Are We Winning?

by John Fleming

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


It’s hard to keep a scorecard on the direct selling industry! Those who tend to look for a way to criticize can always find something. Those of us who see within the industry and have the opportunity to interact with industry decision makers gain much insight and perspective. And this is a time of year to reflect. The corporate scorecard will be the year-end financial statements that will recap the business of the previous year. Businesses will win or lose depending upon the bottom-line numbers of profit or loss and the top-line number of revenue generated in comparison to the prior measurement period. But the question for those of us affiliated with the direct selling industry might be: What is the industry scorecard? Are we winning or are we losing?

Some scorekeepers like Bill Ackman, the hedge fund manager who has specifically targeted Herbalife with venomous attacks on the company’s method of conducting business (direct sales), completes his scorecard based on a set of very personal criteria that leads to an accusation and attack on, in this case, Herbalife in particular. However, this type of scorecard has implications for the entire industry. Direct selling, as a channel of distribution, is executed in many different ways, from what we often refer to as party plan to network marketing, social entrepreneurship, social selling, and social commerce, or even simply person to person. Today, the actual definition of direct selling is so very broad that direct sellers utilize online methods for delivering messages and transacting business as effectively as any channel of distribution.

In response to a scorekeeper like Bill Ackman and his staff, we remind such scorekeepers of the fact that the industry has a formal code of ethics as well as an informal code of ethics. The industry code and the more stringent company codes of ethics serve to govern the manner in which those who utilize the direct selling channel engage both employees of the company and the independent brand partners representing the company’s products, services and business opportunity. Independent contractors are also consumers as it simply makes sense to be your own best customer.


Today, the actual definition of direct selling is so very broad that direct sellers utilize online methods for delivering messages and transacting business as effectively as any channel of distribution.


The formal Code of Ethics is provided by the U.S. Direct Selling Association, and this code is public information. Members of the U.S. DSA pledge to abide by the U.S. DSA Code of Ethics. Many non-members of the U.S. DSA (direct selling companies) have created their own company codes and often use the DSA Code of Ethics as their benchmark. In either case, the direct selling industry overall has done a good job of policing itself and has grown as a channel of distribution to over $30 billion in U.S. revenue and $150 billion in worldwide revenue, generated by approximately 16 million U.S. independent contractors and 90 million worldwide independent contractors.

Every organization and every business has some type of scorecard for reflection on previous-year results and the planning of the new year. It is part of our nature to desire a scorecard to determine if we are winning or losing. Each winter, the NFL hosts the ultimate scorecard in professional football, the Super Bowl, where thousands will witness the final score that determines the best football team of the year. The same process holds true for all professional sports teams and leagues wherever they are located in the world. Hundreds of millions watch these events on television.

Direct Selling News created a scorecard for the direct selling industry when we first published the Direct Selling News Global 100 listing in 2009. Each year, this enormous research project serves to identify the top 100 direct selling companies in the world who certify their revenue performance by submitting the DSN Revenue Certification Form and complete a profile of their company. This process results in the publishing of perhaps the most important scorecard on the industry issued by anyone.

However, there is more to score on a company-by-company basis, and we offer on this page a potential scorecard profile that we believe tells even more of the story about an industry that shows such diversity in its representation of people from all walks of life. Direct selling as a method of distribution provides people with hope and with training to learn the basic knowledge and skills to be able to build a business. This could be a small part-time effort or a more serious effort that not only develops customers but also provides the opportunity to recruit and train others to do this, resulting in a much larger business opportunity. Because a scorecard is so important, we encourage each direct selling company to submit your Global 100 information and profile, as in so doing you participate in a valid process for scoring an incredible industry.

In going through the scoring process, we remain optimistic that we will have experienced another year of overall growth with respect to the first two categories on the scorecard pictured. Within the growth, there will always be those companies that did not grow, and the reasons for that are many, some of which are mentioned below and are also being researched by Direct Selling News.

Continue to Direct Selling News to see the scorecard and find out if we are winning or not.

 

 

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LifeVantage’s Flat Sales a Contributor to Management Change

Lagging sales in Japan continue to handicap quarterly results for LifeVantage. On Wednesday the wellness company reported second quarter revenue of $48 million, down 8 percent over the prior year period. Outside the Japan market, LifeVantage saw a 1.6 increase over 2013 revenue.

The report comes two days after the resignation of LifeVantage President and CEO Doug Robinson, who led the company for nearly four years. Independent director Dave Manovich will lead the company as Executive Vice Chairman until the board names Robinson’s successor. Manovich, currently Managing Partner at private firm DNS Investments, has filled a string of executive roles at tech companies such as Apple Inc., Fujitsu America Inc. and @Road Inc.

“The board believes this change in our management is necessary as our growth has reached a plateau,” Gary Mauro, Chairman of the Board, told investors during the company’s earnings call. ”The company is not progressing in line with our business model of a growth-oriented, science-based network marketing company.”

In 2014, LifeVantage diversified its business with the AXIO line of healthy energy drinks and TrueScience skincare products. The company is looking to build momentum around its newest offerings, while also doubling down on its efforts to revive sales in Japan. LifeVantage has brought on both a Managing Director and Vice President of Marketing and Sales in Japan to strengthen the country’s executive leadership team.

In Memoriam: A Tribute to Harland Stonecipher

by Barbara Seale

The direct selling industry lost an icon on Nov. 10 with the death of Harland Stonecipher, who founded one of the industry’s most unique companies, LegalShield. Stonecipher was 76 years old.

The concept for Stonecipher’s business brainchild was inspired by difficult circumstances. In 1969 he was involved in a head-on auto collision. Though the accident was not his fault, he was sued. The experience cost him thousands of dollars in legal fees and shook his idealistic beliefs about justice. But it caused the teacher-turned-life-insurance-salesman to begin thinking about how others could be protected from the nightmare he endured.

By 1972 he had created LegalShield’s predecessor company, which incorporated as Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. in 1976. Six years later Stonecipher’s old friend John Hail introduced him to the concept of marketing his legal services memberships through network marketing. Stonecipher served as CEO from the company’s inception until 2010, when he relinquished that title, but he continued to be active as Chairman of the Board and Founder. In 2011 MidOcean Partners, a private equity firm, acquired Pre-Paid Legal for $650 million and renamed the company LegalShield.

