Inspire Your Downline To Success! (written March, 1997)

Do you want to succeed in Network Marketing? Well if you really, really, really do, then you need to inspire your downliners to be the best they can be. You need to be a Cheerleader. You need to give feedback that inspires your downline’s passion and their performance. When you do, you will be a great success in Network Marketing!

As an MLM coach, it’s your job to help people reach higher levels of performance. Helping your downline reach their goals helps you reach your goals. Therefore it’s your job to reach inside yourself to find the interest, words and passion that encourages others to tap into their potential. It is your responsibility to give the kind of support, guidance and feedback that changes lives. To do it well, you must have genuine respect for the individuals in your downline and a sincere desire to contribute to their growth. Your intent determines whether what you say or do is discouraging or affirming.

Successful feedback validates what others have done well and guides them in the direction they need to go. It’s not a once a year conversation; it’s an ongoing dialogue that motivates behavior and inspires excellence. So why do successful MLMer’s wait until the end of the year to give feedback to their downline? What is it about our business culture that inhibits immediate conversations about what’s going on and what can be done better? Part of the problem is that in today’s world, people are increasingly knowledge based technology oriented and isolated. We aren’t used to having straightforward conversations about disagreements and performance challenges. As a result, upliners need more than ever to have the ability to influence others and create cohesive teams. To be successful MLMer’s, we need to give and receive feedback at the time it is warranted. Don’t wait until the end of the year. Make it a daily dialogue.

Giving and receiving feedback includes: “Engaging Conversations” – Engaging conversations help others to agree with you about what they need to do. If a downliner isn’t doing much, in your conversation, help this person understand why their behavior has to change. Then ask for them to make a commitment to be a worker. Be clear about what will happen if their commitment is violated and be prepared to enforce the consequence. Work with someone else then.

If someone on your team has made a mistake, ask: “at the time this happened, what were you thinking?” Take time to show you are interested in what this person is saying. Then ask: “What do you think you can do differently next time?” or “What ideas do you have for how you can avoid doing that in the future?” Let this downliner come up with the answers. The point is to examine the facts – not to make the other person wrong. A productive downliner is “money” in your pocket!

“Proactive Approach” – To be proactive, you have to observe what people are doing and be seen making these observations. When people are located in different states, this is very difficult, but by keeping an eye on what your downline is doing gives you the opportunity to eliminate mistakes as or before they happen. Don’t be afraid to analyze mistakes openly with your uplines or downlines!

It can be hard to develop this skill, as few people foster a non-judgmental atmosphere and people are scared they will be punished if they are honest about what they’ve done. As a leader you have to earn the right to be trusted based on how you handle errors and mistakes. Modeling trustworthy behavior takes time. You must be serious about this commitment. And you must never punish someone for an original mistake. This creates fear and an inhibition against trying new things. Wherever possible encourage people to apply their creativity. Developing a new successful downliner can put lots of “money” in your pocket! Learning to give successful, immediate feedback is a process. In time people will welcome your feedback because they trust your intent and your desire to help them improve.

“Communicating Expectations” – When MLMer’s fail, it’s usually because they don’t understand what is expected of them. Clear expectations should be set when they join your downline and they should be held to these expectations until it’s time to “up the ante.” At all levels – up or down, expectations should be identified and agreed to by both parties. That gives us goals to shoot for – together!

“Suspending Judgment” and “Handling Conflict” – When there is a problem, be a detective. An assertion is not proof or evidence and you many not have the story right. Before you make a decision, ask questions to help you understand the contributing factors of a situation and be open to other points of view. Accept that people can do the wrong things for all the right reasons. Sometimes mistakes happen because someone is trying to improve the process – and it just didn’t work out.

So conflict is inevitable. If handled appropriately, conflict can lead to greater understanding and new ideas. Ask questions and listen for the cause of the disagreement. Let those involved speak their minds and never invalidate their opinions or emotions. When the problem is defined you can lead conversation toward resolution. Feedback should be: Specific: Base your conversation on the behavior you are addressing: what took place, and what is expected. It should never be about liking or disliking the person or finding fault or blame. It should be about identifying the problem and having corrective action identified and understood.

Descriptive: Use clear, descriptive language and if possible, demonstrate what you are looking for and have them repeat it for understanding. Starting the ideal: Paint a picture about what the future could look like if the person realizes a higher potential. Immediate and confirmed: Give your feedback as soon as possible and check for understanding by asking the person to summarize the points.

“A two-way conversation” – One of the best ways to gain trust and develop your own effectiveness is to ask for feedback and accept it graciously. If the feedback is sincere, find the truth within it and change your behavior accordingly.  If you are not used to giving immediate feedback it may seem awkward at first. The key is to be respectful of the other person and use direct but affirmative language. Here are a few tips: Use “I” messages. Own what you say and only use another person’s name and comments when you have permission.  Use “and” instead of “but.” Defenses go up when you say “You are doing a good job, but…” Use “and” to transition to comments on what that downliners can do better. Talk about “what went well” and what you “want done differently” instead of using judgmental terms such as what went wrong.”

Inspire your downline to communicate, set goals and work towards achieving them. As was previously mentioned, inspiring them puts “money” in your pocket!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.