On the surface, allowing a customer or prospective new distributor to search for a nearby consultant appears as smart. The customer/new distributor purchases from their consultant of choice, and the consultant benefits from the purchase or new team member. Corporate isn’t getting calls from consultants asking to move orders and people. Everybody wins!
When we created the original party plan software system for our company, UCAN2 Cook!, we intentionally DID NOT include a consultant locator. The MLM / party plan software that we’ve been selling to customers around the globe since 2015 has a consultant locator because people ask for it. Prospects are perplexed when I tell them that they can have the consultant locator feature if they want it, but ….
I recommend that they DO NOT use the locator.
If a consultant locator solves a problem for customers, consultants, and the company, why do I steer people away from this popular direct sales software feature?
Think about what your competitors and your prospective customers and consultants can learn from your consultant locator:
- If the locator has a map, it’s easy to see where you have clusters and where you have no activity.
- Searching by city and/or zip code also reveals where you have activity and where you don’t.
- If a search shows that an area has no consultants within 25, 50 or 100 miles, a prospective customer interested in hosting an event or joining as a consultant may believe that no consultants are in the area to provide support.
- Small companies show the world just how small they are when the locator doesn’t find any consultants in many of the search areas.
Up to this point, we see no real downside to NOT using a locator, except perhaps a missed opportunity to help a customer host a virtual event or join with a sponsor who can work long-distance. Even then, a contact form allows the company to reach out directly to the customer and offer help.
The direct sales industry brings out both the best and the worst in people.
Consultants from competitor companies can use the locator tool to identify and target your consultants, just as your consultants can locate your competitors’ consultants.
Why would a company publish their consultants’ names, locations, and contact information, knowing that this contact information is like gold to competitors? If a competitor gifts you with names, locations and contact information for their entire distributor base, do you think that your consultants would contact these distributors to try to recruit them for your company? I don’t condone raiding another company’s downline, but
Smart consultants would, and corporate would support their efforts. Expect your competitors to do the same to you.
If an influential consultant is swayed to join your competitor, who will she target first to build an organization with the new company? You know the answer. You’ve probably seen this happen more than once. If all of your distributor information is public, the influential consultant can sway more than just her own downline.
The fear of loss prods people to do things that they may not even consider in a different context.
When a leader makes a move to a different company, your company can be severely damaged when other consultants from your company follow her. They don’t want to “miss out” in being in so-and-so’s downline in the newest, shiniest company in town. In many cases, when a consultant moves to a different company, she takes her customers with her!
Consider the potential for much more serious damage.
Some people are just waking up to the fact that posting personally identifiable information (PII) online gives crooks, stalkers, abusive partners, and everyone else enough information to do serious harm. I have seen consultants publish:
- First and last name
- Street address
- City, state and zip
- Personal phone number
- Personal email address
If that’s not bad enough, some consultants also post their kids’ names, ages, schools and other PII that puts the family at risk.
I saw a news story this week about a man who lost $2000 to a scammer who called pretending to be a grandson being held hostage. These situations sound crazy, but scams like this and others are relatively easy when you give the bad guys your personal information!
The example below is from a real consultant with a real company. In addition to the consultant locator (which I used to find this person), the company allows the consultants to post their pitches online:
What do we know about this consultant?
- Her first and last name, as well as her husband’s name
- She has “2 beautiful daughters” — and she identifies them by name
- She used to be a teacher (and maybe she flunked my kid!)
- Home address, mobile phone number and personal email address
A bad guy can find all kinds of ways to exploit this information!
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU DON’T USE A CONSULTANT LOCATOR?
Whether or not you have a consultant locator, you should give site visitors an opportunity to reach out to corporate for help with hosting an event or joining as a consultant. A simple form on your “contact us” page (with links from the “host” and “join” pages) should include a menu of reasons for the contact, as well as an area for the visitor to write out their request.
If a customer is making their first purchase through the corporate site, the system prompts for the consultant’s name and e-mail. Customers who don’t remember their consultant’s name or email have an option to write a brief description of where and when they met the consultant:
“I don’t know her name, but she had a booth at the Clark County fair last week. I want to enroll with her as my sponsor. Can you help?”
A customer service call to the customer to confirm their consultant goes a long way to ensuring customer and consultant loyalty.
If a customer makes a purchase or enrolls through a consultant’s replicated site, the customer is mapped to her sponsoring consultant.
Most of our clients opt to allow a new customer to purchase and a new consultant to enroll through the corporate site without a sponsoring consultant. A client may choose to keep these “orphans”, in which case the company is absolved of paying commissions on the orphans’ activity. Most clients promise to assign a worthy consultant to the customer. Smart consultants who receive these “gift”
Your new consultant onboarding training should include guidelines for posting personal information online.
Whether you use a consultant locator or not, part of your new consultant onboarding training should include guidelines for posting personal information online, whether through their replicated website, or their social media accounts. A new consultant is excited and eager to tell the world about her new business! She isn’t thinking about how nefarious people may use her personally identifiable information.
If you chose to use a consultant locator, limit the information that consultants can post. Our consultant profile captures the consultant’s true contact information, AND it gives the consultant to create a public “persona”, with an online name, company-specific email address, and a phone number that forwards to the personal number.
The consultant is ultimately responsible for the content she shares online. If your system has a consultant locator, your consultants believe that strangers will look them up and either become customers, hosts or prospects. While this may or may not happen, a consultant locator provides your competitors and people with bad intentions a great big bundle of info that they can use against you and/or your consultant.