At a recent national conference for a budding network marketing company, I noticed a crowd of hopefuls gazing intently at the stage. The company’s highest performers were receiving awards and accolades for their accomplishments during the past year.

It was a familiar feeling. The cheering and happiness for the success of others that you find in a network marketing company is rarely paralleled in any other type of organization. Creating a bond through success seems to be one of the profession’s most enviable traits, but it comes with its downfalls.

As the impressive achievements of this company’s most recently promoted associates were read out loud, the dreams and aspirations of the audience escaped their lips in a series of whispers drowned out by the thunderous applause. “I want to do that…” I heard someone say, and another murmured, “That will be me next year!”

The temptation to set goals as high as those the heroes onstage had achieved was great indeed. They were being showered with applause, recognition and, of course, very high incomes. One associate had signed so many recruits in his first few months that he had received a refund on his entry fees; another was running a team of extremely successful recruits and had not even graduated from high school! Many more had quit their jobs and built their dream homes.

Inspiring as these stories were, as I listened to the secret dreams of the newcomers around me, I wondered if the achievements of those onstage shouldn’t have been read out loud with a warning, “Results Not Typical.”

Set Attainable Goals

Many network marketers begin their quest with such eagerness that they end up setting goals so lofty that they’ll never reach them. Discouraged by rejection and failure, they must then tackle feelings of negativity and self-doubt, detours that take a person far off track from achieving any goals.

If I had been a new associate at this event, I might walk away with an excited decision that I was going to call on ten people a day until I had recruited, say, a hundred people for the year, just like that one guy I’d heard on the stage, so I could explode my downline, turbocharge my income and, best of all, make sure that was me onstage at next year’s event!

But there’s a problem. When the ringing in the ears created by the loud applause dies away, the catch-phrases that were on everyone’s lips for three days are gradually forgotten and the buzz created in a room of 20,000 people sharing the same goals dissipates, practicality sets in. Calling on ten people every day, sometimes failing to meet that target and being rejected week after week is likely to take its toll.

So what do we do? Should we forget about having big dreams and big goals? Not at all. When you return home from that inspiring event, declarations in tow, craft goals for yourself that are the same as what you would set for yourself without the roar of 20,000 like-minded people in your ears. Create goals you can repeat out loud every morning, knowing that with hard work, effort and not a single stroke of luck, you can reach them every time. The key is not to abandon goals but to set practical goals and appreciate the enormous momentum of small numbers when compounded over time.

Do the Math

Let’s say that you attend a national event, become greatly inspired, but also, having read this article, feel the caution within. You return home and decide to adjust the goal you’d set at the event to a more practical two people per day. Your gut reaction may be to scoff that this is too little, but follow the numbers with me and you may see differently.

At a consistent rate of two people per day, taking one day off every week, you will call on twelve people per week or about fifty people per month. If you have a success rate of just 10 percent, that means you will recruit five new people every month. Compound that by the twelve months, and you will have recruited sixty new people for the year. And here is the most impressive part: you accomplished this without stress, without an extreme amount of daily rejection, and without trying to push yourself to live up to impossible goals.

With this new-found knowledge, you train all your recruits to set similar goals, not reaching for the impossible but working towards goals that are achievable. Let’s see what happens: factoring in your 10 percent success rate means that six of your sixty will follow through, recruiting sixty people each, or 360 total in the course of another year. You should now have forty-two (the original six plus thirty-six of your new 360) active and successful recruits as a result of two years worth of hard work.

You should be almost halfway to the goal of that ambitious associate you met at last year’s convention who enthusiastically declared that he was going to recruit a hundred successful and active recruits by the following year. And here’s the thing: at the next year’s convention, not only did you not see him onstage, but you didn’t see him at all.

The success factor inherent in this model is a realistic combination of persistence and time. If you try to recruit a hundred successful associates in your first year of business, you are likely to fail, leaving you faced with the challenge of fighting back discouragement and moving on past your failure to try again, which is difficult to do. On the other hand, you could set smaller goals that you can actually reach, goals that, when compounded, will get you the recognition and high income you desire. Plan to be there for the long haul, and you will be.

ALVIN DAY is founder and director of the Sales Empowerment Institute,
a sales training organization that helps people in the areas of personal
and professional growth. He is the author of
Persuasion Power,
If Caterpillars Can Fly, So Can I and The Ultimate Sales Manual.