I don't know about you but I haven't had the best experiences with MLMs and Network Marketing Opportunities. Now let me make it clear, I'm not a HATER! Don't let the title fool you. In my opinion there are way too many people that bash MLMs, Network Marketing, Affiliate Marketing and some home based business just because they couldn't make money with it. I don't sip on that "Hator-Aid". I think that's some old simple Simon stuff when people do that. It distorts reality and makes it hard to determine what's legit when you have people whining online because of their own shortcomings or because they can.
So to be clear I'm not one of those folks! But as someone that has dabbled and researched some MLM and Network Marketing opportunities I've noticed a few legitimate gripes against this industry. So let's explore and discuss them together later in this article. My hope is to actually discover legitimate companies that address these gripes in the proper way. Because honestly I would love to find a great home business that I could promote without feeling dirty or brainwashed.
Before we do that, we need to define Multilevel Marketing (MLM) aka Network Marketing. In a nutshell it's when you earn a commission for selling a product and you also earn a commission when someone you recruit into a company sells products as well. You can probably lump most home based business opportunities into this definition as well.
Hopefully that helps you understand what we're talking about. Okay, let's get into the reasons folks think MLMs suck.
1. The Reps, Agents, Brokers, etc.
I've come up with some rep types. It's not a complete list but it's probably covers a lot of reps you may have run into or you're guilty of being (Sorry in advance.).
– Fart Reps:
They come on really strong at the beginning, it's almost obnoxious. They answer all your emails or phone calls. But then once you're signed up and they have earned their commission, they slowly vanish into the air just leaving remnants of their presence.
– Stevie Wonder Reps.
Have you ever seen a horse that has blinders on. It literally covers their peripheral vision. They can only see in front of them and where the rider leads them. Well there are some reps that are just like this. They'll only paint a sweet picture of their company. They won't tell you any of the bad stuff as if good companies don't have any cons or annoying things. They literally want to keep you blind so you don't actually do your research.
– Squirrel Reps
These guys are literally nutty about their company. They scurry around the web or offline telling everyone how great their company is. But if you dare pose questions about certain practices, the product or legitimacy of their company, they go nuts on you! They might chatter off at the mouth with profanity, name calling and attack your work ethic or intelligence. I've run into quite a few people like this when I've written reviews on Ameriplan & ZeekRewards.
– Sarah Palin Reps
These reps go rogue and pretty much play by their own rules. They don't stick to the script or policies. They may engage in activities or practices that aren't sanctioned by their parent company to recruit other reps or to make sales. These reps are far more dangerous than "Stevie Wonder" reps because they'll flat out lie to you rather than keep certain information from your view. These types of reps can actually cause a parent company to go down or be fined.
– Similac Reps
These reps breath smell of Similac and they're wet behind the ears. They are the baby reps. They're new to the company and they're trying to recruit anyone and everyone under them. The problem is they haven't been successful on their own and they're depending on recruiting you to make their first commission. Or in my case, they want me to join under them because they know thousands of people trust my judgement and will usually join what I recommend. Either way, these reps have it wrong. They don't understand that folks are less likely to join under someone that hasn't had some success. It's totally psychological. Folks feel they can succeed if they can see someone like them succeed too. But as a similac rep you're at a disadvantage. It sucks because how can you prove your success if you can't get anyone to sign under you. But that goes along with some of the other reasons I'll cover later.
So that's my list of rep types. It's no wonder why people are left jaded and then bad mouth MLMs. Is it fair? Not really, but you can see how it happens. I hate to admit it, but I've probably ignored legitimate companies because I've encountered one of these rep personas here on my blog or out on the web. Sadly, I'm probably not alone. I imagine many other people are probably unfairly assessing companies in the same way. Hopefully this article will stop this trend and we can discover the real reps which brings me to another rep type.
– "100%" Reps
There is a little urban saying that goes "Keeping it 100!". For those of you that are "hood challenged" it means just being 100% real or honest. These reps that don't pull any punches. They just tell you how it is. They know that you'll find out the good and bad anyway. So they'd rather you know it up front so you don't waste their time or yours. Reps that keep it 100 will tell you the pros and cons about a given company. They'll let you know some of the stumbling blocks that the other reps try to hide. But any rep that is 100%, will try to help you around them. Either way, they give you a choice to make an informed decision that isn't biased towards just making them a commission. If you've read my body of work for a while, you know that's what I try to do with anything I personally promote or research. Sometimes folks appreciate it and there are times where folks don't. Unfortunately the 100% rep is a rare breed to find. But they do exist. It just takes some digging to hunt them down. Hopefully a few will chime in at the end of the article. 😉
2. The Products
We spent a lot of time on the reps but with any company the product will really make or break the company. Unfortunately with many MLM businesses, the products are either questionable, overpriced or have limited appeal. This can make selling them very difficult which means you're less likely to succeed. No disrespect, but I think many of the health and wellness businesses fall into this category. Have you ever tried justifying to your family or friends that they should pay significantly more for a cleaning product because it's "green" or "safer"? Most will look at you sideways and prefer to go to their local supermarket and get a cheaper alternative (even though it may be an inferior product). If you pick a company that promotes a product or service that you wouldn't use or can't see anyone else you know using, then it's probably something that you're not going to be able to succeed with. Folks that tend to do well really believe and actually use the product or service they're promoting. So they can speak from true experiences and not a script which most people can see through. I know from my own experience I've converted way more people to the companies I promote when I show and prove that I have worked with the company and succeeded. So when you're choosing a business, you need to focus on the product line as well as the commission structure (if you can understand it. More on that later.). If you just pick a company because they pay the highest commission or the Rep tells you that they're making tons of money, you're more likely to give up and fail if you can't reproduce the same results.
3. The Compensation Plans, Matrix or whatever the hell you call them….
This is probably the biggest issue for me when looking into MLMs and Network Marketing opportunities. I'll be the first to admit, I suck at math. When I see numbers it gives me the "willies" and a cold sweat. So with that in mind, there may be some bias in my next observation. I've noticed that many MLMs make their compensation plans difficult to understand. Sometimes there are overrides, matrices, levels, legs, arms and whatever other body part they come up with to describe it. I know the argument for them is that it provides a rep various ways to earn more money. That may be the case. But it may also turn people like me away from them because I don't have a PhD in Hieroglyphics to understand how much damn money I actually earn with your company. I don't necessarily want to watch a long ass presentation or speak to a
cult member… I mean a rep to figure out the compensation plan. Ultimately it shouldn't take an SAT score of 1600 to decipher your compensation plan. All I want to know is that If I sell x amount of product I earn x percentage of that sale! The same simple explanation should should apply to whoever I recruit into the company that makes sales. This nonsense about filling in the legs or levels to earn 1/2 a point, blah, blah is just confusing for the sake of it. Again this may just be MY pet peeve because I'm a simpleton but I suspect there are others that feel the same way.
4. The Start Up Fees.
There is this lie being fed online and offline that any type of work at home opportunity that requires a fee is a scam. So many legitimate MLMs and Network Marketing opportunities are unjustly categorized this way because of the advice of people who are too lazy to point out the distinctions between a business and a job. In most cases with a job you shouldn't pay a fee directly to work for a company (and even that is flawed because many of us pay indirectly for a job). With a business there are start up fees needed to get your business off the ground which could be inventory, a store front, website, employees, advertising, etc. So obviously money is needed to start a business and thus doesn't mean it's a scam. Now with that said there are some business opportunities that aren't legitimate. So you need to research them like you do any other opportunity. But the mere fact that you need to invest money doesn't make it a scam. The fact that you may not make your money back doesn't make an MLM a scam either. It just means you couldn't cut it or had poor support and training. Now even if you do understand there are fees required for a business, depending on how expensive they are it may be a deal breaker. Some programs expect you to buy a certain amount of product per month to stay a Rep. That's all cool and dandy if you do use those products and services regularly (i.e. Internet, Cell, Phone, Certain Grocercies). But if not, then you may end up with a lot of unwanted product cluttering your home. Then there are companies that don't have this requirement but expect you to cough up a high start up fee and then a monthly fee thereafter for the privilege of selling their products. This can become very excessive depending on the company. It's hard to swallow these type of fees if you're not making any money. Again, it doesn't necessarily make a company a scam. But it's something that may turn folks' way especially if they're tight for money.
