by Emily Josephine
©Copyright 2015 by Emily Josephine.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be duplicated in any form without the express written permission of the author.
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Network marketing has been given a bad rap, and not without cause. Otherwise known as MLM, or multi-level marketing, many people who delve into this industry eventually leave with a bad taste in their mouth.
Why? Is network marketing inherently evil? Of course not. It’s a neutral entity. What makes it good or bad is the people involved. Get a bunch of kind, generous-hearted people together and the entity has the potential for greatness. Get a bunch of greedy, selfish people together, and you’re asking for pain, conflict, even heartbreak.
I am going to assume that a few folks who download this book are unfamiliar with the MLM business model, so allow me to spend a few paragraphs to explain it. It’s a way for a company to distribute its products or services without spending money on advertising (from now on, for efficiency’s sake, I’ll simply use the word “product”). Instead, they count on their distributors or customer service representatives to spread the word about what the company has to offer. In return, the distributors make commission on sales.
The “multi-level” comes in because in this set-up, a distributor makes commission on multiple levels in his organization. For example, say you join the company. Two months later, you have shared the products with four people who enjoy them so much that they want to share them with other people, as well. Or, they just like the idea of making a little extra income just by introducing others to the product. So those four people sign up with the company under you. They are the first level of your downline. (The people in the levels above you are your upline.) Then each of those four goes out and sponsors four people into the business. Those sixteen people are on your second level. When those sixteen go out and each sponsor four people – assuming everyone is committed to buying product every month – you start making a handsome second paycheck.
This replication continues, and as long as you purchase a certain amount of product every month, your company pays you a percentage of your organization’s purchases every month, down five or six or however many levels the company has chosen. The companies also pay you an extra bonus every time you sponsor a new distributor.
Now that you understand how it works, let’s get on to the purpose of this e-book: to discover how to build an MLM business the ethical way.
During the school year of 1998 to 1999, I had the kid from hell in my class. He was a five-year-old terror. By that time I had already decided I couldn’t be happy if I had to teach until I was sixty (I was only 28 at the time); this boy sealed the deal. It was then that I was shown a network marketing opportunity for the first time, and I went for it.
A few months after joining, there was a local event my sponsor encouraged me to attend, so I did. I’m sure it was interesting and informative, albeit overwhelming, at the time, but only two memories remain of that meeting. The first is me asking my sponsor’s wife if she was used to being left alone at business events (she said yes, and it made me sad).
The second memory was of a guy who got on stage to talk about how great the business was, how free it makes you. “Last month I got bored,” he said. “So my wife and I flew to Jamaica.”
My stomach churned. I’m serious. I remember vividly feeling physically ill, and angry. The money could have gone to charity. Or he could spend his ample free time volunteering for a good cause.
I know, give the guy a break. You have to understand, I taught in the inner city, and had to deal with real need every day. I was also still in my twenties, and idealistic. But it was the first of many messages I would get in the coming years that those who succeed with MLM are free to be selfish. I eventually came to believe, as well, that only greedy people can find success with a home-based business.
After spending a year with that first company, I swore I’d never touch MLM again with a ten-mile pole. Eight or nine years later, the same guy who had been my first sponsor talked me into trying it again with another company – which happened to be one that he had begun under the umbrella of his brick-and-mortar business selling health appliances.
By then I knew that I didn’t have to talk to friends and family about the opportunity; I could start a blog and find partners. However, the guy turned out to be a great deceiver – a long story I won’t get into – and I decided to hate MLM again. That didn’t last long. The concept of residual income and leveraged time and effort intrigued me, and I wanted to try again. Less than a year later, after a lot of prayer and thinking, I quite by accident discovered the company that I am still with – and decided to sign up as a distributor.
Along the way, I signed up with another company, which I only belonged to for a few months because their product line was only quasi-healthy and there was a lot of hype surrounding the business-building aspect. My eyes opened to everything ugly about network marketing. I began to ask, “Is there no way to build a business in MLM without being a jerk?”
Fifteen years after my first foray into the world of MLM, I wrote this book in answer to a question. The answer is, yes, it is possible to build a network marketing business without being a jerk. If you have quit MLM or are tempted to because you can’t stand the hype, or no longer like yourself because of the training the company has given you, this book might just make you change your mind.
In Part One, we’ll start by looking at the parent companies. What is their financial situation? How do they handle internal conflicts? Do they provide the highest-quality goods possible for the money? We’ll also look at the kind of training companies provide – because more often than not, company training is mediocre, at best.
Then we’ll move on to talking about the attitude of the distributor in Part Two. This will be important, as we’ll spend some time looking at the money question. Attitudes affect action, so in we’ll next examine distributor behavior.
In Part Three, I’ll provide a guide to ethical network marketing, the Ten Steps of MLM Success, and tell you the company I have stuck with for five years and counting, and why.
By the end of this book, I hope you will be armed with sufficient information that, if you so desire, you can go out and build a network marketing organization without stress or compromising your ethical standards.
What’s at the top flows down. If you read the Old Testament in the Bible, there are ample examples of where sons committed either the exact same, or very similar, sins that their fathers did. You can also find examples of godly couples whose children grew up to do great things for God.
Ever heard yourself saying the exact same thing, in the exact same intonation, as one of your parents did? What’s at the top flows down.
And the principle is not excluded to families. It works in every area of leadership, including leaders of companies. In this chapter, we’re going to cover the important areas to look at when deciding whether a particular network marketing company is following ethical standards. Two huge areas are finances and products, so we’ll start with those.