Today the company provides legal services to some 1.4 million families covering 3.7 million people across North America, and more than 34,000 companies offer the LegalShield plan to their employees as a voluntary benefit. The company has dedicated law firms in 49 states and four provinces in Canada.

LegalShield CEO Jeff Bell, who joined the company in mid-2014, reached out to Stonecipher soon after joining the company. He found that Stonecipher was kind, professional, and generous with his time and advice.

“One of my principles is that you need to find the truth within every business, and that truth resides in its people. I couldn’t imagine speaking to anyone who knew more about this business than Harland Stonecipher and his wife, Shirley,” Bell says. “I wanted to show my respect because he was the company’s founder, but meeting them was a surprise and delight. I only got to spend four months with him, but I treasured the time. He spoke to me like a father would. I valued his counsel about our team in Ada [Oklahoma] as well as our field leadership. He talked about the challenges, what to avoid, and how to motivate a volunteer army. He still spoke with such conviction and passion about free enterprise and access to the justice system. It will stay with me forever.”

Stonecipher’s passion for his business and his conviction that it could change lives may have been at least part of the reason he was so highly regarded. Few people called him by his first name. To most, he was Mr. Stonecipher—it was a term of respect.

John Long, LegalShield’s Vice President of Marketing Operations and spokesperson for the Stonecipher family, knew the company founder for decades. He first encountered Stonecipher in 1987 at their shared alma mater, East Central University in Oklahoma. Long was in the ’87 graduating class, and Stonecipher was being named the University’s Distinguished Alumnus and commencement speaker. Long then worked at Pre-Paid Legal for a short time, left to return to school, and then rejoined Pre-Paid Legal in 1999, working directly for Stonecipher.


“Very few people called him Harland. He was Mr. Stonecipher. I never heard him instruct anyone to call him mister. He just drew that respect everywhere, even from his peer CEOs at other companies.”
—John Long, Vice President of Marketing Operations, LegalShield


“I had a glossy title, but the more heartfelt title would have been Harland’s Assistant,” Long recalls. “I did the things he didn’t have time to do so that he could be in front of the salesforce, traveling and motivating and speaking to them all over North America.” Long confesses, though, that he still feels a little uncomfortable using the first name. “Very few people called him Harland. He was Mr. Stonecipher. I never heard him instruct anyone to call him mister. He just drew that respect everywhere, even from his peer CEOs at other companies.”

He adds, “One of the first things Jeff did was ask to meet with Mr. Stonecipher and Shirley. That resonated with people around the country. I knew it would help Jeff, but I also knew it would help Harland and Shirley. In the last few weeks of his life he had gone back to referencing this company and himself as ‘we’—not that he was ever excluded. I know how important it was to him.”

Stonecipher was passionate about his business for 40 years, and in 2002 he was recognized by Ernst & Young as their Southwest Master Entrepreneur of the Year. He also became a sought-after speaker and addressed a variety of businesses and organizations, including several attorney general associations. He was just as passionate about his community. He and his wife used their wealth and influence to improve the community in numerous ways. His alma mater, ECU, recognized him as Distinguished Alumnus in 1987. He and Shirley later bestowed a gift to the university, which led to the naming of the Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business. An avid hunter and outdoorsman, Stonecipher was appointed to three consecutive terms as a Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Two other projects were especially dear to him. Both show his inclination to find ways to help others after tragedy strikes, as he did when he founded Pre-Paid Legal. The first was in 1999 when … Click here to read the full story at Direct Selling News.

The Science of Business

by Robert A. Sinnott

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

What can science possibly teach us about business? I believe that a healthy dose of the scientific method is good for business. The scientific method requires thinking through the challenges or opportunities that are yet unrealized then applying focus, careful planning and execution to push forward the frontiers of knowledge.

According to Peter Drucker—who was considered by many to be the creator of modern management—two of the most important roles of the CEO are to constantly think through the business and set clear objectives and metrics to guide the business forward. This is analogous to designing a good series of science experiments. It requires having a firm grasp of the present situation, making sure that the variables are changed in a controlled manner, and ensuring that the results of each project build on each other in a logical fashion.

There are many scientific concepts such as entropy, specialization, natural selection, synergy, innovation and validation that apply clearly to our direct selling and network marketing business model. For example, many of the principles of money flow in economics are similar to how energy flows in thermodynamics. The person designing a compensation plan must understand that the bulk of energy will eventually find the path of least resistance. It is as inevitable as gravity and quite perilous to ignore. A related thermodynamic principle of entropy clearly applies to our business structures. We know that if energy is not continually put into an organization there will be inevitable decay to nothingness. Entropy applies to individuals as well as departments, business units and whole organizations. Personal development and continual training overcomes the effects of entropy, which is why so many successful direct selling companies have strong personal development cultures. They are effectively inputting energy to promote continual growth and prevent decay of the structure.

Also, it is not coincidental that today’s most efficient business organizations are comprised of highly specialized and compartmentalized functional areas, like the organelles within a cell. Specialized structures allow a cell to do things very efficiently, such as maximize energy output, shorten supply chains and recycle waste. Businesses are always seeking to improve in these areas as well. It’s not by chance that structures from small, simple cells to multinational corporations are composed of scalable units. Recognizing this gives useful insight when diagnosing a problem or designing improvements to capitalize on new opportunities to grow your business.

There are many scientific concepts such as entropy, specialization, natural selection, synergy, innovation and validation that apply clearly to our direct selling and network marketing business model.


There are many scientific concepts such as entropy, specialization, natural selection, synergy, innovation and validation that apply clearly to our direct selling and network marketing business model.


Some of the same models and formulas that describe behavior in complex ecosystems can be applied to highly networked business organizations, such as our independent distributor organizations. There are complex psychological and environmental factors at play similar to those that govern natural selection in the wild. Understanding these underlying natural laws helps us craft strategies for maximizing growth during good times and ensuring survival when the environment turns rough, which it periodically does. How do we redirect our resources during a periodic economic downturn? How do we get back out of hibernation mode and back to full productivity when the conditions turn favorable again? What are the signs of the changing seasons that we need to be paying attention to? We can learn a lot by observing how nature handles these same challenges.

Another scientific concept that is widely touted in business today is synergy. Synergy occurs when two or more forces join together to provide an effect that is stronger, sometimes much stronger, than simple addition would predict. The scientific concept of synergy underlies the notion that in business there can be win-win situations. Synergy is well proven in the laboratory, notably in physics and chemistry. The concept has also been applied as a way to create additional value for both a business and its customer. In the case of synergy, science teaches us that sustainable win-win-win situations are completely possible where the business, the customers and society as a whole can benefit through properly structured relationships.

