Monday, May 26, 2014

I know more than one of you

I can only speak for myself here, so if this does not apply for you, then feel free to let me know. However, I'm sure almost every direct sales consultant has heard from at least one customer that they have another friend or consultant in their circle. And people feel bad for saying it to us. They feel like they're breaking up with someone or cheating on their other consultant. And that's a legitimate way to feel. But it's ok.

I have had people say "oh a girl at work sells it", or "I knew this other consultant first", etc. Really- I absolutely do NOT take it personally. You're not rejecting me. You're just being honest and helping me keep my expectations on par with what you're able or willing to do. I want other consultants to respect the relationships I've worked to build with my hosts and customers, therefore, I respect that relationship you have with someone else. If things change, I will welcome you to join my community and will not hold you hostage. I would hope you'll stay with me because I put you at ease, keep things interesting, you're entertained, and I'm not putting pressure on you or spamming you.

Again, it's not about me. It's about those I serve. If your budget lacks wiggle room, believe me, I get it. If you already ordered from your other consultant, no hard feelings. If you are staying out of it because you know more than one consultant, I respect that. If one of your consultants has told you that you can't order from anyone else, that is total malarkey. In saying that, the relationship was made to be about them, versus being about the connection, mutual respect, and friendship. Order from who ever you're comfortable doing business with, not who puts pressure on you. If you support a friend's hosting effort by ordering from a show with another consultant, that is fabulous of you. I won't hold it against you. Because, as I've already said, it is not at all about me. It is entirely about those I serve. To make it about me belies the purpose of me working this kind of job.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How we roll

I went to a friend's birthday party recently. It was also a direct sales party and the consultant is a friend of mine for the last 6 years, who is also an "adopted" member of a very large Hispanic family we both know. One guest is an acquaintance I met through my new sister-in-law. We were talking, and she commented that she appreciates how I don't bombard her with emails, messages, and her Facebook feed with overt messages about Thirty-One.

Quite simply, it's not how I roll. And it's not how Thirty-One rolls. We have specific guidelines about how we are to relate our business through social media outlets. We are absolutely not allowed to do any hard selling. So, no "book your party" "place your order" or other "buy from me! buy from me!" posts. We are not allowed to post the link to our Thirty-One site unless it's something that comes up in conversation, and even then we would be wise to say "I'll message you the link". Every contact we make with someone needs to be through their permission, or via invitation. We are not allowed to spam, come close to spamming, or be in anyone's face.

We ARE allowed to share our experiences, celebrate our hosts and customers, celebrate what the business has done for us and the rewards we gain, or encourage our teammates. And who wouldn't love encouragement? That means we can tag hosts and thank them for an awesome girls night out, or comment about how excited you are to see what they choose with their host rewards. We can post a status or picture of what ever we're doing that our commission helped pay for - dance, vacation, leadership incentive trip to some exotic locale.... or in my case, pay the plumber, fix my van, replace a clarinet.... We can post that we're thrilled with the opportunity to help a charity with our business through a fundraiser.
If someone complains or Home Office finds out, we could be subject to losing our permission from the company to operate as an Independent Consultant with them.

If you're in a direct sales business, be respectful of your customers' time and energy in your social media feed. It's valuable time you're wasting by offending people with overt sales tactics. You're painting the image of a slick-haired used car salesman. It's valuable energy you're expending with little to no return on the investment. I sold a long-standing product line for 10 years, with hardly any success. I learned a lot - techniques, verbiage, just how crazy tenacious I could be, and how long I could drag a dead horse. I was not well-matched with my leadership, and the sales training we got went against my natural grain. It was difficult for me because I felt like it was an act - and ultimately it was. One of the core values of Thirty-One is Authentic - Be you, be real. THAT, I can do.

How do I roll? I hate being pushed about buying something. In turn, I hate being pushy trying to sell something. I don't want to drive people away from me, because then they won't recommend their friends to do business with me. They may not say outright "don't work with her" but they'll remain silent, and that's just as bad. Either way, people won't be doing business with me, and that means I won't be earning income.

How does Thirty-One roll? I got a call congratulating me on becoming a new consultant. I got a ribbon on my nametag at conference indicating it was my first one. I've been thanked when calling home office to get THEIR help with something, because I'm helping keep THEM employed. I got a call when I promoted to Senior Consultant to say congratulations, keep up the good work. I got a call back from someone I talked to when she had to abruptly get off the phone, and she apologized to ME! I sensed she needed to get off the phone, and I felt like a cad for keeping her on the line. When she called back, I apologized to HER in return. When there was a bit of a mix up with some supply orders, they got things rectified. They operate under what Dave Ramsey calls in EntreLeadership as Servant Leadership, and the overall culture is vastly different. The home office staff looks forward to coming to work each day, and their work gives them a sense of purpose and energizes them.

