So far in my career, I have never heard anyone say, “Customers are not important to me.” Regardless of what industry they are in, people always say the opposite. Some even make the exaggerated claim, “Customer is king!”—or queen.

This said, I am not so sure if customers are receiving enough attention in the network marketing world. Indicative of this is the fact that most compensation plans and incentives tend to reward recruiting over customer acquisition or customer loyalty.

More emphasis on customers, on the other hand, boosts growth and helps to build successful and sustainable businesses. Three important facts worth remembering in this context are:

  1. Customers bring sales. Obvious as this may sound, in my experience most network marketing cultures emphasize recruiting much more than sales. The reality is, if you don’t have a customer, your products will stay in inventory. Only the customer has the power to convert them into cash for you.
  2. Acquisition is more costly than retention. Numerous books and articles have been published on this topic, along with many surveys. I don’t think there is anybody who can deny this anymore. Or is there?
  3. Today’s customer is tomorrow’s network marketer. Company executives and network marketing leaders have witnessed this over and over again: satisfied customers make enthusiastic networkers, who bring in new networkers and more new customers.

However, placing more emphasis on customers is easier said than done. Network marketing leaders have always been focused on the field organization, leaving the end users aside for a very long time. Changing this will inevitably require a paradigm shift within any network marketing company and its sales organization.

This shift will bring an additional perspective: while continuing to focus on the network of distributors, the company should also nurture and grow its customer base. This new perspective should include:

One of the world’s largest network marketing firms reported that in 2012, 88 percent of its organization members did not receive any commissions from the company. Moreover, 71 percent of the members did not sponsor another person. I don’t think the situation is much different in other network marketing companies in general.

This means most people joined simply because they liked the products and did not have any intention to build a business.

In other words, there is a huge crowd out there with entirely different motivations than what compensation plans aim at. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to show a little more attention to this field of your business? I am sure it would benefit everyone!

HAKKI OZMORALI is the principal at DS Consultancy. He also publishes the weekly newsletter, The World of Direct Selling. Prior to establishing his consultancy firm, Hakki worked for various network marketing companies as country manager and regional manager in Turkey and Canada.