A relatively new type of business model called social entrepreneurship restructures corporate philanthropy to be more tightly interwoven with the core business. It replaces charitable handouts with a share of the top-line sales revenue to create a durable win-win-win situation. Mannatech is currently operating our Mission 5 Million (M5M) social entrepreneurship program globally to great satisfaction for our customers and the company. The really cool thing is that according to science, the number of “winners” that can be structured into a relationship is infinite. It is limited only by creativeness of the structure. Wherever there are mutual interests, there is the potential of creating synergy. Direct selling and network marketing business models are particularly rich with potential synergies just waiting to be tapped. Successful companies in our industry often break new ground or power through to the next stage on their growth curve by tapping into new business synergies.

Well-managed science can power innovation, help a company secure market share, and help protect a company from regulatory risks. Two extremely important areas these days for many of us are scientific validation and creation of intellectual property. Mannatech has been a pioneer and innovator in the dietary supplement industry for almost 20 years and counting. To date, we have amassed a global patent portfolio of over 90 issued patents, with many more pending. This decision to invest in a robust intellectual property (IP) portfolio has given us protected space in several key areas of human nutrition. It has protected us from having to claw it out with commodity-priced products that most retailers offer.


Well-managed science can power innovation, help a company secure market share, and help protect a company from regulatory risks.


Particularly in the direct selling and network marketing industry, where companies come and go regularly, the lifespan of  a venture can be cut considerably short by a competitor moving in and selling an uncomfortably similar product at Costco or Wal-Mart. This has led to the quick decline and death of several industry ventures. Neither the company nor the independent sales associates benefit from having their business undercut and collapsed this way. Companies that plan on staying around a while need to invest in meaningful IP development at an early stage. At Mannatech we have benefitted from the issued patents on our flagship products and have been able to shut down illegal competitors in court when necessary. The protected area around our flagship products gives us some nice blue ocean space in which to operate and grow. Finally, having well-developed IP also protects us from critics attacking our products as “commodity items,” which has unfortunately become an increasingly common accusation in our industry this past year.


Ideally, good business leaders and good scientists both possess creativity, intuition, innovation and the ability to analyze data and spot trends.


So what makes a scientist a good candidate for leading a business? Ideally, good business leaders and good scientists both possess creativity, intuition, innovation and the ability to analyze data and spot trends. They have “prepared minds” that can spot opportunity for increased efficiency within complex structures. As it turns out, the origins of a company’s CEO can tell a lot about the organization’s underlying structure and priorities. Our company, Mannatech, is engaged in the business of science so it is fitting that a scientist, with requisite experience across functional areas, could follow a path to end up as CEO. Mannatech has done very well working the fertile ground where science and business converge. It has certainly helped that the person at the helm knows the feeling of accomplishment that comes from taking a new product all the way from the laboratory, through prototyping and commercialization, through manufacturing and marketing, to place it in the hands of a new customer.

It is also important that the CEO know that not every opportunity is as sexy as a new product launch. Financial discipline and organizational efficiency aren’t sexy topics, but they are required for sustainable growth. Also, particularly in our industry, sustaining the unique culture of the organization is irreplaceable. At Mannatech we have challenged ourselves to look at our business from a fresh and scientifically objective viewpoint. It has been deliberate and effective.


Robert SinnotRobert A. Sinnott, Ph.D., is CEO and Chief Science Officer at Mannatech Inc.

The Evolution of Direct Selling

by Teresa Day

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

Issue Addressed

The current of misconception and mistrust in the general public around the terms “network marketing,” “MLM” and “direct selling” may run too deep for the industry to reshape its image by using the same terminology going forward. Additionally, this current terminology may not sufficiently describe who and what we are and what our business model accomplishes.

Where might we begin in order to explore a naming change? This article presents one approach.

Summary

Though we might have called it different names throughout history, we’ve always sold things to each other, and we’ve always been social in our interactions, including those involving commerce. Indeed, it could be stated that the history of commerce is the history of humanity. The purpose of this article is to take a closer look at the history of selling and social interaction and apply that history to the consideration of a possible change in naming conventions within the direct selling industry.


Part I

Historical records of commerce in merchant colonies reach as far back as the 19th century B.C., but this only means that’s as far as recorded history goes. The true beginning of the exchange of goods and services began when the first group of people needed something that someone else could produce. Simply put, people have always “sold” things to one another—long before any legal or formal infrastructure existed, goods and services changed hands in barter and in one-on-one transactions.

Author David Schmidtz speculates in his 2010 book A Brief History of Liberty that the chief reason Neanderthals died out and Homo sapiens flourished is that Neanderthals never moved beyond the small groups in which they developed. There isn’t much evidence of cooperation or of their purposefully overcoming their isolated living conditions. Homo sapiens (that would be us), on the other hand, almost immediately developed what Schmidtz calls “the propensity to truck and barter.”¹


Simply put, people have always “sold” things to one another.


According to Schmidtz, Neanderthals disappeared because they “were not entrepreneurs.”² In contrast, Homo sapiens seem to have very early on embraced the ideas of division of labor, long-distance trade, and creating and managing a surplus of goods. In other words, commerce. Of course, there is no written record to support these ideas; however, archeological finds—tools made in one area found hundreds of miles away, segmented living and working quarters, and other evidence—give it validity.

What this means is that trade—the making available of goods and services and the purchasing of said goods and services—coincides with the emergence of modern man. To put it in a nutshell, the history of commerce is the history of humanity.

The archeological record also indicates basic crafts began developing about 10,000 years ago—such things as spinning thread from flax, wool and silk to make clothing and rugs; baking clay in kilns to make pottery for cooking and storing food; and weaving grasses together to form mats and baskets, among other things. Needles have been found in Europe from this time that are small and thin enough to indicate horsehair as the preferred thread, which means people could now sew articles with more complexity and even visual interest. Felted and woven rugs graced the floors, though “home” might have been a cave.

And, as truly as they do today, individuals would have emerged with special skill or flair in the making of these items, causing others who might have admired the work to ask, “How can I get one like that?” And so a transaction would take place, and a happy “customer” would go home with a new basket.

