Many people are scared away from network marketing, also known as multi-level marketing (MLM), because of all the myths and misunderstanding about this type of business. Part of negativity comes from reported low MLM success rates.1 However, a multi-level marketing business isn’t destined to fail any more than any other business. Regardless of the home business, you start, success comes from doing the work to build it.
For some reason, many people don’t view their MLM business as a business, like they would if they opened a franchise or started a business from scratch. One of the most important things you can do to ensure your success is to treat your MLM venture as the business it is.
Brush Up on the Realities of MLMs
To stay safe from pyramid schemes and MLM scams, arm yourself with knowledge. Learn about the direct sales industry as a whole, research MLM companies carefully, and determine if you’re a good match with your sponsor. The truth is, while you can get rich in MLM, statistics show that less than one out of 100 MLM representatives actually achieve MLM success or make any money.1 However, that’s not necessarily the MLM business’ fault. Most athletes never make it to the Olympics, but that’s not sport’s or the Olympics’ fault.
Any great feat requires knowledge and action.
Find a Company With a Product You Love
Too many people get caught up in the hype of potential big income from MLM, that they don’t pay enough attention to what the company is asking you to sell. You can’t sell something or share your business if you don’t genuinely have pride in what you are representing. Do your MLM research and partner with a company that has a product you can get excited about. Don’t forget to look into the company’s compensation plan before you join and make sure it is favorable to you.2
Be Genuine and Ethical
One reason that direct selling gets a bad rap is that many representatives use hype and sometimes deception to lure in new recruits.3 This leads many to believe that the MLM companies themselves encourage this behavior when in truth, they don’t.
Legitimate MLM companies want you to be honest in your dealings with customers and potential recruits. If you love your product, your enthusiasm is enough to promote it. Just make sure you’re not over-the-top or making exaggerated or false claims.
Good business conduct will ensure that your customers and recruits don’t feel duped, and as a result, will stick with you.
Don’t Barrage Your Friends and Family
Nothing will annoy your family and cost you and friends, more than constantly pestering them about your business. There’s nothing wrong with letting them know what you’re doing and seeing if they have an interest, but if the answer is “no,” let it go.
Many companies suggest making a list of 100 people you know, and while that’s not wrong, you should consider that most successful MLMers have very few people from their original list of 100 people in their business.4 In most cases, friends and family who are in the business often come AFTER seeing the MLMer’s success. Success in MLM comes from treating it like any other business in which you focus on the people who want what you have to offer. That means deciding who the target market is for your products/services, as well as the business opportunity.
Identify Your Target Market
One of the biggest mistakes new MLMers make is looking at everyone (including friends and family #4) as a potential customer or recruit.4 This is one area where the MLM industry gets it wrong. Like any other business, you’re going to have greater success and efficiency if you identify your target market and focus your marketing efforts at them.
Someone who doesn’t care about vitamins or health and wellness isn’t a good person to pester about your business.
Make an Effort to Share Your Product//Business Plan Everyday
Many MLM sponsors will have you focus on recruiting new business builders; however, your income, in legitimate MLM, comes from the sales of products or services (whether through you or your recruits).5 Further, customers who love the products or services can more easily be converted into new business builders.
Just like any other business (home-based or otherwise), getting the word out about your product or service can benefit your target market is the key to generating new customers and recruits. Some ideas include sharing a product sample, inviting a neighbor to host a product party, or starting a website or social media account.
Sponsor, Don’t Recruit
One of the benefits of MLM is the ability to bring in new business builders and profit from the sales they make in their business.6 While some see this as “using” others, the reality is that you’re being rewarded for helping others succeed. But for them to succeed, you need to see your role not as racking up as many recruits as possible, but in being a leader and trainer. The focus then is on the success of those you help in the business, not on you.
That means you need to take time to train them, answer questions, celebrate their successes, and be a support when things are tough.
Set a Goal for Parties or Presentations
MLM is a person-to-person to business.5 While many people don’t like that aspect, especially in the digital age, the reality is that it’s the personal touch that sells the products and business, and retains customers and business builders.
Based on your compensation plan and goals, determine how many people you need to show your products or business to reach your goals in the time you want. Doing so will ensure you grow your business rather than just sustain it.
Listen and Sell the Solution
Many companies provide scripts to help you sell the product or service.7 While these can be helpful in teaching you about your product and dealing with objections, sales is all about being a solution to what a customer needs. By qualifying your contact first, and then listening to their needs, you can tailor your pitch so that you’re the solution to their problem.
Learn How to Market
MLMers often stick to the three-foot rule (everyone within 3-feet of you is a prospect) and other traditional marketing tactics.8 But direct sales is like any other business. It can and should be marketed in a variety of ways that take into consideration your target market, what it needs, how you can help it, and where it can be found. To that end, you can use a variety of marketing tools including a website (check your companies policies about websites), email, and social media to increase product sales and interest in your business.
Stand Out from Other Distributors
One of the challenges of MLM is convincing prospects to buy or join with you as opposed to the other reps that live in the neighborhood or they know online. You’re selling the same stuff as thousands of others, meaning consumers have a choice. You need to do something that makes you unique compared to everyone else. Give people a reason to choose you over other reps. Some options include more personalized service, starting your own rewards program, or something that offers greater value.
Develop a System for Following Up
While you don’t want to pester and annoy people, in many cases, with good follow up, you can make the sale or recruit at a future time. Sales is often about timing, and ‘no’ in sales doesn’t always mean ‘never.’
If someone tells you no, but there was something in the dialogue that suggested they might be interested in the future, ask if you can put them on your mailing or email list, or if you can call in six months to follow up. Many will give you their email or phone number just because they want to be nice. Even so, use your calendar or contact system to remind you when to call.