If you spend some time lurking on network marketing forums or blogs, you will eventually hear about companies that go bankrupt, companies that shut down almost without warning, companies that decide that they will no longer pay distributors based on multiple levels but only a basic commission. Anyone with an organization that extends at least three levels down hurts when things like that happened.
The first MLM company I belonged to went bankrupt. I had only ever sponsored one person and had been out of the matrix about a year when the bankruptcy went down, but it was a large company, over fifteen years old. Imagine all the people who lost a paycheck in the blink of an eye – even though they had done nothing wrong!
Now, in this case the financial problems were related to other ethical issues going on at both the corporate and distributor level. However, in many other cases where a company that shuts down, the cause has to do strictly with bad financial choices made by the corporate leaders.
So, how do you make sure a company is in good financial standing, and not constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul? The first thing to do is to find out if the company cash-flows everything – paying for websites, product creation and manufacture, renting hotels for conventions, paying out bonuses – or do they use debt to carry them through sticky circumstances? Call the corporate office and ask them, point blank, if the company has any outstanding debt. If they hedge, most likely the answer is yes, and you will be safer to forget the company exists and look for another.
Another way to get an idea of how the company handles its finances is to do an online search, “XYZ Company finances” to see if there are any forums or blogs where distributors are complaining about not receiving checks on time, or talking about rumors of possible financial trouble. Usually such rumors won’t accompany companies that make sure to stay out of debt.
While we’re talking about money, let’s talk about Ponzie schemes. These are companies that supposedly are MLM, but the distributors get nothing for the money they put in…unless they find enough people to pay into the pyramid so they can earn a chunk of the stolen money.
Which is what a Ponzie scheme is, when you come down to it. It’s a bunch of thieves encouraging others to become thieves because they’re too lazy to go flip burgers and Micky D’s. So, guess what?
Ponzie schemes are illegal. Do not ever get involved with a company that is not providing you with a bona fide product or service for your monthly input.
Speaking of that, another way to find out if the company is handling their finances in an ethical manner is to find out what the quick-start bonus is. Many product-based companies require you to purchase some sort of package or other in order to become a distributor. The first thing to look at here is whether what comes in the package is reasonably priced compared to purchasing the products separately on the website.
If a package costs, for example, twice as much as the total cost for the individual products, walk away from the company. The five business opportunity DVD’s and two getting-started audio CD’s that are in the “distributor package” do not even come close to making up the difference in price. The company is jacking up the prices in order to bribe their people to sponsor new distributors. The excess money earned by the package purchase is used to pay a hefty bonus to the sponsoring distributor.
Bribing is a type of manipulation. Manipulation is using people to get what you want.
Manipulation is not ethical.
Most health-and-wellness based companies sell products that are not healthy.
That made some of my readers dizzy, so let me give you a minute to regain your bearings and I’ll repeat it. Ready?
Most health-and-wellness companies sell products that are not healthy.
I’m not lying. Read the ingredient labels. Whey protein powders contain artificial flavors and preservatives, as well as dried milk that come from factory-farmed dairy cows. Juices contain sugar. Supplements contain unhealthy fillers in the capsules. Shampoos and other body care products contain sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients known to be carcinogenic or otherwise toxic to the body. If they declare not to contain SLS, parabens, and other known synthetic toxins, they nevertheless contain synthetic ingredients whose negative effects are not yet known.
Think about this: a couple of decades ago, nobody realized that SLS and parabens were potentially dangerous to the human body. Who’s to say that many of the other synthetic ingredients will not eventually be discovered to potentially cause health problems, as well?
What if all the ingredients on the label sound fine? Chew on this for a minute: did you know that the FDA allows manufacturers to place substances in processed foods without putting the substances on the label if they are under a certain percentage of the whole product?
We’ve been told that these chemical substances can’t do any harm in such small amounts. No? Then how come this present generation of people have a higher variety and higher amounts of toxins in our blood than the generations who lived before the 1950s? Toxins build up. The liver cannot handle it all, so it sends them into fat cells. And these toxins toxify those cells and the blood, leading to all manner of degenerative diseases.
I once joined an MLM not to try to make money, but because someone I trusted (badly placed trust; he was the local businessman I mentioned in the introduction) was a distributor and told me that the liquid supplement they sold was terrific for the body. Well, it made me break out in hives! When I called the guy and told him, he told me to sip it slowly over an hour. I began doing so, and the hives stopped. But a red flag went up inside. Any supplemental juice that is really good for you is not going to make you break out in hives if you drink the whole thing down (and it was only some powder mixed in a couple ounces of water).
Later I found out that the owners of the company were on purposely adding a stimulating ingredient that was not on the label, in order to make customers think that all the nutrients were energizing them. Of course, the ingredient was not on the label.
(By the way, health food stores sell nutrient juices like that. Not all, but some. Buyer beware.)
Then there was the company that I belonged to for a few months a couple of years ago. For ease of understanding, let’s call it SuperGenes. It was about ten years old when I joined, and was pretty big. It also had a huge line of products, some that were truly healthy, others that were borderline, and still others that were not much healthier than a candy bar.
For example, the cleansing juice was a great formula. The whey protein powder ingredients were acceptable – not as obviously bad as what some companies sell, but not as healthy as possible. The snack bars were a travesty. If you know anything about muscle testing, then I can give you this hint: my muscles instantly unlocked when testing these quasi-foods. This means that they were not healthy. They were loaded with sweeteners – agave nectar being the top offender (contrary to what you may have heard, agave nectar is not healthy) – and semi-healthy filler ingredients. The products in their personal body care line contained many synthetic ingredients.