It is the relationship between the buyer and the seller that begins, completes and supports the transaction—what we today call “network marketing” or “direct selling.”


The next day, a neighbor might see the customer using her new basket and inquire about it. “Where did you get that basket? It’s beautiful.” “Oh, Geta made it, and I traded some bread for it.” “Do you think she would make one for me?” “Sure, what have you got to trade that she wants? By the way, she also makes beautiful woven rugs.” A relationship between buyer and seller is established, and by virtue of word-of-mouth exchanges the seller’s customer base grows. What was true 10,000 years ago is still true today.

There is another way in which selling has remained unchanged throughout the centuries. Some anthropologists have argued that this close exchange of goods and services without the use of “money” actually strengthened the bonds between people in the community. That is to say, the act of “buying” and “selling” goods without the use of money cannot really be separated from the value of the goods themselves, nor from the value of the relationship between the people making the exchange. Anthropologist Stanley Diamond calls this idea the “primitive exchange.”³

It is our opinion that the bond created in this transaction was not merely due to the absence of “money” to complete it, but rather the exchange itself that occurs between two (or more) people who live, play and work in close proximity. It is the nearness of the relationships—the “warm circle,” to use modern terms—that connects the buying and selling of the item with the value of the relationship between the people making the exchange. In other words, it is the relationship between the buyer and the seller that begins, completes and supports the transaction—what we today call “network marketing” or “direct selling.”

Frankly, the exchange of goods and services for something other than hard currency lasted well into the 20th century when, for example, doctors would take chickens for payment from patients who simply had no cash. Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, has memorialized the original barn structure on its campus where students during the 1920s could bring their own dairy cows, which were milked there during the day to “pay” for the students’ tuition.

In truth, it is really only in the past 60 years with the rise of the monolithic corporation that our age-old selling and buying practices—closely aligned with our social relationships—have dramatically changed. In our current day, the commerce we experience and engage in on a daily basis is occurring on such a large scale that it is difficult to compare it to when cottage industries dominated the commercial landscape. And, in fact, as new generations are born and raised, fewer living individuals would have grown up in a time when they could even experience smaller-scale commerce.

We believe that it is actually today’s practices that represent the anomaly in commerce. Modern practices have removed all semblance of the “relationship” that used to exist between buyers and sellers. This is precisely why so many marketing firms today are selling services that revolve around “relationship marketing.” People are becoming aware that big business has lost something valuable along the way to corporate domination. Direct sellers, however, have always known this.


People are becoming aware that big business has lost something valuable along the way to corporate domination. Direct sellers, however, have always known this.


Just as people have always bought and sold goods and services, people have always been social. We build communities. We build cities. We find reasons to join clubs and to be with other people, and usually our affiliations center on those things we have in common. In social interchanges, we share those things that appeal to us, those things that have helped us, and even those things we want to share with others just because we like them.

Indeed, sharing things we love with our friends and family is such a natural part of our daily lives that we might not even notice how often we engage in this behavior. So pay attention next time to the co-workers who can’t stop talking about the movie or the restaurant they went to over the weekend and how you should go, too. Or the neighbor who recommends his brand of lawnmower or the friend you can ask about a doctor or dentist. We are constantly utilizing our networks to share the things we love and to help us make decisions about purchasing goods and services.

It is clear to us that the direct selling industry, as we know it today, is a marketing and distribution system that has codified the two natural human behaviors of buying and selling products and living and operating in tight-knit social networks.

In fact, these human tendencies are so strong that they have become codified as a marketing strategy called “word-of-mouth” marketing. Today, even with the amazing gains in technology, it’s still considered the best form of marketing. People do not trust corporations, but they do trust their friends and peers—their social network.



Certain human tendencies are so strong that they have become codified as a marketing strategy called “word-of-mouth” marketing.


Part II

While we have made a strong case that all aspects defining the channel of distribution known today as “network marketing” or “direct selling” have been in existence for centuries, the more formal understanding of the channel as opposed to other methods of retail selling began to emerge in the 1880s. This was when David McConnell first recruited Mrs. P.F.E. Albee to sell his perfume in her town and the Southwestern Company refined its door-to-door approach of selling books. Developing over the last 150 years into a more systematic type of approach—and having been refined by legal input, consumer responses and technological advances—many other remarkable companies have followed in their footsteps to continue the thriving channel we now call the direct selling industry.

Shifts in technology, ideas about business models, and other things that have impacted the industry and the times are all simply circumstances that surround the fundamental human activities of social sharing and economic transactions. We may feel that we’ve come a long way from living in a cave with a felted rug on the ground and a new basket in our hands. But honestly, how different is that from someone sitting in their two-story red-brick house in the suburbs, visiting with a friend who is showing them a new necklace she bought from a neighbor, prompting the other person to go online and order the same one from that consultant? Not different at all. Social sharing still leads to social commerce.

Schmidtz introduces the first chapter of his book with this quote: “The greatest threat to and the best hope for a better life, in the long run, comes from other human beings. Historically, trade has been a great liberator.” 4

Our business model has liberating properties, because it is based fundamentally on human nature: We are social.


This quote resonates in our time, but even more so in the direct selling model, for we continually see evidence of this truth. Our business model is not only thriving and creating real opportunity in emerging markets, but also here in the U.S. with the economy shrinking and little chance of the return of eliminated jobs. Our business model has liberating properties because it is based fundamentally on human nature: We are social. We seek out those goods and services we want and need. We trust our friends and their friends. This is direct selling, regardless of time or circumstance.

New economies are being created in the wake of large business and government failure to sustain growth. Smaller, more personal economies with greater chances of survival are replacing large, monolithic economies that simply no longer fit the pattern of the new world. Entrepreneurialism is the current buzzword appearing in countless magazine articles and flowing from the lips of politicians.

But traditional routes to entrepreneurial endeavors generally include high barriers: the need for capital, the need to pay people salaries, the need to develop marketing materials and spend advertising dollars, the need for computer infrastructures in both hardware and software, and so on.

Direct selling remains the best path to entrepreneurialism available to any one individual, without regard to a large bank account or access to one, without regard to educational background or training, and without regard to experience. Wisely choosing a product and a company to become associated with, the direct seller has access to everything necessary to build a successful and sustainable business. In fact, with the advancements of technology available to everyone, for the first time an individual has the capacity to compete at a much higher level with far more established enterprises.

