RETENTION: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits, and Lasting Value – Part III

By Terrel Transtrum, Co-founder, LaunchSmart™

This article is part two of a five-part series where we explore the powerful and proven principles of retention.

You can help your company become good at retention!

In prior articles, we established that the average annual attrition rate in direct selling companies is 80% per year. We also introduced the 30 best practices of the Retention Leaders, those companies that have managed to beat the averages. We have helped readers to see how even a small increase in retention greatly leverages growth and momentum, and that retention presents one of the best opportunities for high Return on Investment (ROI).

Retention Principles

The four Retention Principles are listed below. In this article, we explore the second of the four principles of retention. Upon these principles the 30 Retention Best Practices derive their power.

The 4 Retention Principles

  1. Value
  2. Expectations
  3. Service
  4. Leadership

Principle 2 – Expectations

Know expectations, manage expectations and exceed expectations. Learn the expectations of new recruits joining your company and of established leaders. Manage expectations through communication, training and active involvement with the field. Exceed expectations through your company’s performance.

The best way to understand expectations is to look at active field organizations. Their own activities (discovered via studies as well as through ongoing, real-time updates) reveal their expectations, accomplishments, skills, emotions, and commitment better than any abstract commentary or logical presentation. Effective field teams are deeply committed to their purpose, goals and approach.

The Top 10 Practices of Field Retention Leaders

High-ranking field leaders are usually expected, by virtue of their rank and pin, to rally the field teams. Many do. In reality, the most effective retention teams often consist of a devoted leader with a handful of equally devoted followers. Here is a brief sampling:

    Consider the organization of Maggie P. Maggie believes that her group of 12 business builders is a very small group by most standards. But as you look closely, over a period of 3 years she has retained 12 of the 13 she personally brought to the business. Her secrets are reflected in the list of practices that appears below. She shares her keys to effective retention and she has also contributed insights as to her expectations from the corporate office.

On a larger scale, Tina R. shares her eight keys to retention in a group of 900 that enjoys an estimated retention of nearly 80% per year (the inverse of the 80% attrition experienced by many in the direct selling market).

At the highest level, Vondell M. is one of the most qualified leaders in the nation to reveal her expectations, as a field leader presiding over more than 100,000 independent field reps. Her insights and advice are reflected in The Top 10 Practices of Field Retention Leaders. Team ServiceQuest® continues to explore and probe the corners of our vast industry for the secrets and insights of effective retention. And one by one, the answers seem to fall within the framework of the Top 10 Practices, below. For specific notes from individual leader and team studies, or for a continual update of field leader secrets to team retention, check the ServiceQuest® team retention database at www.teamretention.com.

Here are the Top 10 Practices of Field Retention Leaders, reflecting their expecations:

  1. Know your specific roles in fast start and faithfully perform those roles
    1. Recruit to retain
    2. Create and manage realistic expectations both as to products as well as to earnings
    3. Train new customers and recruits in the important fundamentals of company, product and business
    4. Mentor the willing with passion and vision, providing structure and accountability
    5. Solve problems and clear hurdles
  2. Internalize the company value proposition, communicate it and live it
    1. Focus on the quality and frequency of your message
    2. Be a “product of the product”
    3. Know and convey the features and benefits of all key value elements of your business
  3. Keep your promises; give exceptional service to your team
    1. Don’t be afraid to make promises; do what you say you will do
    2. Help the company to keep product promises, commission promises and service promises
    3. Fulfill your implied promises of support and encouragement
    4. Become a servant-leader by immersing yourself in the service of your family first, your customers and your business team
  4. Use data wisely and often
    1. Learn to use reports and key data points to meet qualifications, spot trends and identify opportunities for meaningful recognition
    2. Measure, report and celebrate
  5. Communicate effectively
    1. Establish a reliable communication system
    2. Master your crucial conversations
    3. Think ahead and take initiative
  6. Ask, listen, act
    1. Get to know your customers and business recruits at a personal level
    2. Ask for feedback, input and insights
    3. Become an expert listener
    4. Act on what you hear, perceive and promise
  7. Recover when necessary and possible, be proactive about retention
    1. Always take responsibility for goofs and become a sturdy, reliable bridge between the company, disappointments and failures on the one side and your customers and recruits on the other side
    2. Learn the economics of the lifetime value of a faithful customer and resolve to invest in each individual customer
  8. Regularly and meaningfully recognize
    1. Recognize your customers and business builders from the heart
    2. Be consistent, be genuine and be accurate
    3. Develop spontaneity and magic
  9. Train and develop your team; constantly learn from retention leaders
    1. Always be learning and stay on higher ground
    2. Share what you learn, don’t hold back; remember that each individual in your organization is at a different level, has different needs and responds in different ways
    3. Use and contribute to the company’s training systems and materials
  10. Generously give Warm Fuzzies
    1. TLC (Tender Loving Care) comes naturally to some, has to be created by others. Either way, develop the feeling and give the nurturing care
    2. Develop your own style, techniques and flavor of TLC
    3. Give generously of yourself, your energy, your caring and your talents

What Field Leaders Expect From The Corporate Office

Our studies of the high-retention field leaders have also yielded some valuable insights for the corporate offices and how they can help advance team retention. Below are the six most frequently stated expectations:

  1. Provide Data
  2. Provide Field Training & Development Curricula
  3. Provide Dedicated “Hot Line” Support for Field Leaders
  4. Define Sponsor’s Role in Fast Start
  5. Train for Retention
  6. Reward for Retention

(The content of this article is extracted from ServiceQuest® RetentionSmarts™ Modules. For more information on RetentionSmarts™ training and mentoring systems, contact a member of the LaunchSmart Team.)

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