Moving away from SuperGenes, I’ve noticed that carrying “healthy coffee” is a growing MLM trend. Coffee is not healthy. Never has been, never will be. I don’t care how “organic” or “fair trade” it is. The roasting process the coffee beans go through change the molecular structure of its naturally-occurring caffeine such that the body has trouble metabolizing it. This makes it number one, a potential burden to your liver, and number two, a very real hindrance to any fat-burning goals you may have.
If you like your coffee, go ahead and drink it. No condemnation. My point is that a company claiming to care about people’s health, and then putting coffee in their product line, really doesn’t. They care about making money. If they would just go ahead and admit that, “Hey, we know coffee isn’t a health drink, but we also know a lot of people might buy it if we sell it,” I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with it.
What if the “product” is a service? My husband and I were actually customers in an energy MLM for a time. We did it to support a friend, but I wouldn’t have if the cost of the electricity had been more than other non-MLM electric companies. The price per kilowatt was actually right in the middle.
On the other hand, there’s a web hosting MLM out there that charges $10 a month per website. With regular webhosting, you would pay less than $7 per month for as many websites as you wanted, paying an additional $14 or so a year per domain name (that’s slightly over a dollar a month). So for this MLM company you would pay $40 a month for four websites. With a web host such as Hostgator or Green Geeks, you would pay around $10 a month – six dollars for the hosting, and another four dollars a month for three domain names. Your first domain name would be included in the webhosting contract.
In such a case I would say that the service is not worth the price, and the ethics of charging such a service for such a price is dubitable.
Do your due diligence before signing up with any particular company. Are the products of a wellness company truly healthy? Do non-food products adhere to high standards of quality? Is the price of the service reasonable? This will take some legwork, but you do not want to find yourself representing a network marketing company whose product is below par.
The area of training might be called The Great Sin Of Network Marketing, because many companies encourage manipulation and deception. In addition, some companies’ “training” does nothing to help a new distributor learn the nuts and bolts of business building.
Let’s park there for a minute. You are probably aware that you can only earn bonuses and commissions from your downline if you make a minimum purchase from the company product line every month. However, some companies will not pay out commissions unless you also purchase the monthly “training” CD or book or whatever – removing another twenty to thirty dollars from your bottom line. This would not be objectionable if the training actually helped you to build your business. But it does not. Rather, it provides you with a lot of feel-good motivational fluff that gives you warm fuzzies for about a day but does nothing more helpful than that.
And believe me, feeling warm and confident for twenty-four hours will not bring new people into your downline. The very first MLM company I joined required a monthly “training” purchase. A later one did, as well. The rationale the company presidents gave was that if you’re really serious about building a business, you’ll be really serious about improving yourself.
I have two comments to make about that. First, if you have to read a book or listen to a CD to get motivated to meet your goals, your goals aren’t really your own and you need to regroup and figure out what it is you really want to do when you grow up. Network marketing might not be for you. (Yes, I just said that. More on that in the next chapter.) Second, you improve yourself by patience, practice, and persistence. No CD or book can give you any of that.
Step back and question when a company won’t give you your hard-earned money unless you participate in a bogus training program.
How companies train their distributors to “share the opportunity” is one of the most unethical things they do. You can’t just say to a friend, “Hey, I just found a way to make a little extra money. Mind if I show you what I’m doing?”
No. Instead, you start by giving them positive strokes. “We’ve been friends for a long time…maybe you can help me…” Or, you ask leading questions: “Do you know anyone who could use an extra income/wants to retire in two to five years/etc.?”
Or, you deliberately deceive. Instead of asking someone to watch the video of the business you just started, you tell them something like, “I have come across something that I really need your opinion on. Do you have some time tonight…?”
Such statements are not necessary. If the person is a relative or friend who really cares about you and wants to support you, they will look at your deal without you playing games with them. If someone is really interested in making extra money, they’ll look at the opportunity without asking you a hundred skeptical questions.
HINT: If someone is skeptical right out of the gate, they’re likely not going to do anything more than sap your energy and momentum away.
A company that cares about its product and believes that it makes a difference in people’s lives will provide in-depth information about it. They may have a blog, or archived conference calls or webinars within easy reach of new distributors.
Even better, they will offer local training events in areas where there are concentrations of distributors.
Network marketing training from the company should be hype-free, deception-free, and focused on one, helping their distributors communicate with others in genuine conversation, and two, teaching about the product line.
Remember that energy MLM I mentioned earlier? At one point I came this close to signing up with the opportunity. One of the two things that gave me pause was the fact that in order for a “customer service rep” to have her own replicated website, she had to pay twenty or twenty-five dollars a month for it.
What is that about? That is about the company wanting to make extra money. It is baloney. Most MLM companies provide a replicated website for free. Maybe it was a costly endeavor back in 2000, but the Internet and programming have both come a long way since then. Providing a free replicated website (YourName.YourCompany.com) is not a huge expense.
What if a company makes distributors pay to share the opportunity video? First of all, keep in mind that you don’t need an video to share the business opportunity with a prospect. Ask any of the bigshots in Amway or Mary Kaye who started out decades ago. Even as recent as ten years ago, some people who are making big money today started out by drawing out the matrix on a napkin in a coffeeshop to explain the business to a prospect.