Indeed, tech advancement has in no way hampered the experience of the direct seller; it has only and in every way improved it, thus ensuring the business model will survive and continue to grow in the future. This thought brings us to the underlying question raised by this article: Is the current lexicon used in our industry (“network marketing” and “direct selling”) serving us well, and will it continue to serve us well in the future? Is it time to consider redefining ourselves with new terminology?

Certainly, a few companies in the industry have already started to do so. A very successful jewelry company defines itself only as a “social seller,” not using any of the traditional language in their materials or training. Utilizing technology to leverage the consultants’ social networks, this company focuses on teaching its consultants to “sell” socially. They are not alone—other companies have focused on consultants creating online “boutiques” and using their social media contacts as their customer base, avoiding the terms “network marketing” and “direct selling” altogether.

The rationale behind such decisions is really twofold. First, companies that make the decision to avoid the terminology of direct selling and yet still engage in the business model are clearly distancing themselves from the negative press, bad actors and general public misunderstandings about the manner in which the model operates, not the model itself. Second, the companies are linking their sales and marketing language to the language of the present—the use of social media dominates every other manner of communication among humans.

The two constants are what we’ve delineated in this article: We share stuff with our friends and family, and in that interchange we also sell stuff. Social sharing leads to social commerce.

The end goal appears to be to further the validity of the model and to increase the sales for the consultant. It seems that the companies already changing their terminology believe these things must be connected in today’s world.


As an industry, it’s time to consider whether a new approach, one already utilized by many companies, may bring value. The end goal appears to be to further the validity of the model and to increase sales for the consultant. It seems that the companies already changing their terminology believe these things must be connected in today’s world. In other words, they believe sales will increase and more people will be interested in engaging in the opportunity if and when the opportunity does not seem to be connected to the old versions of “network marketing” or “direct selling.”

Considering the case we’ve made in this paper that commerce and social activity are inextricably linked and have forever been, and the fact that the general public calls the newest technology that allows us to stay connected “social media,” it makes sense that adopting these terms in sales and marketing uses could attract a wider audience. It also makes sense to use the general public’s current acceptance of social media as a way to engage in a wider conversation about our opportunities.

Conclusion

In the wake of so many misconceptions and basic misunderstandings of the direct selling business model that continue to surface, we believe it is definitely time for the industry itself to become more proactive in the public conversation. As Neil Offen asked in his recent article in DSN, “Do we let our critics define us or do we take steps to make sure we better control our own reputation?”5


Teresa Day is the Editorial Director of Direct Selling News.


  1. David Schmidtz and Jason Brennan, A Brief History of Liberty (West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2010), 31.
  2. Schmidtz and Brennan, 33.
  3. Stanley Diamond, In Search of the Primitive, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1974-2009), 134.
  4. Schmidtz and Brennan, 30.
  5. Neil Offen, “The Great Equalizer and Opportunity,” Direct Selling News, October 2013, 58.

The Synergy of Successful Styles Between Party Plan & Network Marketing Companies

by Barbara Seale

Even though most direct sellers classify themselves as either party plan companies or network marketers, the truth is that the lines aren’t so clear cut.

 

DSN October, 2013Take a lingering look at many companies in the industry and you’ll find that many use predominantly one style or another, but they aren’t at all rigid about it. They’ve often adopted an element or two from the other style, and they don’t see it as so unusual. It just works for them. It’s all part of the big, blended direct selling family.

When asked about their practices, companies in this story proactively called themselves “hybrids.” But every company noted that their sales and recruiting styles were developed because they made sense for them. In fact, those practices have resulted in solid finances and growth that any company would covet.

Princess House President and CEO Connie Tang is a veteran in the industry, having held several executive positions before taking the helm at Princess House last year. She notes that party plan companies developed as an opportunity for women to earn a little “fun money.” The focus was on selling products at a home party, not on recruiting. While consultants did build teams, they often focused more on sales. But today’s party plan company, including Princess House—especially since Tang arrived—has evolved to look a little more like a network marketing company than it did a generation or two ago. The simple reason:economics.

“Part of what has continued to push that evolution is the need to be competitive from a business development and comp plan perspective,” Tang says. “This diversification came to fruition because of the need for companies to have long-term prosperity, so it’s been like investing in our own portfolio.”


Today’s party plan company has evolved to look a little more like a network marketing company than it did a generation or two ago. The simple reason: economics.


Recruiting Revolution

She notes that when party plan consultants broaden their practices beyond finding hostesses and holding parties—and they grow by building teams and coaching new recruits—they accomplish a couple of important things. First, they increase their immediate earnings opportunity beyond what they can produce by their individual efforts. Second, and just as importantly, they protect their business from unpredictable factors such as economic downturns. It’s good for the consultant and good for the company. Tang shifted the focus at Princess House to place more emphasis on recruiting, holding network marketing-style hotel opportunity meetings and training consultants to talk a bit more about the company’s earnings opportunity during parties, even as they sold its high-quality, durable products.

“We had to find ways to reach more consumers,” Tang says. “When we focus more on sponsoring, then we have more ambassadors out there building the business.”

That seemingly simple shift in focus produced impressive results. Princess House said Happy New Year in 2013 to 40 percent more consultants than it had a year before.

For Tastefully Simple too, recruiting gets started at parties where guests nibble from the company’s wide selection of convenient, easy-to-prepare foods designed to help people spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the rest of their lives. Tastefully Simple has two types of gatherings. Relax and Savor is a traditional party where consultants share products and information and then take orders at the end of the party; and Mix and Mingle is a less-used and less-formal come-and-go gathering where guests and consultants float from product area to product area, socializing, snacking and sometimes selling each other on delicious products. In both, the focus is on product sales and social interaction.

“We’re clearly a party plan company,” says Travis Bautz, the company’s Vice President of Marketing. “We’ve done a fair amount of research on the whole party dynamic to try to understand where people draw value from it. For us, they’re social reasons, learning reasons and product reasons,” he explains. “The trick is how to deliver a great experience when people have increased pressure on their time.”



Even for a proud party plan company committed to group selling, one-on-one interactions are still part of the process.


Passive Sales, Positive Profits

Tastefully Simple relieves some of that pressure by offering something more associated with network marketing companies: an auto-ship program called Simply Stocked. With about 40 standard products included, the program is highly customer-centric. Users can choose whether their favorite products are shipped to them every two, three or four months, and they can change their order at any time. While most sales are made at parties, the Simply Stocked program adds an element of predictability to consultant commissions, making life even simpler for customers.