5. The Long Ass Meetings or Presentations.
I don't know how many times I've been asked to go watch a presentation online or come to an offline meeting to learn more about a given opportunity. Look, I've been in this game long enough to know that there is going to be a hard sales pitch or some Jeidi mind trick to get me to join. I don't like being pressured or hypnotized into anything. All I need is the basics. How much will I make (in plain English), what's the product and service, and how long has the company been in business? All the other information about how the owners are multi billionaires, and that your company farts smells like perfume makes no difference to me. Maybe the other information is important but let me dig through that on my own time and pace. Your initial job is to give the most important information first (Who, What, How and When?). And no, because I don't want to endure your presentation it doesn't mean I'm not a serious business owner or prospect. It's just my time is precious and I like having control over it without feeling like your next commission or meal ticket. There are also some companies that require a regular meeting with other reps. I can see the benefits of this if it's to help motivate you or provide you with additional information to help you make more sales. You learn faster from other successful people. But if the meeting is about making me feel like crap for not succeeding or trying to convince me to upgrade to some magical system to make more sales, then it's just a bad use of my time.
Now it's your turn..
So what do you think? Do you agree with these observations? Would you add some others or change them? Let me know your thoughts below. Again there are some great companies out there.
As I said at the start of this article I'm not an MLM or Network Marketing Hater or trying to call you or your company out. So don't get your panties in a bunch if anything I covered above happens to pertain to you or your parent company! I think if you find the right company that you truly believe in and the products are useful, you can make some great money! But unfortunately some of the reasons above may prevent people from exploring these great opportunities. The goal of this article is to help people make more informed decisions about the MLM & Network Marketing opportunities they explore.
My other hope is to discover companies that have addressed these gripes. I know enough about this industry to make me dangerous but I don't know everything or all the great opportunities out there. So I'm always looking for additional sources of income and so are my loyal subscribers. If you feel confident that your company addresses all these points and willing to prove it, then chime in with some detailed information below. Don't just be lazy and say hey just visit my website, call me or email me. Keep it 100% and open right on this blog post so others can benefit. I'm sure if you do, then folks will definitely want to contact you. But your responses will probably be measured by some of the reasons we've covered in this article. 😉
Either way I'm looking forward to hearing your experiences with MLMs, Network Marketing and other home based businesses.
By the way, if running your own business doesn't really float your boat and you're looking to be an employee rather than the boss, check out the following page by clicking here. If you've enjoyed what you read and want more, consider being a subscriber by clicking here.
54 thoughts on “Top 5 Reasons MLMs & Network Marketing Suck!”
thanks for the post
I appreciate the response, Eddy. I apologize for coming off that way, and will try to keep it to a minimum ;), though I was confused by your closing paragraph, because you made it seem like you were interested in hearing about others’ experience with their MLM business, and that’s what I was trying to address.
But anyways, I agree with you on #2 100%. You certainly have to believe in the product for any real business to work, and if you don’t believe in it, and are there just to bring people on board for the money, how can you expect others to believe in it? Personally, I get rubbed the wrong way when people promote the company in a way where the product isn’t the focus. I.e. “Now, these products are great and all, but what’s really exciting is the money you can make!”. Right at that point, you feel more like a recruit than someone that is supposed to benefit from whatever it is that they were showing you, and then the product no longer seems as legitimate.
Also, how can anyone be sure that any given MLM company won’t fall under the same failure criteria as the pyramid scheme? Now, there is something to offer, so there is perceived value there; however, you still run into the same problem of running out of people to show it too. And most are based around some infinite, recurring purchase, so it really seems like they are all doomed to fail, but are just on a slower path to that failure.
The last thing I have issues with are the conventions and events, because I recently went to one with mine. I went there to gain valuable information, tips, and advice that I can use moving forward, to grow my business. Though there were a few people that spoke, who did give some decent advice, I found that it was more of a hoo-rah get excited event to “inspire” people. I understand that some people need inspiration in this style of business, but I was truly looking for valuable information that I could use, and was a little bit disappointed with what I received. I suppose the issue with those is that it is a catch all event for a large number of people. A lot of people at these events are generally established, and need inspiration if they have hit a plateau, but it doesn’t provide value for those that want/need advice and information.
No worries Taylor. I’ve heard about MLM events like you described and the same complaints. Every year I go to a Vegas trip that is totally sponsored by Wealthy Affiliate and our meetings are about how to improve the community and products for our members. So I agree with you that’s how those meetings should be. Thanks for sharing again.
Hi eddy with a -y,
I really enjoyed this article and your perspective on the “dreaded” mlm, and the associated bad rap it has gotten from companies trying to sell a miracle product. With this as well as the parallelism that many people see to the horrifying pyramid scheme, it can be gut wrenching when some asks you to “check out this awesome this I found, I’m sure you’ll love”, only to find yourself in a living room with many other people and some miracle drink marketing company talking at you (no, of course this is not anecdotal).
But I digress, it’s refreshing to be reminded that there are genuine people out there with something they truly believe in that WON’T harass you to join their club. I never imagined I would ever hop on board to another MLM side business with the bad experiences I’ve had, especially since my current profession as an engineer doesn’t leave me wanting.
Wouldn’t you know it though, I found myself invited by my neighbors recently to take a look at this interesting savings membership from this company called Team National. As per my past experiences, I immediately felt uncomfortable, but agreed to come check it out, in order to be polite. The next day, he had a long time friend come with his wife talk to us about the company, and then show some incredibly cheesy videos about these incredible savings and compensation plan for referring it. It was then that I was thinking about how I could remove myself from the situation without being rude, but after the introduction, he simply asked, “do you have any questions”. Well, he opened up the floodgates because I had hundreds, and I figured I would take him up on his offer.
After hours of questions, I was shown the “Big N Marketplace”, which is where you go to do everyday shopping through what is basically a portal that links to hundreds of retail companies like advanced auto parts, walmart, home depot, and target. Then, we were shown the “home decor/factory direct” section, as they told us about these incredible deals we could get on home furnishings. I recently bought a house, and have hammy down furniture from college, so obviously it perked my interest. I told them, hey we’ve been looking a new tempurpedic/memory foam mattress – find us a deal on one. They go to the link, search through the categories to mattress, find the memory foam styles, and boom they ones ranging from $500-900. I was actually blown away at that point, as previous in store shopping led me to believe one under $2k would be difficult to find.
After hours of questions, and the very refreshing and genuine conversation that took place in addition to, what appeared to be, effortless help. I was actually drawn in. I learned more about the compensation possibilities, and was pleasantly surprised by how they structured it – instead of this person getting this %, then the lower down getting less, and less, and so on, each 2 year membership sale leads to a point, and a lifetime membership leads to 3 points. No matter if you’re 5 levels deeps or 100 levels deeps, the points count the same for you, your upline, and downline.
Now, I know the points thing isn’t fun for you to look at, but I broke it down to $/point on the simple basis (once again, you can eventually get way more/point once you begin to build the business because of the ability to expand the structure of your hierarchy, but that’s too detailed too soon). Ultimately, the first and most basic way to earn money from people who have bought a membership by your referral is 20 points, 10 on the left/right. That comes down to about $75/point just for you, if you nail the point distribution.
After ALL of this, I sat there and went through a mental spreadsheet to do a cost benefit analysis to see if I could convince myself that this was worth it. With the answers and subsequent proof of those answers, and the visual savings along that I could have with things I either already buy or are already planning to buy, I finally sold myself.
