Thought Leadership

Need Help Motivating Distributors? Jan Gilmore Has Answers

TL;DRIndustry veteran and consultant Jan Gilmore takes Garrett to school on the most important factors in driving a successful direct selling sales force.

“What’s the most important thing a direct selling company can do to help their distributors succeed?”

It’s a question that came up in a conversation with a coworker recently and, frankly, neither of us could settle on a single answer. There are so many factors that contribute to the success of a direct selling sales force: corporate marketing efforts, training and development initiatives, mobile apps—the list goes on. Maybe the question is inherently flawed. How can you pick just one?

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Jan Gilmore

Nonetheless, we posed the question to some of our friends in the direct selling industry, curious to see what they had to say. A response from Jan Gilmore, a direct selling consultant with more than 35 years of experience in the industry, was particularly enlightening: “Whether your distributors are part-time or full-time, they’re not employees that can be told what to do and when to do it. They’re volunteers, and they’ll only engage in your venture if they want to. The key, then, is to motivate them to want to engage.”

Motivation. It’s obvious in retrospect. You can give your sales force the most effective marketing resources, the most instructive training programs, and all the flashiest digital tools—none of it matters if your distributors aren’t motivated to perform. Without motivation, your sales will drop, your recruitment will slow, and your distributors will gradually move on to more attractive opportunities. Simple. Of course, it begs the question: how does a direct selling company motivate its distributors? As it turns out, the answer to that isn’t nearly as simple. Jan explains that there are a number of factors crucial to distributor motivation—things like trust in the company, confidence in the leadership, and an appealing corporate culture. But as a commission payments man, two of the points that Jan made stood out to me as particularly important: an efficient commission distribution process and comprehensive distributor support.

Punctual Commission Payments

“It’s crucial that distributors are paid on time,” Jan says. That might seem like a simple expectation to meet, but as direct selling organizations grow, their payment processes often fall apart. Sending money to a large and widely dispersed sales force is difficult, and it only gets tougher as companies expand internationally—commission distribution slows down, costs more, and becomes increasingly inconvenient for both the company and its distributors. As Jan points out, that’s a serious motivation killer: “The company needs to make it easy for distributors to do business.” This isn’t expendable income we’re talking about. Many distributors rely on their commission payments for both personal and business expenses. It’s no wonder, then, that lagging payments are discouraging—they have a tangible impact on a distributor’s direct selling success.

'It’s crucial that distributors are paid on time.' - @jan_gilmore Click To Tweet

How can direct selling companies tackle the challenges of commission distribution as they grow? Well, businesses can try to scale their commission distribution process in-house—which tends to consume an absurd amount of human and financial resources—or they can integrate with a commission payment provider. Modern commission distribution platforms, with their global financial networks and advanced payment routing, can increase the speed of funds disbursements while simultaneously reducing the cost of international transfers. This builds trust with distributors: they can count on the company to deliver commissions quickly and affordably, which helps them better plan for their independent business’ growth.

In Direct Selling, Knowledge is Power

Then there’s distributor support. “Many people who join the direct selling industry have never worked for themselves before,” Jan explains. “They’ve only worked for other people, with their time structured and their work assignments laid out for them. Contrast that with suddenly being in charge of themselves, their time, and all the tasks they need to complete to succeed in their new business. Most don’t even know where to start!”

Although direct selling is difficult for newcomers in particular, industry veterans sometimes struggle as well. Direct selling can be personally and professionally fulfilling, but it comes with many of the same headaches that plague other independent work: complex tax obligations; obscure deduction eligibility; laborious expense management—which is to say nothing of setting achievable goals and moving their business forward. Without a solid understanding of how to run their independent businesses, many distributors flounder, grow frustrated, and give up on their entrepreneurial pursuits. “Just because these people are independent doesn’t mean that they don’t want or need direction,” Jan points out. “They do. They need support from the company.”

'Your #directselling distributors are not employees... They’re volunteers.' - @jan_gilmore Click To Tweet

But what does that support look like? For Jan, true support means guiding distributors and instilling the knowledge necessary for success. “The company should set expectations, and reward the achievement of desirable behavior,” Jan says. “Help new distributors set goals for themselves. Provide step-by-step training materials and coaching to help distributors establish the right habits that lead to direct selling success.” While some organizations accomplish these tasks through traditional methods—in-person development seminars, mailed training materials, and so on—others are using digital tools to better equip their distributors for the challenges of direct selling. Mobile apps let companies push training materials directly to distributors pockets, while expense management and reporting software can be integrated directly into the commission payout process to help distributors with their tax obligations. “Obviously, there are other factors that must be taken into consideration,” Jan notes, “but getting these conditions right will go a long way towards ensuring success for your sales force.”

A Step in the Right Direction

Motivating your sales force isn’t easy. There are countless variables that contribute to distributor enthusiasm, and it can be hard to recognize precisely why one company’s efforts succeed while another’s fall short. At Hyperwallet, we don’t help companies build more attractive corporate cultures, or tell them how to inspire their sales teams. That’s on the company’s shoulders. But what we do offer is easy commission payment solutions that are designed to help your distributors run their independent businesses. With fast, affordable commission payment options to more than 170 countries, and a host of integrated distributor support features, Hyperwallet’s global commission payout platform gives distributors the tools they need to achieve their direct selling goals.

And, when it comes to motivating a direct selling sales force to succeed, that’s a big step in the right direction.

Jan Gilmore is a passionate advocate for direct selling with more than 35 years of experience in the business. She is one of the few industry consultants who has experience in both field sales and in corporate leadership within top direct selling companies. For more information on Jan’s speaking and training services visit www.jangilmore.com.

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