In addition, most opportunity videos are full of hype and implied promises. They make network marketing look and sound easy, and if you’ve been in the business for longer than a week you know that it’s as easy as picking up an angry cobra. Okay, maybe not that bad, but you know what I mean.
That said, being able to show prospects a professionally-made video is great for two reasons. First, you don’t have to do much work. Second, the person watching the video sees that if they decide to do it, they won’t have to do much work, either.
At the very least, the company should provide online webinars that explain various aspects of the company – the compensation plan and the products being the biggies. If a company does not let its distributors have free access to at least some of such materials – you have to pay so much per prospect to show the opportunity video – keep on looking.
I couldn’t possibly list all of the unethical behaviors committed by network marketing companies. I would hazard a guess that every single company does something that is on the border of, if not obviously on the side of, unethical. Why would I say that? Companies consist of imperfect human beings. Even if you examine corporations like Wal-Mart, Sears, and American Airlines you’re going to find some kind of unethical behavior, however small.
Also, there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of MLM companies out there. That large number will add up to more unethical practices than what I can come up with.
So when you’re searching for the most ethical company, don’t look for perfection. You won’t find it. Instead, look for companies run by people who really care, and that seem to be more ethical than not.
This part of the book is going to be much more difficult to digest than the first. It’s easy to think of an inanimate entity and say, “Yes! I agree! That’s evil!” It’s not so easy to step outside yourself for a while to objectively assess your own behavior.
Understand that my intention is not to condemn or judge anybody. I’m as much of a sinner as the next person. But most of my readers download this book because they are tired of the hype, lies and manipulation enshrouding the MLM industry – and the companies’ corporate headquarters are only half the problem. To change it to a more ethical business model, each individual distributor will have to take responsible for his behavior and decide that ethics are better than quick riches.
Ah, yes; riches. “The love of money is a root of all evil,” and in no place is this Bible verse more apropos than among a group of network marketers with dollar signs in their eyes. But what if you were to change your perspective about money? What if, instead of money being something you needed, it became only one of many tools to help you live a full life?
What if, along the way, you shifted your thinking about what a “full life” means? “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Your changed thoughts will lead to changed behavior. Better behavior.
As a matter of fact, after you’ve gone through this section of the book you might shift your money paradigm so greatly that you come to realize that you don’t need an extra income from network marketing at all! So much the better. If I can get you to tweak your financial situation to the extent that you feel financially free without MLM, I will feel that I have succeeded as much as if you choose to join my own network marketing organization. I couldn’t be more sincere as I write those words.
So, let’s take a serious look at what is way too often the focus of MLM: money. As we do, in the spirit of being ethical, I will give credit where credit is due: most of the following information in the next five paragraphs is summarized from the book Your Money Or Your Life by Dominguez and Robin. If you really want your thinking about money and personal finance to be turned upside down, read that book.
Most everybody, when they think about money, think about it in one of two ways: its uses, and its personal meaning to you. An adult who was raised in a home where the refrain “We can’t afford it” rang continually will have a different attitude toward money than someone whose parents bought everything she wanted as a child. Money is seen as security, power, social acceptance, or evil. But money is just a neutral object.
We don’t often take conscious thought about the cultural perspective about money, but it is so ingrained in our brains that we take it for granted. The Western cultural perspective is, of course, more is better, less is worse. Therefore most Westerners are in constant pursuit of money, whether they need it or not.
The critical perspective about money, however, is missed by the majority. And that is this: “Money is something we choose to trade our life energy for.” (p.54) In other words, you pay for money with your time and energy. So it all boils down to this question: is how you make money worth your time and energy? For many people, the answer is “no.” But if they don’t try to make an income, how can they buy this, that, and the other thing?
Thus the authors emphasize what they call “The Fulfillment Curve.” The fact is, once you have too much of “this, that, and the other thing,” you can no longer feel fulfilled. You have too much, and the challenge is for you to figure out how much is enough for you – how much clothing, how many electronic gadgets, how many nights out a month, how many books, etc.
This is where it gets exciting. When people begin to track where they money goes, they often find that it goes mostly to things that are not at all fulfilling. They discover that if they reduce their wants, they can save instead of spend. And when they begin to be happy with “enough”, money ceases to be a source of security, power, social acceptance, or evil. This is true financial freedom, not the monthly five- and six-figure incomes that MLM company opportunity videos virtually promise.
Dare you to read Your Money Or Your Life. If you do, and embrace the principles the authors teach, you will automatically become a more ethical person.
Whether or not you decide to embark on a career in network marketing, you want to make sure to avoid the most common mistake people make with their money – and it’s not getting into debt. My free report, “The Money Monster”, explains it all. Grab your copy at .
The problem is, of course, that the larger culture teaches us to be greedy for gain. This is why network marketing appeals to so many people. If they could only make an extra $500 a month, they could have a nicer car. An extra $1,000 a month, a bigger house, in a nicer neighborhood. Now, it’s not evil to want nice things. What do you think heaven looks like – an inner city housing project?
But if your main goal as a network marketer is to make as much money as you can, as fast as you can, you will use other people. Manipulate other people. You will incorporate unethical strategies in order to build your business.
Remember that first company I mentioned that eventually went bankrupt? Its training rarely had anything to do with product. Instead, it was mostly about earning money. In fact, the reason it went bankrupt was that a bunch of unhappy former distributors accused the company of making promises about income that it couldn’t keep. Remember: what’s at the top flows down. If the corporate body was playing mind games, its distributors were, as well.
