Sometimes people are really supportive of the fact that you are selling a product trying to support your family. Others, not so much.
“This isn’t an MLM is it?” And the judgment in their voice. It hurts. And then you get defensive. This conversation never ends well and leaves you a little less confident than before. Even worse when it’s someone whose opinion you really value, like a parent or really close friend. Along with “this isn’t an MLM is it?” you might get “is this a pyramid scheme?” or “MLM products are a rip-off.” You might be wondering how to respond. So today, let’s talk about it.
It’s always really important to think about why the person is saying this. Most of the time someone’s initial jerky response has nothing to do with you. When I met Charlie, I told him straight up; I don’t want a boyfriend. Was that because of something Charlie did? Of course not, I had just met him. It was because of my last relationship that was a complete disaster and I wasn’t in the mood to go through that again. So my walls were up, and I acted like a jerk. Did that mean I didn’t want a boyfriend? No, that meant I didn’t want a selfish, distant, and non-committal boyfriend. Charlie and I were married that same month the next year. So I guess it was true. I didn’t want a boyfriend; I wanted a husband.
So when people are responding to you negatively because you are in a network marketing company, it’s probably because of something else that someone else did. And there are a lot of bad network marketers out there. Oh, my gosh so many bad network marketers. So many people who think they are going to get rich by posting before and after pictures one time a day on Facebook. Or sending copy and paste emails to everyone about how their company is expanding in that person’s area. We customers, we are on to you bad network marketers.
I have to tell you about Kristen, our community manager’s experience in a Facebook group. So I am a partner in another business, called the Christian Network Marketer’s Community which is a support site with no product promotion or cross recruiting allowed. Someone joined, and Kristen said hi. Her response was “want to join my company?” Wait, what?!?!? Dang you are the worst. Stop it. Right now. I could go on and on. My favorite is when people message me, “hey with your sales background I think you would be a great fit for my company.” Then I respond, “I actually train network marketers, maybe I can help?” Crickets. Apparently, they don’t like people pitching their products to them on Facebook messenger!
Ok, you might be wondering what my point is. My point is that there are a lot of bad network marketers out there. You are not one of them. You listen to this podcast so you can learn how to serve your customers and your team authentically because you want to be a good human. Not an annoying spammer. It’s likely the person pushing back to you is doing so because a bad network marketer has approached them. The odds are high. There are more bad ones than good ones. They just have baggage. And when you realize it’s not about you, you can approach this pushback with empathy, not defensiveness.
Be cool. The biggest mistake you can make is to seek to be understood. Instead, seek to understand!
If they ask, “is this an MLM?” respond with, “you seem worried about that. Why is that?” You can’t address their concerns if you don’t know what they are! This also applies to potential recruits who “won’t want to do network marketing.” Ask them what happened. Ask them about their experience. Maybe it will be the same on your team. But maybe not! Many times this will be a concern that doesn’t exist with the way you help your team or customers. Especially if you listen to this podcast.
As for “Is this a pyramid scheme?” again just be cool. Pyramid schemes are illegal, so your company is not a pyramid scheme. The outlawed activity is to have a structure in which the way you make money is by signing people up, and they earn money by signing people up, and there isn’t a product. Guess what! You have a product. Most people don’t understand that. But before telling them, they don’t know what they are talking about, seek to understand. Ask them, “I know what I think of when I think of a pyramid scheme, but I don’t want to make any assumptions. What do you mean when you say that?” Often this approach on its own will soften the conversation. Your antagonist will actually start to defend you.
My favorite, “MLM products are a rip off because that’s how the people at the top get wealthy.” Ok so let’s dig into this. First, some of this perception might be your fault or the fault of other network marketers. I know when I go to Wendy’s and get a soda, that soda costs a penny to distribute yet I pay $1.50. Why don’t I get furious? Well, it helps that the cashier doesn’t say, “want to buy a Pepsi, our CEO is super rich because people love Pepsi.” The top of every company makes a ton, that job is really, really hard. Just most companies don’t boast of that and create their own problems. Network marketers, though, you guys shoot yourselves in the foot. My up-line makes 200K in her jammies, want to buy this eye cream, it’s totally worth it. Wait, what? So maybe, stop saying those things in the same sentence. That might help you get this objection less.
Here is the truth, all products have a markup. Let’s take the frozen yogurt shop that my daughters love. What are their operating costs?
- Cost of space to rent a storefront? $3500 per month
- Equipment rentals $1-2000 per month I’m guessing. Probably more.
- Employees- $5000 on the low end. That’s 3 people working 40 hours per week at $10/hour plus taxes paid by the employer.
- Advertising to get you to know it exists
- Oh yeah, and the actual frozen yogurt.
All these things are included in the cost of the product! In network marketing companies you are passing on the first four expenses and redistributing to their sales force. When I sold Cutco, our closest competitor Henkel’s, was almost 2x the price of Cutco despite me making 50% commission. And Cutco had a better product, a better guarantee, and a rep that would actually help you. Which leads me to my next point.
You don’t sell a commodity product. You aren’t trying to sell the cheapest of whatever you are trying to sell. You are trying to sell the highest quality of that. You have a value product, and one of the biggest advantages of purchasing your product is access to you. And that is worth money to people. It’s ok that you make money. You should. You are doing work. And if your customer honestly doesn’t want you to make money, you don’t want that customer anyway. Don’t sell on price, sell based on value.
Alright, I’ve been raging more than usual. So let me sum up your approach to concerns about your business.
- Clarify their concern. Ask, “what happened?” or “what do you mean?”
- If they don’t calm down, and you aren’t able to clarify just respond with, “I’m sorry you feel that way. If you change your mind, let me know. I’d be glad to help you solve your problems.”
I want to be clear on my opinion of network marketing as a non-network marketer. Some people might interpret my thoughts as being “anti-network marketer.” I’m not. I’m “anti-bad network marketer.” I’m against all salespeople who don’t learn how to communicate well and who don’t care about their customers. That’s network marketing, retail, business to business. I love good salespeople. A highly trained, professional salesperson is a joy to work with. And I expect that you train your team well. My gut tells me you feel the same way. And that’s what we will talk about in this podcast. Let’s be in a group of network marketers that everyone loves. And when they meet someone else and say, “is this an MLM?” they will mean, “because MLMs are awesome my friend ______ is in an MLM.”