Sandi Watkins is an experienced network marketing professional and leader in a young nutritional company based in Lehi, Utah. From her home in Spokane, Washington, Sandi leads a growing team of customers and distributors by providing effective systems, no-nonsense coaching, loving support, and visionary leadership.
Sandi got started in direct sales over 27 years ago and has been a thriving business owner and home-based entrepreneur ever since. Her focus has always been on opportunities that would allow her to leverage her time as a busy mom raising and homeschooling seven children.
Passionate and animated when on stage, Sandi exudes a quiet confidence in private, rooted in her belief that network marketing is the best profession to be in. She knows from experience it’s a viable business with unlimited income potential regardless of the economic climate, and that anyone can build it as long as they apply some basic principles, proven methods, and unwavering dedication.
After being a single mom, Sandi met her soulmate around the same time she found her current company in 2013. Travis and Sandi are looking forward to expanding their business, taking their children to see the world, and making a difference together.
How did you get started in the business?
In 1988, I was attending cosmetology school. I had gone to trade school before, but I wasn’t as happy with my choice as I thought I would be. At my first opportunity meeting I loved the idea that I could work for myself—create my own schedule, my income, my team, and an environment conducive to raising a family.
I’d always been entrepreneurial. As early as in 6th grade, I’d make bracelets, add price tags, and sell them at school so I could always tuck some money away to do things I wanted to do. After I went to beauty school, I wanted to eventually own a salon, but quickly realized what that entailed and that it wouldn’t give me the freedom I was looking for.
I jumped into that first opportunity and got started the very next day. I was hungry and open-minded. I loved the fact that the company provided a structure and a routine, and that I had somebody who was mentoring me.
From the beginning I understood that this was a viable business and I treated it as such. The gal who enrolled me was a pink Cadillac driver. She had two small children and a home office. She was an excellent role model. I did that for four years before I joined another opportunity.
What made the second opportunity a better fit?
My first company was inventory-driven. That was a lot of work. When I moved from California to Washington, I was pregnant with my third child and no longer liked the idea of carrying inventory. There was a leader in this area who introduced me to her company, which sold toys. I wasn’t afraid to change, because I already knew how to create money in direct sales. I still kept my first business, but selling toys was a better fit with having young kids.
I continued doing home parties, as it was a great way to meet new people. This time, instead of supplying the inventory, we did our parties and took orders. Because I was a busy mom, I always made sure to use people’s time wisely. Early on I’d figured what worked and what didn’t, so host coaching became a big piece of my business. I would typically show up to a party 20 minutes early, park down the street, and go through my notes—conversations I had with the hostess, who was coming, why they might want to buy a toy, what toy, who was most likely to host a party next, and who might be open to becoming a toy consultant.
I would go inside and do the party, which would last anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Then I would leave and go over how close I was to making the sales I had expected and how well I was doing with booking new parties, compared to the ones I had already booked based on conversations I’d had with the hostess.
This “plan, do, review” method quickly made you a party-plan expert.
Exactly. I also created a bank of questions that spawned the responses I wanted. Through trial and error, I learned how to lead people to a decision. For instance, I let them know ahead of time that we were going to close that night, meaning they could place their orders beforehand and up till that night. If somebody asked if they could give me an order the next day, I would say, “This party is closed tonight, but if you’d like, I have another party scheduled that should be closing up next week.”
This was very effective in growing my home-party business, because it gave closure. If you don’t do this, home parties can last a long time. If you leave a party open for another week or two, your profit will go way down, with people backing out of orders, and people who had their order in that night calling you, “Are the orders in yet?” It causes too much friction.
It’s like inviting people over for dinner and they say, “I can’t come tonight, but can I come tomorrow?” You don’t want to keep the food on the table. It’s going to get cold, and the party’s ruined. That’s how I explained to hostesses why it’s important to sell ahead of time. Get preorders if you like, but we’ll close that night. We want to make sure everyone has a good experience, and that all the guests who came get their orders placed. Because of the predictability this created, I booked a lot of parties.
What are some other lessons you learned?
Sometimes you’ll get a heckler who tries to take over the party. I learned to say, “Maybe we can talk afterwards, and you might want to think about joining our team.” I became good at controlling the room. Everybody else is sitting there thinking, “I’m paying a babysitter for this long… When are they going to stop talking?” People are just waiting for somebody to step in and keep that from happening.
Similarly, when you’re host coaching on the phone, you can’t have hour-long conversations with people, or they’re going to avoid your calls. My parties were quick and my guests got to pick out lots of products.
In the mid-90s I moved to another company with a broader product line, which allowed me to create even more fun environments. I scheduled specialty workshops and customer appreciation events. This attracted so many people my business started to multiply. As I grew my team, I would rent venues for $2,000 and have anywhere from 50 to 100 attendees. If a consultant just got started and had a small team, these events made it seem like they had a big team. We kept the calendar booked with events that attracted both customers and consultants. Even new consultants who did not have customers yet could come and participate. There was a lot of shadow training going on, meaning they would see other consultants working with guests. This created natural duplication.
How did you grow in that company—and beyond?
