By Len Clements © 1996
I was exploring the internet jungle a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon what appeared to be an open MLM forum, however it had pretty much been taken over by distributors for one dominant opportunity. Dare any member from a subordinate MLM species wander into their domain and there would be a frenzy of activity to see who could convince the newcomer that their MLM program was superior — and from the looks of their on-line conversations, they were succeeding.
The lure wasn’t the promise of quick and easy wealth, for there was actually little mention of high incomes. Nor was it the miraculous benefits of their amazing product line. Instead, they were trading recruiting figures. Massive recruiting figures.
One had recruited eleven people his first day in the business. Another claimed she built a downline of over 3,500 by her second month. Yet another claimed the company as a whole had gained over 180,000 distributors since January. And yes, one even claimed he had “personally recruited 100 people in a single day!”
This would all be very impressive — if I could pay my rent with distributor applications.
It’s fascinating how the marketing trends in this industry evolve from year to year. In 1991 and ’92 everyone bragged about how much their top earners were making. In 1993 and ’94 everyone was hyping their company’s total monthly sales or sales growth. And around the middle of this time span I remember there was a short lived phase where the age of a company seemed most important. Today, everyone’s talking about how many distributors their company has. It seems we’ve now entered a phase in the cycle where what is actually the least important factor is now considered the most important!
To create a marketing advantage, the “in” thing now seems to be how to redefine “distributor” so as to claim the highest possible number of them. For example, the above MLM program, along with several others now entering make-believe momentum, all have a free sign up system via an 800-number (In fact, in some of these programs you can even sign up distributors without them knowing you did it.) So, retail customers now routinely sign up as “distributors” to get the product at wholesale.
Several companies now allow their distributors to sign up their spouse, or any family members, and some even allow you to sign yourself up as many times as you wish! While others, like the above mentioned company, technically forbid such practice, their distributors are doing it anyway and without consequence. So while they may only gain 200 actual distributors next month, they may be able to claim an increase of over 1,000 distributorships.
The technique used above is to simply give out sequential ID numbers to anyone who orders even a single product, one time, and to all the positions occupied by each distributor. Then, call each ID number a “distributor.”
Another way to make sure that this number always increases is to never purge your inactive distributors. Technically, a company can’t terminate a person for not ordering product (while MLM companies, like any direct sales company, can require a sales quota to earn commissions, they can’t require a product purchase just to maintain distributor status). Instead, most will place non-ordering distributors in an “inactive” file and simply remove them from the distributor hierarchy. Some, however, will continue to count these people in their total distributor figure since they are, technically, still distributors.
Most MLM companies have some sort of annual renewal process where a small administration fee is charged, or at the very least a reapplication process. This is to weed out the dead wood. Of course, if you omit this process, as some are, and inactive distributors are still technically considered in the program, then essentially they are “distributors” for life! No matter how many quit, the “total distributor” figure will always be climbing. What’s more, the company can now claim a “zero percent attrition rate!”
And it would be true — technically.
MLM programs that employ a binary compensation plan have a unique advantage in this area that’s exclusively their own. In a binary, one person can potentially occupy numerous “income centers.” I know of at least two such companies they are currently claiming a “total distributor” figure based on the total number of income centers. Fortunately, most of the binary plan contingent have not followed suit.
So here’s the formula to build a “one-million distributor company” within five years:
1. Allow anyone to sign up for free, over the phone.
2. Count product customers as distributors, even if they only order once and you never hear from them again.
3. Allow them to sign up as many times as they wish, or at least disallow it and look the other way.
4. Allow them to sign up any and all family members.
5. Never purge your company database of inactive distributors.
(Or, you can just not reveal your total distributor figure and just let your distributors “estimate.” That should at least double the actual amount.)
Just imagine if Amway would adopt the previous criteria when defining “distributor.” They could easily claim to have 100-million of them by now! In fact, I recently saw an ad for a popular MLM program with the headline “Over 250,000 people have joined (blank) International!” Of course, the ad doesn’t mention that well over half of them are no longer distributors.
Semantics plays a very important role in the MLM industry today. By changing the standard definition of various aspects, companies today can create the illusion that they are in what ever stage of growth they desire. Want to sound like a “ground floor opportunity?” Just say you’re in “pre-launch” — even if you’re in your second year of business. Want to sound like a mature, stable company? Count all the years you thought about starting an MLM operation and then claim “ten years in development” — even if you launched yesterday. Want to sound like you’re entering a massive momentum stage? Count every single person who contacts your company, for any reason, as a distributor — then heavily promote how many distributors are joining each month.
Several years ago, this same logic was used by the second baseman on my Little League team. After losing the final game of the season by a goodly margin, and all but three of the previous seventeen games, this curly-haired little seven year old attempted to comfort me by exclaiming, “Ya’ know, coach, not counting the games we lost, we were UNDEFEATED!”
This also reminds me of the debate regarding whether the legalization of drugs would effect the crime rate. Advocates of this idea claim it would drop it dramatically. Of course it would! If you make fewer things illegal, they’ll be fewer laws broken. Hey, why don’t we just declare everything legal? Then we would have virtuallyno crime!
So, let’s get to the big question: How can you, personally, recruit 1,000 distributors a week, every single week? Simple. Get your company to employ the following recruiting system: You walk up to someone on the street, tap them on the shoulder twice with the index finger of your right hand, and say “I dub thee a distributor.” That’s it!
Think about the possibilities. You could literally recruit a thousand new distributors each day if you found a busy intersection in a major city. And if you trained just a handful of people in your downline to do the same, you could build an organization over 100,000 within days! And, of course, your company could easily claim to have over one-million distributors within just a few short weeks.
There is one small catch however. No one will make even one dime in commissions.
Okay, so now your upset with me. You read this article expecting to actually discover how to recruit 1,000 people a week. Well, I delivered. I explained exactly how to do that. Hopefully, I also explained the difference between “people” and “serious, active distributor.”