I was waiting at a traffic signal today when an Army Recruiter vehicle made a left turn in front of me. It got me thinking about all the different types of organizations and businesses that recruit people. Colleges, sports teams, and even retail stores and restaurants are constantly looking for new people to join their ranks. The military is also great example – with a volunteer army, it’s constantly necessary to educate people about the opportunities the military offers and encourage interested individuals to sign on. Some will say yes, but most will say no. For some who say yes, it’s an opportunity to build self confidence. For others, it’s a way to earn money for college, or it may just sound like an exciting adventure. Once recruited, some will drop out after the first day of boot camp. Others will make a career out of it. Some will be criticized by their families for signing up. Others will become the heroes of their hometowns. The motivations are many, as are the ways to define success.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this – try inserting “direct seller” into any of the scenarios above. There are a lot of similarities. Unfortunately, the recruiting techniques of some more passionate direct sellers have become the stuff of legends, sometimes becoming fodder for late-night variety shows, but in the end resulting in a public that has a lot of preconceived notions about direct selling and recruiting.
But the truth of the matter is that recruiting is important to almost every type of business. Turnover requires bringing on new people on a regular basis, and there is a natural hierarchy in any business where a few people at the top manage progressively larger numbers of people below them (and are rewarded accordingly). But, in the end, no business can be successful, regardless of the number of “recruits,” without the sale of products and services. As a result, the emphasis on selling versus recruiting must be balanced.
It’s likely that at some point everyone will be approached with a direct selling opportunity. The opportunity may sound intriguing, or you may not be interested right now (never say never). Either way, just be straight with the person who’s trying to recruit you – don’t be afraid to say no, but also keep in mind that they are approaching you because they like what they do and as a friend, neighbor, colleague, etc. want you to be involved too. If you say no, don’t be surprised if they continue to try to convince you, and know that they’ll probably try again later. Can you imagine if consumer products companies ran one ad for a product and then never tried again? Or if colleges sent only one marketing brochure to their top prospects?
And sellers, if someone says no, accept it and consider trying again later if it’s appropriate. It’s not worth your time or effort to recruit people who aren’t really interested because they’re not likely to be successful. Let the person know that you respect their decision, but if they change their mind, you would love to have them on your team. The next person you meet might say yes and become the next star seller – imagine if you had wasted your time on someone who would only resent you and the opportunity later. Plus, remember that your friends and neighbors are that, first and foremost. Don’t risk your relationships when you have a whole world of potential customers out there – it’s just a matter of meeting them.
So, the Army recruiter I saw this morning was probably on his way to a high school or community event. He probably talked with dozens of people about signing up. Maybe one or two will ultimately do so. It’s possible, but not likely, that one of those people will one day be a five-star general. But either way, the recruiter will probably be out again tomorrow, doing the same thing again. Along the way, it’s likely that he’ll run into a direct seller. They’ll certainly have lots of stories to share with each other. Who knows, maybe that army recruiter will decide to earn a little extra money by selling financial services, pet products, personal care products or any of a multitude of products and services sold through direct selling.