Bautz admits, though, that even for a proud party plan company committed to group selling, one-on-one interactions are still part of the process.

“That’s especially true on the business opportunity side,” he notes. “For us, those conversations often start as a party interaction and finish as one-on-one. At parties, there are small conversations—we call those ‘sprinkles,’ references to the business opportunity that lead to an opportunity to talk one-on-one with the guest later.”

As much as Tastefully Simple and Princess House are clearly party plan proponents, a few companies in the industry are harder to classify.

“We were hybrid when hybrid wasn’t cool,” says Arbonne Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer Heather Chastain. “It’s an example of how Arbonne has always been a little ahead of the times. We recognized 15 or 20 years ago that it isn’t just one or the other. We’ve always had hostesses as an element of our plan, but we eschew party language. We refer to them as group presentations. But our history is that we’ve always used a combination of methods.”


“When you’re offering multiple ways of doing business, you’re giving consultants great ways to overcome common objections.”
—Heather Chastain, Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, Arbonne


Chastain notes that the flexible sales approach was developed to adapt to the needs of customers. Whether consultants talk to their customers one-on-one or in a group presentation, they’re making a business decision based on customer preferences. But whether the discussion is between two people or 20, Chastain notes that it’s still about people, products and opportunity. It’s just a question of emphasis.

“When you have those three things, it’s usually a matter of where you start,” she says. “A one-on-one conversation typically starts with opportunity. A party starts with products. But ultimately, from start to finish, you’re still hitting all the elements.”

Having options for how consultants run their businesses helps them be successful, and Chastain notes that most successful consultants run a pretty evenly balanced business. Arbonne’s data shows that about 60 percent of their business comes from individual discussions.

“When you’re offering multiple ways of doing business, you’re giving consultants great ways to overcome common objections,” she notes. “You don’t have to ask people to hold parties if they don’t want to. Make it work for you.”

Arbonne’s hybrid system works for them; 2012 net sales were $377 million, up from $353 million in 2011.



Party—A Lot

Self-proclaimed hybrid Vemma is a network marketer that builds its fast-growing business through get-togethers it calls home events, even though they’re often not held in homes. The language was carefully chosen to be inclusive and appealing to the broad demographics of its distributors, or Brand Partners, especially the youthful cadre that builds businesses on Vemma’s energy drinks. Their version of a “party” has revolutionized the term.

“The word meeting sounds boring to a lot of people, and a party, well, it’s much more than that to us,” says Mark Patterson, Vemma Executive Vice President, Marketing and Brand Development. “One of the biggest changes for us is the frequency of them. I just came from a big event where I heard kids saying, if you really want to ignite your business, have at least two home events a day. Many shoot for five. Lots of people hearing that would think they were crazy, but these kids are just actively seeking three to five people. They don’t plan the events. They just use social media to say things like, ‘I’ll be here, here and here today. If you’re interested in doing more or being healthier, meet me there.’ ”


While their fellow distributors from an earlier generation hold more traditional Vemma tasting parties, millennial distributors’ events may be as short as 15 minutes.


The “kids” Patterson is talking about are Vemma’s Young People Revolution (YPR), an exploding group of millennials whose leaders coined the term The Five M’s—More Meetings Make More Money. While their fellow Brand Partners from an earlier generation hold more traditional tasting parties, the YPRs move fast. Their events may be as short as 15 minutes. In addition to making heavy use of social media, they use Vemma’s business app to send texts—the preferred communication method for their generation—to their contacts. The text may include a video of an experienced leader making a simple business presentation. With the business side of the “home meeting” already in place, they can appear with their cooler of Verve products, tell their story, maybe show their new car and close the deal.

“Our recruiting effectiveness has skyrocketed by doing these kinds of things,” Patterson says. “Our new focus is on helping to foster and train new people coming in to be leaders themselves. The rapid personal development and the excitement among this group are amazing. The other benefit of frequent, small home events is that the more you do it, the better you become at it, and that makes you more effective.”

Even though many events are held on the go, Brand Partners actually do hold events in homes, as well as in larger public places, often collaborating with other distributors to maximize impact.

“We encourage people and teach them that we’re all on one team,” Patterson says. “When we’re united, we can do many more things. I’ve seen one of our stronger Brand Partners holding a big meeting and people from a variety of teams coming together. The combination of stories is powerful, and the meetings are very inspirational.”

Explosive Growth


Scott Schwerdt, Nu Skin’s President of its Americas Region, says that regardless of a company’s marketing methodology, it’s still all about customer acquisition.


They’re also inspiring explosive growth. Vemma recently announced that sales reached a record-breaking $20 million a month in July. After taking seven years to reach the $10 million monthly sales mark in July 2012, Vemma has now doubled that just 12 months later. In addition, Vemma monthly customer and Brand Partner enrollments reached the 30,000 mark for the first time this July.

Industry stalwart Nu Skin has always walked the party plan/network marketing line, driven by its lineup of demonstrable products. Scott Schwerdt, Nu Skin’s President of its Americas Region, says that regardless of a company’s marketing methodology, it’s still all about customer acquisition.

“For as long as I can remember—and I’ve been with the company for 25 years—our distributors have always used home parties to demonstrate products,” Schwerdt says. “That method is particularly applicable for products that provide immediate results. That’s been our hallmark from when we were founded in 1984 until today.”

Schwerdt says that the company doesn’t call itself a hybrid, though. Nu Skin is a social business model that uses network marketing as a method of compensation for customer acquisition. Host-driven home parties are simply part of the company’s business method.

“On their own, our distributors will take the initiative to provide gifts to hosts or to do trade shows,” he says. “They’ll use any initiative they can in order to get their business in front of customers.”

Nu Skin’s most profitable draw is its auto-ship program. An astonishing 72 percent of all shipments are on the auto-ship program. While that number indicates strong customer loyalty, it also provides both the company and its distributors a predictable income. And that creates what all direct sellers want: retention. The thriving auto-ship program was a happy side effect of web technology.

