketing at Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (maker of Xbox) and Vice President of…

Click here to see the full article at Direct Selling News.

 

Direct Selling News Announces the 2016 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling

For the first time ever, Direct Selling News has partnered with the employee engagement experts at Quantum Workplace to identify the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling. The contest was open to all direct selling companies headquartered in North America and having at least 50 employees.

The 2016 honorees for the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling are listed below in alphabetical order. All of these companies are equal honorees and are recognized collectively as the Best Places to Work within the direct selling channel.

Click here to see the list of honorees.

LegalShield Institutes ‘Harland C. Stonecipher Day’ Honoring Company Founder

Photo: East Central University’s Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business.


LegalShield declared Tuesday its inaugural “Harland C. Stonecipher Day” and hosted a public reception honoring the life and work of the company’s late founder. The day marked the anniversary of Stonecipher’s passing in 2014.

Congressman Tom Cole, State Sen. Susan Paddack, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby were among the guests who gathered at LegalShield’s Ada, Oklahoma, headquarters. Stonecipher founded the legal services firm in 1972 after an automobile accident, though no fault of his, left him in financial ruin. In its mission to provide “equal access to equal justice,” LegalShield offers identity protection beginning at $9.95 a month and legal representation beginning at $20 a month.

“Harland was truly an innovator, way ahead of his time,” LegalShield CEO Jeff Bell said in a statement. “Decades before ‘disruptive economy’ and ‘collaborative consumption’ entered the vernacular, Harland created a new business model that enabled people to access lawyers without worrying about the clock, by aligning provider law firms and members around the same goal: finding a fast, efficient, and effective resolution to legal matters.”

Stonecipher’s passion for entrepreneurship helped the company build its network of independent Associates to more than 280,000 today. LegalShield also employs about 700 at its offices in Oklahoma, Texas, and New York City, and provides legal services to more than 3.7 million people. In a statement, the company said early next year it will roll out the Harland C. Stonecipher Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, recognizing individuals who lead with vision commitment, courage and hard work.

For his achievements at LegalShield, Stonecipher received multiple awards in his lifetime. Ernst & Young named him its 2002 Southwest Master Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2005, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reappointed him to a two-year term on its 100-person board of directors. Stonecipher’s alma mater, East Central University, recognized him as Distinguished Alumnus in 1987.  He and his wife, Shirley, later endowed a gift to the university, which memorialized him through its Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business.

John Addison Joins LegalShield Board of Directors

After stepping down as Co-CEO of Primerica earlier this year, industry veteran John Addison is joining LegalShield’s board of directors, the legal services provider announced Monday.

Addison, who also sits on Primerica’s board, is the non-executive Chairman of Primerica Distribution. He transitioned to the role in April, after 33 years with the financial services distributor. Formerly a part of Citigroup, Primerica conducted a successful IPO in 2010 under the leadership of Addison and Co-CEO Rick Williams.

“John Addison is not only an industry pioneer who understands our business; he also sits at the vanguard of people development and motivation,” LegalShield CEO Jeff Bell said in a statement. “We are combining best-in-class leadership with an industry-leading suite of products, creating a business that truly helps people.”

After more than 40 years in the business, Oklahoma-based LegalShield has built a membership of 1.4 million covering 3.7 million lives. Independent Associates market the company’s 24/7 legal counsel and identity theft protection to businesses as well as individuals. Currently, upwards of 34,000 companies offer the LegalShield plan to employees as a voluntary benefit.

Addison’s relationship with LegalShield began in 1997, when he met the company’s late founder, Harland Stonecipher. “Harland always said LegalShield exists to serve a mission greater than itself—equal access to equal justice—something that matters now more than ever. I am very proud to be a part of this company,” said Addison.

In the past year, LegalShield has taken steps to enhance its digital presence, including an overhaul of the company’s websites and the launch of three new mobile apps, providing legal advice to the general public and more extensive services for members. In April, LegalShield acquired the assets of Shake LLC, owner of the Shake app, which enables users to create and manage legal contracts from their smartphones. Business Insider named Shake one of the Top 11 App Developers to Watch in 2014.

The Future of Direct Selling in the U.S.

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the October 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Direct selling in the United States is undergoing a transformation fueled by innovative approaches rooted in classic business practices. The power generators leading the way for direct selling as a channel of distribution can be found in what Direct Selling News has identified as the upper middle market: those companies with annual sales roughly between $300 million and $1 billion.

Because most direct selling companies are privately held and many decline to disclose their financial results, it is difficult to create a definitive list. Our research honed in on a group of more than 30 U.S.-based companies, most of which are experiencing significant growth. Some of them are on the cusp of reaching $300 million, and some likely have recently passed the $1 billion mark. But together they are critical to direct selling’s competitiveness and future. They tend to be among the fastest growing when it comes to revenue, and they account for a large slice of the job creation pie.

An in-depth analysis of this group reveals a high level of consistency when it comes to executing on key common strengths. The ability of these companies to focus in on products, customers, serving their salesforce and creating a culture that reinforces a sense of family put them on track to shape the future of direct selling in the U.S.

Companies emphasize each area in different ways, but in general these leaders:

  • Harness data. The upper middle market knows how to mine the data it has to gain insights that lead to more and better sales. Executives train leaders and consultants to use data to open doors that might otherwise remain closed.
  • Stay true to classic business practices. Technology and social media do not replace person-to-person interactions, they complement them. Upper mid-market firms build relationships with customers that maintain the consultant-client affiliation but also allow the customer to have a connection with the company itself.
  • Use compensation plans that span all levels of engagement. To cultivate trust and long-term relationships, comp plans are created to appeal to new customers, product enthusiasts, fierce advocates and influencers—all the way up to the entrepreneur who is all in. Payments also follow a more modern schedule.
  • Foster an entrepreneurial spirit. Consultants are allowed and encouraged to go far with personal marketing (think YouTube videos) while maintaining brand identity. Companies deliver superior and frequent training and messaging to make this happen.
  • Maintain a laser-focus on selling. The sale of a product, a group experience or an opportunity all lead to more sales, which generate positive results.

No matter the specific approach, one thing all upper middle market companies excel at is …

Click here to read the full article at Direct Selling News.