Heidi Thompson, Scentsy President & Co-Owner

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Are Incentives Worthwhile in Direct Sales?

By definition, an “incentive” is something that “incites action” or is “a motive.”   To look closer – to incite is to “spur to action or to urge”.   Likewise, synonyms for motive include “goad: suggests a motive that keeps one going against one’s will” and also “inducement: prompted by deliberate actions.”

Humor me with one more definition:   “Bribe: something that serves to induce or influence.”  Therefore could one could say that an incentive is a form of a bribe?

Yet every day in the direct sales circle I see advertisements and announcements such as:
“Join my team and get a free xyz” and “Refer a consultant to my team and receive a free xyz.”

Isn’t it true that most direct sales companies have a starter kit and a business opportunity that are supposedly of great value containing all that is needed to start and thrive at a home business?   If that were truly the case, what message would a consultant be sending when offering an incentive or bribe (there’s that word again) to people to join her team? That the starter kit and/or business opportunity isn’t a good value?

Or would she be sending a message that she doesn’t believe strongly enough in her self as a leader to encourage people to join her team on merit alone?   And in a general sense, who do you think redeems these types of bribes?   People who firmly believe in the product, opportunity and sponsor and definitely want to be a part of the company or the people who are in it for freebies without regard to best value?

As a leader, would you rather have team members who are committed to making the business work; who firmly believe they are about to embark on a fantastic journey? Or someone who wants the freebies and who may or may not try the business to see how it goes?

The same holds true for referrals.   Any good businessperson will always ask for referrals.   She should be confident in what she is offering to know that others would be happy to recommend her and her company to others.

Consider this: You ask an acquaintance if she knows of anyone who may be interested in starting a business.   The person thinks about it and then responds in the negative.   But then you offer a freebie.   Do you think that suddenly the person who couldn’t think of anyone who may benefit from your offer will suddenly have her memory jogged at the enticement of a freebie?   Or will she merely give you a referral if she genuinely knows of someone?

I realize this is a controversial topic.   Some consultants insist that bribing works.   They argue that people love freebies.   I tend to agree – people do love freebies.   But do they truly work?   Do they bring about the desired results?   Do they help the bottom line or do they merely increase number of team members without regard to return on investment?

My twenty plus years in direct sales, testing and sampling of this tactic reveal that incentives to join are not generally worthwhile to anyone except the person who accepts the freebie.

We should try to succeed by merit, not by favor. He who does well will always have patrons enough. –   Plautus


About the Author: Laurie Ayers is a WAHM from Michigan. She started her first home business in 1988. As a single parent, Laurie has supported her family by working at home as an Independent Consultant and Star Director with Scentsy Wickless Candles. She enjoys helping others start a candle business. You can find Laurie at https://www.thrivingcandlebusiness.com/

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One Response to Are Incentives Worthwhile in Direct Sales?

  • Funny Laurie, my down line managers and I were just talking about this last night during our team meeting and we came to the exact same conclusion as you do. Anyone who doesn’t want to make the investment of $40 to start they own business isn’t serious about building a business or improving their life. Bribing people or giving them too large of an incentive to join your team really does devalue the start up kit.

    I also think that it can create hard feelings and discouragement for the people who joined before the incentive was offered. They may very well may feel cheated because they didn’t get the same deal!

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