Now, I know the story is a big long and detailed, but that is the kind of person I am – I am very analytical, and therefore I understand that people don’t want to be starved of information. Moving on to a summary, this is the pro/con list that I have generated from my somewhat short time with the membership/being with Team National:
1: The people.
The ones I have had the pleasure of dealing with and being around – the guy and his wife that recruited me – are so far, some of the most straightforward and genuine people I have met. They are real people with normal profession who make up the network of people that I joined. I’ve been on the phone with biologists, nurses, and even other engineers to hear their story and how they were successful, and it has been incredibly refreshing so far.
2: The savings
The savings are absolutely no joke. I currently do my online shopping through the portal. I’ve bought things like dog food, dog toys, to toilet paper and car stereos (upgrading a cassette style radio in a tacoma and my grand prix, which had the CD player die). Since I’m super frugal, anytime I find a better deal online elsewhere, I choose that, but I’m finding out that most of the time, I’m finding the best deal through one of those 400+ companies who are a part of that membership. The BEST thing is, you’re not limited to your deals and coupons that you are already using. With this, you are simply going through the portal, which directs you to the retailers website. It tracks your spending to said retailers and applies the applicable rebate % to it and stores all of that on your personal portal. I’m also looking forward to finally upgrading some furniture sooner rather than later through the factory direct portal, since I will find a better deal nowhere else besides maybe craigslist (I don’t advise purchasing a mattress through craigslist).
3. The compensation plan structure
There are a multitude of ways to make money through the company, but the simplest way is through purchases of the membership through your referral. You can make your $1500/20 points, however you can add “business” centers, which break “you” into more horizontal structures. These business centers earn you $2500/20 points, and you will still earn $1500/10 points left and right, since those business centers will be located below the initial “you”. It goes on and requires more specific questions and feedback before it becomes too convoluted to process at first. Also to note, is that there is no recurring purchasing you have to make to stay on board. You can technically start earning money from referring the membership without actually purchasing it! And you can enjoy the membership for life with the lifetime option.
4: The fact that this is not a lottery ticket.
For some that’s a con, because they want to hit the lottery with just the right slot machine you mentioned, but that’s not realistic. It obviously takes time to build the business and to make money from it, but it can be rewarding if you put enough time into it and research to better build your own knowledge base of the company and what it has to offer. The other thing I like, is that this message is resonated by my upline and the people around them.
5: The team aspect.
I have been pleasantly surprised by how helpful my upline has continued to be. They haven’t disappeared, they still come over in person when we need face to face interaction. In fact, just yesterday he came over for dinner that preceeded us sharing the membership information with some people. They have also added a few membership sales “underneath” us, so that we can benefit from them the same as they are.
1: The upfront cost of the membership.
The upfront cost can be a little steep for many, even if you can forsee the value in it for yourself. The 2 year membership is $795 and the lifetime membership is $2195. This can be very daunting for many people, but the recommendation I make to others, as well as myself, is to take all the information home, and just work the numbers out for yourself. YOU have to be able to see that value in it, no one else can force you to do that.
2: The fact that many people will still view it as a pyramid scheme.
Since it’s MLM, it still gets viewed as a scheme, so it can definitely be mentally tiresome to learn how to better promote the membership, without getting lost in the details, but at the same time not coming off as shady looking for another sale.
I know this is long, but hopefully it reflects some of the quirks you were speaking on. Like I said, I enjoyed your perspective, and would like to hear more of it.
Taylor even though this is well disguised self promotion, you did add some value which is why I didn’t delete it as a spam. But keep the comments coming without the self promo next time. Lol
I had to leave a comment here because I TOO was involved in the MLM Industry. I’d like to address is there are other out of pocket expenses besides auto-ship and start up fees.
Some people may not realize that they have to market the business. If people think that they should call up their friends and family and that’s how they are going to make millions that is not the case at all. Friends and family should be left alone.
This is why it’s important to have other avenues besides friends and family members to promote their product and business opportunity.
Also, if the whole MLM business goes under, where does that leave the reps? Do people really own these businesses? I’m not saying that businesses don’t go under that are not in the MLM spectrum, but I feel that many people may put too much trust and may not have any input with the big dogs who started these MLM businesses.
I also love the fact that you stated that the product should be of value. Why sell snake oil? There are plenty of products out there that people will use and buy, but it should be a product that the person stands behind.
I feel that if people want to venture into the MLM Industry they should ask the rep what is the product. If the product has no value, then they should not even bother. Why waste your time and money on a business and product that you don’t stand behind.
I get what you mean Eddy that a persons chances of being successful will diminish if they don’t stand behind the product and learn how they are getting paid. I call those comp plans complication plans because there are too many scenarios. If’s, and, and but if you get….
Anyhow, l really enjoyed reading your article, you know how to make people laugh, but with truth. Thanks!
I couldn’t agree with you more! Thanks for chiming in! I appreciate the thoughts and the kind words.
The Similac rep, was the first sentence an homage to Martin Lawrence?
Glad you got the reference Jason. Lol
Interesting points. I’m very much in agreement that there are some bad apples out there but for the most part I believe that network marketing companies are a great way to step into entrepreneurship. I think that people get into network marketing for all the wrong reasons and then think that network marketing sucks (drinking the Hater-Aid as you mentioned above). It’s not network marketing. It’s the people because they fail to understand the meaning of network marketing. It is all about establishing a relationship and then communicating value by tapping into the needs, wants, and desires identified throughout that relationship. The relationship must come first. [SELF PROMO REFERENCE REMOVED BY ADMIN] Thanks for sharing such an excellent, thought-provoking post!
Thanks for chiming in. I think there are a lot of great ways to explore entrepreneurship without getting into an MLM or network marketing. The problem with most MLMs are the reps, high pressure sales tactics, too much focus on recruiting other reps and the weak products. That said there are some mlm companies out there that manage to avoid these issues and I’m all for folks joining them such as Paparazzi Jewelry, Jamberry Nails, etc.
I do agree that any type of business or marketing is about building relationships not harassing your family, friends or strangers. I’ve been very successful with my business doing this because I treat people the way I would want to be treated. And that’s by presenting folks the good and bad and then letting them make a decision for themselves. And it works very well because you end up with the right people and scare away the folks that shouldn’t be part of your business.
But too often folks in network marketing resort to some really shady behavior which is why that industry has such a bad rep. The few bad apples speak volume for people for better or worst. If you’re fortunate enough to be part of a good MLM and have a wonderful upline that understands the whole concept of nurturing relationships you can have a very prosperous business. Because they will train your properly. Obviously you do this and I’m not mad at ya.
Thanks for chiming in though!
I got involved with an MLM, Nerium International, about 8 months ago. I signed up with the $500 start up kit because I really loved the product and witnessed how drastically it changed my Mom’s skin in only 2 weeks. I was under the impression I’d be selling a product but I came to learn that this is a recruiting business where all the training and all of the incentives are for selling the business. I didn’t realize that this was how it worked in direct sales. I get my product for free which is cool because I like it but I do pay $30 a month for my website. I have a number of customers that like the product and a small downline but I haven’t really been able to get super excited about this as a career for me.
I’m reading this book called, “False Profits: Seeking Financial and Spiritual Deliverance in Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Schemes” by Joyce K. Reynolds and Robert L. FitzPatrick. I recommend it to anyone in and MLM or thinking about joining one. It’s important to be educated about the history of MLMs.
Sometimes I wonder if this is a good business model for people and their personal relationships. Is it healthy to see your friends, family, neighbors, and everyone you meet each day as a “prospect?” I read, “trusted friendships and the harmony of family can never be fully regained once commercially exploited.” I have to admit, my sponsor was a friend and now I look at our friendship differently. Were we ever really friends or did she just see me as a prospect so she gained my trust and then got me to join this business? The affects joining an MLM from a psychological and sociological standpoint fascinates me. I just can’t get past it. I wonder on a larger scale, is this business model good for humans and their social foundations? I know it’s good for the owners of these MLMs because of the amount of money they make but is it good for communities, for friendships, for humanity?
