6 Reasons Your Online Tools Don’t Work (and How to Fix Them) – Guest Post by Brett Duncan

From Jen: I’m on vacation this week. But that doesn’t mean my blog takes a vacation! I’m blessed to have some fantastic friends on the direct sales corporate side who stepped up to the plate to share some fabulous content with you this week. And the first post comes from my friend and colleague Brett Duncan. Brett is the Vice President of Marketing for Mannatech as well as the author of the fabulous Marketing in Progress blog, and he’s one of the first people I turn to when I want to discuss a social media issue in its real world direct sales context. He shares some great advice today on how you can use online tools more effectively. Enjoy!

Brett Duncan

Online tools are a vital part of any successful direct seller’s business. Except when they’re not. And I sadly think they’re not more times than they are for most of you reading this right now. Sure, you’ve probably done a couple cool things online here and there, but I bet most of you have been sold on the potential of these tools and are still waiting for some performance.

Face it: your online tools are letting you down. I think I know why.

Having worked on the corporate side of direct sales companies since 2002, I’ve seen my fair share of tools introduced. I’ve seen lots of trend-of-the-week tools that come and go almost as quickly as Charlie Sheen’s latest #winning escapade came and (thankfully) went.  And I’ve seen many of today’s standard tools in their mere infancy, only to be the studs of the space today. I’ve personally launched some really cool tools that never seem to catch traction, and I’ve reluctantly launched a few tools that surprisingly take off.

The thing about tools and technology is that we can so easily get caught up in the snazziness that we miss their true intended purpose. We miss the fact that a tool is really only as good as the person who’s using it.

And that’s you, the direct seller.

Online tools specifically take this way overboard. Is social media changing everything? Yeah, pretty much. But it’s not changing it in the same way for everyone. To think that best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk and Representative Anthony Weiner have benefitted similarly from Twitter would be a grossly misguided thought (seriously gross!). That’s because Gary Vaynerchuk takes the time to learn the tool, then leverage it appropriately to suit his goals. Let’s just say Mr. Weiner didn’t, and leave it at that (too many good jokes here … must … move … on …).

If you’re a direct seller, my hunch is you’ve gotten caught up over the past two years in a lot of hype over make-or-break online tools. Whether provided by your company, suggested by your upline or simply something you stumbled upon, I bet you’ve tried lots of stuff. And I bet you’ve been disappointed by some of the results.

I daresay most of you are frustrated and worn out by the majority of your online tools. Care to find out why?

Why Your Online Tools are Falling Short

  1. You are expecting too much of your tools.More than anything, this is why you’re getting nowhere with your online tools. Tools don’t sell; you do. Social media sucks at selling. Viral videos won’t close the deal. Autoresponders are just a tease … if you’re not there to actual make the sale.I’m always shocked by how many people think they can simply email a video or link and expect to be the next rainmaker. Tools are tools. When the house needs a little work, you don’t hire screwdrivers and hammers; you hire handymen.  The tools are essential, but they aren’t the complete solution. They only helpthe one with the real skill to complete the task.You are the key here. Put your tools in their proper place, then step in and do what only you can do.
  2. You don’t know how to use your tools. Time and time again, I hear reps complaining about their tools. Then I ask certain questions to try to get to the bottom of their frustration, only to find out they really haven’t figured out how the tool works. Yes, I know “user-friendly” and “intuitive” is important, but so is spending at least 10 minutes to figure things out before giving up on it.When your company launches a new tool, or the next time you independently subscribe to another service, do something really smart: dedicate some time to figure out how to use it.  Ask questions. Kick the tires. Test some things. Ask more questions.If a tool really has the potential to multiply your efforts (and the good ones should), then it’s worth spending some quality time upfront understanding how it can best be used.
  3. You don’t wait long enough for the tool to be effective.So you’ve learned how to use the tool properly. You launch a replicated website, or a Facebook campaign. Then you throw a fit in three days when your full-time income hasn’t been replaced due to these efforts.The beauty of most online tools is that the benefits compound over time. The potential long-term is huge, but the patience required upfront is necessary. (Sound familiar?)Plant your seeds, keep watering and then give nature a chance to do its thing. Stick to the system, then make a judgment call in a few months. You’ll be shocked at what a little effort every day over time can lead to in the online word. Give it a chance.
  4. You demand perfection.This one might surprise you, since perfection is usually a good thing. But not with tools. The truth with online tools is that they will never be perfect. The web moves too fast for something to ever be “done.” So do yourself a favor and don’t expect it.It always saddens me to see folks refuse to use a new tool because it doesn’t meet every standard they’ve placed on a tool to have. So they don’t do anything. Which means they don’t sell anything. They just sit and wait and watch their checks shrink.Don’t be one of them. Take the tool, use it, deal with it, give feedback and eagerly await the next improvement. But be sure to put it to work pre-perfection.
  5. You’re using too many tools.Ever heard the story of a scratch golfer who could play a full round of golf with just a driver, a 7-iron and a putter?  While most guys are tugging around at least 11 clubs, this guy’s does just fine with three. This guy knows his game, and he knows the tools he’s familiar with enough to succeed. He’s simple, and he’s successful.Now, have you ever met the guy who is always upgrading his clubs, buying the biggest thing the latest Golf Channel infomercial is touting? Just as soon as he gets the hang of his latest purchase, he trades it in for something new. He’s inconsistent, and not successful.Don’t over-tool yourself.Pick the ones that work, and the ones that, over time, you’re comfortable with. They don’t have to be the newest technologies; you’ll never keep up. Look at email – it’s still rockin’ and flips more ROI than any tool out there, and it’s the dinosaur of the online marketing space.Focus your efforts on two or three tools. Expand later if you want, but master the stuff that works best for you first.
  6. Your tools might suck.OK, I’ll admit, it might not all be your fault. You might be using bad tools. Your company may have launched a sub-par item. You may have bought a service that simply doesn’t live up to the hype. Or maybe you just can’t see how Quora is gonna help you move more product.When this happens, just stop using the tool. Sometimes, if it’s broke, you shouldn’t even bother fixing it. Just move on.But my guess is you struggle with the first five points of this post way more than and before you get to this point. So take a hard look at things before you toss a tool. But when it’s time, it’s time.

