Getting Serious About Multi Level Marketing
I had a great discussion this morning with a gentleman who’s a member of a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) structure. I talked about this in a recent article on my blog, but our discussion was sparked by my complaint about people who aren’t serious about their business. His question was straightforward: What does an MLM person need to actually DO? Those previous articles may have felt a bit philosophical, so let’s get down to concrete actions.
First, you’re going to have two driving business goals:
Make money on the product or service you’re selling
Sign up other people as your “downline” so that when they sell, you get a slice of their revenue.
In most cases, you get to choose the balance between these two. I know some people who have decided never to develop any kind of “downline” at all and devote their full attention to the product sales. That’s fine, IF the MLM structure permits you to do that, AND you can make enough income off just the other part of the business. Run the numbers and figure out if you’ll be able to succeed.
Second, you have to recognize that your primary job is SELLING. That’s a shock for many people who think that just JOINING the group will provide an income. Not true. And BOTH business goals are primarily selling. So you have to get good at it. Get trained. Set yourself some tough sales goals, and don’t let yourself off the hook. (By the way, this is a primary reason why many people hire a business coach – they’re tired of just PLANNING TO MEET their goals, and want to move to ACTUALLY ACHIEVING their goals.)
Imagine that someone else hired you to sell full-time, 40+ hours a week, and is just going to pay you pure commission. No salary; every penny you earn comes directly from a sale you make. Will your boss be satisfied that you’re working hard enough? That you have the expert sales skills? That you’re developing fifty new relationships a week that can lead to business?
Just because YOU are the boss, you shouldn’t let yourself off the hook. These are real requirements, and you MUST do them to succeed. If you’re unwilling to make that commitment, spend your time and money looking for a job with someone else.
Third, you have to know your products and services, and how they’re used by customers. I’m shocked at how many MLM representatives I see who have just the “brochure” level of understanding. “Here’s my product, here are the features and why you should buy it.”
Sorry, but if you’re going to develop relationships with customers, you have to know your products MUCH deeper than that. Here’s an example. I only drink decaf coffee, and have been approached by a number of representatives wanting to sell me an organic coffee substitute. The company’s so enthusiastic about their product and its health benefits that they haven’t given any clear guidance on its caffeine content. But every rep I’ve talked to, I ask about the caffeine. I’ve gotten all kinds of weird answers:
“It’s never given ME a buzz, so it must be OK.”
“I don’t know,” and then walk away.
“It’s organic so it has no caffeine effects.”
I found exactly ONE person who took my question seriously and did the investigation. It turns out that their drink has about as much caffeine as coffee, and they don’t have a decaf version. Digging further, she found out that the company offers both caffeinated and decaf teas, and gave me some samples to try. It appears that all the other reps I talked to weren’t even aware of the entire line of teas, much less how that can address my caffeine sensitivity.
YOU are the face of your product to the customer. So you have to know it very well, because you’re guiding your customer to their best purchase. Asking for decaf coffee isn’t such a weird request that you can ignore it.
Fourth, you have to create a different strategy for signing up “downline” sales reps. It’s an entirely different process, because the person is buying an entirely different service. You have to find people who are suited to succeed in the business, and you have to sell them a BUSINESS MODEL rather than a product. You’ll be talking to different people, asking them different questions, and developing a different kind of relationship.
The hard part about all of this, honestly, is EXECUTING YOUR PLAN. You’re the boss, you’re the sole employee, and when you fall behind the entire business flags. It’s incredibly easy to never make a living at it, because your boss is a wimp and will let you off the hook. Sorry, if you’re trying to make an income, it’s going to take some hard work. You have to stick with it, day after day, week after week, month after month. It’s not easy, no matter what the MLM materials promised you.
If you’d like to talk to a coach about making this work for you, give me a ring!
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins
Anonymous 08-Jun-2012 09:46 PM
Carl, I liked the content on the MLM.