The Next 4 Speed Killers
Entrepreneurs are often consumed with the idea they’re losing business everyday they are not launched. This thought track can often derail an otherwise great business or product launch. In the rush to get launched, companies can overlook or be under-prepared for many important aspects of their business. At the same time, overthinking and indecisiveness can be just as detrimental to a quick and successful start to your business.
The following is a list of MLM speed-to-market killers, whether you are launching a new business or a new product. There could be 20 or more things to add to this list, but these are the ones I see pop up the most.
Go read the first 3 speed killers >
From software selection to customizations to months-long integration, new MLM companies can experience a huge delay in getting things started. A great deal of time and money can be saved by being particularly careful in each of these areas. And being careful is really rather simple.
Software selection can actually be a rather quick process. First learn through articles, google searches, and other people in the industry who successful MLMs have chosen to be their software provider. Once you have a short list of about 5-10 MLM software providers, visit their websites and call them. Look for transparency in pricing and clear descriptions of their services.
Get a sense for their size and their responsiveness to your questions. Be wary of guarded answers and seemingly “perfect companies” where nothing goes wrong, prices are capped, and resources are endless. Of course, no such company can truly claim these things while servicing a growing large multi-level marketing company. Your plans may be to become the next big thing. Make sure the provider you choose knows how to service such a growing company as a partner, knows how to successfully deal with problems, and continually improves their software as technology and other needs change. The last thing you want to do is switch software providers after you have grown. Switching is a very costly process in terms of dollars and revenues lost as distributors inevitably drop out during such transitions.
Keep your customizations to a minimum. Find a software that meets most of your needs, requires few if any customizations to get you started. Better yet, discuss your plans for customization before you choose a provider, find out their capabilities and speed for getting these things done, then wait. Do not customize. Rather, let the features of the software suffice, then let the success of your business pay for the enhancements you would like to make, and roll those out to your distributors and staff to make their lives easier. Use these delayed customizations as internal PR to show your constant growth and improvement. It provides more opportunities of excitement and training which keeps your leaders involved with their teams.
Find a provider that is doing everything they can to shorten the often months long process of integration. With most MLM software providers, this integration time can last anywhere from 2 to 6 months! Xennsoft has a new platform where it is possible to be up and running in less than a week.
5. Compensation Plans
With so many networking marketing companies selling similar products, compensation plans tend to be the secret sauce of many companies. As I have observed the landscape over the years, I see product and delivery differentiation as much more powerful. When companies try to differentiate on compensation plans, some pretty convoluted and difficult teach plans are born. Multi-faceted hybrid designs combined with extensive rules and scheduling necessitates many hours of custom programming for bonus calculations, qualifications, and accurate reporting. In fact, some companies spend just as much or more on their custom compensation plan as they do their entire software system.
I have seen companies dial back their complicated compensation plans for more simplified, easier to teach plans. After waiting weeks or months to implement a difficult comp plan, companies can also experience a very slow start due to the lack of growth caused by the difficult plan. The company must wait for that needed growth until a more simplified plan is developed and implemented. Whew! All of that wasted time could have been saved by creating a rewarding yet simple compensation plan and focusing your time and money on developing your product(s), buying more inventory, and developing compelling marketing stories about your offerings.
BTW…Xennsoft has a compensation plan configurator in their new platform that can save you thousands of dollars in compensation plan design and programming costs.
6. Merchant Accounts
Securing an MLM friendly merchant account takes time (sometimes weeks to months). You cannot take orders until this is done. Many standard e-commerce merchant account providers are NOT friendly to network marketing.If you are a retail establishment right now and you think you can continue on that merchant account as an MLM company, think again. Nothing is worse than getting fully launched and having your merchant account provider learn later that you use a network marketing model or you have an event where a big spike in orders occurs and your merchant account provider freezes your funds (or worse yet, closes your account).
Start acquiring an MLM friendly merchant account very early in the game. This may be tough as many providers want to see a website in place to complete their due diligence. So get moving on both.
Next, make sure you get approved for one or two more merchant account to act as backups for accounts that reach their limits or for some other reason become unavailable. There is no shortcut here so act right away.
Actually there is a bit of a shortcut. On Xennsoft’s new platform new copanies can receive an immediate temporary account with ProPay. This account currently has a $5000 limit. If you go over, they will still let you accept money (so you stay in business), but you must complete an application with them and get approved to continue using their merchant account services. How’s an instant merchant account for fast?
While many new MLM companies believe they are getting a faster start on their business by doing a pre-launch, many will tell you they wished they had waited. Pre-launches are wrought with problems that can delay a strong launch , confuse distributors, and slow the excitement in a new business. Often times a pre-launch occurs because a company is waiting for product to be produced, a custom compensation plan to be implemented, or because a distributor leader is too impatient. It may seem counter-intuitive to a fast launch, but sometimes waiting can be the best strategy to fast growth.
Nothing can be more frustrating for distributors in waiting to officially sign up with a company and then have their excitement wane as they continue waiting weeks to months for products to arrive or for commissions to be paid. The first week, 30 days, and 90 days are crucial for capitalizing on new distributor excitement. If expectations fall short during these key time frames, the powerful element of urgency is dissolved and group excitement can virtually disappear from an organization. Instead, get your ducks in a row first and meet those key expectations for an energized full launch. Instead, use that time that would have been spent in pre-lauch refining your messaging and your tactical ground game for getting the masses to learn about you and sign up. Everyone wins when you start right.
A Final Note
As a final note, I’ve seen quite a few companies let their “top” distributors “wag the dog” when it comes to early decision making before a launch. It is important for new MLM business owners to take suggestions from their experienced field workers, but always remembering that they want decisions to be made in their best interest (decisions that may sometimes leave the business owner holding the bag). Your focus needs to be on a full and successful launch in the shortest amount of time possible. Too many cooks in the kitchen can derail a successful launch. Be flexible, but stay on track with your overall plans. People that want to derail your business for personal motives should be corrected as you move forward.
As a business owner, you need to be generous with compensation and recognition while maintaining healthy margins for company growth (a topic for another day). You also need to keep your long-term business interests in mind when making any decision about any of the 7 things that can kill your speed to market. I believe a fast, strong start can be achieved by jumping on lengthy (but important) tasks early and making sure product is ready to be shipped and software is ready to take signups, export orders, and pay commissions. Any delays in your launch can be filled with continual testing of your messaging and training to take advantage of additional time created.