I remember vividly one month receiving in the mail as part of the bogus “training” program a videotape (this was before the DVD existed) that had clips of the company’s annual conference. The only thing I remember was a guy standing on stage and bragging, “I just tell people, ‘Hey, give me your money.’”
I felt like throwing up. Literally. “Give me your money.” If he had a gun in his hand, he’d be breaking the law! I am not sad that dude lost his precious residual income check when the company went belly-up. The sad thing is, though, unless the crisis gave him a change of heart, he probably just joined another mediocre vitamin company and persisted in his unethical (and, I will venture to say, immoral) behavior.
Now, I hear some of you screaming at me, “Hold on! I joined this business to make money! What do you mean, I shouldn’t want to make money?”
Go back and reread what I wrote. I did not say it was wrong to make money. In today’s world, money is how you get food in your belly, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head. You need some money.
You need some money. But you don’t need $20,000 a month or more. If you go out and build your business in an ethical way and you end up making that much on a monthly basis, good for you! But your goal should not be to roll in riches. In the twenty-third chapter of Proverbs is written: “Do not overwork to be rich…for riches certainly will make themselves wings; they fly like an eagle toward heaven.”
In other words, here today, gone tomorrow. Riches are not important, because they will not last. If you focus on something that will not last, you will lose out on all the things that really matter.
So if your main goal for doing network marketing shouldn’t be making tons of money for yourself, what should it be?
You can have whatever goal you want. The following list is an non-comprehensive one meant to give your brain a jump-start.
Make money to give to charity.
Help other people get healthy.
Pay for a college education.
Get out of debt.
Cash-flow a missionary trip.
Financial freedom so you can afford to quit your job and do work you truly love without worrying about how much money you make.
Note that most of these goals do have to do with making money. But they are not about getting “stinking, filthy rich.” They are about, as discussed in the previous section, having enough. When you know how much is enough for you, you likely won’t engage in arm-twisting and begging and verbal fencing to try to sponsor people. Why?
You won’t feel like your whole existence depends on the next person saying “Yes.”
Another gentle reminder to download my free report to help you make your money behave: .
Enough about the money track. Let’s move on to other ethical issues when it comes to the life of a network marketer.
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Opportunity videos use it, leaders parrot it, company presidents make it their motto: “This business is about people helping people.”
That makes for a nice warm fuzzy, but how true is it? Unfortunately, most network marketers couldn’t care less about helping other people. While they don’t want to admit it, many of the top players in MLM are like that guy I saw on a video years ago, bragging that he demanded that people give him their money. Those who are just starting are usually desperate to make their initial investment back, and approach people with that as their sole goal. Those who are somewhere in between are so excited that they’re getting a check, all they can think about is making that check bigger.
Again, it stems from the cultural belief that more is better, and is helped along by companies whose opportunity videos and training focus on earning as much money as fast as you can with as little work as possible.
That begs the question: is there any hope? Can you succeed in the MLM industry primarily because you want to help other people? Of course! It’s easy if your company’s product has transformed your life in a dramatic way such that you want to help others by getting them to use the product, as well. It’s easy if you have a heart for people struggling with their finances, and you’re convinced that MLM is the answer.
If you are already a network marketer, I challenge you to examine your heart. Are you doing this to help other people? Really?
Once you make a paradigm shift about money, realizing that it’s something you pay for with time and effort, once you establish your level of “enough”, once you have conquered the greed monster, you will be free to want to help people. When that happens, I guarantee you that you will become an ethical network marketer.
“Everyone’s a prospect.” Ever heard that before? As soon as you sign up with the company, you’re supposed to list every single person you personally know and share the opportunity with every single one of them. When you run out of your “warm” market, you start talking to everyone who comes within three feet of you.
I don’t know about you, but I have better things to do with my time. Network marketing is not for everyone.
*SHOCK!* Yes, I know, I just shot a cannon at one of MLM’s greatest sacred cows. But the truth is, everyone is not a prospect. My seventy-eight-year-old mother comes to mind.
Here are some reasons:
Not everyone cares about the product.
Not everyone wants to take extra time to try to build a second income.
Not everyone has the money to invest to begin an MLM business (and many of those never will have the money they need because they will stay stuck in their victim mentality until the day they die).
Not everyone needs an extra income.
Some people have had such a bad experience with MLM that they won’t ever touch it again – no matter how hard you try to convince them that it can be different this time, with your company.
God doesn’t call everyone to market product.
This is why assuming that everyone is a prospect is not ethical. Why network marketing has such a reputation of turning out obnoxious, selfish individuals who continually harass their friends and family about the opportunity.
If you don’t assume that everyone is a prospect, then how on earth can you build your business? Simple: attract people to you who are interested in either the product, the business, or both. How is this done? There are a variety of ways. The easiest way is to leverage the power of the Internet. Since I specify how to do that in another one of my books, Home Sweet Work (available at [+ http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U4ZRR2U?*Version*=1&*entries*=0+]), I won’t go into great detail here.
However, if you regularly post to a blog; interact with others on Facebook; put up videos on YouTube; and/or publish articles to such websites as EzineArticles.com, squidoo.com, and hubpages.com, you can attract people who are interested in the product or the business to yourself. This is called attraction marketing, and it eliminates you having to deal with the three biggest objections that prospects will give: “I don’t like MLM,” “I don’t have time,” and “I don’t have money.”
