By Len Clements © 1994
Would you ever try to pour hot coffee into a thermos with the lid still on? Could you put a video cassette into your VCR if it already had a cartridge in it? Of course not. Unfortunately, the way that most people prospect for MLM partners makes about as much sense.
For many years, we’ve all been taught to call up our friends and try to get them to come to an opportunity meeting, or at least read some information or watch a video about our MLM opportunity. To do anything different would be going against the number one commandment of our industry – duplicate what works. In other words, “Thou shalt not try to reinvent the wheel”. I’m certainly not about to suggest otherwise. However, I do believe there are very effective ways of making the wheel roll a little smoother and a little faster.
First and foremost, we must remember that when you propose your opportunity, you are offering a business opportunity. A chance at being a true entrepreneur. Secondly, you are proposing your prospect get involved with multi-level marketing. In other words, you have at least one, and probably two, major challenges here. Challenges you must overcome before you can even think about proposing your specific opportunity. Challenges that, nine times out of ten, are the main reason why your prospect won’t even look at your opportunity.
Surveys indicate that about 85% of all working Americans would like to own their own businesses, if they could. In other words, if all obstacles were removed, they would prefer to be their own boss rather than work for someone else. This amounts to approximately 160 million people! These are your MLM prospects. Now, when 160 million people want to do something and don’t do it, there must be a good reason. When they are asked, they usually come up with these four.
It takes too much money. I don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in a business.
It takes too much time. I don’t want to work 80 hours a week to get my business going.
Too risky. Over 80% of all businesses fail in the first two years.
I don’t know how. I’ve never taken any business courses. I don’t know anything about taxes, accounting, marketing, etc.
I can assure you, if your prospect is not currently operating their own business, they have considered the possibility at some time in their lives. They have also determined all the reasons why they can’t (probably all four reasons). Therefore, before you even start to offer your MLM opportunity, you might want to dispel, at least slightly, these beliefs about why they can’t go into business for themselves.
Let’s say you are having lunch with your friend and you casually mention the fact that you are thinking about starting your own business. Then you ask if they have ever considered it. Sure, they have considered it at some time or another. Well, why didn’t you, you ask. They will inevitably respond with one or more of the previous four reasons.
Now comes the fun part. You ask them if they would ever consider going into business for themselves if; the total start up costs were under $500 and the income potential was higher than the earnings of some CEO’s of fortune 500 companies; the total time investment could be as little as 10-20 hours a week; they could continue to work in their present job until the income from their business was sufficient to earn them at least an equal income, so there is little risk; and best of all, there were numerous consultants available to them who are experts at running this business, who would train and advise them personally, for an unlimited number of hours, for the life of their business, absolutely free! Not only that, you say, but there is another company that will take care of all your research and development, shipping, payroll, payroll and sales taxes, legal problems, and so on. And, this company will do this for them every month, for the life of their business, for around $20.00 a year.
Of course, your friend won’t believe any of this. Ask them if they would consider it if all this were true. Most likely they’ll say something like, “Well, sure. But there’s got to be a catch”. Is there? Is this not an exact description of your basic MLM business opportunity? Is any of this even an exaggeration? No. You’ve just completed step “A” of the “ABC” technique.
Now, for the first time during this conversation, you will suggest that this type of business involves “network” or “multi-level” marketing. But don’t get into your specific opportunity yet. There still may be a major hurdle yet to overcome. You still have step “B” to take care of.
There are basically three types of people you are going to come across during your recruiting efforts. First, the cynic or skeptic. They believe MLM’s are all scams, get-rich-quick schemes, illegal pyramids, involve door-to-door and home party sales, and so on. One person I know even referred to them as “cults”. For whatever reason, these people have a low opinion of MLM in general. The second type are those that don’t know anything about MLM. Perhaps only that it’s “something” like a pyramid, or that they’ve at least heard of AMWAY or Mary Kay. The third, unfortunately smallest, group are those that are naturally intrigued by the concept. Usually these are people who were originally in the second group who heard about someone who made a lot of money doing MLM. By the way, if you find someone in this group, skip step “B”. This step is presenting the MLM concept as a viable, honest form of business. This usually involves explaining what MLM is not, not what it is.
before you can pour anything into it”
Step “B” could be an entire column unto itself. Basically, you may want to mention that there are well over five-million people in the U.S. that are pursuing this form of business. Also, throw out names like Rexall, MCI and US Sprint, which all involve MLM as a means of obtaining new customers. Briefly explain the obvious difference between an illegal pyramid and a legitimate MLM company. When I pursued this business (before I was forced to be “objective”) I would always include favorable articles about the MLM industry in general. You may want to lead in with a generic video or audio cassette, that serves to only legitimize the industry, not promote any particular opportunity. Whatever you can do to give the industry more credibility, do it now.
Once these first two “preparation” steps are completed, you should then hand your prospect the video or literature about your opportunity. Challenge them to find the catch. Tell them you can’t, even though you thought it was too good to be true too. Instead of trying to get them to find out what all the good things there are about your program, encourage them to find all the bad things! Challenge them to debunk it. Let’s face it. Someone would be much more likely to watch a video if it were for the purpose of justifying their negative beliefs, than to contradict them. It’s human nature.
The bottom line is this. The real trick to successful recruiting in any MLM organization is not convincing someone who has looked at your opportunity to get involved with you, it’s getting them to just look at the opportunity. Don’t you agree? Let’s face it, once someone seriously looks at a good MLM opportunity, it’s pretty hard to not be at least a little intrigued. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 won’t seriously look. Actually, I’d guess 5 of 10 won’t look at all! You’ve got to get them to just look. If you’ve got a good opportunity, the rest will take care of itself.
A good analogy here would be the thermos and the VCR. Like the thermos, you must open your prospects mind before you can pour anything into it. And like the VCR, there may already be something in there that you might have to remove first. To borrow an analogy from Anthony Robbins (Robbins Research), it’s as if your beliefs have legs like a chair. Only these legs are usually solid steel instead of wood. Believe me, people’s beliefs as to why they can’t go into business for themselves, and sometimes what they believe MLM to be, are solid beliefs. If you don’t do something to at least weaken those legs before you come in with your new belief, forget it. It will bounce right off.
I’m certainly not suggesting that this “ABC” technique is going to knock down those legs (although it could). But if you can at least instill some doubt in the mind of your prospect, some spark of interest, or at least pessimistic curiosity, you’ve made a major gain.
I also realize this technique lends itself to certain situations better than others. For example, this technique might be a little more difficult to pull off if you do a lot of long distance sponsoring. But it’s still not impossible. Put it in writing, or better yet do your own audio tape.
For the last 30 or so years, in almost every MLM organization, we’ve all been taught to go straight to step “C”. Contact your prospect and propose your MLM business opportunity. “MLM” and “business” may be scary propositions, and needlessly so. Steps “A” and “B” are designed to reduce or eliminate this stigma, so you can bring more prospects to step “C”. Get them to look!