I wish this company taught us more about the product, paid more for product sales and offered incentives for product sales rather than being so entirely focused on recruiting. Because these products really are amazing. I also wonder, who tells reps from MLMs when to stop calling their company “a ground floor opportunity?” Who has the off switch? Who is the unfortunate person sitting a the local market party hearing this? Then they pay to sign up, just to get started and realize everyone has already been pitched on this business or heard of this product and said no. When the market is saturated, then what?
I’m the kind of person who is content shopping on the Target clearance rack, and driving my Nissan (it’s not a Lexus but I’m perfectly happy), my husband supports us and our children just fine so I don’t see myself running with this one. I’ve never cared that much about material things. A nice house, healthy kids, savings in the bank….my dreams are lived in the everyday moments of my life. I don’t need an MLM to tell me my dreams are of material things. I will continue to sell the product to anyone who asks me about them and I’d love to get mine for free forever because my skin looks great. I hope to stay young and beautiful forever, haha!
Eddy, I love this blog post. MLMs are so popular right now and it’s important for people to learn about them so when they’re invited to a presentation about one, they can think critically- just in case they run into a Stevie Wonder or worse a Sarah Palin rep. Good work 🙂
I obviously agree with your observations regarding MLMs. I think there is too much focus on the recruiting aspect and I just never liked the idea of targeting family and friends. When my family and friends learn about my own business. Some are interested and some aren’t. But I’m not going to harass them to become interested. It just doesn’t seem right. My relationship with them is far more important than a sale. And the way my business runs, people that are already interested come to me. That’s the way it should be. But alas many Mlms don’t work like that.
If the products are as good as people claim that’s what the focus should be. In any event, thanks for sharing your honest opinion. Nerium has been very interesting to say the least. I’ve seen the good and the worst of those reps judging by the comments on my article here. Clearly you’re on the positive spectrum and I appreciate your honesty and energy. It’s refreshing!
I know exactly what you mean about seeing everyone as a prospect, and when you are trained to do this, then not only is it uncomfortable; you also start questioning your relationships like you are currently doing with your sponsor. I’ve seen many people (on social media, in particular) see a post or comment by someone and immediately jump in with a product pitch (ewwwwww!!!!! Yuck!!!!!). That is icky and a turnoff, no doubt about it. As Eddy said in his reply, relationships are way more important than sales.
If I can share a differing way of looking at this thing about sharing with others, perhaps it will be helpful. Your job (as I believe Eddy has said he does from time to time with the folks he knows) is to, when you have a chance/opportunity, let folks know what you are doing. Your only obligation is to “notify” them, much as you would if you had a brick and mortar business. There really is no difference here in that both brick and mortar businesses and MLM/Network Marketing businesses need customers. The problem is in the approach. Many network marketing and direct sales companies teach you to use the “Three Foot Rule”, i.e. that anyone within three feet is a “prospect”, and that you badger them to death about what you are doing! NO!!!! THAT is how you turn people off you, your products and your business. There are ways that you can interest people in the products and/or the business without destroying relationships. The thing is, that many of the people we know are looking for something on the side, perhaps not a full time career, but as a way to earn a little extra money like most of us start out wanting to do. Or they may need/want our product to enhance their life or business. Your company or mine might be the one that makes a difference for them, or it may not. But those people won’t be able to decide that for themselves if they don’t know about our companies. So, as you have a chance, let the folks you know, know what you are doing in terms of the business, and what you are marketing. That way, if they have an interest, great – they can check it out. If they don’t have an interest, at least they know what you do in case they can refer someone to you. If they know what you do, and don’t have an interest, and don’t want to refer you, too, then that is also cool. You simply don’t talk to them anymore about it. There is absolutely no reason to abandon a friendship because someone doesn’t buy from you. When someone does abandon you because you won’t buy from them or join their business, then you can be pretty sure they did only see you as a sale. And that is sad.
There are pushy reps in every single company. Some of that is because of personalities and a lot of it is poor training.
I haven’t read the book that you are reading. I will look it up as I am always looking for great information on things I am interested in. One that I can recommend to you is called MLM Blueprint. I also think that is a must-read for anyone in the industry or who is thinking of being in the industry.
Please don’t think that direct sales and MLM is all about recruiting. You can earn money by having only customers. If that isn’t possible in a company, then something is wrong. Check YouTube and Google for training on how to market the products, if you feel there isn’t enough company training on that part of it. Request more training from Corporate. The recruiting comes from the same principle as real estate and insurance brokerages – a small percentage of a larger number of folks’ efforts is sometimes more than a larger percentage of your own efforts only. It’s why we have franchises, brokerages and drink machines, LOL. More distribution! 🙂 But you should be able to earn money with customers, if you don’t want to recruit. Wish there was a way I could connect with you. 🙂
Well said Suzanne! Clearly you were either trained by some great upline or decided to build your business totally differently. Either way, I agree with your approach and advice. That’s pretty much how I handle my business. People ask what I do, I tell them and let it marinate. If they want to know more, I refer them to my blog. If they don’t that’s fine too. My business doesn’t rely on preying on family and friends. People that are already interested come to me 24/7 via my website and that’s the way it should be in my opinion.
But I really like how you think Suzanne. If all MLMS thought the same way and behaved the same way they would have less of negative stigma associated with them. But it’s always great to hear from reps like you that illustrate not all the apples are bad in the bunch!
Awww Eddy – thanks, man!
I appreciate you writing this blog post AND allowing us to weigh in. I have been through a LOT of training in almost 20 years in the industry. Some of it was good, but not my style, and some of it I have adopted because it was my style, which is non-salesy and not pushy in the least.
Thanks again for your kind comments. 🙂
You’re welcome Suzanne.
I’m almost open to comments like yours. People assume if they don’t agree with me then I won’t post their comments but it’s not true. I love having civil debates, it’s the folks that can’t use their big words that don’t get a platform here. lol
I can tell you have been around the block when it comes to this MLM stuff and you can see you definitely decided to follow the path that worked for you instead of just blindly following advice that may actually be detrimental in the hopes of sales. You’re a model of how all MLM reps should behave. So thanks again!
Hi Suzanne, mentioning the three foot rule seems obvious that it is a product of Amway type of Mindset. However, you get that in most all network marketing companies. They all subscribe to this group think type of terminology. This is the most concocted misconception that ever was. The warm list is over emphasized, as well people within three feet of you are prospects. You need to answer this question. Has any Non MLM brick and mortal company ever survived as pitching their warm market? More than likely not.
The reason they stay in business is that they advertise continuously. But it is the road to failure by teaching people the amateur way of doing business when they talk it to death of a warm market list. When you do that you instantly become a member of the NFL which is No Friends Left.
As Eddy stated that if MLM’s Stopped this poor way of teaching people of generating business. We would not have people like by Joyce K. Reynolds and Robert L. FitzPatrick completely bastardizing the industry. The fact is that you will find good and bad in every industry. Ever since the World Wide Web come along. We had affiliate programs explode like fireworks, but some of them too come and gone like the Network marketing companies. In retrospect, affiliate programs are just a dumbed down version of MLM which a lot of them don’t make any serious money at all. I have my own website, Plenty of knowledge as to knowing where to advertise. Plenty of sense to know when to say no to some of these businesses. Because they generally come and go like the summer thunderstorms they are. They make a lot of noise and get a ton of people washed out but in the end they pretty much fizzle out. The sad fact is that their are agent provocateurs out to make money painting one industry as all bad have not taken a look at other industries and how they suffered collateral damage as result of bad apples. Do not think someone as an agenda because of a certain slant because everybody has an agenda.
I think you make a good point in that there are good and bad apples in any industry because they’re made up for real people. And we all know there are good and bad people in any race, creed, color, etc. It always amazes me when people want to lump a whole group of people because of the actions of a few because it shows folks are being mentally lazy and not able to take a step back and take inconsideration the the dangers of overgeneralization in any circumstance.