Tech Leadership

Nu Skin has provided replicated websites to its distributors for almost 10 years, but over the last year has migrated toward mobile devices and apps. It already offers several Internet-related tools and continues to expand its mobile platform, providing distributors with an increasing number of methods to know exactly what their customers are doing so they can respond appropriately. The mobile platform works hand-in-glove with other products that open doors. Take the Biophotonic Scanner, an innovative tool Nu Skin developed to measure blood antioxidant levels without actually taking blood—an irresistible way to pique interest in Pharmanex supplements. In its first generation in 2003, “You almost had to move into someone’s house to do a scan,” Schwerdt jokes. Now in its third iteration, it’s smaller and operates using an iPad and a Bluetooth connection, making it the perfect conversation starter for spontaneous one-on-one interactions.

“You can do a scan any place in 30 seconds now,” he says. “It’s an instant-on device they can pack in their purse or briefcase. We have distributors who are scanning on planes, even hotel lobbies.”

The combination of technology, group sales and a strong auto-ship program creates loyal customers as well as distributors who stick around. Everybody wins. That creates a strong revenue stream. In July, publicly traded Nu Skin announced that it is increasing its full-year 2013 revenue guidance by $320 million to between $2.83 billion and $2.86 billion. Revenue in 2012 was $2.17 billion.

Train for Success

Blended styles that result in fast growth arise from effective training. These companies make sure that their distributors know how to party and that they also know how to recruit. But Princess House ran into a challenge that every company would love to have. For years, the company had stellar skills at retaining distributors, giving it an experienced salesforce. When it started placing more emphasis on recruiting, its success in attracting so many new consultants changed the face of its salesforce. Consultants with relatively little experience needed to learn skills from the ground up—how to hold a party that results in sales, how to work with hostesses and also how to recruit. Princess House consultants typically recruit during individual conversations after a party, but less experienced consultants had to learn how to plant the opportunity seeds while they ran a party—a skill that can be tough to master. The company responded by revamping its training completely.


“We promote that talk about the opportunity happens throughout the course of the party. That allows people time to process and develop questions. It’s a very different goal than ‘I have to close the sale.’ ”
—Connie Tang, President and CEO, Princess House


“We just launched to our leadership group a completely new consultant success system that fine-tunes coaching on party behaviors,” Tang explains. “We promote that talk about the opportunity happens throughout the course of the party. That allows people time to process and develop questions. It’s a very different goal than ‘I have to close the sale.’ Planting those ‘whys’ in the conversation throughout the evening is one of those difficult, intangible skills to acquire, but that conversion is very important. That’s what we’re trying to teach.”

The skill is the same one Tastefully Simple teaches so its consultants can effectively drop “sprinkles” throughout a party.

“We train to that,” emphasizes Tastefully Simple’s Bautz. “We have a structure we recommend for the party with lots of examples of language and ways they can use ‘sprinkles’ and other techniques. The most value is to new consultants.”

Then when consultants follow up to talk opportunity individually, Tastefully Simple provides them with numerous tools—both print and online—to increase their comfort and to support the conversation.

No matter which camp a company identifies with, if they adopt a technique from the other method, it’s a practical decision that they adapt to fit their own culture. And why not? Direct selling is an industry that freely shares information and where member companies learn from each other.

Vemma’s Patterson says it well: “I don’t think people are opposed to adopting good ideas, no matter where they are. I think we’re in a society now where we’re very used to change, and this industry as a whole doesn’t mind adapting.”

No Lines

Retention | RevenueTwo-year-old Chloe + Isabel (C+I) defies description, at least in traditional direct selling terms. Neither party plan nor network marketer, it has an omni-channel approach, according to its Founder and CEO Chantel Waterbury. The company doesn’t just color outside the lines; it erases them.

“When I speak with people, even investors, about C+I, I say that we’re disrupting the direct sales industry,” Waterbury says. “But we are similar to other direct selling companies in that we’re an income opportunity for people. When I think about the heart and soul of the industry, they’re all offering opportunity through products.”

C+I’s distributors, called merchandisers, disrupt not only the direct selling industry but also the brick-and-mortar retail industry. They sell C+I’s jewelry primarily through online storefronts, social media, pop-up shops that provide a temporary physical presence, in-home parties if they wish, and by building an individual clientele. Most use a blend of techniques.

Waterbury developed C+I with tech-savvy Gen Y in mind, and virtually all merchandisers—average age of about 26—sell online through the company’s unique e-boutiques. The branded websites are completely customizable, allowing the merchandiser to choose collections, individual pieces of jewelry, or even tips on how to style the jewelry. As a result, every merchandiser’s site is unique, even while they maintain the Chloe + Isabel brand.

The company invests a lot in each merchandiser. First, prospects apply to become a merchandiser, and C+I interviews them to be sure they’re the right person for the opportunity. The next consideration is the market. C+I doesn’t want to oversaturate a given market and place merchandisers in competition with each other. About 15 percent of applicants are selected. The new merchandiser gets lots of corporate-led training. College students, whose needs are unique, get enrolled in a special training program called GEM, Growth and Empowerment through Merchandising. Every new merchandiser is assigned a mentor, who does everything from providing moral support to answering ad hoc questions, to connecting the new merchandiser with a like-minded community of other merchandisers. The mentor is an experienced merchandiser who has been promoted to that position.

“Through that process, we’re making sure they’re fully thinking about what this opportunity is, why they are choosing Chloe + Isabel, what their goals are and why they would be successful,” Waterbury explains. “We’re focused on everyone succeeding.”

The results? Just look at direct selling’s two Big R’s, retention and revenue.

“Let’s just say we’re not having a retention problem,” Waterbury says. “It’s so easy for [a merchandiser] to remain active. She is highly engaged with our community, so she’s going to be producing and selling. When she first comes to us, we’re asking, ‘Why are you here?’—they need to really clarify their ‘why.’ In that environment, there’s a difference in how someone treats it. They’re successful because they’re here for a reason. And with online boutiques, it’s easier to sell when you don’t have to do it in person all the time. She can wake up in the morning to an order.”

And the bottom line: revenue. Chloe + Isabel’s revenue in Q2 of 2013 was double that of the previous quarter.
For Chloe + Isabel, selling without borders is a successful way of life.

Taking Care of the People Who Take Care of Our People

by Paul Thies

Building a Winning Culture at the Home Office

Consider some of these common descriptions of network marketing: People business. Warm market. One-on-one. Sharing. Helping.

Direct selling really is the business of people. I don’t have to tell you that few industries can match direct selling when it comes to recognizing success. Trips. Cars. Jewelry. Awards. And on and on. Though the cash and prizes may vary from company to company, the driver for business and the heart of all incentive programs is recognition. Regardless of the products or services offered, one of the key elements you are serving up is recognition.


