“Our strategic opportunity lies in providing more effective support for every Avon representative immediately upon their decision to start their business.”
John Fleming, AVON
Vice President Sales, North America
November 2003 DSA Management Conference
What is It and Why is It Important?
Fast-start success of each new recruit, whether they are a customer or a business builder, virtually guarantees your long-term success. “Fast start” refers to the crucial period that begins immediately upon a recruit’s sign-up and continues through the first 90-days following sign-up.
The powerful emotion behind a person’s decision to join your company will rapidly subside unless the decision takes root. A customer must quickly experience the benefits of the products and services. A business builder must experience a measure of success that will reaffirm their belief in your company and in his or her ability to attain their goals.
In fact, the emotional “juice” that moves a person to action will diminish or completely dissipate when:
- The new recruit’s decision is questioned or challenged by well-meaning (but uninformed) friends or family
- The new recruit encounters a negative response when they share their newly found product and/or business opportunity
- The new recruit fumbles or procrastinates the important first steps in getting started; or worse, they don’t know where to start
- Time passes without sufficient reinforcement of the belief
- Expectations are not realistic or are not managed through the establishment of goals followed by adequate planning and action
Thus, effectively deploying your fast start system is the critical leadership activity that will give new recruits the best chance at succeeding with your company. Fast-start followed by effective business-building activities creates lasting business growth and retention.
Participating in your company’s fast start system should also produce the following results:
- More commitment and excitement
- Strengthened belief in the company, products, opportunity
- Increased growth in enrollments
- Increased leadership compensation
- Higher average sales per order
- Increased number of leaders
- Faster advancements
- Better team focus
- Great relationships
- More fun & celebration in building the business
- Increased retention
- Increased income
What is Fast Start?
To understand fast start and what you should do, first consider the activity timeline for a new recruit. The steps leading up to the decision to send in an application and the activities that immediately follow the enrollment are extremely crucial and time-sensitive. The clock begins to run. The energy and effort required to commence building, while reinforcing the seeds of belief and hope, typically comprise the single most important sequence of events in the life of a new recruit.
The activity time line, presented in Illustration 1, consists of the following phases: Pre-enrollment, Sign-up, First Order, First 72 Hours, First Month, First 90 Days, Ongoing Activity, and Inactivity.
This is the period leading up to the decision to enroll in the company. During this period, field leaders must present an exciting but accurate portrayal of the company, its products and business opportunities. This is where expectations are shaped and emotions contribute to the decision to sign up.
Submitting an application signals a commitment. It also indicates that a very small window of opportunity has opened for creating common bonds, answering questions, and addressing expectations, dreams, and commitments.
(Note: More information on effective pre-enrollment and sign-up is presented in the following weekly practice: Recruit to Retain – Understanding the power of market segmentation.)
The opening order, placed in the period that is most advantageous to the new recruit, will expose the new recruit to the order process, to company systems and personnel, and to the products. It presents a key contact point for contributing to the fast start success of any new recruit.
First 72 hours
A host of activities should occur within the first 72 hours of a new recruit’s signing up. The company and field should work together to assure that the correct foundational activities occur during this vital period.
(Note: More information on effective first orders and the first 72 hours is presented in the following weekly practice: The First 72 Hours – Key actions for you and your recruit.)
The first month following sign-up should be filled with training and one-on-one mentoring. Short-range goals must be set and achieved in order to build confidence and shape successful habits. Essential skills must be introduced and practiced.
First 90 Days
The Retention Leaders know that most new recruits exhaust their contact lists by the end of 90 days following sign-up. In fact, this is the primary reason that many organizations experience half or more of their total fall-out within the first 90 days. During this period, new recruits stumble upon discouragements, recognize their inexperience, feel forgotten, meet the realities of work required to attain their goals, and ultimately face decisions to drop out, cut back, or keep going.