In terms of everyone having an agenda, I think that goes without saying especially when it comes to business. If you’re in business your agenda is to make money and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Because you can make money by helping people and giving them what they want and have asked for. I’ll do that all day long and I do with my business. I think people starting taking issue with the agenda of making money when it’s at the cost of duping or hurting people. But we all know it’s not a requirement to make money and we have many examples of this in various businesses online.
So I can appreciate some of your points. I’m obviously not a big fan of the MLM model and I do appreciate the affiliate model because you don’t need to decipher a complicated compensation plan to determine how you make money. I’m a simple simon like that. I don’t want to watch your long drawn out presentation or discuss with your rep how I make money with your company. I should be able to visit your website read about your company, the products or services you sell and how much money I make when I help you sell it within a few minutes. Anything more than that is just being convoluted in my mind. However that’s my preference. I do recognize there are some good MLMs out there and definitely some decent reps out there as well. Unfortunately it just feels like you run into more of the crappy ones especially when you decide to review their companies and point out shortcomings which every company has.
Either way, I appreciate this discussion we’re having! This is how real adults carry a conversation! We debate and hear each other out without resorting to name calling and cursing. It’s times like this where I love the internet! lol
Thanks again William!
I like to add that the Sarah Palin reps or the rogue or more exact phrase “Renegade Network Marketers” Some of them will point to buying leads as means of prospecting. Talking to some network marketers that used this method which they stated to me that it as a prospecting method was over-rated. The problem with rogue marketers is that on the outside seem sincere. As you peel back the layers that they still adopt some outdated methods of selling and prospecting. In retrospect, rogue network marketers are their own worst enemy in the way they present themselves as legitimate. Even though they use methods that actually hinder peoples success.
No matter where you go with linking up to network marketing. They all like to go into this group think mindset when it comes to warm market leads. Too much fixation with your warm market such as friends and family. If people are going to follow that strategy, They already failed in my view. The real effort is to advertise the products and services in business publications, go out knocking on doors, renting space at flea markets. If they are going to start a business they need to treat it as such. A business.
This is where people often get hung up on is the Meetings or Presentations. Now don’t get me wrong. There are reps that tend to use it a rah rah rah get people excited platform. Meetings and presentations are necessary to let people know what the company and product is about.
It is just pitiful that some MLM companies just don’t give its reps the proper tools for them to be successful. And yes there are poor upline reps that don’t give support to their downline. There are certainly a lot of resources for promotion such as Wolf Enterprises That provides promotion vehicles. The real travesty is that there are to many amateurs in the sector that are presenting themselves as experts.
One thing overlooked is that the heavy hitter reps that hop from one MLM to another bringing their whole flock with them. Heavy hitter reps are in this case a blessing and a curse. The reason why I state curse is that that when they decide to leave for another MLM. It can leave your whole Business team on the decline. I have a close friend in Tennesse that relied on this type of heavy hitter. It can be devastating when you see your entire down line vanish into nothing.
First of all, I love this blog post and thought it was spot on! Thank you, too, for clearing up the misconception with the “pyramid” description/objection. I definitely think that corporate America is a pyramid scheme in terms of its structure and the glass ceiling that you eventually bump up against. In MLM it is very possible to make more money than the person who sponsored you. I have seen this time and again in different MLMs.
Anyway, I am and have been, in the MLM industry for 20 years this year. I’ve been a rep for companies that sell health and wellness products, personal care products and household products. My current company where I have made my home is in the gifting industry.
I wanted to address the cons you highlighted in terms of the company I am currently with. I agree with you that many folks are not looking for a business. It takes a certain drive to want to start your own business and that, as you know, isn’t for the majority of people. Whether you have a brick and mortar business, an online business like you’ve built, or a home-based MLM business, to make the business work, you have to work the business. The problem with MLM on a whole is that it takes so little to get started (most cost under $500 to get started) that the folks who start these businesses tend to treat them as a lottery and do not put in the same level of effort that they would if they had spent $50,000 on a brick and mortar business. On the flip side, I do believe that MLM businesses are the great equalizer for folks who are not afraid of some hard work. Many of us may not have $50,000 or more to start a traditional business, but we may be able to invest $500 or less. Properly worked, an MLM can become a conduit for great financial gain and possibly financial freedom, and it can be worked part time while having a regular full time job.
Reps come in all shapes, sizes, dispositions and level of pushiness. This is true of car dealerships, furniture stores or MLM reps. While it is a valid concern (and I hate pushy salespeople like the next person), pushy MLM sales reps seem to get a worse rap than say a car or furniture salesperson. Perhaps it is because the MLM rep may approach you first, rather than you going into the dealership/store and being able to brace yourself for the contact, lol? I agree it is a problem, and companies need to do a better job of showing their reps how to sell without being pushy. Also, many reps will say they don’t sell; instead they “share”. In my opinion, if money is passed after the “sharing” and the person “sharing” gets financial compensation in some way, I don’t think that is sharing anymore. I think it is sales, and that is not a word to shy away from. I suspect people shy away from that word because it generates the image of the pushy, sleazy salesperson. Yet there are many salespeople I respect because they won’t bombard you or pressure you if you say no or that the timing isn’t right for you to purchase.
One of the things you mentioned in your post about MLM reps was the cost of the product. It is true that most MLM products are more expensive than store-bought product. The fact of that can be a deterrent to many would-be customers because they simply don’t see the value in the product to spend more than they would at a box store. What can help MLM reps with that is if they learn how to find those folks who share the same values as they do, meaning, for example, if they market a natural beauty product that is higher priced than you can buy in stores, if they can find folks who may like more exclusive products, or who don’t mind spending more for a natural product, then they can find those people and sell to them. That is a learned skill, however, and takes more know-how than the average Jane/Joe going into a MLM company possesses, at least at the outset. Just like traditional business owners go to seminars and workshops to help them learn more about their businesses, so too, must MLM reps invest in their business by attending trainings, reading books, etc. Back to the price thing…the company I represent offers a product that is not only more convenient and better quality, but lower in cost than the store-bought alternative. I didn’t come here to promote, so I will not name the company. There are other companies like mine that actually save people money, so not all MLM companies’ products or services cost more than the store alternatives.
I understand that you consider the autoship a con, but it is a way to move product and to make sure that the reps are using the service. The amount of money for the autoship can vary drastically, however, from company to company. What is different about mine is that even though you have to have a certain volume (measured in $) to get your commissions (and your personal purchases count toward that), once you have enough customers to meet that requirement, you can drop off autoship and still receive commissions and free product. The only catch to that is that once you get off autoship you are off for 90 days, and that is to prevent people from jumping on and off willy-nilly. I’ve been using the service and product I promote for almost 8 years and I’ve never gotten off autoship, simply because I consume the entire amount of my autoship order (and then some) almost every month.
Many MLM companies have “kits” that are $99 + shipping. The reason for this, I believe, is that the FTC has a requirement that there is an option to start the business that costs under $100. Many companies include a lot of product for that price that you can either sell or use. If you sell it, you will more than likely make back more than the amount you spent on the kit. If you use it, well, you still have gotten great value – hundreds of dollars of product for under $100. In my company, we have an option for under $100 but it is not the option that is promoted, for the simple reason that it gives none of the advantages of the full startup option which is just under $400. The difference between the other companies and this company is that there are no catalogs that need to be bought, the monthly volume requirements are low, we don’t pay extra for websites, etc., no samples are needed and that the cost of the product is not inflated for the reps to make commissions. We don’t need to do parties (some do) and there is no need to have “product” to demo at parties. It should be noted, however, that many companies now are doing away with having reps stock inventory, but many party-plan businesses still require samples.
