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MLM, pyramid scheme, one of THOSE things.
They’re all synonyms, right? And Evil!? No, they most definitely are not! I will be the first to admit, this is EXACTLY how I thought up until December 2015 in regards to ANY Direct Sales company. How naive I was.
Long story short I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and having a REALLY hard time getting better. Then a friend, someone who legitimately cared about me, introduced me to Juice Plus. I got on my first call and immediately started to freak out. It was MLM! It was a scam! I was a little surprised that someone I thought so highly of would do this to me. But then, I listened, and it sounded pretty good. Plus I was also in my ‘desperately try anything phase’. The women that were talking were from my geographical area, moms just like me, and they had some really powerful things to share. I fought back with my newfangled disease trying to shake the pyramid that was so clearly chasing me, but they had an answer for everything. Not in that snotty, preachy way either. Like real, legitimate, specific to me…. answers! They actually seemed to CARE!
The pyramid dissolved in front of my eyes the harder I see at it. So I bought the product, and it turned out to be that one thing I had been searching for. I finally felt better! Then I wanted the discount. Then I was telling people about it. Then I was making a paycheck. And now, I can’t keep it to myself no matter how hard I try. Not in a spammy way either. I TALK to people. I offer them a possible solution to the problems that plague them. They say yes or they say no, and then we continue on in our conversation. THAT. IS. IT. I want to help people because those scary ladies that I labeled so quickly actually helped me. (And I love them now!)
Ugh, Not another recruitment scheme
Let’s be honest, you didn’t click on this article to read another ‘Rah, Rah Direct sales is the answer to all your problems!’ monologue. In all honesty, this article has nothing to do with recruiting for my business OR selling my product. It has to do with the Direct Sales style of business as a whole, why we need to stop running away from it, and labeling it as ‘bad, spammy, or a scam’. Because when done right, it can be exactly what folks need, and offer them a whole world of opportunity. I might get a little personal and dark here, so I apologize. I am usually awkwardly awesome and goofy, but I think these things need to be said. So let me take those big, bad red flags and address them one by one.
Red Flag Number 1: That sounds like MLM
EYE ROLL, here we go. Multi-Level-Marketing is a legitimate business strategy that a handful of people/companies abused. ALL business is MLM in some way, otherwise, we’d be communist Russia in the 70’s. Scratch the ‘Marketing’ word and you get Multi-Level. Which is literally every single company out there today. If you know of a business that hires people in at the same responsibility level and salary as the CEO from day 1, please let me know. I’d like to apply.
Ok, so that rant is over. In the Direct Sales world, MLM is a bad term because it insinuates preying on our friends and family and coercing them, or tricking them into stuff they don’t need, long contracts for a product that is crap, or a large start-up fee for an unproven home business. Yes, you should say NO to those monsters. But here’s the thing… those are few and far between! MOST companies that choose the Directs Sales model are actually legitimate companies with proven products and track records.
Before you run away, do some googling. Just like when you buy something off Amazon (Which is just another form of Direct Sales BTW) read about the product and company! Don’t discount it simply because of the sales strategy. (Beware the Negative Nancy blogs and reviews though, they’re getting paid to be jerks. Literally. Read about the ACTUAL companies and products.)
You’re going to buy makeup/clothes/ supplements/vitamins/food/cleaning products anyway, just from a big box store. Ask the Direct Sales rep some questions, the hard ones especially. The ones that no one at the store can answer for you, etc. Chances are, if the person you’re talking to is in it just to make a quick sale, that conversation won’t go anywhere. For those of us making this a real business, however, we’re going to love it! Seriously, I’ll make you some coffee and talk your ear off if you want to know
It’s hard on both sides of the Direct Sales fence. I still struggle with the stigma I face as a person in Direct Sales. There are times when I am talking to someone I know I can help, but I don’t bring up what I have to offer simply because I’m afraid of being seen in a negative light. But then that same person asks where to go for a good low carb lunch and I’m ALL recommendations. WHY?! Why is it ok to share everything under the sun but my own business and product?
