Imagine walking into a sandwich shop and ordering your favorite meal. The worker across the counter shakes his head, declaring, “If you want a sandwich you’ll have to purchase your own franchise first.” All you want to buy is a quick lunch. How long would that shop stay open?

Many network marketers seem fixated on enrolling independent distributors. Don’t get me wrong, building a network of distributors is how you leverage your income, and in many companies the size of your team determines your rank and bonus percentages.

Business-building bonuses are wonderful! However, they are one-time payments. By comparison, clients or customers are the lifeblood of your monthly automatic income. If you teach your distributor team to enroll people who choose the customer packages, you will increase your stable, growing, reliable, “royalty income.” Isn’t “automatic” income what we’re aiming for in the first place? Here are three keys to help you build a growing residual income:

  1. Say Yes to Money
  2. If people want to buy your product, that’s great! You might sense they would be fantastic distributors, but be wise and respect their decisions. Our company gives us free product monthly for maintaining a small number of subscription clients. Thriving businesses have many loyal customers—think of your local grocery store, smartphone provider, or popular restaurant. Besides, when a distributor has a “hard month”—no new enrollments—and receives a check anyway, that distributor will tend to stay in business and continue building. Money, especially automatic money, intrigues people. Prior to my first rank advancement, I was earning the average income of distributors two ranks higher, largely due to the commissions from my extensive personal customer base.

  3. Take the Pressure Off
  4. It’s true that people want to be led, but no one enjoys being pushed toward an unwanted goal. My heritage is Polish and my grandmother taught me the wisdom of her country: “If you win an argument, you lose a friend.” If you frequently find yourself hearing, “I have to think about it,” ask yourself if you’ve been pushing people toward the distributor package when they would rather be customers. Clients are fabulous sources for credible testimonials, because they don’t have a vested interest in promoting a product—they are not going to earn a commission if a sale is made.

  5. Be Open to Upgrades
  6. Some customers are taking what I call an “extended test drive.” Obviously they see value in your product because they’re purchasing it. Meanwhile, they are watching your progress in the company. If and when they are ready to upgrade to the distributor package, in our company they can earn a customer gathering bonus only available in the first seven days of a distributor’s career. If potential distributors are not ready to reach that goal, it is best they remain customers. Life situations change, sometimes unexpectedly, and then the urge to grab onto the familiar is strong. Wouldn’t you like to have potential distributors who are already comfortable with your product?

More than one-third of my personally sponsored distributors started as customers. Here are some ways I take excellent care of my personal clients.

Thoroughly Train Customers
I take the long-term view. I regard each client as a person who loves the product and might eventually join the distributor team, so I invest time and energy to teach each person. I want confident clients because they will purchase and use the product on their own. Our company’s product is heavily computer-based, so I customize each training session. I teach how to operate the online ordering system, and even teach how to operate the computer itself, if necessary!

Answer the Phone
Imagine you are selling houses. Your phone rings and the caller announces, “I want to go house shopping.” I think you would enjoy receiving that call and would be happy to assist. In the same spirit, I tell my clients, “I am your first call when you have questions.” Even with more than 100 personal clients, my phone rings an average of once per week with a client’s question. From their questions I know how to adjust my future training sessions and suggest improvements of the ordering system or tutorials to the corporate office. My policy is to answer the phone when it rings, unless I am already on the phone or in the middle of an in-person meeting.

Personal Touches Make the Difference
I send physical greeting cards in the mail to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and personal milestones, incorporating photos from Facebook when appropriate. A business coach taught me that a “Thank You for Your Business” greeting card sent during the Thanksgiving season typically boosts sales by 5 percent, so that’s what I do. I have been known to select a client at random and unexpectedly deliver a bag of fresh oranges. I’ve even baked and mailed boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

Pass along Tips and Ideas
I have a client named Tami, who is a PGA golf professional. She also enjoys riding her mountain bike. I frequently pass along articles and community announcements about golf and bicycling to her. And yes, if I see a way my product can help her, I speak up; however that is a very small part of why I call her. To aid my memory, I take thorough notes for each client and store them in my contact manager.

Be the Go-To Person
When my client Maureen has a business brainstorming question, she calls to ask my opinion. I look through my contact manager and use three-way calling to connect her with people who can help her reach her goals.

As a distributor, become equally comfortable with enrolling clients and distributors. In that sorting process, don’t overlook the people who are requesting, “Here’s some money, please give me some product!” Your bottom line will rise if you and your team fulfill their wishes.

LYNN SELWA is a former aerospace engineer who launched her first business after a layoff and later joined the network marketing revolution at age 27. She has more than 15 years of experience as a network marketing professional.
Visit her blog at OrbitalMLM.com