The product itself is very important, as you stated. No one thing is right for everyone and reactions are always possibly with dealing with lotions, potions and pills. The company should back its product(s) by offering a money-back guarantee, and the longer the guarantee, the better feelings I have about the company and the product. Having been in different companies that marketed things to either ingest or put on your skin, I love the fact that mine is neither. And as one of our leading reps said recently, folks can experience the product in our company without being a customer or rep. I don’t mean that they can try the product by sampling (although they can). Our product “touches” folks who have never even heard of our product, tried it or sold it. Pretty cool. 😉
The meetings and conventions/trainings in some companies are just amped-up hype sessions to feed the enthusiasm of the reps. Nothing wrong with that if you live close to the location or don’t mind traveling (with all the resulting costs) to attend. Personally, though, if I am attending a training/convention, there needs to be more than hype. I need to be getting solid information and training that is going to help me propel my business forward. I know that part of the value is being around other like-minded folks, and I have heard that the more people you take to conventions, the more you will make. I operate in integrity, however, and with the company I am with now, their trainings are solid and so I don’t hesitate to recommend to team members that they go.
In keeping with your point about sticking to the basics, I believe every rep should be able to explain the basics of the compensation plan, a.k.a. “the money”. As a rep, you should be able to say how much you earn per customer and from your own purchases, as well as how the team building bonuses work as your organization grows. I’m not great at understanding this stuff, and fortunately there are many who are who can explain in ways I can understand. I also didn’t sweat it this time around, as my intent was not to build a business with this company, but to casually refer it as folks commented on the product.
Anyway, hopefully this has provided some food for thought for you and your readers. I love what you are doing, so keep on keeping on! 😉
First and foremost it’s great meeting someone that is part of an MLM that can express yourself as you have and still be objective enough to acknowledge many of the things I’ve mentioned in this article. So applaud you. Other MLM’ers please take note.
That said you’ve made some great points and observations that I can appreciate and agree with to a certain degree. But honestly your comments would be even more powerful if it weren’t for the not so subtle numerous references to your MLM. However I appreciate that you didn’t try to put your links in directly. But I may want to label you a Ninja MLM Rep because of the references. lol But I can appreciate that type of rep over the others. lol
Thanks again for chiming in. I really appreciate your insight. I can totally see how you would do well in any business.
I’m sorry if I misunderstood and that you feel I am a Ninja rep. Perhaps I misunderstood this part of your post, then?
“My other hope is to discover companies that have addressed these gripes. I know enough about this industry to make me dangerous but I don’t know everything or all the great opportunities out there. So I’m always looking for additional sources of income and so are my loyal subscribers. If you feel confident that your company addresses all these points and willing to prove it, then chime in with some detailed information below. Don’t just be lazy and say hey just visit my website, call me or email me. Keep it 100% and open right on this blog post so others can benefit. I’m sure if you do, then folks will definitely want to contact you.”
To me, that was a call to do what I did – to keep it real on the things you talked about in your post and to give details about a company if it had handled the “gripes” you had about MLM companies. If that was not your intent, then I apologize for misunderstanding that paragraph.
I stand corrected Suzanne. You are absolutely correct. I did encourage what you did. Again so I thank you and sorry about labeling your a ninja MLM rep.
Thanks for this very informative article Eddy! I have several friends who are, or have been involved with various MLM companies. Some of them have been insanely successful while others have had terrible experiences and quit. I think it really just boils down to whether or not the company and product are the right fit for you, and if your recruiter is good, honest, and helpful.
I recently started using Mary Kay products, and just fell in love with them. I was very lucky to have a rep who is one of the 100% types. She very clearly laid out the pros and cons of the business opportunity, and I eventually decided to join as a consultant. I joined with the intention of being a personal use consultant only, but I ended up selling a few products here and there.
I’m not trying to replace my income. I just like the products and enjoy being able to buy them at wholesale prices. The startup cost was less than $100, which included a ton of the products I wanted anyway. I’ll place a large order every few months to stay active…my fellow consultants call this their “inventory,” but I only buy what I will use. So really I’m restocking my beauty cabinet or buying birthday/christmas gifts. Sometimes, friends will ask to order something or I may sell something out of my “inventory.”
Mary Kay works for me because I love the products, I have a kind and supportive recruiter, I’m not trying to make big bucks, and I’m just being myself. I don’t host parties or call and harass potential customers. I just buy my stuff, and sell to whomever I run into that expresses interest.
Thanks for chiming in. I agree with you that your success with any MLM really depends on the product, support, training and your resolve to make the business work. That last part is a must for any business but sometimes people forget that and want to blame the business or people that recruited them.
That said, I’m glad you enjoy Mary Kay. Your comment bordered one of the reps I talked about. lol But seriously it seems like you really like the company and approaching it the right away. So continued success to you.
I have joined with a MLM company and am still involved with it. I like the products and believe that they are great. I will continue to purchase the products. What really bothers me is the marketing plan and how necessary it is to get people to sign up under you so that you can get paid more. I wouldn’t mind getting people to sign up to purchase safe products that are good for the home and nice for the environment. If they would focus on promoting the products more and not the business opportunity I would be happier with them. I really hate the business model that says you have to create a list of family and friends and get them to join. I also hate the hype used to promote the business side of it. If I could figure out a different way to market the products I would be happier about having joined. As for now I am very disappointed. Robin
At least you do like the products so that is actually helpful. However I’m totally there with you regarding the marketing techniques employed. I don’t want to harass my family and friends. And you’re right the focus should be more on the product and less on recruitment of other people. Here’s the thing if you like the product and think they’re good then you don’t have to follow their hype or marketing plan. Just focus on selling the product then. You might still have success with this MLM. I’ve been part of many companies and I rarely follow their advice on marketing. I tend to use my own judgement and have done well because of it. Sometimes it’s just better to think outside the box in situations like this.
Thanks for sharing your experience and being real. What company are you part of? Feel free to share your link, maybe you’ll get a few sign ups for the product. 😉
Regardless of what kind of advice you’re given by MLMs about “sharing” as opposed to outright selling, what you’re doing is selling. Everyone you come in contact with knows that. They know they’re being sold. All this about “sharing” is just semantics.
I’ve never heard of anyone making anything in MLMs who were not born crackerjack salespeople. Unless you can find a legitimate, successful network marketing co. totally online … you positively must have a sales personality. At the very least, you have to like selling face-to-face. Because that’s what you’re doing.
I agree that being comfortable talking to people face to face or on the phone is definitely huge part of your success with MLM companies. That being said I think the approach doesn’t have to be “salesy”. I’ve had matter of fact conversations with people about what I do and it usually makes people want to learn more. I merely share the information. So I don’t view it as sales and most people that talk to me would feel the same way. So I think it depends on your approach. If you’re having a product party, then folks know and feel you’re pushing product. But if I’m having a conversation with my friends or someone at a bar, it rarely comes off like that.
Thanks for chiming in. But I think you nailed it. You didn’t have a great rep to support you. It sounds like you did like and believed in the product.
Did you ever try joining under a different rep to see if that would help?
Eddy, I have tried the MLM’s because if it is a great product , I believe it could be viable but most of the time, I didn’t get the help I needed and you really have to have a little money to invest in the product. I was in one and if I signed up for an autoship for 3 months in a row I would qualify for a bonus when a certain product line came out and quess what. A BIG FAT NOTHING. i quit it and also my upline was “The squirrel rep” and what a jerk he was.
Another note, it bothers me when I can’t see what others are doing behind the scenes of these so called “make a fortune companies” because you don’t know where your getting screwed. Then try to prove it.
Great article and discussion!
I was part of an MLM company years ago and it seemed like it was all about recruiting “business builders” rather than selling the service. The advertising materials were misleading and people quit after they joined because they felt like they had been duped (and I couldn’t blame them). I did reach a higher level with the company, however I just didn’t feel right about the business. It made me feel “dirty” and I didn’t want to continue with it anymore, so I quit.
The company I am with now is different, and so far I am pleased with it. It is a new company so there are some kinks they are working out, it is not perfect (nothing in life is). So, with that said, I will share some of the pros and cons of this company:
1) It offers a service (that most people use) at a reasonable price.