An offline example is to rent a room in a library or restaurant and advertise a meeting to educate the attendees about either the product or the business – offering, of course, a free meal or refreshments to those who show up. This is not as effective as marketing online, however, because it can be costly and the people who show up – if anyone does – may still have the same old objections. If you can get away with it, a better way might be to teach a class through your local Parks and Recreation Department – as long as they don’t have any rules against you recommending a particular brand of whatever product you plan to push.
If you have family members or friends who have made it clear that they don’t want to have anything to do with MLM, respect their wishes. But chances are, most of your family members and friends have not specifically said any such thing.
In that case, you can do one of two things. First, use Facebook to deepen your relationships with the people you already know, and to develop new relationships. As you grow these relationships, you can start posting about your business a couple of times a week, focusing on the product. Talk about the product in an organic, genuine way, not a salesperson kind of way.
Make the following book your go-to guide for doing this right: Network Marketing For Facebook: Proven Social Media Techniques etc. by Jim Lupkin and Brian Carter. It’s available in the Kindle store.
Another alternative, or one you might use in addition to Facebook, is this: once you set up your own blog tell each of them, individually, that you have started an online business and you would like them to check out your website and let you know of any typos they see or design tips they might come up with. Ask them if, after reviewing your site, they can think of anyone who might be interested in either the product or opportunity. If so, would they please either give you their contact information or share your website with them?
See how low-key that is? No hype, just sharing your new endeavors with the people you know.
And who knows – a few of them might surprise you and sign up, without you having to break into a sweat!
Not everyone is a prospect, either to purchase the product or to work the business. Learn to market to those who are truly interested, and network marketing will be a lot more ethical – and a lot more fun!
If you stick to the principles of attraction marketing, you will never have to deal with objections. The people that come to you will understand what the business is about. That being said, the best network marketers will inevitably have conversations with people that lead to a discussion about their business. At that point, because you really care about people and want to help them, you will offer the opportunity as an option to assist them in reaching their financial goals.
And many will, in return, offer objections. What then?
In the MLM world, when a prospect asks a question, you’re supposed to answer it with a question. God forbid anyone ever give a straight answer! (Another form of manipulation, by the way.)
Forget memorizing a script that answers every single possible objection to signing up with the business a prospect might have. Want to know a much more effective, much less stressful way to answer objections? It’s simple: don’t.
That’s what I said. Don’t answer objections.
PROSPECT: “I can’t afford a distributor pack.” (This is either a lie to get you off their back, or the truth and they’ll probably not purchase product for longer than two or three months if they actually join.)
YOU: “So sorry to hear that. Let me know if your financial situation ever changes.”
PROSPECT: “I have to ask my wife.” (He is trying to find a nice way to tell you “no.”)
YOU: “Okay. Have a nice life.”
PROSPECT: “I don’t know anybody who would want to sign up.”
YOU: “Well, thanks for your time.”
See how easy that is? The people who throw out objections are usually the people who are going to ultimately say no, regardless of your verbal manipulative prowess. So why beat your head against the wall trying to get them to sign up?
MLM scripts abound. There are scripts for running a home meeting, scripts for answering objections, scripts for talking one-on-one about the business, scripts for calling leads.
Most of them are manipulative. Manipulation is not ethical.
“But, my sponsor said the scripts work!”
Oh, really? How many people stay in MLM who joined because the person who sponsored them did so by playing psychological games? I would venture to say…none of them. The people who stick with MLM are the ones who joined because they either loved the product, or believed in the opportunity. Sure, you might get more quick-start bonuses by using manipulation, but you won’t grow your residual income. And you won’t be behaving ethically.
Scripts exist for one reason, and one reason only: fear. The company is afraid of failing. The distributors are afraid of failing. They can’t let anybody just pass them by! They have to do something to convince them that they need this! If they don’t say the exact right thing, they will lose money.
Oh, horror of horrors!
What if a brand-new distributor answers questions directly? What if she says the wrong thing? What if he just tries to have a real conversation? Oh, no! We must not let that happen. People won’t make the right decision for themselves unless their arms are twisted just a little bit. And how do we twist their arms? By memorizing statements and questions that are proven to make people feel guilty/scared/embarrassed/stupid if they say no to your offer.
That’s insulting. How would you like it if other people saw you that way? “So-and-so will never figure out the right thing to do unless we play with his mind a little bit.”
Ouch. When it’s you we’re talking about, it’s another story, isn’t it?
To treat others the way you want to be treated is the ethical choice.
Forget the scripts. Learn how to be yourself with other people. If you’re a quiet type, it may take you longer than others to build a business. That’s okay. The important thing is to be able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of every day knowing that you did the right thing.
One of the most annoying questions network marketers get is, “How long will it take for me to make X amount of dollars?” You might be asking yourself the same question. So for this last section in the part where you get to analyze your own perceptions and behaviors, I want us to contemplate patience.
“Good things come to those who wait.” “Anything of worth is worth waiting for.”
By and large, the top money-makers in any company got there by being patient. Note that I don’t use the word “wait.” This conjures up images of bored people flipping through old magazines in a doctor’s office.
Patience is not simply the will to wait. Patience is being able to persist with a calm attitude. When you have a bad day, you get up and keep going the next day. When things seem to be going slower than a tortoise, you don’t quit. You continue on with a sense of peace, knowing that your persistence will eventually pay off.
In order to persist you have to be doing something. In MLM, this something is doing the work you need to do to attract people to your business or product. Skeptics love to quote the statistic (a very old statistic, by the way, that I don’t think has been researched lately) that “over 95% of people who join MLM leave in a couple of years without making any money.”