I was continually number one or two in leadership development and recruiting, and even in sales. I was there for five years, and I earned every incentive trip. One of them was a Mediterranean cruise to five countries and we won a penthouse suite with our team.
There was a lot of collaboration and I always loved working with cross-line, meaning people who weren’t financially linked to my business. In direct sales you typically get paid only about three levels deep, but I opened my events up to anyone who wanted to join.
Then my direct selling company made some major changes to the compensation plan and I decided to join a network marketing company in 2011. Knowing my success in direct sales, I had been approached about network marketing before, but I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Doing anywhere from four to eight parties a week, I was making from $7,000 to $9,000 a month. I just didn’t believe you could make this much in network marketing—until somebody cold-called me.
The person had come across some of my articles on direct selling online and found a phone number. She gave me a call and said she worked in a wellness and weight loss company. I felt I had some extra weight and liked what she had to say. Before trying the product, I asked a lot of hard questions. I even talked to the VP of sales the next day. When everything looked good, I jumped in. I went executive in three weeks.
Did you continue the home parties, or did you change your approach?
I was getting pretty burnt out on doing home parties. Instead, I called people, letting them know, “This is what I’m doing. If you’re interested, I’m going to go full throttle.” I told my sister and a couple of people I knew who also needed a healthy change. “I know you’re looking… and there’s money in it as well.”
My second month I earned $2,900; the third month $8,000, and the next month I reached $9,998. The money was already better than in my direct sales business. I did one-on-one presentations and immediately I put on a weekly training at a local event center. It was not only for my team, it was open to all distributors from other teams as well.
I did not invite people to my house, as it wasn’t conducive with all the kids. My ex-husband didn’t have a network marketing mindset, so it was easier to go do my thing out of the house and on the phone. When I wasn’t teaching a homeschool, the kids were in a homeschool co-op, and I would sit in my car making phone calls, sending people videos, and doing three-ways. I loved how I could fit it into the pockets of my life without having to schedule an hour-long party. I moved very quickly and personally enrolled about 260 people in two years.
Again I worked cross-line, but my personal sponsor didn’t like that anyone could come to my weekly meetings no matter whose team they were on. She was more on the secretive side. She would call people and say, “Just buy this amount of product. I’ll reimburse your shipping. Here’s this incentive.” It caused a lot of competitiveness within the team. I always wanted things to be transparent, so we can be proud of what we do and others can duplicate it.
How did you select your current company, your final home?
I’ve always been eager to share my expertise, and over the years it turned into coaching on the side. It grew so much that I needed to start charging for it. Next thing I knew, companies were inviting me to train their people on how to recruit, how to build leaderships, how to grow commission checks, and so on. Then it turned into individual coaching. I would charge $250 an hour for somebody to coach with me, or they could buy four coaching sessions, which would get them a fifth one free. They’d have five weeks of coaching with me, and they would get a hard copy of my planning system. This helped me make friends with top networkers in other companies.
It’s also how I met my friend Kevin Brassell. For several months things hadn’t been going right with my opportunity, and I knew in my heart I did not want to stay there just because the money was good. I wanted to find a place where I could stay for the rest of my career. I was also going through a lot of changes in my personal life, including my marriage.
There was a lot of frustration and a lack of leadership within the organization I was part of, so I finally decided, “I can go create a check somewhere else.” I called Kevin and said, “I want to know more about your company. I need to know what kind of leadership you have.” The product wasn’t my main focus. I knew from coaching clients that it was a solid nutritional company.
I traveled to the corporate office and spoke with the founder, president, and other corporate staff. I liked everything I heard and I trusted Kevin. I loved that he was a leader who “did life” with you, who didn’t segregate personal and business. I handpicked my leader, not necessarily the company, and made the decision to switch in 2013.
What are some differences you noticed between direct sales and network marketing?
In direct sales you can compartmentalize your time. You can schedule out your business and build it within those timeslots. Network marketing isn’t as conducive to doing this. It’s not just about selling a product. People join people, and if you create a business where people join only for the product, they will not be as loyal. They may jump ship when they find a simlar product. You’re looking to create a long-term legacy for you and your team.
In network marketing you need to be a product of the product, practice personal development 24/7, and do everything with intention. Go out each day looking to make someone else’s day. If I’m out there helping other people before myself, that’s going to serve my business the best. I’m always making connections, finding out how people are doing and what issues they are having. Not every conversation is going to be a business conversation, but conversations need to take place continuously.
Make sure every day is a day to grow your business. You have to continually work it, even if it’s 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 2 hours, or 4 hours. Whatever it is, be consistent. What will kill your network marketing business, especially in the beginning, is talking about it once a week. Or assuming everybody knows what you’re doing. Even if I’ve known someone for 10 years, they still don’t know what I’m doing. I make it a point of letting them know each time I run into them, or if I don’t run into them, I call them.
Network marketing requires you to stay plugged in at all times. Don’t mislead anybody into thinking the opportunity is something other than what it is. Learn to ask better questions and truly listen. If you get people to join on their terms, you’re going to have much better retention, and a business that’s right for them, too.
You put a strong focus on team culture.