2) It has a strong backing and leadership from well known companies.
3) They have evened the playing field with a good compensation plan that allows the “Average Joe” to be successful.
4) They put all of the business information out front – no tricks and nothing deceiving – this is HUGE for me. I don’t want to waste my time or anyone else’s with a misleading splash page or website, I would rather them know everything up front so they can decide if it is the right business for them. This has worked well too because I have had 2 people sign up without having to call them on the phone and prospect them (no need to, this business is simple and up front, either people are interested or they’re not, no big deal).
1) They are a new company that is growing very rapidly. The member support line has a long wait time and sometimes things don’t work properly. I feel like I am learning and growing with them, which is fine for me, however I can see how some people may not want to take a risk on a new company and I can understand that.
2) Although they offer a service at a great price, some would argue that it is not the BEST service available and therefore they are not interested. I have run into this arguement a couple of times now. I am personally using the service and I am happy with the price and quality, however I realize it might not be right for everyone and that is fine too.
3) The CEO is facing some critisism and lawsuits from a previous company he was involved in (not an MLM). Sounds scary, I know. When I first came across this information I initially rejected this business (especially after what I had been through with my other company). However, in the back of mind I kept thinking about how much I wanted to be a part of it, and how I truly felt like they had something good to offer that was really going to help people save money and earn money (myself included). I decided to do some further research, and based on my findings it doesn’t appear that he is responsible for the things that he is being accused of. People and companies are sued everyday, it’s doesn’t mean though that they are in fact guilty. What’s more, the big name companies, investors and leaders of this company would not be involved (and put their reputations on the line) unless they felt that this was a good company that is worthy of their time and money. I realize though that these accusations might be a stumbling block for some and it is important to not try and brush them under the rug and pretend they’re not out there. So far it has not been a hindrance for me personally, however I suspect at some point someone interested in the business will bring this up, and when they do I feel comfortable discussing it with them.
I think it is important for everyone to join a company that has:
1) A good product or service that people want and that they can be proud to represent.
2) Is up front and honest (deceiving companies give MLM a bad name).
3) A good compensation plan that doesn’t just reward those at the top.
I am glad to have found the company I am with and I look forward to what the future holds.
I agree with your points “Guest” (wish you would have used your name. lol)
Keep us posted on how things pan out with this company. I’m pretty sure I know which one it is.
Great write-up, Eddy! One thing I don’t like about some of these companies is how so many of the reps share these amazing success stories where they’ve been able to replace their income five or six times over. I’m not saying they didn’t, but it’s not good to lead other people into believing that they will, too. The fact is that not everyone is cut out for this kind of thing. Some people are good at sales/recruiting, and others just don’t have that knack. And therefore a lot of people who desperately just need to find a way to earn money at home are sucked into some of these opportunities, being told it’s a real “work from home job” rather than understanding from the get-go it’s actually a biz opp and end up not succeeding and also losing whatever money they invested. I just hate when that happens because afterward, these same people begin to have a negative association with working at home in general just because of the one bad experience and tend to immediately assume everything related to it is a scam.
I’m sure there are some good companies out there and I actually have a lot of friends in the direct sales industry who have done amazingly well. But I just hate when people try to give me that hard sell and tell me how many thousands of dollars I’m going to make. That just immediately makes me skeptical. Like you, I much prefer being given straightforward info first. What am I selling, how does it work, how long has the company been around, etc. Then let me do the research based on the cold hard facts and let me make up my own mind 🙂
Hey Anna, Sorry for the delay. I totally agree with you about that point. The FTC doesn’t like claims like that and for good reason. Just because I make a certain amount per month doesn’t guarantee you will even if you follow whatever system or opportunity I’m part of. Reps do folks a disservice when they don’t make this clear. But in their minds it means folks may not sign up under them.
You’re absolutely right this just continues to hurt our industry and makes the jobs of folks like you and I are harder.
Have you discovered an MLM or home business you’re part of. I know like me you’re a blogger. But I’m wondering if you found something else as well.
Great article Eddy! I have to admit that I’ve grown to despise MLM. To me, they’re nothing more than a glorified pyramid scheme. My experiences with MLMs go all the way back to Amway, Shaklee and a company called Cell Tech that sold super blue-green algae. My latest venture was last year with a company called Limu, which sells this high powered seaweed drink. I got sucked in, by a fart rep (love that term, that’s exactly what they are–lol). I paid an outrageous start up fee, and then I was left high and dry with no support and no money. Never again with these kind of companies! I love this site, because I can learn and benefit from you and other people’s experiences.
Hey Jana, Thanks for the kind words. I don’t really agree they’re all pyramid schemes. To be a true pyramid scheme you only make money by recruiting more people and that money they pay just keeps the company afloat until it collapses. There isn’t a real product or service that is being sold to make profits. So I think that term is often misused when describing legitimate MLMs that do have real products and services that are being sold. I think people like using the word pyramid because they don’t like the idea that there are different levels that reps are in. But it can be argued that traditional corporations are pyramid like schemes too because the folks at the bottom that do most of the work get paid less than the executives on the top that “manage” everything. So it’s a term that can be used very loosely.
But that doesn’t take away from your recent experience. You had a fart rep that didn’t help you succeed and that’s always a bad situation. So thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate it!
I agree with what Eddy said. A friend of mine is in Limu and is happy with what he does. What it all comes down to is taking the time to find a good fit for *you*. I’m very sorry that happened to you, Jana. We’re not all fart reps 😉
Great article 🙂 From my experience… I’ve been with 2 Direct Selling/Party Plan companies and 3 MLMs, the third being my present company.
From the get go, I’ve loved the idea of the DS/MLM professions but always had the issue of being able to get behind a company and the products 100%. Either it was expensive monthly quotas, having to purchase new kit and materials every 6 months, or a service I was unable to utilize myself because again, it was expensive.
There was also the issue of sharing the business: via video, webinar, sizzle call, phone presentation or 1:1. Let me tell you right now that being able to send someone to a video they can watch on THEIR time and just schedule a follow up call is very simple. If someone can’t take 20-25 minutes out to pay attention to a video, they’re not serious in my books.
AND now, I’m able to get my autoship for free, just pay shipping. I actually use and ENJOY the products, have results from them and truly love them.
The biggest things I can say here are to fully research the company and take your time looking for a rep and team. The company needs to have a highly duplicate-able system in place for you to plug into – proven to work and SIMPLE, products or services that are highly consumable and require monthly purchase at decent prices or even ability to get them for free, training that is current “with the times,” and a compensation plan that will allow reps to reach 6 figures within a year. Obviously there are other details to research but these are a big deal to build a successful and thriving business. (In my opinion)
Talk to different reps and find someone you mesh with, someone you can actually be friends with.
The woman I signed up with was willing to get on the phone with me and listen to me vent about my challenges in the business I was in at the time. We’d been talking for a while and were in the same company previously and she was just a terrific friend FIRST. She got me on a 3 way call with her sponsor, a woman I’d been following for about 2 years, and they helped me have an absolute breakthrough. That’s when I had my defining moment of THIS IS WHERE I BELONG. I had followed a few of our leaders and their team for months and spoke to multiple people about it before making a move. Now I’m honored and proud to call them my family, more so than team.
Here’s what I believe defines a good Rep:
-They believe in friends first and understand what it means to build relationships.
-They are NOT looking to recruit all willing parties, that’s called desperation and is very unattractive.
-They will walk new reps through the necessary getting started training and shadow them on their first few calls to ensure they’re following the system and make themselves available to those who are working the business.
The rep titles and descriptions you provided are funny and so true. That’s why I say find one who can be a friend first 🙂
Now, start up fees…. I mean first of all it takes money to make money… any serious entrepreneur will tell you this. Most MLM’s range from $50-$1,000 to start, depending on your level of seriousness and what kind of income you desire. I would hope that $500-$1,000 one time would be worth it to someone who wants to replace their income and duplicate that through their team!
