How much network marketing software do I need, and when do I need it?

Software selection (party plan software and MLM software) actually begins with the strategic plan and an understanding of the business model, business rules, and overall business strategies. The unique requirements of direct selling, Multilevel Marketing (MLM), and Party Plan Business, demand the careful design and organization of the strategy and model. Bear in mind that the MLM software decision (including the build / buy decision) must account for a host of special needs that your company will have to consider, regardless of the product and service mix of your marketing strategy. MLM software and Party Plan software are truly “unique animals” with unique demands.

These unique requirements include most, if not all, of the following:

  • Genealogy Management
  • Commissions
  • Order Processing
  • Payment Processing
  • Customer Service Administration
  • Contact Tracking and CRM
  • Order Fulfillment
  • Accounting Issues
  • Product Returns
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Inventory
  • Distributor Access
  • Recruiting and Training
  • Affiliate and Replicated Sites
  • Downline Management
  • Hostess Rewards and Incentives
  • Awards, Incentives and Recognition
  • Structured Communications
  • Compliance
  • International

From all our years of experience, we recommend that the starting point for MLM software selection or Party Plan software development or selection is not to “shop” software vendors but to go through the rigorous exercise of defining your company’s business requirements. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, the most efficient and thorough of which is to use a requirements document or questionnaire / outline that guides you.

Please understand that this is not an attempt to “sell” the reader on LaunchSmart™ tools, but instead to educate how the tools have come into existence and how they can help to simplify the process. Whether you use a project notebook or use a requirements list such as the LaunchSmart™ proprietary template for drafting and documenting business requirements, it is an exercise that is done over time as each area of your strategic plan begins to unfurl.

For instance, the grueling process of working through your compensation plan design creates the perfect opportunity to define the business rules and policies supporting or flowing from the compensation plan. Capture those rules and policies by carefully documenting them in a project notebook or requirements list. A good compensation plan designer will provide you with the documented elements that will help to shape your business rules in this vital area of your business.

Following is an overview of some of the key areas to consider when preparing your requirements prior to selecting your MLM software.

Maximizing Sales Effectiveness and Recruiting

If your marketing and sales plans call for maximizing sales effectiveness and recruiting through the use of technology, you will wish to include this requirement in your list. It should include requirements and tools such as helping distributors and consultants to recruit more efficiently, predictably, and profitably using the right tools and methods that work for your company. Perhaps you wish to have integrated sales opportunity analytics and embedded support for sales process best practices. The outcome is typically much more consistency in the recruiting cycles, yielding higher close rates.

Supporting Marketing Challenges and Distributor Needs

Take time to identify the requirements that enable your organization (whether you choose the MLM business model or the Party Plan company model) to increase the value of relationships by allowing distributors and consultants to interact with customers that reflect a deeper understanding of the customer’s needs and wants – their “why.” This would include personalized campaigns that synchronize across channels and provide feedback to the user.

As a start-up or as an existing company looking for the best MLM software solution you must consider the following:

  • Scaleable MLM software technology
  • International – language, tax, and currency
  • Data Security and catastrophic recovery
  • Outsourcing your mlm software infastructure to experts
  • Payroll Flexibility – checks, debit cards, direct deposit
  • MLM Experts vs Technology Gurus (You need both)
  • Inovative Tools & systems for affiliates & distributors
  • Legal MLM Software compliance (proper tracking)

Plus many other critical considerations

As an example, here are some common distributor and consultant applications for MLM software and Party Plan software, whether purchased or developed in-house. Remember that the key is determine what your business really needs, what will really set it apart, and then shop your requirements list. Don’t get caught in the trap of getting “sold” what you need without understanding how your business can be its best:

  • Targeted Mailing
    • Catalogs
    • Cards
    • Brochures
  • Product Survey
  • E-Cards
    • Integrating with email, creating professionally designed, company-approved email templates for distributors and consultants to customize
    • Audio elements can be added, such as pre-recorded or personalized voice messages
    • Tracking tools to monitor responses, opens, etc.
  • Streaming Audio and Video
  • Website Registry
  • Personal Distributor Web Pages powered by the MLM Software
    • Replicating web page that distributors and consultants use for simple administration and sales
  • MLM Software with Online Enrollment and Ordering
    • Ability to sign up new distributors and consultants from a portal site or a personal distributor website.
    • Distributor, consultant, hostess or customer locator searchable by name, zip, address, etc.
    • Credit card processing capabilities
    • Print agreements and important forms
    • Set up and administer Autoship
    • Retail Shopping Cart
  • Downline Management
    • View activities of organization
    • Generate reports relevant to growth, retention, sales volumes, etc.
    • View orders and Autoship activity
    • Examine genealogies and formulate growth strategies
    • Push action items to individuals or groups
  • Fingertip Information
    • Email, broadcasts, online voicemail
    • Notes and history
    • Scripts for calls, emails and voicemails
  • Managing Distributor’s or Consultant’s business
    • Setting and tracking goals
    • Reporting progress
    • Calendar that integrates to company events and distributor’s own events and activities
    • Address book, mailing labels, birthday tracker
    • Lead Management tools
  • Warm Contact List Creation and MLM Software – guided administration
    • Develop and manage personal warm market list
    • Set priorities and follow-up actions with dates
    • Track call history, notes, contact categories
  • Distributor or Consultant Tax Tracking with the MLM Software as the backbone
    • Facilitate tax documentation and strategies associated with home-based business
    • Provide information and references
  • Party Plan Order Entry
    • Entering online orders
    • Managing hostess program
    • Tracking past activity and future commitments
    • Real-time credit card processing

By way of an additional example, and certainly not an exhaustive or comprehensive list, the realm of the company’s business operations provides another opportunity to illustrate the types of general requirements that your company should consider in the MLM software selection process. Specific requirements would be generated in the course of the business planning process.

  • Distributor Management
  • Order Entry
  • Customer Management
  • Sales Reports
  • Lead Management
  • Credit Card Processing
  • ACH / Direct Deposit
  • Check Drafts
  • Inventory Management
  • Autoship Templates
  • Genealogy Reports
  • Check Writing
  • Commission Processing
  • Shipping Fulfillment
  • Tax Reporting – 1099 Forms
  • Sales Tax Management
  • Party Plan Management
  • Systems Security
  • Warehousing / Multiple Warehouses
  • International
  • Manufacturing
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