Customers versus distributors—which do you focus on? It’s the eternal debate in network marketing. You’ll hear it among our most argued strategies. Being a top income earner in the profession, I may shock you with my answer.

Solving the Puzzle
A number of network marketing companies focus mainly on gaining more distributors. Why? They figure it increases their free sales force. These companies often believe the more sales representatives, the greater the companies’ gross sales.

Customer acquisition may be neglected when network marketing companies teach and incentivize their sales forces to focus more on recruiting distributors to the neglect of customer acquisition. While distributor numbers may multiply for these companies, we also know we need to grow customer numbers to keep regulators happy.

Companies building strong foundations have programs in place that encourage distributors to sign up customers—something most distributors are not focused on.

In my experience, for a network marketing business to be sustainable, customers are vitally important. Customers purchase because they want your products, not because they want to build businesses. Consumers purchase when products provide desired benefits at the right prices.

Companies with large customer numbers are much more solid long term than companies that have mostly distributors.

Imagine with Me
Close your eyes and imagine for a moment a culture and compensation plan incentivizing distributors to sign up customers. What if companies created simple systems for successful customer acquisition?

Imagine bonuses paid to distributors for gaining customers—even bonuses such as free shipping, product rewards, and discounts given to new customers who enroll in auto-ship programs. If companies did this with great products people want to buy, how long do you think customers would stick around?

The system needs to be so easy and the company training so clear that a brand new distributor can enroll customers immediately or within a few days.

Customer Volume
The last piece to this puzzle is customer purchase volume. How does the company account for it? Imagine a network marketing company placing customer volume within the compensation tree and rolling it all the way up as bonus volume, as if that customer were a new distributor.

In addition to distributor growth, I would love to see more focus on and compensation for acquiring and retaining customers. I want to see above average customer retention, such as seven months or more. Don’t you?

ONYX COALE is a single mom with a strong work ethic and big dreams. She joined network marketing eight years ago, and her global organization grew to over 400,000 people. Recently she started building a new business.