We all go through so many different stresses day to day and people are looking to be uplifted. That’s why on Facebook I lead more with lifestyle. I don’t lead with children. People want positive experiences. If you can offer this, they are going to stay around longer. If you create a business that’s product-driven, and there is a change—“No more chocolate shakes, it’s strawberry now,”—people are out.
Culture is huge, because network marketing is not a segregated way of life. It’s a lifestyle. You will need to be there for your team, whether they’re going through good times or bad times. You’re going to celebrate with them. You’re going to grieve with them. These are people you want to have dinner with and vacation with. People are going to be tied to your team if the culture is feeding them, encouraging them, and helping them be that person they’re looking to become.
The product is the vehicle, so you need to have great products, but being there for people through thick and thin tends to be more important than learning every aspect of the product. For instance, right now people in my company are excited about getting certified in essential oil training. I have no interest in being certified. I’m simply interested in finding out who has a physical or financial discomfort, and giving them information that could steer them.
I want to be the tour guide who says, “I’ve got something you might want to take a look at that can actually get you what you’re looking for.” How they get there is on their own. They have the oils, they have the nutrition, I don’t need to tell them how to apply it. If you teach people every detail and answer every question for them, you create a codependent team. If you set the example that you have to become a product expert, then someone might not want to join, because if they have three kids, they don’t have time for that.
With seven children, you’re always aware of the time factor.
Whatever can be done via a tool or company information, that’s not something you need to learn or spend time on. In the past, with other companies, I’ve made this mistake of wanting to learn it all. It’s exhausting, and it’s not duplicable. Today, the quicker I can move, the more people I can help. It’s up to them to pick and choose the things they want to work at.
Over the years I’ve gotten really good at showing people how quickly they can grow this, and how you can set people up for success by showing them they already have the power to do this. All they have to do is some basic things, which are already working well, point people in a direction, and connect them to other people. That’s all you really have to do to succeed in network marketing.
I tell people all the time, “I’m not here to set goals for you, but when you get started I’d love to know what your goals are.” As they’re growing their business, if I see they aren’t doing the activities to reach the goals they’ve shared with me, I now have permission to say, “I know you wanted this, but this is what I see. What can I do to help you get there? Do we need to have a conversation?” I’m not going to accept somebody working less, but I won’t expect them to work more than what they’ve agreed to do. I don’t have time. I can find someone else who has a higher goal and help them.
Don’t try to get team members living up to your expectations instead of letting them focus on what they need. When having conversations, don’t do all the talking, telling others what to do instead of helping them figure out what it is they need.
Right around the time you joined your current company you met Travis. How did that change your goals and vision?
I was a six-figure income earner and I love what I do. When I met Travis I was very up front about my profession and career plans. I told him, “I have a lifestyle I enjoy and will not change. I won’t ever have a job.” He was open to that.
TRAVIS: When we met, Sandi didn’t tell me much about her opportunity or try to involve me. We were just dating initially. I had actually been involved in a network marketing company for a few years in my early 20s. I was glad to hear network marketing was alive and well. I went to work the next day, and I spent four or five hours researching it. I then decided I wasn’t going to go down that road again.
As our relationship continued to grow, swiftly as it did, I became excited about the lifestyle, the freedom, the personal growth. I always wanted more than my job could give me, but I didn’t see a way. Feeling frustrated, I thought, “I guess this is as good as it’s going to get.” When I saw Sandi’s lifestyle and income, I realized there’s still opportunity out there.
After working for 20 years at a job, I became intrigued by the earning potential and creating a residual income that could support my retirement. I was skeptical at first, but it didn’t take me long to catch on. With the little time I had, I began to get involved and started working the business part time. Now my plan is to retire from my job as soon as we replace my income.
SANDI: We’re looking at retiring Travis by next summer. Our goal is to help a lot of people, while creating a legacy income to help our family and secure our future. Before more of my children get married, I want to take them on trips to see the world. We also want to be able to give and visit other countries to make a difference.
Within my company I want to make an impact as a female leader who’s reaching lots of people. Being in a young company, we can help a lot more single moms, single dads, young families, and create more stay-at-home parenting by giving people options. It’s in my heart to help others live debt-free lives.
I want to put my company’s name out there as the fastest growing company that does it authentically, in a way that’s transparent and duplicable. We want to model that anyone can do this, if they just put in the time, the energy, and the work. We don’t buy into people’s excuses. We’re quick in saying, “I understand that’s that, but you said you wanted this. Let’s focus here, and let’s get you this, so that issue over there can resolve itself.”
Let’s move, but in a way that nobody’s feeling trampled on, or not because it’s going to benefit us. The more people we can help earn an extra $1,000 in residual income a month, the bigger the difference we will make.
The bottom line is this: network marketing is the purest form of capitalism and entrepreneurship in today’s world. If you work hard on the front end, it will pay you massively on the back end as you help others grow personally and financially. Eventually you will have a fun, lucrative, self-sustaining, walk-away business you can enjoy and continue to serve and grow at your discretion during your “retirement” years on the beach or in the mountains, from your home or as you travel the world!