It's often said that it's a lot easier to bring people into the business than it is to keep them in. Wouldn't you love to identify some of the reasons for low retention rates? If you could find and correct those factors, imagine how dramatically your network's numbers could increase!

What features do we try to sell people on when introducing them to the idea of network marketing? "Financial freedom" is probably near the top of your list. Financial freedom is a great reason for starting your own business, right?

So, you get your prospect excited about financial freedom --and now he's ready to base his decision to join on emotions, not logic. The danger? You've just gotten someone started in your business who knows nothing about what it takes to run a business! Why would you sign someone up like this?

What are the dangers of signing someone up in your business who knows nothing about business?

Being Grilled by McDonald's

Have you ever investigated what it takes to purchase a McDonalds franchise? They go through you with a fine-toothed comb; previous business experience (and by the way, you must have years of experience in the fast food business), financial statements, the list goes on and on.

Why do they go through all of this? They don't want you starting a business with them, using their name, only to find out you can't handle it. If they weren't this careful, they'd be stuck with restaurants constantly going out of business, which would mar their reputation.

You are looking to build your network marketing empire: Who will you add to your downline? For most, the honest answer would be, "Anyone willing to say yes and invest the money!" But should it really be that way? You may enroll these folks, but if they join based simply on emotion, rather than on logic, they'll probably drop out as quickly as they came in. What gets hot quickly, gets cold quickly.

One of the most obvious reasons people choose network marketing over a franchise is the investment capital it takes--or doesn't take. A McDonalds franchise can cost you half a million dollars and more. A network marketing business can cost as little as $100. Do you think you're going to attract a different clientele with a half-million-dollar opportunity than with a $100 one?

Their rigorous pre-qualifying strategy is one key to McDonalds' success. Now, you can't necessarily replicate that strategy in your business. (People might think you've gone a bit overboard if you ask them for their financial statement before letting them invest in a business with a startup cost of $100.) But there are principles we can learn from the way McDonalds does things.

"Want to Join? Not So Fast!"

Let's say you have a fresh new prospect, excited, money in hand, pen hovering over the application form, ready and eager to join your opportunity. Do you take their money and let them sign?

Here's where you need to take a breath--and look at the long term. Spend as much time as you can getting to know the individual before you sign him up.

Many of those who get involved in network marketing are not from an entrepreneurial background, but have only worked as "9-to-5ers." Do you know what it's like to take a person with a 9-to-5 experience and mentality and throw him into the ranks of an entrepreneurial venture? It's like trying to get a fish to live on land: no easy task.

Now, this by no means says they can't be successful--it just means they will need you to help them with their thinking. For every thought you act on, you get a result. Change their thought processes, and you can change their results.

How might you do that? Let them watch you at work, and see the realities of running a networking business. (Hey, if they don't see it now, they're going to see it sooner or later, right?) What realities am I talking about? The realities of how challenging owning your own business can be: the nos, the rejection, the skipped appointments and disappointments. They'll have a lot more respect for you when their emotions do hit the wall because you told them it would happen; perhaps they will come to you and ask you for advice, rather than just becoming frustrated and quitting.

After signing your new prospect, ask him this question: "If, in the future, you were to think about throwing in the towel and quitting, what might be some of your specific excuses?" (Not "reasons," by the way--excuses!) Get him to write down those specific excuses; make sure to keep a copy for yourself.

Then, ask him to name someone he respects who was very successful--Walt Disney, Henry Ford, or maybe a famous networker or top producer in your company.

Now ask: "Would this successful person be successful if he used the excuses on your paper?"

The answer is obvious. Explain that he can't be successful if he rewards these thoughts, either. Let him know that because he may not have been able to totally adopt the thinking process of an entrepreneur, which takes time, it would not be surprising if some of these thoughts were to creep into his mind from time to time, when things get rough.

Get him to give you his permission to check in regularly to see if any of these thoughts are getting to him. Read the list to him weekly, even daily, if you have to. This takes effort on your part; it also shows that you really care--and if you really care, you'll do it!

Go through a process like this, and you'll find that your retention rate will increase dramatically. This way, you remove the fluff, keep your downline, and continue in your rise to the top!


Gary Coxe
is an International Success Coach specializing in sales, motivational, and self-development strategies.