“In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words; people, product and profits. Unless
you’ve got a good team, you can’t do much with the other two.” –Lee Iacocca
We just returned from Las Vegas from the MLM Start-Up conference – where we have been a proud
speaking member of the MLM Startup Conference for the past 15 conferences. Once again, the
Sheffield Group and Jeffrey Babener put together a great show, filled with terrific people both from
within our industry and new to it. Entrepreneurs are always an inspiring, visionary group with a lot of
stimulating questions and discussions. Many see the direct selling business model as a way to get their
product or service to their target customer quicker and more efficiently than a traditional retail or
Direct sales is growing and the influence of technology has opened the door for ecommerce plays in the
industry that have not been available prior, putting direct selling companies in head-to-head
competition with traditional retailers and service providers.
In today’s candidate-driven job market, there is more competition than ever to attract and retain highly
skilled and experienced direct sales corporate executives, for both party plan and MLM companies. Not
only are direct selling companies looking for function-savvy talent, those candidates have to be industry-
savvy as well.
For industry start-ups, recruiting top talent can be even tougher. To effectively recruit an executive for
your company you have to be able to speak the direct sales language, and you have to understand
industry standards for compensation, from salary to bonus, and you have to know what executives in
direct sales are looking for today.
One of the biggest challenges we see for companies new to our industry is determining what makes a
candidate qualified to be a member of their organization. If you are new to the industry there is a good
chance you may not know what abilities and knowledge will make an executive successful. In addition to
function ability and industry knowledge, personality attributes can be just as important in a small,
dynamic team environment for the team work productively together. Does the candidate fit the culture
we want to create? Does the candidate compliment my weaknesses? These are not questions that have
general answers. And, making a mistake can be costly.
One way to minimize this risk is to require an assessment test for candidates. These tests have no right
or wrong answer, but rather provide employers with an understanding of your personality type and how
you prefer to work. Not only can an assessment give the company insight into probable job
performance, it also allows each party to assess if the culture of the company is a place that the
candidate will thrive. Being a good fit in both these areas has the potential of saving both parties a lot of
time and expense.
The direct sales industry is built on people, and their relationships with each other. A start up
organization in our industry can die as quickly as it started if it doesn’t take measures to put the right
person in place the first time. The short and long-term costs associated with a bad hire can range in the
hundreds of thousands of dollars. In direct sales, hyper-growth can happen quickly and bad hires can
cost companies the chance to ever get off the ground. Most start-ups companies to our industry can’t
afford to get their first couple of executive hires wrong. It is a mistake that unfortunately most are
unable to rebound from.