So, when it comes down to it all, this is not about me. As soon as I make it about me, things stagnate. It's about those I serve. There's a Zig Ziglar quote that says "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
That is so true in this line of work (which doesn't feel like work to me because I enjoy it so much).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Of fire trucks and dreams

Clone needed black pants for her band concert this week. She hit a growth spurt RIGHT after we got her a pair for the December concert. Such is our luck, right? So, off to a second-hand store that sells kids' clothes. The store has this giant toy firetruck near the registers, with a sign on it that it's not for sale, just for fun.

Clone was in the dressing room, repeating every try-on session I've ever had. We've got ample bootie, and it poses challenges with proper fit, and my need to veto a lot of what she has tried on for putting too much cash and prize on display. She's got a long femur too, so it's a trifecta making virtually every skirt or pair of shorts too far north on her legs. I was poking around looking for cute onesies for chunk boy's summer wardrobe. He is his daddy's clone - long torso, short legs, not skinny. The kid's elbows have dimples.

Meanwhile, this little girl who may have been around age 3 or 4, was there with her mother. The little girl pointed out the fire truck to her mom, and mom promptly said "That's for boys." That little girl shrank. Not only did her mother shut her down, but then she squashed her daughter's interest in dreaming. I said something about knowing some women who are first responders that would disagree. Mama didn't seem interested in, or pleased with, what I said. Honestly, I did not care. Lord, please let this child go on a school field trip to a fire house and find at least one or more women in the line of duty. My heart breaks for that family, broken down before dreams even begin to take shape.

I heard "you can't" as a child. My mother heard it in her childhood. Some of the problem was that my parents didn't have the extra money for things. But pride got in the way. "Can't" should have been followed by "afford". The word "can't" in my childhood was translated to ability, not finances. It prompted me to be honest with my kids when things were unaffordable. "It's not in the budget" or "we don't have the extra money" is honest, and pride-piercing. But it's not dream crushing.

My dad let me tinker with his tools when I was a kid. I entered adulthood with small skills that paid dividends. I could make small repairs and saved money on replacing items or hiring someone to fix stuff. We lived in base housing when tropical storms blew through Camp Lejeune. Base housing has a list of self help items they can give residents to do things like change air filters, replace the hook and eye latches on screen doors, replace broken porch light globes etc. My screen door was ripped, and I couldn't open the door for fresh air without bugs moving in with us. I went to the self help shop at the housing office to ask for screen material. The guys looked at me like I was nuts, and said "it's not on the list of stuff we can give you."  He may have said something about my husband, but it's been so long, I forget.
I looked at him and said "Well, I have tools and a staple gun, and I can fix a screen door. Or, I can add one more piddly ticket to your list of work orders, and it'll be months before I get a screen door fixed because other people have trees in their houses." He paused a minute, sighed, and gave me enough screen for my door. I was an antithesis of the typical Marine wife, and I don't know that he'd ever experienced anyone like me before. The guys in the maintenance department appreciated that when I called for repairs, it was really worth their time, and not BS calls like someone's closet doors being off track and they didn't know how to get them back on there.

I realize it's an anomaly to see non-traditional roles in play. My sons can cook and clean, and my daughters love motorcycles. They've all played with kitchens, cars, dolls, and tool sets. Clone will say she'd rather hang with the boys because they have something interesting to say, versus girl gossip. Blur was at a party recently. There was a bounce house and the boys were being brutes. The other girls ran away, but my feisty redheaded little girl stayed put, refusing to cave to the boys' attempts to get the bounce house girl-free. A time or two, she may have done that running back block.

I want my kids to accept dreaming as a possibility. I want them to take leaps of faith and do things that interest them. I want them to not have to battle the inner bully of self-sabotage and self-defeat that I have. Logically, I know I can do things. Internally, I constantly nudge that timid child out of the corner, making her try new things, and do things she resists. It started with getting my motorcycle endorsement two years ago. It's incredibly empowering to learn to ride. It's incredibly soul-strengthening to get in the saddle over and over and build the skill and confidence to venture among the "cagers". I got sidelined a bit, but I will be getting back in the saddle in a couple years. My body still needs to rebuild, I have a new baby, and I'll need to take the endorsement course again because I have already forgotten a lot of it. In the meantime, I've found myself surrounded by a lot of awesome cheerleaders who help me stifle the inner bully, and spurn the timid child forward. I want my kids to see me go after goals, achieve things, and not defer dreams. I want them to strike out in search of their own dreams, and the best way to do that is by example.