There are a lot of companies and folks out there that don’t seem to have this problem at all, and I guess that gives the rest of us a bad name sometimes? We don’t roll our eyes at billboards, but we do it to a friend or neighbor who has their own business. Maybe it’s because I hate saying no, so I feel bad asking other people to say no? This is a complex issue. But the reason I bring it up here is that every one of ‘those MLM people’ you see has their own story on the flip side.
Also, if you haven’t noticed, I prefer the term ‘Direct Sales’ for my chosen career. It sounds nicer and is more appropriate and accurate for what I do. I sell directly to my customer. I am educated on the product and act as a
Red Flag Number 2: The cost
Many products sold through Direct Sales tend to cost more than ones you can grab off the shelf at Walmart. This is very true. However, most Direct Sales products are produced in a more sustainable way, are higher quality, cleaner, have more research, or are just plain better in some way. Ask the rep you’re talking to why their product is superior and they can tell you!
One of the biggest concerns regarding my OWN product is the cost and the fact that it is paid for month by month ala subscription style. Here’s the thing though, I am proud to be my customers’ rep. I am not going to let anything ship out, EVER, without checking in with you first. If it’s too expensive I am going to try and find a way to make it work for you, or offer you the business. If you aren’t interested, then that’s ok too. There’s graphics out there about the cost of coffee vs. the product and yadda yadda yadda, but unless you see the VALUE you aren’t going to buy from me. It is my job to show you the value. And if you don’t see it, then I am not going to guilt you out of your Starbucks habit. I take my job seriously. Yes, I call this my job!
The startup cost can be another huge hurdle for a lot of Direct Sales entrepreneurs. Juice Plus makes it simple because it’s only 50$, but that’s a post for another day. Some people wind up with a trunk full of product to sell and thousands of dollars in debt right from the get-go, and that can be hard and off-putting.
Again, I take my JOB seriously here. Most of us Direct Sellers do. I’m not going to promise you $10k a month, 6 months of hard selling then financial freedom for life, or the ability to walk away from your full-time job immediately. Direct Sales is still working after all, and nothing is guaranteed. If someone does promise you those things, just walk away. True, there are some people making millions, many people who quit their regular jobs, and even more who obtain financial security with a Direct Sales side hustle but it takes ACTUAL WORK. The thing to remember here is, you get out what you put in. That does NOT mean you get more for being more spammy, you get more when you provide more VALUE. Something a lot of us in the industry are working to correct every day.
Red Flag Number 3: I am going to have to bug my friends
The dreaded cold message. Or the phone call. Lists of 100 people to reach out to or getting the 1000 No’s. These are all concepts we learn in Direct Sales, and in SOME instances serve a purpose. In fact, they serve purposes in your mailbox with the flyer from the furniture place, or on the billboard for car insurance, or the reminder to vote phone call, or the 178th commercial for fast food, or maybe even the kid selling candy for a school fundraiser.
We are ‘bugged’ by advertising and solicitation HUNDREDS of times a day! So adding another layer can be frustrating. Especially when it’s a friend, relative, or neighbor because then guilt can get involved. The key here is attraction marketing. Show your value up front, bring people in with your useful content and charming personality, and I don’t know, your LOVE of your product?
People that are in Direct Sales for the long haul, and the right reasons, tend to be more patient. We know we have a literal gold mine, and we WILL share it with you. But we aren’t going to hunt you down. Instead, we’ll offer it at appropriate times and respect your ‘no’ if it’s not for you. It’s ok to say no to us, you know that right? No guilt necessary!
In addition, if I see that you are always ill and trying new things, or having similar struggles to mine, I MIGHT reach out to you cold call style. But only because I am offering help. Not to try and convince you that you need it or make a quick dump and run sale. If I do reach out unprompted, it is 100% because I CARE.