Make sense? Tools are only part of the equation. They are a fraction, not a whole. And while the occasional tool may actually sell something completely on their own from time to time, remember that those anomalies are not going to be the bulk of your direct sales success. That can come from you, and only you.

Learn your tools. Use your tools. Cherish your tools. But don’t let them become something (or someone) they’re not intended to be.


Brett Duncan is Vice President of Marketing for Mannatech, Inc. He also shares his marketing ideas regularly at his blog MarketingInProgress.com. He’s even been spotted on certain stages in recent months with Jen Fong herself.


4 Responses to 6 Reasons Your Online Tools Don’t Work (and How to Fix Them) – Guest Post by Brett Duncan
  1. Brett Duncan
    August 20, 2011 | 3:41 pm

    Join Avon –

    Good point; I didn’t really focus on examples and stuck with the concepts here. But some examples that come to mind ….

    – Replicated websites: are you expecting too much of them? are you clear on everything they can do (and what they can’t do).
    – On consolidating tools, this is actually a tough one at times. On the one hand, we all like the idea of “one-stop-shop.” On the other, it’s hard to have the best tools all in one mega-tool. For example, email list management is a way-different skill set than, say, social media monitoring. Or site analytics. Many services out there today provide all of these, but many don’t provide them all well. Most companies have their bread-and-butter service, and then they surround it with generic tools that may or may miss the mark.
    – On using too many tools, I’ve seen way too many reps feel they MUST master Facebook, Twitter, email marketing, article writing and SEO before they can have any success online. Not true. Pick one, use it, then grow from there.

    Hope this fills in some of the gaps for you.

    Brett Duncan recently posted..Why Using Social Media is Important to Promote Your Business

  2. Join AVON
    August 7, 2011 | 12:06 pm

    I have noticed that you haven’t really given any examples in your blog post…an example of a tool being used incorrectly or an example of maybe using too many tools which are similar and can be condensed in to just one or two tools. I hate to be negative but I just felt that this post just keeps circling round the bush and doesn’t really get to the point.
    Join AVON recently posted..Avon lady Rebekah Testar, who has sold £4 million worth of beauty products

  3. Brett Duncan
    August 1, 2011 | 12:27 pm

    Lori – steal away! I’m sure I stole it from someone myself. Ain’t nothing original in this skull.

    Brett Duncan recently posted..The 11 iPhone Apps I Use Every Day

  4. Lori Sauerwein
    August 1, 2011 | 10:53 am

    Great post, Brett — right on target. Tools are just part of the overall package. “When the house needs a little work, you don’t hire screwdrivers and hammers; you hire handymen.” Brilliant! Can I steal this line?


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