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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shaping a Positive Culture in Your Networking Group

By Candy Webb

Network Marketing Editor

Antecedent, Behavior, Consequences

I have to credit Jack Lannom, People First Management and his wonderful newsletter for much of this article. I read Jack’s great newsletter monthly, and if you would also like to subscribe to Jack’s information, I suggest you go to He is a valuable business resource, always with an interesting perspective on human behavior.

Leaders shape a positive culture by shaping positive behavior, and there are some simple behavioral tools that the People First® Leader can use to build a culture that is marked by happiness. The very best of these strategies is to apply the principles of antecedents, behaviors, and consequences. At the outset of this discussion, I would like to acknowledge the work of two men who have helped me to refine my own thinking: Dr. Aubrey C. Daniels and Dr. Thomas K Connellan. Aubrey Daniels is a performance management systems expert who has consulted with major corporations throughout the world. Thomas Connellan, likewise, has instructed several major international firms on the subject of performance management. I would recommend their work to anyone who desires to further explore the field of behavioral science as it relates to the world of business. Connellan and Daniels both deliver cogent explanations of the proper use of antecedents and consequences.

Jack begins with some definitions. An antecedent precedes behavior, and, to a large extent, causes the behavior to take place. You look at your watch and realize that you are late for an appointment. Suddenly anxious, you dash out the door to your car. The antecedent for your quick movement is the time element. Perhaps your department manager walks into your office and asks you to schedule a meeting with one of your major accounts. You dutifully pick up the phone and make the call. The antecedent to your behavior, of course, is the manager's request. In my world of network marketing I find that the entire “prospecting and sponsoring” process begins with the antecedent normally of a conversation, discussion or inquiry from a person that indicates they are interested and looking for a home based business alternative. I then swing into motion – into my prospecting or selling behavior – to say and do the right things to get them the information they require for a “Yes” decision that results in our potential partnership.

The consequences of behavior are the results that follow a specific action. On a sticky August afternoon, you come into the house after spending two hours mowing the lawn. You are dripping sweat, and your torso is covered with dust and blades of freshly cut grass. You immediately peel off your clothes and step into the shower. The consequence of that action is that you emerge a few minutes later, feeling cool, clean, and refreshed.

You arrive at school to pick up your five-year-old son. As soon as you see him, your face breaks into a big smile, and you drop to one knee and hold your arms open. The consequence to your behavior is that your son breaks into a run and hurls himself into your arms.

Consequences fall into three categories. They can be: (1) Positive or Negative; (2) Immediate or Future, and; (3) Certain or Uncertain. In both of the scenarios Jack described, the consequences for your behavior were Positive, Immediate, and Certain. You knew before you acted exactly what the results would be (Certain), you obtained the results right away (Immediate), and you felt good about them (Positive). Of course, it would be a wonderful thing if all of the outcomes, or consequences to the act of prospecting could be quite as immediate and positive. They rarely are, and that leads to frustration for some fledgling distributors. I refer to prospecting as a “process” and it’s very important to keep that in mind. Prospecting is not a one time event. It is often a series of events (or behaviors) that will need to be repeated and reinforced as that person goes through the decision making process. It will make you much more patient and comfortable during the process (as well as provide a positive, relaxed atmosphere for your prospect) if you also remember that people simply handle information in different ways in different time frames. And there is no right or wrong to this, it simply is! The best salesperson in the world as well as the best manager are those individuals who “read people” well and understand their thought process.

Let us examine some other forms of behavior and their consequences. You arrive at the local high school to pick up your fifteen-year-old son. You repeat the same greeting you gave your little one--big smile, down on one knee, arms open wide. But the reaction from this boy is dramatically different. Instead of rushing to return your affection, he glances furtively from side to side, hoping that none of his friends are looking. Then he fixes his gaze at a point on the horizon and hurries past you. You rise awkwardly to your feet, and follow his rapidly retreating form. You finally catch up to him in the parking lot, and he turns to confront you, red-faced with embarrassment and anger. "What's the matter with you?" he hisses. "You made me look like I was a baby or something!" These consequences were negative, immediate, and should have been fairly certain to you. If you were to go back to the school and greet the older boy in the very same way tomorrow the consequences are quite certain!

When I read the paragraph above where Jack described the behavior (negative) and response (immediate) of a teenager, I had to chuckle – that’s a lot more apropos to networking than the eager five year old. I have found in my industry that one of the best ways to NOT encounter that type of negative reaction is to be very sure about where the prospect is in their decision making. Although we all want to “call for the close” in a timely way, if you rush it, if you don’t let the cake bake, you can get an outcome you just don’t want that may be hard to recover from.

Jack described another scenario: Several years ago, the state of Florida passed a law requiring the occupants of all automobiles to wear seat belts. Violators would be ticketed. The consequences are negative, but they are future and uncertain. Will I really get pulled over for not wearing a seat belt? Surely no policeman will notice! I might drive two years and not get a ticket! The consequences are negative, but it is not certain they will occur, nor when. This is what we do in networking when we weigh the prospect’s “readiness” to move forward. You are reading the tea leaves – has he or she been nodding their head “yes”. Are they repeating your words back to you – that shows they were listening, and they are weighing your words. And then, when things seem favorable (you don’t anticipate an immediate negative response as occurred with the teenager) you then move for the “presumptive” close. Easy statements, like “Well, John, I have to assume that you would really like to try this awesome product for yourself as you do your due diligence about the company.” Easy in, easy for John to say yes – trying the product is less threatening than the decision to actually begin to develop their own business. The nice thing about the presumptive close is that you can ease in, back away from it if it doesn’t fly, and try again after more information is shared. That’s smart salesmanship!

Jack mentioned that he has a great deal more to tell you about antecedents, behaviors, and consequences, he calls them "the ABCs of Motivation" and will continue the discussion is future newsletters. I’m sure I will incorporate this work into what I do, say and train every day, but remember take a look at Jack’s newsletter to get the information first hand. Jack’s focus of “putting people first” in any work environment is wonderful information for any leader regardless of the industry. And, pick up Jack’s book – People First - I recommend it highly – mandatory reading for leaders in my organization! The more we think about putting people first, understanding their needs and desires before trying to accomplish our goals – the more successful we will be. This is just good solid people skills 101 and you will enjoy Jack’s worki.

Your Network Marketing Success Coach
Candy Webb

916 408-3637

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