Direct Sales Success: From Strategy to Plan

Planning for direct sales success can be as simple as turning on a light switch, or as challenging as digging ditches. It all depends on your outlook.

My husband thinks 'plan' is a four-letter word. So I have to come up with "action items" instead of a plan. It's the only way to get anything done around my house.

But before I lay out my "honey-do" list, I have to envision my desired outcome. Then, I need to understand the important pillars of getting the job done.

The same hold true in your direct sales business.

Once you've laid a vision for your direct sales business, identified the goals and created a strategy around what the key areas of accomplishment are, we then get to "the brass tacks" of bringing that vision to life - creating the plan.

Once you've laid out you annual objectives, you've got to break that down into meaningful, manageable "chunks". For example, if your goal is to add 12 new personal recruits to your team, that breaks down to approximately 1 recruit each month.

But this kind of thinking is not likely to be accurate.

Consultants are trained to average their numbers out over the course of the year, which is a detriment. In reality, the bulk of our sales - the bulk of our business, really - comes during the last quarter of the year.

Now that doesn't mean to sit on your laurels until October. Far from it.

What it means is that you should plan appropriately and project reasonably for the year.

For example, if you look at your sales history and 50% of your sales happens from October to December, don't expect that you'll have an even time of things from January to June.

Forecast higher numbers in the fall and lower numbers in the winter.

This does two things:

1. It paints a realistic picture for your business
2. It shows you where your real opportunities lie

So if you've NEVER added a single recruit in February, you can choose to focus on that objective, or to play to your strengths instead.

This is how your business truly becomes your own.

If in March, you know there's a big bridal event that you're planning for, lay the groundwork NOW and know what your desired outcomes are. They may look something like this:

1. collect contact info for 300 leads
2. connect with 30 brides (preferably at the show)
3. book 10 parties/events from the bridal show
4. schedule 2 recruit interviews
5. sign one recruit

If there is a commandment in direct sales it should be "Thou shalt know thy numbers." You can't plan a realistic business year without knowing your numbers. How many interviews must you hold (on average) before you sign a recruit? How many people do you need to talk to before you can schedule an interview? How many leads do you need to make 30 contacts?

If you know these numbers, you can look at last year's data to break it all down. Here's a hypothetical example:

2009 Results:
Jan - 2 shows, 16 people, 1 recruit interview (did not sign)
Feb - 8 shows, 80 people, 3 recruit interviews (1 signed)
Mar - 10 shows, 85 people, 5 recruit interviews (2 signed)
Apr - 7 shows, 80 people, 4 recruit interviews (1 signed)
May - 16 shows, 150 people, 10 recruit interviews (3 signed)
Jun - 7 shows, 81 people, 5 recruit interviews (3 signed)
Jul - 4 shows, 55 people, 3 recruit interviews (2 signed)
Aug - 4 shows, 42 people, 1 recruit interview (1 signed)
Sep - 6 shows, 55 people, 2 recruit interviews (0 signed)
Oct - 11 shows, 140 people, 12 recruit interviews (5 signed)
nov - 16 shows, 225 people, 20 recruit interviews (10 signed)
Dec - 8 shows, 150 people, 10 recruit interviews (3 signed)

2009 - 99 shows, 1159 people, 76 recruiting interviews, 31 signed

These numbers reveal that for every 3 shows you hold, about 1 person will sign up. It also tells you that only aout 6% of your customers and guests will hold an interview with you, but that once you DO get them to schedule an interview, you will sign up about 40% of them.

It also shows you that June, July and January are your slowest months. this tells you that you can either take a vacation (if you're certain you'll not do any business during those months), or plan some new ideas for those months to boost business.

It also shows you that you're bringing a lot of team members on in the fall. How can you prepare yourself to have an eqally spectacular spring, and still be ready to bring on so many new recruits during the busy season?

Armed with your own numbers, you can plan a course for your entire year - without waiting to see what your home office will do in terms of incentives, prizes, bonuses or rewards.

You can also find the holes in your armor and fix them. If January is always slow, is it because you're so bogged down in December that you can't get things moving? If so, now you have ammunition to create a strategy to prevent this kind of problem at the end of this year.

You don't need a coach to tell you all of this. You can crunch these numbers on your own. But crunch them one way or another so that you can have a powerfully productive 2010!

© 2009 Lisa Robbin Young.

Please do not alter it and include the following information (with active links as appropriate):

Lisa Robbin Young is a certified direct sales marketing coach, teaching direct sellers to grow their business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Sign up for her free weekly ezine at