I can tell you for a fact that most of these people did not do much marketing. They talked to a few friends and family members who said, “no,” then just sat around in the matrix hoping for some “spill” so they could at least make a few hundred dollars a month without lifting a finger.
Many won’t even wait a couple of years to leave. They’re gone in a couple of months because they couldn’t take rejection and didn’t want to keep trying. Then they go around telling everyone how evil MLM is because “nobody except the distributors at the top ever make any money.” (I will refute that assertion in a bit.)
Ever heard that? Many (most?) company opportunity videos promise that you will make back your initial investment in a month. “All” you have to do is sponsor two or three or four people.
Only two results can come of this, neither one good. The first is that the new distributor instantly becomes a manipulator, even a deceiver, in order to fill their first level as quickly as possible. The second is that the distributors who don’t achieve that goal become discouraged – and therefore eventually drop out.
Is time on your side?
Do you love the product your company provides? Would you use something like it even if you hadn’t joined the company? Then relax and share the plan and product in a casual, low-key way as prospects come your way. Then you will actually enjoy your business, and if you enjoy it, you will build a downline!
However, it may take you a year to find four people who will stick with you for the long haul. And it might take each of them six to twelve months to find their four. And so on. But if you practice patience, you will likely get your monthly product paid in the first couple of years – hopefully even sooner. And once that happens, the residual income check often begins to grow exponentially.
Want a true story about patience paying off? Several years ago I met a Shaklee representative who was making a six-figure income…and it had taken her ten years to get there. Think ten years is a long time? Then chew on this: how much residual income would she have been making after ten years if she had quit two years into it?
Be patient. It will automatically protect you from getting sucked in to the hype and manipulation side of the business. And, it will make doing network marketing a lot more fun.
Putting It All Together
Skeptics would argue that there is no such thing as ethical network marketing, that MLM by definition cannot succeed without hype, manipulation, and greed. While it may be a fruitless endeavor to attempt to prove the skeptics wrong, if you believe in the industry and want to build a business without using people or supporting mediocre companies, then use the following suggestions to keep your MLM business on the ethical side.
1. Choose a company that is debt-free.
2. Choose a company that is in compliance with industry law.
3. Choose a company that provides high-quality product.
4. Choose a company whose training focuses on developing good communication skills and product features and benefits over making money.
5. Choose a company that doesn’t have bad press all over the Internet for its incompetence at handling internal conflict.
6. Shift your money paradigm so that you can keep out of the greed trap.
7. Develop a true desire to help through your network marketing business.
8. Go with your gut feeling when it comes to discerning whether a certain person is a good prospect.
9. Use attraction marketing to build your MLM business.
10. Don’t try to answer objections.
11. Learn to engage people in genuine conversation, rather than using manipulative scripts.
12. Be patient.
Follow the above principles, rather than shiny, pretty objects, and you will easily hold yourself to the highest standards in the direct sales world. Then you will have the privilege of mentoring your downline in these ethics, and they will mentor their downline, and so on. It only takes a single drop to create large waves.
By this point, you understand that building an MLM business can be done without using and manipulating people. You know how to choose a company that works hard to maintain high standards of integrity.
You understand the principles. Now, you need a road map. How do you keep from becoming one of the many who eventually drop out of network marketing? Simple: follow the ten steps to MLM success.
You need to have a burning desire for building a business – and I don’t mean a desire for more money. What is the money for? Some network marketers have a vision to set up a large fund to help people in need. Others want to be able to cash-flow their children’s college education without losing their own retirement.
Perhaps you have always dreamed of traveling the world, and writing the Great American Novel as you do so. You may want to be able to give much more to your favorite charities than you can otherwise, pay off your home, etc.
You must have a meaningful purpose for what you are doing, or you will quit early on.
Every company requires distributors to spend a certain amount each month on company product in order to qualify to receive commissions or bonuses. Commit yourself to do that. It is, after all, a people-helping-people business, and if you join the matrix and just sit there, you’re not helping anybody.
And remember, what goes around, comes around.
Also commit yourself to working a certain number hours of week on your business. If you do nothing, you’ll get nothing.
Does the company have weekly conference calls? Webinars? Commit yourself to listening to/watching every single training element that the company puts out.
Finally, commit to one company. You may find that after awhile, you’re not as excited about the company product as you were at first – or you discover serious ethical flaws happening in the company. In such cases, it’s okay to find another company, one that better fits you.
However, don’t join multiple companies at the same time, thinking that you will make more money that way. On the contrary, you are more likely to fail by double-dipping. Focus on one company, one product line that you truly believe in, and commit to building that business.
Learn about attraction marketing. Learn how to converse with strangers and acquaintances in a confident and genuine manner. Learn everything you can about the company product.
Set a work schedule, and stick to it. Include such tasks as blogging, calling and e-mailing prospects, creating videos or infoproducts (to sell or give away either on your website or in the Kindle store), and participating on the social network websites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
Remember – most people never see any profit in their MLM business because they quit before it happens. Don’t believe the lie that “only the people at the top make the money.” I have heard stories of people joining a ten-year-old (or older) company and receiving a monthly residual income check of five figures within their second year of joining.
Why? They persisted in building their business. They didn’t quit when the going got tough.
How are you going to be able to tell other people about all the great benefits of the product if you don’t use it yourself?
One gazillionaire network marketer, a gentleman in his 80’s (yes, you read that right – and he’s only been doing the business since the early 2000’s) tries to share the opportunity with three people every day.
