We all have that friend or family member who joined an Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or Direct Sales company in the hopes of hitting the big time and going on a company paid vacation or cruise. Maybe even getting a car. We’ve seen these opportunities presented as get-rich-quick businesses and we’re tired of it. I know I was. I said over and over again I’d never participate in a company with this kind of structure.
Then I signed up to buy essential oils, loved them, and started to sell them.
So what changed my mind?
Education and meeting people who do it right.
The Good Side of Direct Sales and MLM
Dave Ramsey has a must-read guide to joining a multilevel marking company. He even recommends them as a viable and respectable business opportunity. He says one of the secrets is to realize they are not going to make you rich overnight; they require lots of work and dedication. He also notes that your passion about the product can make or break your business.
Is an MLM or Direct Sales Opportunity for You?
Ask yourself this question: Is the product something I truly believe in? If not, walk away. If you’re not crazy about organizing, home decor and gorgeous totes, don’t become a 31 Gifts rep. (great company and product by the way!) If you don’t use and love essential oils, don’t join my team. Why? Cause you’ll look like a total fake and slime-bag salesman vs a true believer in the product you’re promoting.
If like me, you find the product is something that has changed your life and you’re telling people about it on a regular basis, the opportunity may be a really good fit for you! Personally, I have a very shy personality when it comes to sales and I never pictured myself being able to succeed at selling anything. I still don’t feel I could sell someone something they don’t need: I’m frugal and cheap by nature and you won’t find me selling bags or makeup. But, my personal success using essential oils to treat my arthritis and other ailments has inspired people and empowered me to share the oils with others I care about. This is why selling essential oils works for me.
Be sure to read Dave Ramsey’s guide. He has some excellent tips on red flags to watch out for, avoiding scams, and looking at an opportunity realistically when all you’re being fed is hype.
The Bad and The Myths
Thanks to the people who don’t understand due to lack of education and training, and the truly sleezy-scam companies out there, MLM companies have a really bad rep. But guess what? The structure and business models work! It’s how they’re executed that makes a difference. Let’s take a look at some of the myths surrounding direct sales and multilevel marketing.
Myth #1 MLM and Direct Sales Opportunities are Scams
Let me start with a question. Do you know anyone who sells Mary Kay? In general, this company has a very good reputation. In fact, so does Avon. Why? Because these companies promote a professional atmosphere, provide their reps with extensive training, and the quality of the product is worth every penny. The people who sell these products are usually very passionate about makeup and fashion. They are investing a LOT of their own time and money into their business and they’re working hard to succeed. Neither of these companies promises quick riches.
Guess what? Both MK and Avon are direct sales companies. They have commission structures that include incentives for signing up new customers and building your own team of reps who’ll do the same. The people who consistently work hard see results and some of them even become rich, or earn a free car or vacation. And we don’t fault them because they are professional business men and women and we can see how hard they’ve worked to get where they are.
Most MLM and Direct Sales opportunities are structured the same way. The problem we see with the majority of them is that there isn’t enough training time invested in the rep to produce a professional representative who knows how to sell without coming off all sleezy. And secondly, many reps lack a true passion for the product or service they’re selling.
Myth #2 MLM and Direct Sales Products are Overpriced Because of the Payment Structure for Reps
Not true. See, a company has to pay for the marketing of their product, one way or another. They can either invest in TV and magazine ads, bill boards, radio spots, adwords and ad networks OR they can pay real people to promote their products. Guess which one costs the company less money? Real people. And when real people are passionate about something, they make fantastic advocates for a brand, normally for life. The time spent training and investing in a good rep is worth every penny a brand pays that rep to market their products to their own audience vs the company throwing money at ads which may or may not convert. This is why it’s called Direct Marketing.
Myth #3 All People in MLM and Direct Sales Companies are Annoying
In my year with my company I have been very impressed by the education I’ve received and the way most of my fellow wellness advocates conduct themselves. I think this speaks highly of the level of professionalism this company promotes. But not all companies measure up and that’s where the sleeze and slime tactics of many ruin it for the few…
Social media has made it easy for people to quickly add you to their FB groups, parties and lists for marketing, without you first expressing interest. Because of this, direct sales reps are starting to annoy a lot of people. Used to be, you could just not go to a house party, or say no to hosting one yourself. Now you’re automatically added to multiple things a day. Yikes.
This is where MLM and Direct Sales companies are missing the mark. There needs to be education for these situations. What is considered over the top? How do you invite someone vs automatically add them? How do you gauge interest? How do you learn to accept when someone isn’t interested?
What do YOU think?
Would you join a direct sales company?
Where do you see room for improvement in the companies that are popular right now?