This is hard because our income truly does depend on the number of people we come into contact with, and SOME Direct Sellers take that to an extreme and auto message 100s of people or just don’t hear your ‘no’. Please don’t let those people ruin it for the rest of us. Most of us signed up with our Direct Sales company for the JOB, not the ‘get rich quick and bail’ mentality. I formally apologize for all of those bad apples out there, but please don’t discount the rest of us in the barrel. We’re pretty tasty! (There’s that awkwardness, I knew I’d find it!)
In a nutshell, Direct Sales is a job. We have a warm market (people who know us) and a cold market (people who don’t) The warm market should know what we’re up to, but not feel harassed. The cold market should find us through natural means. So no, you don’t have to bug your friends. You have to offer to add value to their life. That’s all. Just like the billboards and TV commercials. People MIGHT get really annoyed with those, but I honestly haven’t seen anyone cursing out a billboard….recently.
Red Flag Number 4: It’s almost like a cult!
Every person who joins Direct Sales suddenly starts singing its praises, right?! It’s perfection! You need to join! It solves ALL the problems! Yeah, no, those are lies.
When I bring on a new team member I try to be as honest as humanly possible. It’s work, it takes time and effort, and it can be hard. But it offers a heck of a lot more than a lot of other jobs out there, and I’m going to be right next to them the whole way. Just like my upline with me.
You get out what you put in. I’ll be honest, there are days where I don’t want to do this anymore. The plus side there is, I can take those days off. I’ll tell you a little secret, I have a ‘real’ job I can go back to any time I want. But I don’t want to. And quite honestly, at this point in my personal life, I can’t.
What this type of work offers me is the chance to (take 7 hours to write this because my kids won’t leave me alone) be with my kids, take care of my home, my marriage, and my health, and gives me a purpose outside of ‘wife, mother, and chronic illness handling badass’.
Do you know why Juice Plus chose the Direct Sales model? So everyone can have an equal chance. Disabled? Unfortunate past? Not at the education
Red Flag Number 5: I have to build a team
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But you CAN supplement, or even replace, a fulltime income with Direct Sales. But just like any job, it has to be done RIGHT.
Part of the type of job I have chosen is finding like-minded people who would like to join me. This is where things can get hairy. A lot of Direct Sales gets crapped on because of the whole ‘My life is amazing and it’s all thanks to this business! JOIN ME NOW OR PERISH!’ type recruiting out there.
Here’s the thing though, it isn’t for everyone. And that’s ok. It shouldn’t be for everyone. Yet, for many of us, it is a viable solution to a wide variety of issues. Some of the people I have met through doing Direct Sales have become some of my closest friends. And no, we don’t always just talk about Juice Plus.
You know the saying ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’? And how we’re always telling our kids to just be themselves? The same goes for Direct Sales. Not everyone should sign up to work with me. And there are certainly people out there I don’t want to work with. To me, building a team should feel organic. If it doesn’t, then something isn’t right.
I also don’t rush it because I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon! So yeah, I want team members. But not just anyone that comes walking on by, I want the ones that want me. So fear not consumers of the world, we’re not all looking at you and seeing ‘potential rep’ tattooed on your forehead. And if someone asks and you are a hard no, then tell them that! It’s part of our job after all.
Let’s wrap this up
Not everyone involved in Direct Sales is a pushy salesperson who is going to stalk you. Most of us aren’t that way at all. In fact, a lot of us are more afraid of you than you are of us.
Many of us find camaraderie with one another in support groups and coaching groups (Looking at you Elite Suite) where we work to build our business the right way and combat the exact MLM beast everyone hates so much. We spend hours reaffirming to one another that were not BAD PEOPLE because we chose this line of work. We are normal people looking for ways to get by and improve our quality of life while we share a product we love. Is that really so awful?
When you connect with someone in Direct Sales and buy their product you’re helping support them, grow their business, and giving them the confidence to go on. When you buy something similar at Walmart or Target you’re dropping your money into a giant jar that a corporation then doles out a little to their employees. Sure, the cashier MIGHT send you a handwritten thank you note and work their butt off to make sure you’re happy, but probably not.
So please, just give us a chance. We probably have something really amazing to offer you if you let us.