In 2017, over 18 million people participated in direct selling. According to the Direct Selling Association (DSA), that number breaks down into four, key categories. Almost half, or nine million, went inactive. About 4.1 million were discount buyers, leaving 5.6 million engaged in the business-building side of things.
Within those millions, only 900,000 people consider themselves full-time business builders. The remaining 4.7 million qualify as part-time business builders.
Those are the facts. Now, here’s your reality.
Given the numbers, you can’t recruit your way out of the attrition abyss.
Why You Need an Onboarding & Retention Program
From Day 1, you need an onboarding and retention program that keeps your new sales reps engaged. The forces working against you start almost from the moment that someone says, “Yes,” to joining your organization and launching a direct selling business.
Think of it this way. An object in motion stays in motion — unless acted upon by an outside force. We’re borrowing from Sir Isaac’s First Law with this one, but the point holds in direct selling. If you provide an onboarding and retention program that keeps new reps moving forward with purpose, they’re less likely to get distracted or flat-out stopped. But what outside forces are we talking about?
The Attrition Forces Working Against You
First, there’s the social pressure. Not every direct selling company is like yours. Our industry has a dark side with individuals and companies trying to take advantage of folks.
So, no surprise, your recruits may start getting social pressure from friends and family when they hear the news. Something along the lines of, “Don’t you know they’re a cult?” may come up in conversation.
We get it. That’s why it’s critical your initial onboarding include a strong culture component. Folks need to understand what it’s like to work with your business and what they can expect.
Second, we can’t ignore self-doubt. Your new reps may have signed up brimming with confidence. But without a reliable onboarding framework to guide them through the early days, that confidence can take a nose dive. The last thing you need is recruits asking themselves, “You want me to ask all my closest friends to buy what?”
You can reinforce their confidence by providing clear, easy-to-understand guidance about how to get their business up and running. Your new reps need to trust that you have their best interests in mind and want them to succeed.
Finally, there’s the classic, “The field will take care of it.” Listen, you may have spectacular leadership in the field. But securing true commitment and loyalty to your direct selling vision requires consistency from the top down. If the folks in the office don’t share the same goal and preach the same message, your new reps will see (and feel) the disconnect.
And let’s face it. There are other fish in the sea.
If you fail to offer the experience someone wants from direct selling, your recruits will head to the competition. That’s why we’re huge fans of building a powerful and meaningful relationship with your field from the first day they say, “Yes.”
Without Onboarding, You’re in Trouble
How do we know it matters? Because without a thoughtful and robust onboarding program, the average retention rates in direct selling are ugly.
In round numbers, if 100 people join an organization without an onboarding and retention program, on average, half will quit within the first 90 days. Now, a 50 percent retention rate may seem like a lot. But after one year, that 50 percent goes through a buzz saw.
Only 80 percent or 10 people will still be with the average organization after one year.
You can’t afford that level of churn. It’s hard on company morale and on your bottom line if you’re constantly beating the bushes looking for recruits.
Plus, if you’re like most of the executives I know, you don’t settle for average.
What Comes Next
You have the power to not only recruit your company’s next generation of field reps. You’ll soon have the systems and know-how to keep them in the family for years to come.