Let’s face it, we all have 3 choices: invest in college, invest in a business, or get a min. wage job and fight your way up that ladder. I personally wasted about $5,000 in 3 years at community college to figure out it wasn’t for me but I’m thankful for that because that’s where I was introduced to MLM and I learned my path.
What’s that saying again? Formal education will make you a living but self education will make you a fortune…(Jim Rohn, ?) I believe in that quote 100%
Ashleigh, you’ve made a lot of valid points and provided some good advice! I’m glad you have found a great company. Feel free to share it with us because it sounds like they address some of the gripes I’ve listed above and that others have complained about. Now I’m interested because you’ve shared information and didn’t try to sell me. lol
Thanks, this profession is near and dear to my heart, I’m happy to offer my experiences to hopefully help someone else.
The company is ViSalus and the specific team I am with is the V.I.P Challengers, V.I.P stands for ViSalus Leaders Inspiring Prosperity.
It’s taken me 4 years to get to this point where I can simply share information rather than try to sell people but again, it’s about relationships; truly caring about people & making a difference in the lives of others.
Feel free to provide your direct website or team website. I think you definitely deserve the visibility. =)
Oh wow Eddy thank you 🙂 Our team website is http://www.vipchallengers.com, folks can fill out the contact form on the right hand side and put my name into the Referral spot.
Keep up the great work, Eddy.
Awesome article Eddy! I loved the description of the reps too. I don’t knock these businesses at all. I have tried several too over the years. I was recently a “Similac rep” in the WV travel biz.. I truly believe in that travel company and the people are awesome, There is a lot of support to build your business. My downfall was that I was trying to sell, not share.
Thanks M! I think you’ve hit it on the head regarding the whole sales process. I don’t think I’m a great sales person nor aspire to be one. I’m good at providing information to help people make informed decision. And fortunately for me it tends to lead to money. lol
I think too often many of these companies teach you to sell instead of share or inform as you described. The hard sales tactics obviously work for some people but it doesn’t mean it’s the best way for all people. I’m turned off by hard sales tactics that are used on me so I l know if I’m expected to do the same, I’ll fail at a given business. So it’s all about trying to find a company that aligns with your style and value. Glad to hear you found this WV Travel Biz. Now that you know what you’ve been doing wrong, have you adjusted your approach and seeing success?
No, I haven’t. Still working on it.
Ok, Keep me posted.
Well said Eddy!
As usual you hit the nail on the head. I had a very bad experience back in ’06 with the company “Liberty League International”, based out of Arizona. Their product was a series of books on the power of “positive thinking”. It cost me over a thousand bucks for the product when I joined. Although you weren’t “required” to purchase the product, one was told that “it was in your best interests”, and you could grow your business quicker and receive more help from “experts” within the company who would be more willing to act as mentors for you. Like a fool I got suckered into this company through a phone presentation. The 5 ideals that you presented in your article was absolutely “spot on” in describing this company. The rep. who sold me the product claimed that he was going to become a millionaire if I or anyone else below him in their “matrix” would follow his advice explicitly. I put him in the Stevie Wonder category, but he minored as being a “fart” rep as well. Turns out within months he actually got kicked out of the company because this individual was going against their policy for recruitment.
Every Friday LLI had the long presentations. You had a bunch of members on the line together and some high-ranking company phoof would extol on how the product improved his life. Geez, it was akin to the individual attempting to sell us even more on the company’s fake-ass values. Like a fool for awhile I “drank of the Kool-aid”.
Basically the plan in building our business was to spend a small fortune advertising, attempting to get other suckers into investing a four-figure amount into the company’s product and being underneath us in the “matrix”. We were taught a “script” to follow when contacting the potential “candidate”. Regrettably I look back and realize all the time that I spent on my phone,(and trust me at the time I had a long-distance plan with my phone company carrier) is time that I will NEVER get back in my life.
The ONLY positive thing that came out of the company for me personally was a seminar that they had out in Hawaii. Of course, then (early Oct. of 2006) it cost me an arm and a leg to go to the seminar held on the Big Island. I could easily have brought a family of four two weeks out in Hawaii at a nice hotel for the amount of money that I spent on myself to attend this seminar, and it was only 3 days in length. In giving LLI some credit, the seminar was first class all the way. It was held at a 5 star hotel. They had outstanding motivational speakers- if listening to the stories of individuals who believe in the power of “positive thinking” is your thing. The final banquet was excellent. One thing though, as I got to meet other “suckers”, oops, I mean members who had joined LLI. One clear and absolute trait was found in the 15 – 20 people that I talked to in detail. Except for one individual NOT ONE PERSON had been able to recruit a person into LLI with the business, who would have been placed below them in their matrix. Compensation plan? These people, including myself had not made one blessed penny in their business with LLI!!!
It turns out that several years ago a bunch of members who had lost money finally got together and said, “enough is enough”. LLI and the founders were eventually involved in massive civil lawsuits by groups of members, (I can only assume all quite unsuccessful with their individual businesses in the company). One co-worker of my sister’s, has a brother who was involved in a NY state class-action lawsuit several years ago filed by a multiple number of LLI members against the company, residents of that state. If I lived in NY state at the time I would have gotten involved and put my name on their list.
Eventually a form of the U.S. legal system shut down LLI a few years ago. Amongst other things the company’s co-founders and other high-ranking officials were found guilty of false advertising, false claims regarding $$ that an individual could make in his/her business affiliated with the company, and other legalities.
The powerful lesson that I learned, (besides losing a lot of money with my involvement in this company) is that many MLM’s are like 100 years ago having a ticket on the Titanic. It’s a losing proposition. Sure a few people made a boatload of money with LLI, just as there were people who survived the ship’s sinking. However as for the majority of people who tragically perished because of the egomaniacal attitude of certain individuals in charge of the Titanic on its maiden voyage that never made it to NYC, a great deal of people who got involved with a business at LLI metaphorically sunk as well – in their bank accounts.
Wow, thanks for sharing your experience with this company. It basically highlighted some of the worst practices of certain MLMs. I’m sorry to hear you lost money with this. But it sounds like you definitely picked up some knowledge and learned a lesson that you will be able to apply to any other businesses you try. I really don’t know if all MLMs are a bad proposition. I haven’t tried them all to make that judgement. But I do know I would stay away from any that operate as you have described above and what I’ve covered in this article. But I can totally see how your experience would jade you against MLMs.
I love your classifications of the reps. I’ve steered clear of MLM’s because 100% commission in selling turns normally rational people into someone on your list. Several years ago while Tupperware was still just about selling at home parties, I joined up because the Demo lady was the type of person who could sell dirt to a farmer. She was amazing. So I signed up and really sucked at selling because I had to become one of those people on your list to do that. People I knew started avoiding me because they were terrified I was going to try to talk them into having a Tupperware party. It turns out that the best thing about that job was getting products at a very reduced price. I had a very large collection. 🙂 Some of the stuff was things that the regular buying public never saw. But better still was when I got out of it. I never made any money, but boy was I a great shopper! I still remember practicing those demos. The whole experience taught me several things the biggest was that being in an MLM is not for me. I like how crazy I am just the way I am without taking it to over the top, over the edge and off into the wild blue yonder where your friends hide from you because they know your coming with a new thing to sell them. 🙂
LOL, Yeah that’s the problem with some MLM it makes you that person that your friends and family want to avoid. That’s never a good look. Again I don’t think all MLMs work like this but I know myself and definitely don’t want to be part of those where you do turn into that. I’m not big on sales. I’m big on sharing information and letting people make decisions based on that. If they sign on then that’s great. If not, that’s fine too.
At least in your situation, you enjoyed the products and actually used them. Tupperware is a great product that people actually need and use. I think it was probably a great option back in the days. But now folks can buy stuff like that in their local store so why would they want to endure a presentation to buy the ones you sell. So I can see why it would be a tough sale.
Thanks for sharing your experience Wendy!