The driver for business and the heart of all incentive programs is recognition.


We feel that we excel at delivering recognition to our salesforce. But we found ourselves having to consider this: While we may be world-class in how we treat our sales agents, how are we doing by our employees?

Be Transparent

At Stream Energy, we have several mantras that our Chairman and Co-Founder Rob Snyder crafted to guide the principles of the company. The first mantra is Be Transparent. In that spirit, I’ll share a little bit about an internal challenge we were faced with and how we responded to it.

In 2009, we participated in one of those workplace surveys that measures employee satisfaction and morale, which then generates a list of the best places to work. We didn’t make the list.

We tried again in 2010. We didn’t make that list, either.

As a company, we knew we had to do some personal reflection. What was the problem?

In 2010, we were celebrating our fifth year of operations. We had several million-dollar revenue generators in our Ignite salesforce and were paying out millions in bonuses and residual income. We were taking our top field leaders on an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico. We were nominated by the Platts Global Energy Awards for its Rising Star of the Year award for the fourth consecutive year.

The problem was this: There was a group of roughly 250 people we were underserving—our employees.

What happened? Truth be told, the company wasn’t focusing enough on the day-in, day-out efforts of our employees. It wasn’t celebrating their stories, it wasn’t doing its best to talk to them, and it wasn’t doing enough to listen to them.

During this time, Rob invited each of the firm’s directors to talk with him one-on-one about the state of affairs in his or her department. And by and large the feedback was the same: The employees wanted to know how the company was doing, how they fit into its plans and that their contributions mattered.

As a result, Rob asked Deanna Shelton—Stream Energy’s Senior Director of Human Resources—and me to apply ourselves directly to the task of turning around the morale situation. Rob personally oversaw these efforts, making his calendar readily available for whatever special meeting or event was needed to get our employees on track.


All Stream Energy employees gathered together for a team photo outside its corporate headquarters.All Stream Energy employees gathered together for a team photo outside its corporate headquarters. Stream Energy Chairman Rob Snyder takes phone calls in the Ignite Associate Support call center during Project Frontline.Stream Energy Chairman Rob Snyder takes phone calls in the Ignite Associate Support call center during Project Frontline. Stream Energy Co-Founder Pierre Koshakji and Associate Support Representative Jim Rafferty celebrate “Jersey Day.”Stream Energy Co-Founder Pierre Koshakji and Associate Support Representative Jim Rafferty celebrate “Jersey Day.”

The first thing we needed to do was enhance the interchange between management and our employees. To that end, we set up a series of departmental Town Hall luncheons where Rob would bring lunch and conduct a question-and-answer session with each of the individual departments. Rob didn’t shy away from any questions, and he encouraged people to speak their minds.

On a larger scale, we completely revamped our Team Huddle concept, which is Stream Energy’s quarterly companywide internal meeting. We instituted the revolutionary idea of making the Huddles fun and celebratory of our employees. Besides sharing updates about the state of the company, we played games, gave away prizes and refreshed our Most Valuable Performer awards. Our employees loved it. Who knew?

With the company’s explosive growth, our employee family had grown very quickly. So much so, that many people didn’t really know who was sitting in the cube down the hall. So we replaced the traditional office name plaques with baseball-card style plaques with the employee’s picture, name, title, birthday, Stream Energy anniversary and if he or she has received the MVP award.

Additionally, we distributed daily “Getting to Know” email profiles of every employee in Stream Energy. In these profiles, employees shared a combination of their favorite things (movies, food, hobbies, etc.) and what they liked best about working at Stream Energy and each other. In a word, we celebrated all of our employees, communicating to the firm that everyone matters.

To help drive home the point that we are all on the same team, each employee was given a personalized Stream Energy football jersey. These jerseys were hand-delivered to every employee by members of our executive team. And in the spirit of walking the talk, we rolled out a program whereby every employee received a birthday card and employment anniversary card hand-written and personalized by Rob Snyder. I estimate that Rob has written somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,200 cards in the past three years.


Leadership finds its fullest expression in humility and service.


One program that was particularly meaningful to management and employees alike was something we called Project Frontline. Here at Stream Energy we have two call centers: one that is focused on our energy customers’ needs and one that supports our Independent Associates in their business-building efforts. Through Project Frontline, each of the firm’s executives, from Rob on down, took a day shift answering calls in first the Customer Care call center, and then the Associate Support call center. Though the intent was to show our employees that we wouldn’t ask them to do something we wouldn’t be willing to do ourselves, it provided an avenue where we gained valuable insight into our employees’ daily lives, as well as the needs of our customers and Associates. Plus, it put the executives in the position of having to follow the lead of our employees. Leadership finds its fullest expression in humility and service.

Another area where the company followed the lead of its employees is in the area of corporate philanthropy. Roughly four years ago, several of our employees introduced us to Captain Hope’s Kids (CHK), a nonprofit that serves homeless children. Our employees conducted diaper and toy drives amongst themselves to help CHK, and through their competitive spirit the Stream Energy family set donation records for this charity.

Realizing that not only did the charity benefit from Stream Energy’s corporate support, but also that our employees benefitted from having a charitable mission to rally around, we looked for ways to become more involved with CHK. We invited CHK to bring a large group of homeless children to our company’s Easter Egg Hunt with our families. Through the years, we have grown very close with CHK, and each New Year’s Eve we invite CHK representatives and Stream Energy employees to jointly “push the button” to launch the fireworks at Stream Energy’s Fireworks Spectacular in downtown Dallas.

We rolled out all these programs and more during the second half of 2010 and the first half of 2011. And then it was time to face the moment of truth… the annual workplace survey.

What would the results look like? Would we improve in our satisfaction and morale scores? Did we make our employees feel valued? Did we have an impact?

Happily for Stream Energy, the results far exceeded our expectations as we were recognized by Workplace Dynamics as having achieved the national standard of Top Workplaces for 2011. Even more importantly, we had improved our employees’ work lives and made it joyful to work at Stream Energy again. Along the way, the company remembered some important lessons about treating others as you want to be treated and the impact a satisfied employee family can have on your business.

When it comes to network marketing, the formula for success is not just the numbers found in your compensation plan. It also includes identifying your core principles and implementing programs that engage and lift your people. All your people.


Paul ThiesPaul Thies is Senior Director of Communications at Stream Energy.