This is why he is a gazillionaire. If you’re scared to share the product or the opportunity, you’ll never get anywhere.
If you share a link to an online video, make sure you call the person to talk to him about it. If somebody seems interested, but asks for time to think about it, make sure you call her after a couple of days. If someone signs up as a distributor from your website or blog without ever talking to you, be sure to e-mail or call him as soon as you get that automated e-mail telling you that you have a new person in your downline.
If you’re using online attraction marketing, teach your new partners how to do that. If you like to throw home parties to share the products, co-lead a few parties for your local partners. If you simply ask people to watch an online video while you’re on the phone with them, have your partners do the same thing.
The sad truth about network marketing is that eventually, many of the people you sponsor will drop out. In addition, many companies offer bonus payouts to distributors who have higher numbers of active personally sponsored partners in their downline.
So don’t stop with the three or four or five that your company requires you to sponsor in order to earn commissions. Keep sharing the product and the opportunity. Keep sponsoring people. Keep helping them to sponsor new people.
These ten steps to MLM success work – as long as you are willing to do the work.
A good MLM company is hard to find. A truly ethical one is even harder to find. If you’re tired of the lies and manipulation going on around the network marketing scene, but you don’t want to give up the concept of residual income, allow me to make your search easier.
While no company is perfect – as I stated before, companies consists of human beings, therefore they will never be perfect in every way – a few MLM companies stand up to the test of quality and ethics. The company for which I am an Independent Sharing Partner is one of them.
The corporate leaders follow the laws surrounding the direct sales industry to the letter.
The company cash flows everything – it has never been in debt, even when creating new products, updating websites, and innovating new systems to make business building easier for the distributors.
Training focuses on the product, not on making money. While the company’s leaders desire to see as many people prosper financially as they can (you can tell this by looking at the compensation plan – it cannot be bettered by any other company), seeing people achieve optimal health and wellness is an even higher goal.
To that end, the products never have any synthetic, toxic, or quasi-healthy (such as agave nectar, soy, or sunflower seed oil) ingredients. Never. Never. I have yet to find a company that can truthfully make that claim. Not that none other exists, but they are extremely rare if they do.
Their product line has transformed lives. I know that from personal experience. In other words, the products work.
The company’s Sharing Partners are not required to purchase superfluous “training” material in order to qualify for commissions.
The company has passed the precarious five-year mark. It is not an unstable start-up.
My company, like every other company, MLM or not, is not perfect. But it’s good. And the leaders of the company are into ethics. Best of all, it has one of the best compensation plans in the industry. One small part of it is the Sharing Matrix. Would you like to get paid on a 3-by-5 matrix, for a total of over $2,000 per month, just for sponsoring one person? You can do that merely by committing to purchasing product worth 85 point volume (PV) per month. You can double, then triple, that by opting in to one or two extra Sharing Matrix spots (you have to purchase an extra 40 PV per month per spot), and then sponsoring a second, then a third Sharing Partner. Over six thousand dollars a month for having sponsored only three people!
How does that work? The Sharing Matrix equally places everyone who opts into the matrix. So as the company (read: number of Sharing Partners) grows, so does the 3×5 matrix of each person who has opted in to this part of the compensation plan.
I haven’t even begun to tell you about the Unilevel bonus, which is unlimited in both width and depth, and the other potential bonuses available.
I am not a greed-monger.
I am not perfect, but I hold myself to strong ethical standards.
Should you decide to join in my organization, I will help you get started, but will never pressure you to do anything you don’t want to do (unless you ask me to because you’re the kind of person that needs it, LOL). I’m not worried about losing money if somebody in my downline decides either the company or network marketing is not a fit for them.
If you partner with me, I will send you a guide, as well as a zip folder filled with resources, that will take you through the steps needed in order to build your organization both online and offline.
Does that sound good to you?
Then I invite you to get more details about the company and opportunity by contacting me. After you do, I will send you a few links so that you can learn more about the product and the compensation plan. The link to contact me is: . I look forward to hearing from you!
You will never find another business concept with the time and income leverage that network marketing provides. If you bought this book because you’ve grown tired of the lies and manipulation that run rampant around the industry, I hope that I have encouraged you that it is possible to build an MLM business without leaving your conscience or values behind.
Remember that in order to achieve your biggest financial goals, you need to avoid the most common personal finance mistake that people make. Access your copy of my free report, “The Money Monster”, here: .
Thank you for reading this book until the end. If you enjoyed it, would you be so kind as to leave a positive review on Amazon? It will help more disgruntled and discouraged network marketers find it – and receive the encouragement and inspiration they need.
Network marketers: are you tired of all the hype and manipulation going around in the MLM industry? Do you love the residual income concept that comes from building a network marketing business...but are frustrated because it seems you can't get anywhere without twisting people's arms or risking relationships? Maybe you once tried making money with network marketing, but you either couldn't get yourself to believe in the products, or you felt that the training the parent company provided did little to nothing to help you succeed - and so you quit. Are you a Christian, and wonder if Christians should do MLM because it seems to revolve around greed? This book has the answers. Because the truth is, you CAN build a network marketing organization without using manipulation, or without getting sucked into the get-rich-quick trap. You CAN work an MLM business without leaving your conscience behind. It's simply a matter of first, finding the right company, and second, getting your own attitudes and perspectives right. This little book will help you to do both, and along the way, make the work of building a network marketing business much more fun!